Sugared & Spiced

pâtissière in paris, now shanghai

[Shanghai] Sushi Oyama 大山鮨 (3)

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Sushi Oyama 大山鮨

Add: 2/F, 20 Donghu Lu, near Huaihai Lu 東湖路20號2樓, 近淮海路
Tel: 5404 7705
Hours: 6:30pm-10:30pm (closed Sunday)
Price: 1280 RMB/person, drinks extra
Visited: Jan 2015

When I was living in Shanghai a few years ago, Sushi Oyama used to be my favorite sushi bar in town. I was never a regular guest because I couldn’t afford to be one – the omakase was priced at 800 RMB/person (recently increased to 1280 RMB/person) – but during the few times I dined here, Oyama-san always made it a very memorable evening (details here). As I’m back in Shanghai for a few weeks of vacation, I decided to come here again despite the fact that a number of other places have opened since my departure.

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Impressively, Oyama-san (not in above photo) still recognized me even though the last time I came here was four years ago. He remembers my blog, where I worked, and even where I sat during my first visit. I told him that I am now a pâtissière in Paris, and we had a pleasant time catching up throughout dinner. Very friendly, as always.

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So, on to the food. Dinner started with a delightful trio of ark clam (赤貝), botan shrimp (牡丹海老), and smoked scallop (帆立の燻製)

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Tsubodai (壺鯛), roasted seabream to warm things up a bit before the procession of nigiri sushi.

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Meji maguro (メジマグロ), small blue fin tuna.

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Shima-aji (縞鰺), striped jack.

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Hamachi (はまち), yellowtail.

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Ma-aji (真鰺), Japanese horse mackerel.

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Uni (海胆), sea urchin.

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Kinmedai (金目鯛), golden eye seabream.

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Otoro (大トロ), fatty tuna belly.

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Hirame Engawa (ヒラメ縁側), flounder fin.

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Iwash (イワシ), sardine.

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A small break with negitoro-maki (葱とろ巻き), sushi roll of tuna belly and chopped scallions.

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Tako (タコ), octopus.

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Anago (穴子), grilled sea eel.

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Tamago-taki 卵焼き, Japanese omelet.

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We should’ve ended here, but Oyama-san asked if we wanted to try anything else. He then offered us はまちの腹身, the fatty belly of yellowtail which he just received the day of. He explained that  some fish are better left to mature for some time, he prefers this particular fish to be served immediately. Supremely fatty and melts-in-your-mouth.

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He then asked if we want to try some shirako 白子, which is fish sperm (usually from cod, anglerfish or monkfish). I can’t say it sounded immediately appetizing, but ok, I’m open to try. Shirako is extremely buttery and rich, so it’s nice that it was served in ponzu, a citrus-base sauce that helps with balancing the flavor. So did I like it? Well, it was fine in small doses, but I’m not sure if it would sit well with me had I taken any more than that. Happy that I at least tried though.

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Desserts,  panna cotta with caramel cream and kiwi sorbet. The panna cotta has been there since as long as I can remember and was delicious as usual, but the kiwi sorbet was a first time for me at Oyama, and I loved it. Oyama-san explained that the kiwi flavor itself isn’t very strong, so he adds an ingredient (perhaps I shouldn’t divulge his secret here) which makes the flavor spark.

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He then treated us with a glass of umeshu (plum wine) on the rocks, slightly sour and a perfect ending to this meal.

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Dining at Sushi Oyama is always a pleasant experience thanks to Oyama-san’s meticulous handling of top quality ingredients, and himself as a gracious host. However, I found the ambience here to be quite different from before. On this particular evening, there were three other guests with us at the sushi bar (all the rest were in private rooms), one being a frequent patron who apparently came here 4 times this week already. He was watching TV on his phone (with the volume on, though not terribly loud) as we dined, while the two other guests rushed through dinner and finished everything in less than one hour. Oyama-san explained that when he first opened five years ago, the clientele was much more international, while nowadays it is 70% Chinese, who have a different way of eating. Of course each person has his or her attitude toward “dining” and it is not for me to judge, but I personally come to Sushi Oyama for the whole experience – not just putting food in my mouth, but really focusing on what I eat and learning about what I’m eating. That aside, shouldn’t it be basic respect for the chef and for other guests to keep one’s phone on silent, if using it at all? Obviously this is not the consensus here.

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Written by sugarednspiced

January 23rd, 2015 at 4:55 am