The restaurant interior is all understated elegance and simplicity but with plenty of attention to detail—organic materials like wood and paper are flown in from Japan for the furnishing and fixtures. The main sushi counter is carved from the trunk of a 220-year-old Japanese cypress (hinoki tree)—highly prized in traditional Japanese architecture. Sit around the counter and watch chefs expertly slice slabs of fresh tuna and prepare sushi on the spot while bantering with guests.
On the day of this review, the dishes are initially served rather slowly as the chefs are busy preparing platters of sushi for a private table. Once the first sushi is placed before us, however, service starts to move more smoothly. The yellow tail and Spanish mackerel are pristine and naturally sweet. A sliver of glistening toro is elegantly draped over a mound of perfectly prepared vinegared rice that’s still slightly warm. No extra seasoning is needed as soy sauce has already been brushed over the fish. Sadly, for our portion of otoro, the tendon is still intact, making the texture of well-marbled fish very difficult to enjoy or swallow. The squid has an intense dab of wasabi, but the hint of lime livens up the seafood nicely. Memorable items include the generous portion of incredibly sweet and creamy bright orange sea urchin. The cool wobbly uni goes well with the salty seaweed and warm rice. We also savour the lightly grilled unagi dabbed with sweet sauce as well as horse mackerel brightened up with finely chopped spring onions. The baby tuna with a touch of ginger is mild in flavour and delicious. To finish, you might get a slice of sweet Japanese melon or a sweet treat like pumpkin purée and mochi topped with pumpkin seeds. Unfortunately, execution is rather rough and careless for some of the sushi. The chef serving us is not too bothered with presentation of the items. Some of the rice falls out as the fish is not well mounted. However, this is very rare for Shinji as other times, the meals have always been flawless.
An excellent variety of sakes is available. Do request for suggestions on the best pairing for sushi.
Expect Japanese service at its best. The waitresses dressed in intricate kimonos are elegant and discreet yet attentive. Little stools are available for guests to place their handbags, and tea is topped up constantly.
The lunch sets are priced at $75 for nine items, $125 for 12 items, and $180 for 15 items, and they include a variety of nigiri sushi, maki sushi, miso and clam soup, and dessert. The omasake dinner sets start at $250 and include appetiser, sashimi, assorted cooked dishes, nigiri sushi, maki sushi, soup and fruit.