I am an avid follower of @myfoodsirens on Instagram, and therefore when she posted - on her Instagram - that she was at a hidden lunch spot which sold very good chirashi-don, it wasn't going to be much of a secret anymore, at least for me and my folks. We're talking about Koji Sushi Bar, a new hole in the wall shop that is a stone's throw down from Platypus Lobster Shack, along the same row albeit towards North Bridge Road and away from China Street. It just recently opened in November 2014 and is run by the same guys behind Satsuma at Gallery Hotel, which unfortunately closed down.
The entire place has a really open feel: it's an open kitchen with counters all around. Quite an intimidating place, I would think, if I were a chef - since there's almost no privacy at all. The sakes were handscribbled on a chalkboard to one side of the bar, with quite an extensive selection.
This place specialises in chirashi and nigiri sushi sets, which is well, apt for its name. Some of the sushi sets were pretty affordable. For example, a set for S$9 gives you (1) sea bream; (2) swordfish; (3) bluefin tuna; (4) sweet prawn and (5) salmon. Not bad for S$9! If you ordered ala-carte, this would have set you back S$20 or more.
And what impressed me was the quality. The neta (fish) was excellent; with a very good quality of fish. The sea bream had full of good fish oils, very clean tasting and flavourful; swordfish was good; the bluefin tuna a revelation, since there was that deep flavourful taste that had that "metallic" depth that I like about a good bluefin tuna (comparable to a mid-level sushiya in Tokyo perhaps); the sweet prawn was alright; and salmon was alright as well. Don't really fancy salmon.
And you can also order the expensive sushi set for S$23 which comes with (1) chutoro; (2) shima aji (3) kampachi; (4) hotate and (5) anago. Everything was good: the chutoro full of oishi fish oils; shima aji was flavourful too; and especially good was the hotate. Everything was done very well - the rice was not too big, and they even have the brush for you to brush your own shoyu (just as what is done in the top sushi restaurants where they'd brush the shoyu for you).
Overall - the nigiri gets an 8.25/10 from me. You can tell how good the fish is by the aftertaste that lingers in one's month long after the meal has ended. In the end, I finished 4 sets altogether - which made for 20 pieces of sushi. You will note the exquisite colour of genuine bluefin tuna in this photo here.
We also bumped into my ex-national service mate who is the owner's brother; and so he let us try their fresh saba (mackerel) which was very delicious as well; sweet and complex.
And eat set comes with a choice of salad or soup. Both were good - the salad had a light tasty dressing and the soup had good kelp flavours.
Great new sushi joint for me to satisfy my craving without breaking the bank! I think I may go back today, haha. Worth a visit!