Japanese cuisines are different from all others! As most ingredients are served fresh, and even raw in many cases, only the very best quality can ever be used. Sauces and different cooking methods are minimal, yet because of the quality of produce required and the hand skills of the specialised chefs, it is also one of the worlds most expensive cuisines.
One of the most baffling skills, to us non-Japanese, is that of the Master Sushi Chef. I believe that in Japan it takes many years before anyone reaches that level, yet the task seems so simple, but obviously not!
Back in my computer days [a boring over-paid profession that allowed me to partake of the delights of Sydneys best restaurants most evenings of the year] I often went for a healthy lunch at a Sushi Bar in the nearby food court. It was presided over by a Japanese Master Sushi Chef. I would have been more than happy to select from the pre-prepared display in the refrigerated counter, but whenever he noticed my arrival, as a regular customer, he always insisted to making fresh sushi just for me. I guessed it was supposedly the right way to do it, but I personally would have preferred to select from the chilled ones, than eat my sushi still warm from his touch.
I always felt that a sushi-sashimi lunch was nice and healthy and maybe made up for my indulgences of the night before.
The secret of great sushi, for me, is that the seafood part must be fresh. Therefore Sushi Bars that are often deserted mean long standing stock and that has never encouraged me to buy and try. It was with delight that I discovered Maguro. What a pleasant spot, between the swimming pools and the beach, at the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel. You can sit at tables, just inside or outside of the Sushi Bar, or at high stools at long benches behind the tables and depending on the angle of your bar stool, you can watch either the bathing beauties around the pool or the rolling waves crashing onto the beach.
All whilst eating the healthiest of lunches!
Some of the Nori Maki at Maguro is traditional whilst others are modern developments of the original. You can select from Californian [crab, avocado and cucumber], Tasmanian [salmon and avocado], Tekka [tuna], Philadelphia [cream cheese, salmon, and avocado], Nusa Dua [lobster], the distinctive flavours of Thailand with Bangkok[prawn, papaya and Thai holy basil], New York [spicy beef] or Futomaki [vegetarian]. All are toasted lava sheets rolled around that special rice and their respective fillings.
Nigiri Sushi is normal sushi and you can order a 6 piece combination, each a fat finger of sushi rice topped with slabs of different raw seafood; tuna, salmon, shrimp, white fish, scallop or even fish row. The Sashimi at Maguro is limited to tuna, salmon and white fish. The Maguro Special combines maki sushi, nigiri sushi and sashimi. At Rp.80,000++ a very healthy luncheon, and perfect for me, particularly with a ceramic of chilled Sake on the side.
However, it is not only sushi and sashimi at Maguro even though they are the specialties. Hot food is also available, if you wish. The ever-present Miso Soup [made from fermented soya beans] goes with anything Japanese. Chicken Katsu Curry are crumbed pieces of tender chicken, pan-fried in the wok and served with in a light curry sauce with steamed rice. For noodlers, both Udon [wheat noodles] and Soba [buck wheat noodles] are served in a Dashi broth. Tempura, with different items wrapped in that wonderfully light rice flour batter, is available [prawns, mixed seafood or vegetables].
Yakitori used to be small birds on a stick but in recent years with the world-wide acceptance of Japanese cuisines the use of chicken pieces has become almost universal. At Maguro you can also have vegetable pieces as an alternative, or a combination of both. All very finger-licking good in their sticky, tangy, covering sauce.
For those requiring a luncheon that is more than just a snack, and most active tourists will fit into this category, Maguro has five different set menus [Rp.105-180,000++] that are all very appealing and provide an excellent contrast in tastes. All combine hot and cold dishes. They start with the simplest, just a bowl of Udon Noodles and a combination plate of seafood and vegetable tempura, and progress to the most complete, assorted sushi and sashimi, a bowl of Soba Noodles and a mixture of both seafood and vegetable tempura. Even the vegetarian option is attractive; vegetable Nori Rolls, Grilled Kebabs and Tempura [both of vegetables only, of course].
For the real Japanese lovers, Sake is available [hot or cold], whilst for the honeymooners, or anyone else appreciating the great things of life, a bottle of French champagne is the prefect accompaniment for a lunch at Maguro.
Friendly efficient service, and the most peaceful location imaginable all go to make this a secret rendezvous for lunch, like nowehere eelse.