Launched in 2019, MAI by Dashi Master Marusaya is a traditional Japanese restaurant ideally located at Bukit Pasoh. With a sushi bar and two private rooms, the elegant restaurant specialises in Omakase, Sushi and Dashi Set and signature claypot rice.
MAI by Dashi Master Marusaya is helmed by 38-year old Chef, Hiroyuki Ono who hails from Fukushima, Japan. The amicable and humble chef honed his skills at Yamazato Japanese Restaurant at Hotel Okura Tokyo, 1-Michelin star Yamazato Japanese Restaurant at Hotel Okura Amsterdam, Sushi Kanesaka in Tokyo, Shinji by Kanesaka (extension of 1 Michelin star Chef Shinji Kanesaka’s Edo-style sushi restaurant in Tokyo), Hanaya Restaurant at Kuala Lumpur and TEPPAN by Chef Yonemura at Resorts World Sentosa and NAMI Restaurant & Bar by Shangri-La Hotel Singapore before joining MAI.
A creative, innovative and artistic individual, Chef Ono strongly believes that a culinary creation is synonymous with a work of art. Every dish is fastidiously curated to excite the senses and delight the palates of diners.
MAI has recently launched its signature Sushi and Dashi Omakase at an affordable price of S$88++ per person comprising a seasonal appetiser, sashimi (2 kinds), Vinegar Sauce Dish, Meat, Chef’s Recommended Sushi (7 kinds, made using Hokkaido Rice), Miso Soup and Dessert. The best part is that it is available for both lunch and dinner. Therefore, if you enjoy Omakase, you’ll be in for an epicurean treat.
Dashi is the foundation of Japanese cuisine and MAI is renowned for its unique dashi prepared from an amalgamation of two ingredients: kombu and dried bonito flakes. The most popular type of Dashi is prepared from Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes). Katsuobushi is usually produced by simmering, smoking and drying for a year. MAI by Dashi Master Marusaya prides itself on its Katsuobushi which takes two years to process. This tedious process has enabled them to produce delectable, nutritious and healthy Katsuobushi which abounds with umami flavours. The Dashi at MAI is 100% natural and does not contain MSG or other artificial seasoning.
My Omakase dining experience at MAI was a feast for the senses and I was enchanted by the dazzling showmanship, sublime presentation and culinary dexterity of Chef Ono Hiroyuki. At MAI, you can be assured of the freshest ingredients as all ingredients are air-flown from Japan.
I started with the first appetiser, Hotate (scallop) with Japanese Kai Lan. The scallop was firm and succulent while the Kai Lan was crunchy. The dashi stock was light and tasty and the addition of Katsuobushi enhanced the overall flavours.
The second appetiser, Smoked Duck with Hijiki seaweed was a lovely marriage of different textures and flavours. The savoury duck was paired with the Hijiki seaweed steeped in creamy mayonnaise sauce.
The Sashimi was a sensory treat comprising Shima-aji (striped jack), Chūtoro (medium fatty tuna) and ika (squid). The Shima-aji (striped jack) is one of the most luxurious fishes eaten during summer. It is recommended that you start with the Shima-aji (striped jack) as it has a light refreshing taste with a delicate, firm texture. Next, try the Ika (squid), which has a chewy texture and a pleasant, sweet taste. The Chūtoro (medium fatty tuna) should be eaten last as it has a slightly intense flavour. In between the Akami (the main part of the tuna which is leaner) and Otoro (the tuna belly which is also the fattiest part of the tuna), you can enjoy the perfect balance with the meatiness of the Akami and the sweetness of the tuna fat.
The next course, the Tamago (Japanese egg omelette) was another dish made by dexterously rolling several layers of cooked egg together. Seasoned with Japanese sweet wine, soy sauce, eggs and white sugar and topped with Katsuobushi, it has a soft, fluffy texture.
One can never go wrong with Uni (Sea Urchin) and Otoro (Tuna Belly), two of the most exquisite ingredients in a Japanese Omakase meal. The Aburi Otoro and Uni Sushi was one of my favourites with luxurious creamy texture and robust flavours. The rich, elegant texture of the uni and the melt-in-your-mouth consistency of the Aburi Otoro provided an ambrosial harmony of unique flavours and textures.
The Unagi with Seaweed and Vinegar topped with Shiso Flower was exquisitely presented and the pink Shisho flower added colour and texture to the lovely creation.
Those who like Tempura will definitely love the Sakura Ebi with Japanese Leek (ashitaba), Matcha Salt and Japanese Lime (Tempura Style) and accented with Mitsuba Clover (Japanese herb). It has a crispy, crunchy texture and slightly savoury taste and the Mitsuba Clover gives it a fresh, aromatic finish.
The Wagyu Beef with Salted Rice Malt and Japanese Turnip was superbly executed. Tender, juicy and bursting with umami flavours, it brings delight to the taste buds.
The Marinated Maguro and Aburi Otoro was another palate stunner. The Marinated Maguro Sushi which tasted like a blend of Shoyu and Mirin had an intense flavour while the lightly seared Aburi Otoro impressed with its rich, juicy texture.
The Kuro-Mutsu (Blackthroat Sea Perch) Sushi is another sushi which won my heart. A deep sea fish from Japan that lives 2000 feet deep, the Kuro-Mutsu has high fat content and a smooth, clean texture. The Shisho Flower added a touch of spring to the sushi.
I love the Black Tiger Prawn Sushi which was deftly stuffed with egg. The wondrous combination of the Tiger Prawns and egg was mesmerising.
The Negitoro (Chopped Tuna) wrapped with Wagyu and topped with Salmon Roe was satisfying to the soul, palate and senses. It had a refined taste combining the juicy texture of the Negitoro, melt-in-your mouth consistency of the Wagyu and the sweet, savoury and briny flavours of the salmon roe.
A delicacy that appears at Omakase restaurants in late spring or early summer, the Shako (Mantis Shrimp) Sushi is typically boiled for a short while, roasted for a few seconds over open flames and served with tsume (a sweet glaze used in Edo styled sushi). I simply adore the luscious, meaty texture and sweet, earthy taste.
The Negitoro (Chopped Tuna), Shirauo (Whitebait), Kani (Crabmeat) and Ginger Roll hit all the right notes for me. What can be heartier than a delightful mix of these delectable ingredients delicately rolled and topped with juicy Salmon Roe?
Miso Soup is vital in every Japanese meal and MAI’s rendition is traditional with the mix of dashi and miso. What I like was the generous ingredients in the soup, including shrimp ball, cabbage and tofu skin.
A sensational Omakase is not complete without dessert. MAI’s Yuzu Sorbet topped with Azuki Beans is revitalising and helps to cleanse the palate and awake the senses, bringing my meal to a magnificent conclusion.
MAI by Dashi Master Marusaya is located at 46 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore 089858. The restaurant is open from 12pm to 2.30pm (last order 2pm) for lunch and from 6pm to 11pm (last order 10pm ) for dinner on Mondays to Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays.
For reservations, please call 6327 8414. For more information, please visit their website here.