With its “Made in Japan, born in Hong Kong” tagline, Mashi No Mashi was conceived by renowned international chef and founder of Wagyumafia, Hisato Hamada.
The restaurant Mashi no Mashi opened in May in Saudi Arabia's latest culinary destination, the Jeddah Yacht Club and Marina.
What to expect and where to sit
The door swings open to a team dressed in bright yellow branded tops, greeting guests with a ringing konnichiwa (welcome in Japanese) and big smiles. Immediately this feels like a party, one that's waiting just for you to start.
The well-spaced-out restaurant has regular tables and booth seating indoors, surrounded by walls adorned with drawings of monkeys, Mashi No Mashi's mascot animal.
The restaurant is also inspired by Hamada's childhood memories, both in its decor and menu – and serves ramen, a dish not yet commonly served in Saudi Arabia.
My dining companion and I are both truffle lovers, and so start with edamame truffle (46 Saudi riyals) and spinach salad with goma truffle dressing (78 riyals, about $20), both safe and delicious options. The salad is drenched in dressing, however, so is best asked for on the side.
Hamada's Wagyumafia is a leading exporter of Japanese beef, and apt for connoisseurs of Wagyu, which makes up 70 per cent of the Mashi No Mashi menu. The thinly sliced ozaki Wagyu beef tataki (155 riyals) is a nice addition to a diverse offering, but we suggest you try the signature Wagyu gyoza (120 riyals) with pan-seared steamed oxalis beef. Crisp edges, a soft outer shell and succulent beef inside, this is best enjoyed dipped in the in-house hot sauce for an extra kick.
Mashi no Mashi also does Wagyu cha siu bao (115 riyals), which is large enough to share between two, and benefits from an extremely soft bun.
When it's time for ramen (from 285 riyals), a server approaches the table, ceremoniously holding out the dish in one hand and gesturing with another, to announce the dish name in Japanese. We have a spicy samurai bomb tsukemen ramen, made of 12 spices, which lives up to its promise of “serious umami and heat”; and the Wagyujiro dry, a no-broth ramen topped off with garlic and an egg yolk. This is served with hand-rolled wholewheat pasta, making it a healthier option.
The 24-hour stewed Wagyu beef bone broth served with bamboo shoots and sprouts, while generous in portion, had us reaching for the hot sauce yet again to mitigate the blandness.
For dessert, we try the Basque cheesecake (65 riyals), a rich recipe perfected by the pastry chef; and matcha creme brulee (55 riyals) – a treat for lovers of the green tea powder used so liberally in Asian cuisines. The matcha has a creamy texture, which balances the sweet golden caramel crust.·
A chat with the chef
Head chef Hozarudin Hoter was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and worked with the late Michelin-lauded chef Santi Santamaria, both in Ossiano by Santi in Atlantis The Palm in Dubai and Santi at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
Unsurprisingly, Hoter says A5 Japanese Wagyu beef is his favourite ingredient to work with. “My approach begins with the ingredients themselves, and I try to source the best in quality. Then I work on keeping it honest, by building each around the characteristics of its base ingredient.”
Other than the dishes we try, the chef recommends noukou miso ramen for vegetarians; and tsukemen ramen dipping noodles with home-made broth for meat lovers.
“We do not serve any seafood at Mashi No Mashi, but this broth is cooked for nearly 24 hours, and made from Wagyu bones, Wagyu fat and bonito stock, so you can taste both surf and turf flavours,” Hoter says.
The soft-serve ice cream with crystal sea salt is a signature dessert.
Price point and contact information
Starters range from 46 riyals to 120 riyals ($12 to $32); among the mains, Wagyu dishes start from 115 riyals ($30) and ramen bowls cost 285 riyals ($76) a pop; desserts are priced between 55 riyals and 65 riyals ($14 and $17).
Mashi No Mashi is open from 5pm to midnight from Sunday to Thursday, 2pm to midnight on Friday, and 1pm to midnight on Saturday. Bookings can be made via the Seven Rooms website.
This review was conducted at the invitation of the restaurant