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Fresh sushi at Mekumi Sushi in Japan
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Fresh sushi at Mekumi Sushi in Japan
Mekumi is a nine-year-old eatery literally in the middle of nowhere just on the outskirts of downtown Kanazawa.

Singapore, March 5, 2011

Mekumi Sushi
Shimobayashi Nonoichi-machi

See more pictures of Mekumi Sushi restaurant dishes

YOU often hear of the Japanese chef whose claim to fame is the company of suppliers that he keeps.

The more access he has to suppliers who in turn have access to some of the best quality, hard-to-source produce, the more diners beat a path down to their cypress wood doors.

Then there are chefs for whom moving to the product source makes a lot more sense, which is how it came about that chef Yamaguchi and his wife Mekumi decided to return to his hometown of Kanazawa to set up his own sushi restaurant.

Named after his wife – an unusual move for a Japanese sushi restaurant which is traditionally named after the chef-owner – Mekumi is a nine-year-old eatery literally in the middle of nowhere just on the outskirts of downtown Kanazawa, the capital of Ishikawa prefecture.

It looks like you’re in a residential neighbourhood and parking in someone’s driveway, but it’s really the entrance to this small but cosy eatery that is said to be one of the best sushi places in town.

Ishikawa enjoys an ideal location in the centre of Honshu, facing the Sea of Japan, stretching all the way from North to South, which means it gets the best seafood swimming from the cold waters of the north and from the warmer waters of the south.

With such bounty at their doorstep, chefs there can literally offer their version of fruits de la mer every day of the week.

In the case of chef Yamaguchi, that means he’s up at 4am each day to pick out the best ingredients of the day from the local markets – not just from around the area but other parts of Japan as well.

On any given day, his haul could include clean-tasting local hirame, super-sweet shrimp amaebi from nearby Toyama prefecture, succulent uni from Hokkaido and even a rare, red-edged crunchy clam called akanishigai.

Chef Yamaguchi is a friendly but intense chef who won’t even accept a drink while he’s working, preferring to wait till he’s finished concentrating on turning out well-executed sushi.

Carefully, he rolls super-fresh shirako Edomae-style, placing it atop a nori-wrapped mound of rice that is a mouthful of sheer joy.

He presents tender abalone, cooked for over seven hours but retaining its delicate sea flavour, and oysters cooked in sake and served without any rice.

Even if the food still lacks the finesse of a top-rated Tokyo sushi outfit – the 18,000 yen (S$277) price tag being a good notch below the big city’s prices – Chef Yamaguchi is no slacker and he has a good woman behind him for strong moral support – Mekumi, his wife who quietly helps out at the back, serving hot tea and towels in a cheery manner.

They make a cute couple and their small-town friendliness and good food is a great example of what local hospitality is all about.

Mekumi Sushi
4-48, Shimobayashi Nonoichi-machi,
Ishikawa-gun, Ishikawa 921-8831
Tel: +81-762-467781

See more pictures of Mekumi Sushi restaurant dishes

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