Despite the inhospitable chill within its domed bowl sculpted entirely from ice, an intoxicating waft of fresh winter truffle wafts upwards from the dish, beckoning.
So you send in your chopsticks, collect one of the three plump slices of shiromi fanned out beneath the truffle shavings and glittering gold leaf, and give it a swish through its chilled sauce. The fish is firm and luscious, and the rich truffle sauce seems an ideal complement – no mean feat for the unlikely and ordinarily uncooperative pairing of cold fish and cold truffle. We want more.
And we get precisely that – another 16 dishes, all told. The oeuvre next shifts to beautifully textured thin noodles(somen) in chilled dashi, a Madai shabu shabu, sliced steamed Japanese abalone in an exquisite sauce of its own puréed liver. Next, a dazzling interplay of flavours in a miniature rice bowl studded with uni, trout roe, caviar, fresh wasabi and diced tuna. And finally, sushi – all Japanese fish, from conger eel to black throat sea perch and – of course – a study in bluefin.
Sushi Yugen opened in late November, and we are seated at the chef’s counter, an eight-seat oasis at the rear of the main restaurant, where Kyohei Igarashi serves his omakase menu twice nightly. As any sushi aficionado can discern from the catalogue of dishes described above, his cuisine is distinct from the expected, rigid orthodoxy of a well-trained itamae. For it reflects his unusual background, with training in both Michelin-starred sushi restaurants and kaiseki – and his desire to bring together the best of both worlds, along with a taste of his extensive travels.
If you are in the mood for a more modest and casual experience than Igarashi’s chef’s counter, note that the main bar in the front room serves sushi to a very similar high standard one piece at a time on a tight timeline: 12 courses in 45 minutes for lunch, and 14 in an hour for dinner. The restaurant, which opened in November, is handsome, and pleasantly understated. And watch this space: the sake menu, already strong, is scheduled to receive a slew of much sought-after private imports in February.
— Jacob Richler
Photography by Rick O’Brien, Ryan Nangreaves, and Ryan Emberley.
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