Restaurant Review: Sushi upsized at Sushi Kuu

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Oct 20, 2013

Singapore has seen a number of high-end sushi restaurants opening in the last few years, which is wonderful for foodies with deep pockets. But not many people would want to pay more than $200 a person for a meal in places such as Shinji in Raffles Hotel and Hashida Sushi in Mandarin Gallery, no matter how sublime the food is.

That is where restaurants such as the month-old Sushi Kuu in Palais Renaissance come in. An offshoot of a Japanese restaurant in Hong Kong, it answers a demand for good food at mid-market prices.

At a recent dinner, my companion and I spent about $80 a person, which, while not cheap, was quite decent for the five dishes we ordered. And we were stuffed because some of the servings were huge.

That included the assorted sashimi salad ($45), which was packed with slices of raw seafood such as salmon, tuna, scallop and shrimp resting on a mesclun salad tossed with a light vinegar dressing and topped with tobiko (flying fish roe). The serving was enough for three or four persons, which meant there was plenty for the two of us.

It certainly satisfied our craving for sashimi. The quality of the seafood was good too, especially the scallop, which was very sweet.

I liked it a lot more than the Japanese black pork shabu-shabu salad ($25) that I ate at an earlier lunch. The salad was topped with slices of poached pork instead of sashimi.

The serving was just as generous, but I found the lean pork too dry - though I guess it would seem contradictory to add fatty pork to a salad, even if that would make it taste better.

Those who prefer sashimi served in a more conventional way can try the assorted seafood cube on sushi rice ($55). There was so much seafood that it rather overwhelmed the rice, though I hardly think anyone is going to complain about that. I certainly didn't.

If you like fish roe, you should order the spider roll ($25). The rice was rolled over deep-fried soft shell crab, avocado, cucumber and mizuna (a Japanese green with a slightly spicy flavour). And spoonfuls of salmon and flying fish roe were heaped on top, giving the sushi a bright orange hue that looked lovely.

It tasted good too as the large amount of roe balanced perfectly the crispy but dry crab.

What I found not worth paying for was the cocktail sushi ($30), listed under the Chef's Creative Sushi section. The rice was served in a martini glass and topped with sea urchin, snow crab, salmon roe and caviar. But there was enough for only one mouthful, and the toppings were too meagre to make much of an impression.

Luckily, we had the rice with grilled eel and scrambled egg ($40) to fill us up. This came in a big bowl and was enough to make a meal on its own. Or you could easily share it among three or four persons.

The eel could be softer and I wished there was a bit more sauce though.

What I like about the 70-seater Sushi Kuu is the generous amount of space, which is often not the case with Japanese restaurants here. There is counter seating but also a large number of tables set with decent intervals in between. And the soothing lighting makes you feel relaxed and comfortable.

All these would mean nothing without good service. Happily, Sushi Kuu delivered on this as well. The staff were friendly and efficient - more than what one would get at some pricier joints.

ahyoke@sph.com.sg

SundayLife! paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here.