September 20, 2016

Ryo Sushi @ Orchid Hotel, Tanjong Pagar ~ Japanese Diner With Cheap $18, $38 & $68 Sushi Omakase & That Bitter Uni Bowl

Contemporary sushi diner Ryo Sushi has opened last week at Orchid Hotel, at the exact spot where Cake Spade used to be before they moved to a bigger unit down Tanjong Pagar Road.

The "24 Hr Diner" signage can be misleading as the sushi bar currently opens only for certain hours during lunch and dinner services, and is closed on Sundays, though there are plans to move into the round-the-clock concept once operations settles down with sufficient manpower.

With a opening promotion that offers diners a chance to experience 10-course Omakase menu at a jaw-dropping cheap price of $18nett, we were sold....

..... and I guess so are the other customers who made a beeline for it. But the $18 special is limited to 18 portions daily, and is usually fully taken up by lunch hour.

There are other Omakase options: 15-course menu at $38, 18-course menu at $68 and 18-course sea urchin menu at $98. A selection of Sashimi, Sushi, Rice Bowl and Side Dishes is available, but those are strictly for "Add-On".

You mean I can't go in and order a few ala-carte items that are to my liking without first ordering an omakase set? We were told straight in the face: "Yes. We can't afford to have people coming in to order 2 pieces of sushi and sit here for 2 hours".

Oh well..... not that we intend to do that anyway. We are perfectly fine to entrust everything to the chef in the omakase spirit, but thought some flexibility would be value-add for us as customers.

Our dinner started off on a pleasant note but ended with a bitter taste. Literally.

We didn't manage to get the $18 special, but the 15-course omakase menu at $38 is a rather worthy deal too comprising of Edamame, Truffled Onsen Egg, Hijiki Seaweed Salad, 9 pieces of Assorted Sushi, Small Chirashi Bowl, Hand Roll and Soup.

Some of the sushi we had included Sea Bream with Truffle Shoyu, Squid with Sesame, Tuna in Shoyu & Yuzu Zest, Aburi Salmon with Shoyu Foam. Freshness and seasoning was adequate, though some pieces were more memorable than others. The Hotate with Kombu Crumble which was bursting with sweet, plump succulence, took the spot as our favorite of the evening.

Though my friend thought the fishes served were generally a notch too warm and preferred it more chilled, we have no major complains about the quality considering the price we paid.

Being a sea urchin lover, I was eager to try Ryo's Small Sea Urchin Rice Bowl ($33) after seeing titillating photos of the uni dish being splashed across its website and Facebook page.

The combination certainly looked promising. Uni is mixed with short-grain rice before topped with more uni, ikura and a tiny dallop of wasabi. Ryo is pretty honest about the rice bowl being "small", as the portion is in reality no bigger than the size of my palm. The first spoonful was okay but it got progressively bitter, which was unusual. Another sushi chef friend told me the taste is like that if the uni is not fresh. Probably sitting around for too long?

I had past experiences of not-so-fresh uni where texture was mushy and flavor a tad off, but one with a bitter taste? This is the first. Perhaps that uni happened to snack on something bitter and the diet has affected its flavor. Perhaps it's just my luck.

You can say that I'm feeling bitter over the bitter uni, but that's not the main disappointment. It's not the chef's fault if the uni is not of quality as fresh as we expect it to be, but he can choose not to serve it, be upfront and apologetic about it, or offer an exchange. But I felt that he brushed off my concern with an excuse by simply saying: "Uni comes from different places. Our uni is from Hokkaido. It tastes like that". Imagine someone who has never eaten uni before being mislead to assume that this is really the case. As if we are idiots who don't know any better.

Every time I had a not-so-good dining experience, there is always the deliberation if it should be shared on this PinkyPiggu blog.

There was once when I wrote on my Instagram post that the food was "bad" (which will be worse off if I describe in detail how bad the food was), "daggers" came in quick and sharp, criticizing me for being judgemental. But because this food blog serves the purpose of documenting my food journey, I chose to recount the truth. I wouldn't want to misrepresent my food world as a fairy-tale world where everything I eat is delicious. Sometimes it's unpleasant. Perfection doesn't exist.

Needless to say, our experience at Ryo Sushi was far from perfect.

Ryo Sushi
Address: 1 Tras Link, #01-06 Orchid Hotel, Singapore 078867
Contact: +65 6443 3463
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat Lunch 12pm-3pm & Dinner 6pm-11pm / Closed on Sunday

Prices are (1) Stated in Singapore dollars (2) No service charge & GST (3) Correct at point of published date.

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