Was really excited to hear of the opening of Emporium Shokuhin, located at the new wing at Marina Square. We visited yesterday and was suitably impressed - it reminded me of a supermarket in Japan! Rows of fresh seafood and dry-aged meat, with dried produce and dairy as well.
The emporium is massively huge - it consists of a number of different restaurants (Senmi Sushi, which I am going to blog about in this post), Burosu Honten - a ramen joint, Umi + Vino - a seafood and wine bar, Tsukeru - a shabu shabu outlet, Gyuu+ - a meat joint, and Takujo - an omakase joint.
Senmi Sushi does have a lovely ambience: a long sushi bar where you can watch the chefs prepare the sushi and chirashi bowls, and light wood which is so Japanese-like. Orders are taken through a touch-screen pad (probably an iPad) which makes for convenient ordering. The prices were not too prohibitive: swordfish sashimi going at S$8 for 3 pieces and salmon sushi going for less than S$2 per pop. For bluefin tuna, akami sushi was sold for S$5 - still pretty alright.
We ordered some nigiri to start: a trio of hotate (scallop), akami (lean bluefin tuna), and tamago (egg custard). I am happy to report that all of them were very very good, as good as many a joint in Japan. The akami was rich, deep, and flavourful (I somehow preferred it to the o-toro that I ordered later on, which was more fatty but did not have such a deep taste), the scallops were sweet and meaty, and the tamago was sweet and fragrant. Altogether, very good! (8.75/10) One thing that they can learn from one of my favourite places (Koji) is to have a special sushi sauce for brushing, rather than using the generic shoyu, since a special sushi sauce would have more flavour as it would be combined with mirin and reduced to form a nikiri.
We also ordered the chirashi don (S$18) - for S$18, this was pretty generous. The fish was of top quality - the chutoro was fatty, melt in your mouth, very rich; the salmon was also very flavourful, more so than other salmon; and the scallops - wow it was really good, so succulent and sweet. A special shout out goes to the hamachi (hidden from view) - also very tasty. (8.5/10)
The only failing - in my view - is that they didn't give us fresh wasabi and we were forced to use the powdered / paste stuff instead, nasty little things.
Do I prefer it to Koji's? Hmm, it's a tough fight. But I have to say - Senmi Sushi is excellent in its own right. It is authentic, is at a good price point, and is absolutely delicious. Do I wish that it had its own hikiri sushi sauce? Hell yeah. Did I wish it had fresh wasabi instead of that green looking weird crap? Hell yeah. But - overall - for what it is - it's pretty darned good. Highly recommended.