The Kaisan fan club
Kaisan is one of those places that I frequent but haven’t blogged about. The biggest reason for that is, it is such a small place with limited sushi counter seats and it is my spot (I even have this chair that I regularly sit in) and I don’t want too many people to there, it’s MINE. But seriously, who am I kidding when this gem has been blogged about repeatedly.
This is how I rationalise telling people about one of my favourite sushi places: firstly, Kaisan deserves to survive (a) it is a fabulous place where the food gives me so much pleasure and delight (b) the people are delightful, Chef Thomas Kok is a great guy and fatherly in his fish fish/sushi/food education that he always gives us and these is this rather funny waitress that I’ve come to know called Candy. Secondly, if there is a steady flow of traffic through the restaurant, it keeps the fish and produce fresh, and this is a very important and selfish reason of mine.
To be honest, I’ve never ever seen the menu in Kaisan. I usually just take my seat at the bar and leave it to the skilled hands of Thomas. Unless I spot a thing or two at in the glass chiller in front of me, I would make a request, and if I fancied some sake, I’ll ask Candy, she’s got a good sense of taste in that field. Oh and always ask if he has the bamboo clam. Apparently I’ve been a real charm since Kaisan has always had it when I’ve dined there so Chef Thomas has deemed me, ‘lucky’. Ask for the bamboo clam because it is rather amusing to see the clam fighting back for their lives as they hit the hot grill and get slapped with some tasty mentaiko dressing, but spectacle aside they are damn tasty too, I could have two, but I would miss out on the other good stuff.
The sushi/sashimi selection, it is fresh and it is good. I have had the best maguro sushi in Kaisan. The tuna he gets is from Japan, and it isn’t the yellowfin but the bluefin tuna, the kind of tuna that could easily outweigh two human beings and oh, it is so gooood. In my last visit he served us, aka uni, a seasonal product from Hokkaido. The urchin is smaller than the usual sea urchins that is served, and hence more expensive and the gonads are redder in colour, and hence its name. Taste-wise, it is superior to the usual uni, creamier, stronger in flavour sans the fishiness that is sometimes presence. Paired against his crisp nori, my first bite was a sense of crisp crunch, then the uni exploded and filled my mouth, absolutely sensational. On every visit, he also usually ensures that we each get a piece of toro sushi, but the last time we went there, he practically made us a toro sandwich, two slices of toro with sushi rice sandwiched between, total luxury and I was in toro heaven. In short, he is a great sushi chef.
The importance of the raw bar in a sushi bar is top priority, but Kaisan also has a splendid selection of cooked food as well. I’ve had fabulously grilled whole fishes and fish cheeks that were perfectly seasoned with salt and beautifully sweet. The person who mans the grill also does a great job in grilling up the numerous orders of bamboo clams and anago sushi, charred on one side and soft on the other. On my last visit, I had also tried something new to me, but traditional in Japan – a combination of tofu, unagi, grated yam and topped with ikura, it looked and tasted great.
Oh, did I forget to mention that I was a member of the Kaisan fan club?
the view from my regular seat
*See the whole set of pictures here.