Bali’s Most Authentic Sushi Bar


Shiro popped up on our radar once again during our last issue, in which Chef Doudou of Metis recommended the utterly authentic Japanese restaurant’s scallop tempura stuffed with uni (sea urchin) as one of his “dishes to die for” in Bali.

The scallop tempura is the creation of Chef Shiro-san. Born in Japan but having already spent several years working in some of Indonesia’s finest Japanese restaurants,  Shiro-san has plenty of experience sourcing the highest quality seafood to create his signature specialities.

Located on the first floor of the One Eleven Resort in Seminyak, Shiro is an intimate dining space that seats only 20 people. Designed by famed architect Shigemasa Noi, the most eye-popping aspect of the restaurant is the asymmetrical pieces of wood jutting out from the walls, which is contrasted by the smooth, elegant lines of the wooden tables and chairs that furnish the dining room. Although there are traditional tables, you’ll definitely want to get a seat at the sushi bar and order the omakase to get the full Shiro experience. From your perch, you can watch Chef Shiro-san and interact with him as he painstakingly crafts each of his jewel-like delicacies.

On our latest visit, Chef Shiro-san treated us to some amazing dishes that displayed the full range of his skills. A plate of delicate slices of swordfish belly came lightly grilled and dressed with marinated peppers and daikon radish that had been cooked in miso, adding subtle accents of saltiness and sour to the buttery fish. The sashimi plate showed off the chef’s impressive knife skills, such as on the raw scallop that have been surgically slashed with fine crisscrossing lines to give it a surprisingly tender texture.

The sushi, almost needless to say, was sublime, a testament to fine sourcing and an experienced hand. Chef Shiro-san considers each individual piece of fish as a whole new ingredient, figuring out how to turn something that is naturally delicious and make it more so. For example, he showed us a piece of beautiful light pink toro, but declared the expensive tuna belly too oily. So he pulled out a blowtorch to gently caress the fish with flames for just a few seconds, just enough to finetune the taste. Placed on top of a perfect mound of sushi rice, lightly packed, slightly vinegary and with a minute but well-calculated dab of wasabi placed between rice and fish, it was as close to a perfect piece of nigiri sushi as we’ve ever tried in Bali.

And how about that sea scallop tempura that came so highly recommended? Chef Shiro-san was kind enough to make it for us, and we can see why Chef Doudou enjoyed it so immensely. The crisp crust of panko batter gave way to a nori-wrapped scallop stuffed with bright-orange uni. A beautiful bomb of briny umami flavour and soft melting texture, it was like the essence of the sea wrapped up in a crunchy coating.

Shiro not only specialises in sushi but sake as well, with a number of hard to find bottles available on their extensive menu. Ask Chef Shiro-san for a recommendation and he’ll find just the right one to pair with his creations. He will serve it to you in a glass, filled until overflowing (to symbolise prosperity) and placed in a special wooden box called a masu. Don’t worry about spills. You’re actually supposed to allow some to fall into the box, so that you can drink from it at the end after the wood imbues the sake with its own subtle aroma.

If you are in Bali but want to experience the authentic atmosphere and flavours of a high-end Japanese sushi bar, you would do well to leave yourself in the wise hands of Chef Shiro-san.

Guide to Sushi Eating and Etiquette


Eating at an authentic sushi bar like Shiro and interacting directly with the chef is something that anybody truly interested in experiencing Japanese cuisine should try. Don’t be intimidated – just follow these simple rules to make sure you get the most out of the experience. Most sushi chefs working abroad are used to people not knowing about or understanding the importance of these rules, so don’t be paranoid about offending them. However, following them will gain you their respect and perhaps an extra large cut of o-toro.

• If you are seated at the sushi bar, only ask the itamae (sushi chef) for sushi or sashimi. Drinks, soups, and other non-sushi items are handled only by the waiter/waitress.

• Feel free to tell the itamae your preferences, but also ask him what he would recommend. A good itamae will steer a diner towards the food he feels will be most satisfying and highlight his skills.

• Don’t mix your wasabi into your soy sauce. Especially for nigiri-zushi, the itamae should have already placed the ideal amount of wasabi between the fish and rice. For sashimi, you can apply a small amount of wasabi directly to the fish.

• When eating nigiri-zushi, turn it over and dip only the fish, not the rice, into the soy sauce. This is to prevent too much soy sauce from getting soaked up, overpowering the flavour of the fish and the carefully seasoned rice.

• The above move can be quite tricky using chopsticks. Fortunately, sushi is one of the few Japanese foods that is perfectly acceptable to eat with your hands. In fact, that is how sushi was usually eaten in its early days, when it was considered a kind of fast food.

• Ginger is considered a palate cleanser and should only be eaten between bites of different types of sushi. It is not meant to be eaten in the same bite as a piece of sushi.

• Each piece of sushi is designed to be placed in the mouth whole, so don’t bite it in half unless it’s really too big.

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