To start things off, I will flat out say that Sushi-Ichi in Pullman Jakarta Indonesia is the best sushi-ya –a restaurant that specialises in sushi- in Jakarta. There are numerous similar restaurants that serve omakase (a set course of small sushi dishes picked by the chef), but nothing comes close to this place. If you’re wondering as to why Sushi-Ichi takes the cake, I will try to explain thoroughly over the next few paragraphs but if you don’t want to read too much, go ahead and try to book a seat at the counter-only restaurant –if you’ve got the cash to spare. Trust me.
Now we got that out of the way, let’s go over a few basic things. Sushi-Ichi is the legitimate branch of the same name that’s located in Ginza, Tokyo. After spawning two more restaurants in Bangkok and Singapore, the sushi Gods have finally smiled upon Jakarta and the wondrous cuisine of executive head chef Masakazu Ishibashi can now be enjoyed in The Big J. The restaurant is situated on the second floor of the hotel and sits behind an inconspicuous wooden door. By no means is Sushi-Ichi a large restaurant. There are only three small rooms with about six seats each. Like any good sushi-ya in Japan there are no a la carte menus here, you only need to choose the number of dishes you wish to be served –sixteen or twenty dishes- in which I gladly chose the twenty-course meal for this visit.
If twenty dishes sounds too much to you, worry not. You’ll only get one piece of sushi or sashimi for each dish and the individual items came at a relatively fast pace. Before you know it, you’ll be staring at your dessert plate and lament that the meal’s already over. But before we get into the tail-end of this culinary adventure, let’s talk about the beginning.
Our kind chef wasted no time by cutting us fine pieces of kinmedai (golden eye snapper) and served it as a sashimi, with no rice. Within the first bite, I knew that this restaurant was special. The texture of the fish was perfect and the taste impeccable, with no sharp contrasts to detract me from the enjoyment of this fish. I was visibly excited and couldn’t wait any longer for the chef to serve me the next items.
Turns out, that excitement turned into euphoria after I was served the first nigiri of shima aji (striped horse mackerel). If you’ve read an article a few months ago in this same magazine about the determining qualities of sushi, you’ll know that what sets good sushi restaurants with the truly excellent ones is the rice. And I have to say that Sushi-Ichi’s rice is –by miles- the best sushi rice in Jakarta. The texture, heat, and taste only brought out the best of each fish’s taste and subtleties. The chef masterfully blended the vinegar with the rice and even switched between white vinegar with red vinegar when the fish he was about to serve contained a stronger, more intense flavour.
Needless to say, the twenty courses at Sushi-Ichi were all excellent. Among a field of extraordinary dishes, there were a few that I thought was exceptional and stood out. Of all the sushi-ya places in Jakarta, Sushi-Ichi is the only restaurant that has kuruma ebi (tiger prawn). The prawn’s succulent meat is a lot tastier and refined than what you’ll find anywhere else. Tachiuo –commonly known as belt fish- is an eel-like fish that’s hard to come by anywhere outside of Japan. Our chef prepared this exotic fish with aplomb, preserving the fish’s delicate texture and its almost-buttery taste. A lot of sushi restaurants in Jakarta will only boast that their fish comes Japan’s most famous fish market, Tsukiji Market. But only in Sushi-Ichi will tell you the exact area or prefecture their fishes comes from. Case in point their amazingly flavourful o-toro (fatty tuna belly) where our chef proudly told us that it came from the Wakayama prefecture, or the aforementioned kuruma ebi that came from the Chiba prefecture. Last but not least, their awabi (abalone) was perfect. Served with juices of its own liver, the awabi was tender with the right amount of chewiness but wasn’t difficult to break down in my mouth.
It would probably take a lot more pages to go through each individual sushi item. In between the fish dishes I mentioned above, I was also served excellent butterfish, kohada, aori squid, hotate (scallop), and uni (sea urchin) among many others.
What else is there to say? I made it clear early on that Sushi-Ichi is the best sushi-ya in Jakarta. The attention to detail, the flow of the meal, the taste of the rice, and the chef’s exemplary skills all contributed to why I came to that conclusion. The only stumbling block for repeat visits is the price. A few million Rupiahs is a steep price that even myself can’t afford to eat every week or even every month. However in this case, the price most certainly justifies the experience. So if you’re looking for a single splurge dining experience and demand nothing but the best, this is the place.
Pullman Jakarta Indonesia
Jl. MH Thamrin No. 59
T: 021 3983 5850
Rp.3,000,000 for one