The cut of a champion

THE NORWEGIAN Seafood Council (NSC) recently celebrated the outstanding performance of two Malaysian sushi chefs at the World Sushi Cup 2018 which took place in Tokyo, Japan this August.

Chef Sky Tai Koon Siang took home the World Sushi Cup 2018 champion title, while chef Steve Chua Kok Hua was one of the finalists.

Both participants benefited from the Global Sushi Academy training, an initiative sponsored by the NSC in collaboration with World Sushi Skills Institute, the only officially recognised sushi body in Japan.

The training aims at educating sushi chefs on the traditional art of sushi making and most importantly, the hygienic handling of raw seafood for consumption.

Tai emerged as the winner for the Traditional Edomae Sushi category, as well as for the Creative Sushi category with his Malaysia-themed creation, giving him the overall highest score to emerge as champion.

Both Tai and Chua trained under renowned sushi chef Hirotoshi Ogawa from Japan.

Ogawa, who was one of the judges at the World Sushi Cup 2018, said: “I’m proud to have trained both of them and have high hopes for them to spread their knowledge and experience in preserving the sushi-making tradition, especially on the food safety aspect.”

NSC regional director (Southeast Asia) Jon Erik Steenslid added: “As Norwegian salmon is the preferred choice for sushi topping in Malaysia, it is important to NSC that the fresh raw ingredient is handled in the most hygienic manner.”

Tai, who is from Kluang in Johor, is the head chef at Standing Sushi Bar in Singapore, where he oversees five sushi outlets.

He first took part in the World Cup Sushi in 2015. On his second effort in 2016, he emerged as the first runner-up.

Now he has bagged the top prize.

Chef Chua runs Two Chefs Lab in Sungai Long, Kuala Lumpur, together with fellow chef Edmund Chong.

The outlet offers fusion Japanese cuisine and coffee culture.

This was his first attempt at competing in the World Sushi Cup.

Started in 2013, World Sushi Cup is an annual event to contribute to the development of sushi skills round the world and create awareness on the proper and hygienic way to prepare sushi.

The event is endorsed by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture and the All Japan Sushi Association World Sushi Skills Institute.

Omakase at its best

OPENED only in mid-September this year, Sushi Ryu and Bar Shake, located at Platinum Park in Persiaran KLCC Kuala Lumpur, are already making waves in the local dining scene.

With food prepared and overseen by chef Kiichi Okabe (formerly of two Michelin-star restaurant Shoukawa in Singapore) and the bar run by mixologist Osamu ‘Sam’ Kinugawa (formery of Bar Kinugawa in Damansara), you are getting the best of the best in Japanese food and drink.

Both establishments have their own entrances, but are connected inside.

During the grand opening on Oct 4, Okabe showed his knife skills at slicing up a 45kg yellow fin tuna in front of guests at the restaurant’s omakase counter.

Sushi Ryu co-owner Chryseis Tan explained that the restaurant’s concept was “to capture the authenticity and finesse of Omakase dining without having to fly all the way to Japan”.

Okabe brings with him more than two decades of experience, and will offer diners at Sushi Ryu a dining experience like no other.

Tan, who shares ownership of the restaurant with a group of friends, said: “The vision the shareholders had was to firstly fill a gap in the current Japanese dining market.

“Instead of dishing out a menu that is similar to what’s already out in the market, we wanted to introduce certain unique appetisers.”

The menu was discussed by Tan, Okabe and consultant Raymond Lim before it was signed off.

Okabe also wanted to offer a new level of sushi experience, based on his two-star Michelin background.

He said: “The last key consideration is to give a ‘wow’ value proposition to customers by serving luxe ingredients like truffles and caviar at a very competitive price.

“We are only charging a bit more than our peers, but we are giving much more value to customers.

“We want every customer to leave feeling he/she has had a good deal, and was not shortchanged.”

The kind of fish used will vary according to season and availability as Okabe only works with wild fish caught in the sea and not farmed.

“The desserts will also be a reflection of the seasons as every passing season yields different bounties from the earth,” he said.

In keeping with its exclusive image, Sushi Ryu can only accommodate 33 diners at any one time.

There are two private rooms that hold up to 10 people each that can be opened up to accommodate a bigger group.

There is also the omakase counter that can seat 11 people.
Meanwhile, Bar Shake will be offering the country’s first authentic Japanese-style cocktail bar experience.

The name is derived from the stylised Japanese technique of shaking cocktails known as ‘Hard Shake’, immortalised by acclaimed bartender Kazuo Uyeda of Ginza’s legendary Tender Bar.

Kinugawa prepared a longan sake-tini in which he infused freshly hand-squeezed longan juice with sake.

He explained some of the bar’s interesting cocktails, such his version of Bloody Mary that uses a clear tomato juice that has been infused with clam shells to impart a unique flavour.

For mocktails, he has fruits such as kiwi, strawberry and pineapple steeped in Japanese rice vinegar.

“The taste is more mellow,” Kinugawa said, referring to the special vinegar. “I also make the syrups and tonic water.”

Bar Shake can take up to 36 people who can opt to seat at the bar, the long couches and chairs next to the bar, or perhaps if you want your own private party, there is also a private room available.

The lunch Omakase menu is priced at RM279++ and served from noon to 3pm.

The dinner Omakase menu is priced at RM579++ and available from 6.30pm to 10pm.