Shinji by Kanesaka
Date of review: October 16, 2016 | Reviewed by: Charmaine Mok
A discrete, bamboo-lined entrance leads diners to Shinji as they arrive at the City of Dreams lobby, and once you’re inside it’s easy to settle into the serene atmosphere. The room is reasonably sizeable compared to other sushi bars, with a high, open ceiling and some natural light gleaming through in the daytime. Dining during the first seating at either lunch or dinner is very quiet, which depending on your mood can be positive or negative—for us, the stillness was a welcoming respite from Macau’s casino chaos.
There are three omakase menus available at Shinji, and even the simplest menu will be satisfying for sushi fans. As per tradition, the meal begins with an amuse bouche, this time a seared barracuda with smoky, fatty flesh that only needed the slightest touch of wasabi and soy sauce. Kegani was served next, with a smooth crumple of yuba (tofu skin), and grated ginger for heat. As for the sushi, there can be no better in Macau; the rice is cooked in water sourced from Kagoshima and the grains are more al dente than most, and the shari is rather warm.
Aged yellowtail brushed with the slightest amount of soy sauce brims with a full, rich aroma on the palate. The hidden underside of horse mackerel is subtly anointed with the merest brush of scallion purée and topped with a nub of fragrant shiso, the flavours unfurling wildly as they mix with the fish and tender grains of rice, which are cooked in pure spring waters sourced from Kagoshima. The energy from a deft flick of the wrist sends the edges of a giant Japanese clam curling towards the sky just before Osumi sets it down on the serving slate. It’s a poetic parade of land and sea, in miniature.
The omakase at Shinji allows us to experience the best of Japanese produce beyond sushi as well, all crafted into wonderful displays. Kegani, or Japanese horsehair crab, is cloaked with a pristine sheet of yuba (tofu skin) and topped with the tiniest dab of intensely flavoured grated ginger. Kinki fish benefits from a rustic swipe of white miso, highlighting the oiliness of the flesh.
Instead of the traditional miso soup to close the meal, we receive a delicate abalone broth with micro spring onions—a cleansing denouement.
Shinji boasts its own private sake label and the resulting brew is very easy drinking, sweetly accented with a little richness that is perfect with the parade of nigiri.
The intimacy of the sushi bar can be awkward, but diners need not worry at Shinji. Toru Osumi is a professional but also adept at convivial conversation and is known for little bouts of playfulness that ensures a relaxed atmosphere. Service is very attentive without being overbearing.
A meal for two with sake and service comes to over MOP4,000. It certainly is not an inexpensive meal, but the whole experience is as close to dining in Ginza as you can get in Macau.