Sushi Sase: Simple and sensual as is (8.8)

We have a book about Jiro on our bookshelf and it was kind of dispiriting to see it while I was tidying the books. Covid and its distancing implications are not necessarily a difficult thing for me, as I don’t need to be around lots of people all the time. But it means a halt to an occasional change of scenery. No more weekend getaways, at least for now.

And it isn’t really just about food when we travel. It’s more about a break in our daily routine itself that keeps us sane and refreshes our perspective. Even if it’s theoretically possible to get top notch raw fish and exactly the same culinary techniques as in Japan, it’s still Hong Kong. You look around and nearly everyone’s living the same depressing life of working high-stress jobs (or otherwise living high-stress lives rooted in financial constraint or other not-enoughs). We have a perpetual need for more, for better.

As fine dining sushi restaurants multiply and competition heats up, many sushi places increasingly make their offerings very elaborate. They add dozens of ingredients to sushi and cook a few courses in different ways almost as though it was a kaiseki. It’s as much about the taste as it is a show. But when we have very fresh fish, I like it simple, too, as in life where I increasingly try to keep things as much in their elementary form as is feasible. Stripping out exterior layers seem to help me see the essence of things more clearly.

I feel particularly fond of Sushi Sase because they do exactly that. It isn’t a three Michelin star kind of meal, but I don’t see the experience any lesser because of that. The fish are mostly presented in their truest form at room temperature with only the slightest dab of seasoning and some freshly grated ginger or wasabi. I get to enjoy the minute details and subtleties between each kind of fish, as well as the notes that linger.

The drinks menu include quite a handful of junmai ginjo and junmai daiginjo, some of which are very affordable. A small selection of shouchu, umeshu, champagne, whites and reds are also available. Hospitality is generally fine. Servers are polite and helpful.

Mini Omakase Rundown

Sesame tofu ごま豆腐・Ginkgo いちょう・Purple Taro 里芋
The grilled ginkgo is nutty and gummy and satoimo was deeply satisfying. They made a great amuse-bouche. The “tofu” I imagine had sesame paste and starch incorporated during its making—as it tastes a lot like jimami tofu—where there’s actually no soy bean and is just named tofu for its appearance. It had a pleasant aroma but I didn’t like the texture enough.

Right-eye flounder カレイ
A mild and simple start for the palate. Crisp and clean notes pairing well with sour-sweet ponzu. The thinness of each slice also helped improve mouthfeel as more layers get stacked as one eats it.

Horsehair crab 毛蟹
Steamed kegani was similarly mild on the palate with a delicate texture and a faint sweetness. The soft roe was creamy but not the rich kind—it didn’t help that we had hairy crab the meal before this. Seasoning was absolutely minimal. I appreciate that a lot of work had gone into creating this big pile of crab meat.

Japanese amberjack 鰤魚
Buri was bursting with flavor and I loved it.

Fresh salmon roe いくら
Fresh aroma and a bit less salty than most salmon roes.

Skipjack tuna カツオ
Katsuo had an incredibly temping smokiness but was just a tad on the acidic side that didn’t make me want more, like I usually do.

Tuna 鮪魚
Fresh is not always better—this aged tuna was a star.

Japanese horse mackerel 真鰺
Ma-aji was grilled with just a dab of salt. Cooking it through gave it an even more full-bodied texture and a richer taste. The skin was paper crisp. Pair that with some grated radish for even more balance.

From this point onward the fish were meant to be served as sushi, but as I was getting too filled up our chef kindly agreed to serve them as sashimi. I requested for urchin to be served on rice and he promptly suggested to trim down on the rice.

Conch 巻き貝
Another star. So crisp and plump with a depth of flavor and sweetness that every bite screams freshness.

Cuttlefish with karasumi イカとカラスミ・Japanese halfbeak サヨリ・Pacific saury 秋刀魚
Cuttlefish was the chewy and nutty kind. It’s slick texture and lack of any acidic aftertaste is what makes it one of my favorite kinds of sashimi in general. I thought the karasumi rendered the cuttlefish a little dry, but it was still an interesting combination for me. The silver sparkling sayori had a great mouthfeel with salty, oceanic scents. Sanma looks whiter than usual, but was seasonal and superb.

Sea urchin うに
Top quality urchin from Hokkaido. Sweet and super fresh. My only complaint is that there wasn’t more of it.

Eel 穴子・Egg 卵
This is essentially dessert for me. The eel is remarkably airy and sweet. The egg is not a tamagoyaki—it’s a fluffy, baked cake with hints of shrimp, some dashi and a lot of sweetness and egginess. I loved both its texture and flavor.

Red miso soup 赤みそ汁
The longer fermented red miso and fried fish create a bolder umami—a hearty end to a good meal.

The mini omakase set is $980+10% during lunch hours.

Sushi Sase
22 Ice
House Street, Central
$$$, Japanese