[Shanghai] Maison Asano 浅野府
Maison Asano 浅野府 | Dianping
Address: 巨鹿路318号(近茂名南路) – 318 Julu Rd near Maoming South Rd (黄浦区 Huangpu District)
Date visited: 2013.12 for dinner
Cost: RMB¥888 per person to start or set your price; meal below is around RMB¥1000 per person + extra for sake
Will return: Yes, expensive but worth it
Please note this was an invited tasting
Good sushi is as rare as clear and pollution-free days in Shanghai. I knew the minute I got on the plane to make my way back to Shanghai, I was not only leaving behind breathable air but also quality sushi. Life has just not been the same without toro and uni. If you are also a member of the I-can’t-find-good-sushi-in-Shanghai-club, you can remove yourself from the club because good sushi is here. Maison Asano, or House of Asano, is a reservation-only Japanese restaurant serving omakase dinners on Julu Road. In one word, it’s legit. In more words, please keep reading. Make sure to have a napkin at hand to wipe the impending drool off your mouth.
Maison Asano is tied to Japan in more ways than one. Ingredients are airshipped from Japan, which means two things: quality control and limited seating every night. We ate very fresh fish in the company of very few people. Executive Chef Kevin Lin, who prepares the dishes in front of you at the bar, hails from Taiwan but grew up in Japan and was, of course, trained in Japan. He’s a funny guy if you can understand Chinese or Japanese. The Maison Asano logo, proudly illuminating outside and throughout the restaurant is Taiwanese/Japanese sibling owners Jimmy and Judy’s family crest. Just to clarify, that is the family crest for the Asano clan, who are descendants of Japanese royalty from way back (thank you, Wikipedia).
The concept here is omakase. Omakase means you leave your meal up to the chef, who will prepare a combination of sushi and cooked dishes over multiple courses. Reserve a seat at the bar and watch Chef Kevin and his minions prepare the food in front of you. Tables in the main dining area as well as private rooms are available if you like but the bar is where the show is at.
Pricing starts at RMB¥888 per person and you can set a higher price if you want to ball out/impress a girl/lose some weight (from your wallet). Our dinner below was about RMB¥1,000 per person plus additional for sake. If you can’t finish your sake, Maison Asano can store it for you until your next visit. I always support sake with sushi.
We started with some light soup featuring small white shrimp topped with pomelo peel. The shrimp was was sweet and tender, accentuated by the bitterness of the pomelo peel.
Next, tofu topped with uni (sea urchin) in vinegar jelly. The tofu was one of sticky jello texture which I didn’t care for because I was too busy fixating on the fresh uni.
Hirame duo with buttery torched flounder (left) contrasting light flounder sashimi (right).
Shima-aji (striped jack) torched slightly at the top was fatty with a hint of smokey flavor.
Ika (squid) with an intense sweet and creamy finish. The acute flavor makes squid one of my sushi favorites.
Grilled scallop with seaweed. Pick the scallop up wrapped in the seaweed and eat by hand.
Torched kamasu (barracuda) subtly salted on the top.
Simple and sweet ebi (shrimp).
Do you think otoro (tuna belly) is the fattiest cut on a tuna? Wrong. This piece of kamatoro (tuna neck) is. This part of the neck, which noobs don’t know about (knowledge now I bestow upon you), is more fatty and rare than the belly. Just think of how many people have double or triple chins–that’s where the fat is. It is rare because it is a small area of the fish and usually only places that know what they are doing will have this. Fat-tastic.
Fresh oyster with absolutely none of that typical fishy sea flavor. That’s a dish in the shape of an oyster shell by the way, not the actual oyster shell. Look again.
I imagine Chef Kevin probably set a lot of things on fire when he was a kid because he really likes to torch his food. I like it, too.
Chef Kevin asked if we had tried shirako (cod milt aka sperm) before. The thing is, Chef Kevin really knows how to play this game because at this point, he’s banking on the fact that I’ll be like sure I’ll eat cod sperm because everything else you’ve fed me has been good…. and that’s exactly what I did. So creamy and soft (sounds so wrong but I liked it).
Nicely flavored grilled tilefish and drunken tomato.
Apparently one customer liked these so much he went home with a bag of them.
Tempura eel and mushroom with an array of salts.
White, rose, and matcha salt. Liked the rose salt in the middle the best.
Kinki (thorny-head fish) topped with its own creamy liver. This was the first piece of fish I had with rice tonight and the rice was warm with just the right amount of vinegar-sugar-and-whatever-else-goes-in-there ratio.
Melt-in-you-mouth torched otoro (extra fatty tuna).
Hokkaido uni (sea urchin), my true love. Forget the guy sitting next to me.
because it is so beautiful to illustrate the depth, which was generously filled with about 1/4 rice and 3/4 uni. It’s usually unfavorably the other way around at most places.
Akagai (clam) with a crispy texture.
Shrimp head stuffed with crispy rice. Another perk of sitting at the bar is having Chef Kevin peel your shrimp for you because you
are a big baby don’t know how to eat it.
When we sat down, Chef Kevin asked if we were allergic to anything. The genetic pool blessed me with no food allergies but I told him I didn’t like ikura (salmon roe). He asked why and I said because it tastes foul to which he responded you haven’t had good roe before. So at the end of the night, he served me up a bowl of sea urchin, crab, silverfish, and salmon roe over rice and told me to try the roe. The roe wasn’t anything like the fishy gushers I had before. So now, I will eat roe, but only here.
If you can get me to eat and like something that sounds nasty (cod sperm) and something I know I don’t like (salmon roe), chef’s got some skills. Miso soup to close out the night…
… but there’s always room for dessert: pumpkin pudding and fresh fruits.
In conclusion, no one is denying this place is hella expensive. Because it is hella legit. You can’t buy the Batmobile on a smart car budget. The ingredients are top quality. So if you are serious about your sushi, go try it out. If you enjoy California rolls on Yongkang Lu, just know that we will never be friends.