November 24, 2011 at 12:00 pm
A friend of mine once said that in essence, Japanese food is simple but elegant. It is never difficult to learn the ways of making sushi or even a bowl of miso soup. However, this simplicity is the very same thing that makes it challenging. While anyone can make sushi, not everyone is able to make it really good and delicious. Though this fact may change with years of practice, something tells me that there are other factors that contribute greatly to the makings of a great chef.
Of late, Malaysians are spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting their favourite restaurants for Japanese cuisine. Eateries like Saisaki, Iketeru at Hilton Kuala Lumpur, Jogoya, Sagano at Renaissance Hotel and Rakuzen offer not only a wide selection of Japanese cuisine, but are also known for their authenticity and quality in all of their dishes. This also means that to enjoy really good Japanese food, one must be prepared to pay as it usually comes at a price. So what can a person do if they want great tasting sushi but not burn a hole in their pocket? They go to Sushi Heng.
Do not let the name fool you though. Sushi Heng is not a spin-off of another famous Japanese food franchise that most of us know. This quaint stall modelled after a typical Japanese eatery is located within Asia Cafe in SS15, Subang Jaya. The stall is manned by Chef Nicholas Heng, hence the name ‘Sushi Heng’. Now one may wonder, what is it that makes this place so unique and different from the many other stalls that offers sushi. Well, other than the fact that the food is absolutely delicious to both the eye and the tastebuds, Chef Nicholas has a knack for creating something different for his customers.
To be honest, when the invitation was sent to us requesting for a food review for a Japanese restaurant, we did not have any expectations. So, with an open mind and heart, we sat down and waited for Chef Nicholas to awe and amaze us with his wonderful creations. He began by serving us with one of his specially created dish known as the Diet Roll. Yes ladies and gentlemen, who said that those who are on a diet cannot enjoy Japanese food? The Diet Roll does not have any rice in it, yet it is sufficiently filling to act as a meal on its own. Instead of the usual nori sheet to wrap the ingredients, Chef Nicholas used a thinly sliced sheet of pear skin and radish. It was a delightful change as the sweet skin was crunchy and firm to the bite, and when combined with the prawn tempura and ebi, vegetables and avocado slice, the taste was not too heavy nor was it bland.
The next dish prepared by Chef Nicholas really caught our attention. This roll is called the Special Roll and it has red tuna, soft shell crab and avocado inside. The whole dish was sprinkled with sliced strawberries and different types of fish roe and drizzled with mayonnaise. Chef Nicholas was generous with his portions, which made every mouthful heavenly as one can not only taste the rice but also every bit of the other ingredients as well. The one thing that was noticeable was the fact that Chef Nicholas makes it a point to not only make wonderful tasting sushi, he also ensures that the presentation of the dish is ‘appetising’ to the eyes too. It might be a wild guess, but I assume that a person’s appetite and curiosity is greatly whetted when the food looks extremely appealing.
No Japanese restaurant is ever complete without offering raw ingredients on its menu, and a review without trying the restaurant’s sashimi dishes would not do the restaurant much justice. So naturally, our next dish was Chef Nicholas’ Sashimi Mix. The dish offered a selection of three kinds of fish, salmon, red tuna and butterfish. The salmon was nothing short of exquisite. It was smooth and fresh and after a chew or two, it literally melts in one’s mouth. It was indeed a very welcomed experience when compared to other salmon sashimi dishes offered at chain outlets that offer Japanese food. The same goes for the red tuna and butterfish slices. Though the red tuna has a firmer consistency to it, it was never chewy or tough and also melted in one’s mouth after a while. Once again, we could see Chef Nicholas’ generosity through the thick slices that was offered on the plate.
We ended our review session with the Salmon Skin Roll. The Salmon Skin Roll came with a serving of deep-fried salmon skin on the side and was garnished with fish roe, slices of strawberries and fresh seaweed drizzled with mayonnaise sauce. The salmon skin turned out to be quite an unexpected surprise as it was crisp and devoid of any fishy and oily aftertaste, something that other outlets struggle to perfect.
So, at the very end, what makes this dining affair at Sushi Heng so special? For us at Malaysia.com, it is the fact that despite eating in a place that can be considered simple and down-to-earth, the food that was served was nothing less than heavenly.