[Shanghai] Sushi Oyama 鮨 大山
Sushi Oyama 鮨 大山 | Dianping
Address: 东湖路20号2楼(近淮海中路) – 2F, 20 Donghu Rd near Huaihai Middle Rd (徐汇区 Xuhui District)
Date visited: 2014.04
Price: RMB¥880 per person base omakase + extra for additional pieces, special requests, and sake
Will return: Yes
Update 2014.09: Sushi Oyama’s price has changed since this post; please see updated post here.
Sushi Oyama, we finally meet. Trying to retell this experience is next to impossible because the taste of Oyama is indescribable euphoria. Photos and words don’t justify the Oyama touch that brings new dimensions of umami out of everything that leaves his hands. A truly elevating experience. You have to taste to believe and I am a believer (and a corny one).
Chef Oyama-san stood behind the sushi bar. Before I knew it was him, I leaned into my dining partner and quietly asked, “is that Oyama?” He nodded. All this time I thought the man behind the reputation would be, quite frankly, an older gentleman. Instead, I was met by a cheerful, fairly young-ish man who spoke both Japanese and English. A reservation here is absolutely necessary and if you can, try to snatch one of the coveted sushi bar seats in front of Oyama-san. If the occasion calls for a more intimate setting, you can choose to sit in one of the private rooms and a chef will come to you to prepare the omakase but it won’t be Oyama-san.
The base omakase currently starts at RMB¥880 per person and can easily exceed RMB¥1,000 after extra pieces and special requests (which was the case for this meal). Sake is a must and while you are at it, pour some for Oyama-san. This is a place you go all out for.
Tender hirame (flounder) and hotate (scallop).
The most creamy monkfish liver to touch these lips. Heaven in a bowl.
Tender seasonal squid with its own mushy innards marked by a special umami.
We started sushi with a bang with melt-in-your-mouth chutoro (medium fatty tuna). The soy sauce is really good. And also the sushi rice, which is served slightly warm with a nice balance of vinegar and sweetness. Note that the cut of fish nearly engulfs the rice, a ratio that works really well for Oyama’s pieces.
Sakura snapper, as Oyama-san named this, simply for its dash of pink and because it is sakura season.
Baked Japanese boar fish covered with perfectly crisp skin. Oyama-san’s oven is indeed a magical one.
Tempura oyster, whose umami you can taste even through the batter.
And then Oyama-san took out a box of beautiful uni (sea urchin) that collectively turned everyone from their conversations to him. Sweet and creamy.
Botan ebi (sweet shrimp) sprinkled with sea salt, yuzu, and sesame. Firm with a creamy finish.
Kohada (gizzard shad) aged in salt.
Buri (kingfish) aged for 5 days, torched and topped with ginger and scallion.
Crispy akagi (red clam).
Akamai (lean tuna) aged and marinated with soy sauce. When we first sat down, my friend told me Oyama-san’s akamai is one of his favorite pieces here. It was a bold statement that I initially did not comprehend because I love fatty tuna. But believe it when I say Oyama’s touch can transform lean tuna to achieve a chewy, gelatinous texture rich in flavor.
Eel with a sweetness in the sauce that I can’t quite put my finger on. Slightly smokey from torching.
By request, we got ikura (roe), toro (tuna), uni (sea urchin) rice bowls with raw egg. The ikura had a bouncy exterior and exploded when squeezed. Mix everything up and let the gush of delightfully confusing mix flavors rush down your palate with the firm rice.
Oyama-san’s tamago (egg) is incredibly special. Unlike traditional tamago, which has a layered texture, this is more of a custard with a mix of sweetness, sake, and fish umami once again taking my taste buds to a new territory.
We finished with a miso soup with seafood and shrimp head.
When the server asked whether I wanted yuzu sorbet (front) or panna cotta with salted caramel (back) for dessert, my friend promptly told her to give me both (how well he knows me). The sorbet was refreshing and extremely smooth with very little icicles in the texture but it was the panna cotta that ascended me to dessert heaven.