Restaurant Review: Maguro-Donya Miura-Misaki-Kou Sushi & Dining

This place may have a totally bizarre name, but it’s Singapore’s first tuna specialist restaurant. And a pretty good one too

Singapore’s first tuna specialist restaurant
Singapore’s first tuna specialist restaurant
26 Aug 2015

Singapore’s first tuna specialist restaurant

“Our fish is fresh daily. We get it every other day, and our freezing technique keeps it very fresh, so it doesn't necessarily taste better if you only eat it on the day it arrives,” says the well-spoken man on the phone. We had called Maguro-Donya Miura-Misaki-Kou Sushi & Dining - its ridiculously verbose name refers to Misaki Port in Miura, Kanagawa Prefecture where the restaurant imports its fish - to enquire about the best day to dine on its fresh-off-the-boat sashimi. So we make our way to the month-old tuna specialist restaurant on a Monday evening, traditionally the worst day for sushi (fish deliveries in Singapore are often made on other days).

THE LOOK: We like the Japanese-restaurant-complex-in-a-Tokyo mall vibe when we finally reach the eatery. Located in the newly renovated Sky Garden at Suntec City, the decor is clean and contemporary, with lots of blonde wood. The best seats are at the L-shaped counter where boyish Okinawan chef Takuya Matsumoto crafts sushi.In the back: Shuji Sawada, formerly executive chef of the eatery’s sibling restaurant in Yokohama, helms the kitchen. At the front of the house: a well-groomed Japanese GM, and articulate, affable Singaporean manager David Lim.

THE FOOD: While there are other varieties of seafood on offer, we go wild ordering the bluefin (hon maguro), considered the Bentley of all tuna species as it’s the largest, rarest and has the most marbling. After all, this restaurant isn’t named after the creature for nothing. Its parent company boasts a “state-of the-art transport and freezing method”, where the tuna is frozen at -60°C, the “optimal temperature for preserving its freshness. A lot of other seafood is frozen at -30°C, which can form an ice crust and be ‘frostbitten’,” says David knowledgeably. The bluefin here comes mostly from the Pacific Ocean.

All our initial reservations dissipate when the 5 Cuts of Hon Maguro Sashimi (above, $49, feeds two) is served on a mound of crushed ice. The slices are massive, scored with lattice marks and slightly rough around the edges. But the dark red akami (lean top loin) is one of the best we’ve had outside of a high-end sushi joint. There’s none of that metallic flavour that plagues lesser versions (“because our tuna is immediately bled onboard our boats”, says David. Yikes). It’s clean, smooth and almost as tender as a pricier cut. Of course, the fat-striated chu-toro (semi-fatty bottom loin) is even better. So too the unctuous, creamy o-toro (belly). What’s disappointing: the venous, sinewy bits from the collar and head. Next time, we’ll order the cheaper 3 Cuts Hon Maguro ($38) set instead, where you get just the first three items.

Singapore’s first tuna specialist restaurant
Singapore’s first tuna specialist restaurant
26 Aug 2015

Singapore’s first tuna specialist restaurant

The recommended Megumi Gunkan (above, $18) is an embarrassment of salmon roe, chopped tuna belly and sea urchin on two modest nuggets of vinegared rice. While it looks luscious, it’s messy to eat and unbalanced in terms of seafood-to-starch ratio. The plain old sushi in the 3 Cuts Hon Maguro Nigiri Sushi ($28 for three pieces) works far better. Generous sheets of the same dreamy tuna in various grades of fattiness drape firm, nutty, lightly vinegared Hokkaido rice.

Singapore’s first tuna specialist restaurant
Singapore’s first tuna specialist restaurant
26 Aug 2015

Singapore’s first tuna specialist restaurant

The absolute standout dish here is the Hon Maguro Kama Yakimono (above, $34; feeds two to three pax). “Bluefin maguro collar grilled to perfection” says the menu. It speaks the truth. This is the most technically perfect grilled fish collar we’ve tasted. The skin stretched over a large bow of flesh-covered bone is golden, fragrant and crackly. Somewhat like well-fried ayam goreng. It holds together a bounty of silky, succulent flesh — some bits gelatinous and oily, others firm and flaky. Superb, thanks in part to a “$25,000” combi-oven that measures the internal temperature of the fish, and also the internal and external temperature of the oven, to arrive at the perfect conditions for immaculate grilled fish.

SKIP THIS: The Hon Maguro Chutoro Steak ($45) is a misnomer. It’s not so much a steak, but glorified tuna tataki. Ten thin slices of raw tuna briefly pan-seared on the outside. It’s as fresh-tasting as you’d expect, but boring and not worth the price tag.

VERDICT: The quality of the bluefin tuna here is indeed fresh and excellent, even though it’s not always prepared flawlessly. But when done right, the cool, clean, meltingly soft fish transports you to a great casual-chic Tokyo joint where each slice of sashimi is cut larger than it can fit into your mouth. We’ll return to try the omakase dinner which starts from $80 for five courses and includes tuna sushi and that fabulous grilled collar.

#03-314 SUNTEC CITY MALL TOWER 2, 3 TEMASEK BLVD, S038983. TEL: 6684-5054. OPEN DAILY. 11.30AM-2.30PM; 5.30PM-10.30PM. LAST ORDERS 2PM & 10PM. WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/MIURAMISAKIKOUSUSHIANDDININGSG
 

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