The tiny little island of Singapore is home to many of the best Japanese restaurants outside of Japan — some with Michelin stars and master chefs, while others are simpler and have its speciality in its own rights.
MAI by Dashi Master Marusaya, a fine Japanese dining restaurant tucked away on the quaint Bukit Pasoh Road is relatively new to the dining arena, but the company behind it is not. Established in Japan in 1962, Marusaya is a Katsuobushi purveyor which specialises in a 2-year-old mysterious ingredient and is widely used in Japanese cooking, including dashi (fish broth) and many essential staple of Japanese cuisine.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Japanese culinary terms, Katsuobushi means dried bonito flakes – a type of skipjack tuna that is dried, smoked and cured over a period of time and is often shaved to use as flakes.
Here at MAI by Dashi Master Marusaya, the restaurant uses a premium Katsuobushi as the key element in the menu and of course, traditional Japanese produce as well as locally sourced ingredients to create a delightful range of speciality dishes, all cooked with natural dashi made from its signature Katsuobushi.
The dashi prepared at MAI by Dashi Master Marusaya is of a different class, whereby two year-old hongare-honbushi from Satsuma-Japan is used to prepare the incredibly simple Japanese broth that brings out the umami in food. The longer the ageing process, the stronger in umami it becomes – you get it!
What’s good to know in addition to the aged bonito is that the restaurant also added Hokkaido-harvested Rishiri kelp in their dashi broth to give it a deeper flavour without the need of adding MSG or any other form of artificial flavorants.
If you are heading down to MAI by Dashi Master Marusaya, I recommend you to order the Tasting Course ($88++) or Omakase Hana Course ($128++) which you will start off with a seasonal Chawanmushi and a dashi tasting, follow by appetiser, 2-3 kinds of sashimi, main course and dessert.
There is also the more premium Omakase Sushi Course ($158++) and Omakase Mai Course ($198++) that has more items on the menu. The a la carte options are quite extensive which ranges from appetisers, sashimi, charcoal grill to deep fried items and signature claypot rice dishes.
The traditional Unagi Donabe ($38++) is a must try here, it features an aromatic pot of top premium quality Hokkaido Yumepirika rice cooked in dashi, soy sauce, Japanese sake and well-seasoned grilled river eel. Also comes in a Salmon with Ikura version.
It takes approximately 45 minutes to prepare each donabe and serves 3 to 4 person. Pre-order is highly recommended.
If you need a place for business lunch or to entertain clients, MAI by Dashi Master Marusaya offers great value mid-day lunch sets definitely worth trying. Choose between a Dashi Shabu Shabu set (from $29++), the Toban Yaki set (from $35++), or an Omakase set lunch (from $68) with choices of main course that ranges from Hokkaido Pork, Black Angus Beef, A4 Wagyu, and Seafood like White Fish & Salmon, Japanese Prawn, Scallop & Oyster.
Each set lunch comes with traditional accompaniments such as chawanmushi (steamed egg), tsukemono (Japanese pickles), wasabi kombu (kelp), ikura (fish roe), katsuobushi (bonito), dashi rice and miso soup.
For added experience of MAI by Dashi Master Marusaya and its specialities, you might want to order some a la carte dishes to have a full taste of Katsuobushi. Some of my favourites are the Half Dried Bonito Fish Jerky ($14++) and Bonito Stock Flavour Fried Chicken ($16++).
OCBC Exclusive Promotion
1-for-1 Sashimi (Assorted 3) @ $42++
Valid for lunch and dinner till 30 November 2019
Min 2 pax to dine
Payment must be made with any OCBC credit/debit card only
MAI 舞 BY DASHI MASTER MARUSAYA*
Location: 46 Bukit Pasoh Road Singapore 089858 (Nearest MRT Outram Park)
Tel: +65 6327 8414
Opening Hours: Mon to Sat 12pm to 3pm, 6pm to 11pm
Seating Capacity: 38 (including 10 counter seats and 2 private rooms)
*Restaurant formerly named Dashi Kaiseki Mai