…it’s another lockdown! But this tine around we got a full day’s notice, so we all grabbed the opportunity to head out and have one last hurrah before we are confined to our little flat for two weeks (or will that be four?). Eddie and I have been pining for sushi for a while now, but a combination of financial prudence in the face of a difficult economic situation and the sheer difficulty of booking one of the two tiny sushi places we like prevented sushi from happening. Our friends Maho & Seiichi had a booking, so be begged, cajoled and fawned our way to two more seats. Well, actually our dear friends did it, being Japanese going to a Japanese restaurant, it just seemed easier. For us.
We were early and were shown to a rather austere holding pen, which was much improved by the appearance of two glasses of blissfully chilled Draught Suntory Beers. I’m not sure why, but beer always seem like a nice prelude to sushi. Maybe it’s the memories of these tiny little glasses one elegantly sips the workmen’s drink out of in Japan?
We pass through the simple, elegant entrance into a completely functional dining room. 10 seats, two chefs, a sushi counter and that’s about it. Bring your own wine if you want, or choose from the limited, but serviceable list. Of course purists do sake, but for some reason I have never understood, it’s one of the few things that simply doesn’t agree with me. Maybe it’s because I know nothing about sake? Fortunately Seiichi and Maho prefer wine too, so that’s an easy decision.
I was going to say “Chef Ori is a master of his craft”, but it sounds trite and tired, even though he is. I do think that too much has been made of the simple craft of sushi cuisine. It has been elevated to an almost mythical status when in fact it is the same as every other simple thing; extremely hard to do well. If you are wondering what I mean, think simple butter cake, a French quatre-quarts, four quarters: quarter kilo butter, quarter kilo sugar, quarter kilo flour, four eggs. Nothing to it until you try (Le Quatre Quarts). When you are dealing with very few ingredients, you have nowhere to hide and every wrong step, every lack of technique, every bad choice of base material will be plain as day for everyone to see. So when you start baking, make a black forest cherry cake, not a butter cake!
And when you make Japanese food at home, simmer something, don’t try and make sushi. A lot of people think the super expensive fish makes sushi great, but that is not the case; in the hands of a master, even (I should say especially) the simple fish turns into something that will take your breath away when it touches your tongue. Think seabass, think sardine. In this way, sushi is no different from dim sum. You can fill your siew long pau with foie gras and con everyone, but if you can’t stun me with your har kau, you are not a master of your craft.
So after all this pseudo philosophical waffling; what did we eat? I’m not going to give you a rundown of every course, because a) it’s boring and b) by the end of it there was too much wine for me to properly remember. I’m not a foodie influencer, so forgive me for not having taken notes, but I like to enjoy eating my food more than I enjoy taking pictures of it. I did try, though, as I wanted to share it with you.
And after this little extravaganza, we returned home satisfied in the knowledge that life will go on after the lockdown and there will be more wonderful meals, more laughter with friends, more silly conversations, more music, more wine. Life seems still worth living.
For more information about Sushi Ori (no, I don’t get a commission), check out their website. https://sushi-ori.com/en/
Note: Neither Eddie nor I have any intention of becoming restaurant critics. It does not become restauranteurs to set themselves up as the judges of others, so all you will see here is positive reviews of the restaurants of our friends and of people we think are making a great effort to improve the scene here in KL and elsewhere. We have but little time to go out and eat, so don’t expect the list to be in any way exhaustive.