Right before I swept myself off to Jakarta for the ‘crazy wedding week marathon’, I had one of the best sashimi I ever had in my life (even better than what I had in Japan!) because it is literally fresh off the bone.
Before we get to that though, let’s backtrack to how this happened. The Gardens Mall recently began this culinary initiative called GASTRO Go. Its is a mall-scale food festival, where the highlighted restaurants participate to provide an epicurean experience to their patrons via a special, limited time menu.
I was invited to be a guest at the GASTRO Go Chef’s Table series at Yuzu. The idea was to experience the culinary expertise provided by Yuzu’s Japanese chef, Fukuchi-san. I thought it was just a regular food tasting experience like most of the other food related posts I’ve done before. Little did I know, there was a little more in store.
It came in the form of a 50kg bluefin tuna. IT WAS SO HUGE!
I had to take a photo with it to show you how big it really is. It takes 4 to 5 years for a tuna to get this large. It’s freshly shipped, all the way from Japan. Apparently, one of these is shipped in weekly on every Tuesday – so this is your first tip to getting EXTRA fresh sashimi at Yuzu. Dine in on Tuesdays!
So the agenda was that Chef Fukuchi-san would be demonstrating his skills in carving up the bluefin tuna. As it is so large and so heavy, the task requires the help of his three apprentice chefs. One of his apprentices, Chef Mark, explained the process as it happens since Chef Fukuchi-san does not speak much english.
They start with first slicing the fin area of the tuna on one side, exposing the meat beneath it. (Images below are not for the queasy) Then, Chef Mark explains that getting the meat off is the easy part because all you need to do is to follow the bone, with your knife. I think it’s much easier said than done. It takes at least 5 years to master the art of cutting fish, which Chef Fukuchi-san recommends for all Japanese chefs, having over 20 years of experience himself.
The meat is then cut into various parts. The three main parts of the tuna is the tuna belly, the toro in Japanese – which is the best part because it is sweet and literally melts in your mouth and sold at premium prices in most Japanese restaurants. The lean meat area is called the akami, which is the part used in most regular tuna sushi. Then comes the part that’s in between the lean and fatty meat, the chutoro which is a little of both and also sold at a premium price.
Now, as each and every part of the tuna is used (nothing is left to waste!), even the eyeballs can be eaten – dipped in soy sauce, or used for grilling. The tuna skin is usually boiled and served with ponzu sauce, and even its bones are boiled to flavour soups. The nakaochi, or scrape meat from the tuna’s bones can also be removed and eaten, in minced form.
Each of the parts are chopped and places on separate plates. Yuzu keeps about 1 kilo portion of the tuna, and delivers the other parts out to their affiliate Japanese restaurants within the Klang Valley, because the tuna keeps for only 3 days, fresh and up to 2 weeks if frozen.
Then comes the time to finally eat! We started off with our appetizer – homemade custard with steamed crab eggs and sea urchin, paired with a yam and seaweed soup and a fried crab ball. It’s absolutely lovely, and the flavours all complement each other very well. I find the textures very intriguing as well because the custard is so soft and has a cream cheese consistency, but very light! My tastebuds were absolutely befuddled, but in a lovely way. We also had a taste of salmon and whitefish sashimi, paired with a sliced crabmeat soup, which were equally yummy!
Next up, we got to finally try the toro and akami cuts of the tuna – it is served with a piece of nori (seaweed) for us to wrap around it and dip into ponzu. SO DELICIOUS! I swear, the sashimi literally melted into my mouth and I wanted more. Look at how pink and lovely the flesh is!
Then, our mains came. We had a Japanese persimmon salad to start the palate off – and it was very good. The combo was fresh and full of flavour! There’s grilled chicken with avocado and mushroom, which I felt was nice but seemed to pale in comparison with everything else that was served. Of course, tempura is a must and we had a prawn, aubergine and squid variety. I LOVED the sushi rolls that were served! They are a combination of salmon, crab and torched mayo which left us all in heaven with every mouthful. Miso soup was also served to help us wash down all the flavours, and finished off with a warm cup of roasted rice green tea.
Dessert was a sweet and simple affair of Japanese ice-cream with a variety of fruits. I think it is a very nice end to a flavoursome meal!
When it comes to eating, the right chef can leave an great impression and this was what I took away with me from this experience. I always believe that food are memories and Chef Fukuchi-san and his team at Yuzu has left me a very memorable and enjoyable one. So if you’re looking for a great gastronomic experience, head over to The Gardens Mall and look for Yuzu on Level 3.
No regrets, that’s a promise I can make!