As artisans who love all things from Tokyo, including Edomae sushi, the newest Black Sheep Restaurants concept, Sushi Haru is the culmination of an almost decade long culinary love affair. Back when Black Sheep Restaurants was just beginning and Founders Syed Asim Hussain and Christopher Mark were hustling to make ends meet, on the rare occasions they caught a break, they would celebrate with a visit to their favourite sushi shokunin, Motoharu Inazuka.
There they would treat themselves with a sushi lunch and upon finding out that Chef Inazuka was a fan of Neapolitan pizza, they began a tradition of bringing with them a Motorino pizza for Chef to eat after his lunch service was over. Gradually Black Sheep Restaurants expanded and the celebrations became more frequent, but the tradition remained, year after year.
Having worked as a chef in Tokyo for three years, Mark has a deep understanding of the importance in executing sushi at the highest level, he comments “Sushi is the most deceptively simple of foods. There is so much subtlety in the technique, every chef has their different recipe for soy, rice seasoning, their vinegar sourcing, it really is all in the details.”
For Chef Inazuka, who began his apprenticeship in sushi-making relatively late in life, the omakase experience is about connectivity; a deep understanding of the relationships that exist between producer and sushi shokunin, between every ingredient and tool used and ultimately between every guest at the counter. For Inazuka, the arms race to secure premium ingredients has distracted from the true roots of sushi-eating, making it an ostentatious and inaccessible experience, rather than one of trust, respect and craftsmanship. Going against the grain and steering away from a trend that has turned the sushi experience into something elitist, Inazuka has dedicated his life to his practice in the hopes of bringing the connection he feels to his guest, his purveyors and the food to the counter each night.
Connection is essential to his art, he uses only suppliers with whom he has strong and lasting relationships with, his pickled ginger coming from a friend in Fukuoka, the vinegar used, a special recipe where even the provider is a secret only he holds, and most importantly, the seafood at Sushi Haru which comes from only his most trusted merchants across Hokkaido, Kyushu and Tokyo. Stepping into the intimate sushi counter is to witness his life’s work on display, a very personal experience, where he works tirelessly to provide a bespoke experience that brings to fruition a long-held dream: a small sushi counter, built on a deep understanding of the honest connections and relationships between every variable. It is this philosophy that inspires the trust essential to a true omakase experience.
With just eight counter seats in the serene grey space, Sushi Haru serves an omakase menu ($1500 per person) of the city’s finest Edomae-style sushi. First created in Edo (now Tokyo) the main difference of this kind of sushi is that the fish is marinated rather than served fresh. In earlier times this was out of necessity, chefs needed to use preservatives such as soy sauce, salt and vinegar to prevent the fish from spoiling but found that the natural flavours of the fish could actually be enhanced through this process. Nowadays this is how sushi shokunin display the art and mastery of their craft.
In contrast to the name Haru which means spring in Japanese, the interior provides a dark, moody backdrop that allows the premium ingredients and techniques used to prepare them to shine. Charcoal grey walls and fixtures recede, spotlighting a 250-year-old natural hinoki wood bar that encases the chefs. Hinoki, or Japanese cypress, is a wood revered in Japan and used to construct shrines and other sacred spaces. It is prized for its fragrance, hardness and antibacterial properties and is the centrepiece of many traditional sushi restaurants. Hinoki wood is not just sold to just anyone, the use of this traditional material is relationship based and to receive access you must be referred by a trusted source. This single piece of wood represented more than half of the total design spend for the restaurant.
Mark comments; “Opening a sushi restaurant is something of a dream come true for me. As a young chef I lived in Tokyo in Tsukiji, I chose that neighbourhood because I wanted to be close to the market and I ate sushi for breakfast every day. I became something of an unofficial tour guide for the hotel I was working at when they had an important guest or celebrity who wanted to see the market. Gerrard Depardieu was one of the more memorable guests that I toured Tsukiji with.”
In adherence with current dining regulations, Sushi Haru is serving lunch from 12 – 2:30pm and dinner from 6 – 9pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Reservations can be made here.
Dinner: $1500 per person (22 course menu)
Lunch: $898 per person (15 course menu)
All prices subject to a 10% service charge.https://www.sushiharu.com.hk/