Sakuraya – 154 West Coast Road, #B1-50 to 52 West Coast Plaza
This place is one of my not-so-rare indulgences whenever a sashimi craving hits hard. Sakuraya fish market has a substantial selection of fresh seafood which they expertly slice as well as garnish gorgeously with shiso leaves and mounds of julienned radish. Ark shell ad geoduck clams are the more exotic offerings aside from the popular hamachi (yellowtail), uni (sea urchin gonads) and - of course - salmon belly. They charge by weight and dining in costs the same as there is no service charge so a lavish feast for two came up to just $82.70.
The Mongo Ika - Cuttlefish ($7.60 for 96g) was sticky, sweet and silky-smooth; topped with Tobbiko - Flying Fish Roe ($6.30 for 100g), it was absolute bliss as the salty explosions of rich, marine character and crunch provided a resonant contrast of taste and texture.
The serving of roe was so generous that I could eat entire spoonfuls of the stuff and have a generous coating rather than a thimbleful with my Ika, things I could not dream of anywhere else. I finished a fair portion of the vividly orange microscopic spheres with fluffy, fragrant and delicately sweet-sour Sushi Rice ($3).
Another indulgence was the Muki Hotate - Fresh Scallops ($8 for 2) which had excellent mouthfeel that magically blended moist softness with a hint of crunch. Almost sugary with natural sweetness, the thin, glossy slivers were rich and creamy too. However, it was with the sweetish wasabi that it truly shone. The condiment added intensity, depth and amplified character in a way nothing else could, clearing your sinuses in the process too.
The sizable slab of Salmon Sashimi ($10.15 for 130g) was polished off in a flash for the slices were lusciously moist, rich and smooth. However it paled in comparison to the choicest Salmon Belly ($8.45 for 96g) which left me - as always - in speechless ecstasy with its divine butteriness. It harmonized wonderfully with the wasabi for a balance that was spunky yet mellow, sharp yet creamy.
The most extravagant thing we ordered was the Hamachi - Yellowtail ($18.20 for 140g) which worked out to over $3.60 per slice; but it was worth every cent. Creamy, rich, oily, meaty and yet so delicate; I struggle to piece together a description that would do it justice.
I can never resist octopus. Enrobed with batter in takoyaki or marinated in antipasti it is amazing but its invertebrate glory only truly shines in Hokkai Tako – Raw Octopus ($9.40 for 94g). Crunchy and salty with a subtle gelatinousness, it is juicy and indisputably better uncooked, unlike the manner typically served; note the paler colour of this specimen. The tentacles and suckers are vastly different in taste and texture. The former is softer and creamier while the latter has more spring and crunch, but I would be at a loss to pick one over the other.
Squaring things off was Ika Shiayaki – Grilled Squid which taught me the valuable lesson of quitting while you’re ahead. Next to the amazing sashimi, its mediocrity was quite jarring. One thing that piqued my interest was how the whiskers were a gradient of texture; crispy at the tip, it gradually softened to a springy chew at its thickest point.