Thursday, November 29, 2007
Tuesdays with sushi
Last Tuesday was progressing in a typical fashion (i.e. nothing much was happening) when my friend Hi-Kun called me up to see if I wanted to get some dinner. We drove around a bit, deciding what to have, and settled on a sushiya owned by one of Hi's friends. Takezushi is a small restuarant, though average by Japanese standards, with two tatami tables and and bar with stools for eight. The bar seats are the most coveted as you can pick your fish from the glass case in front of you and watch as it is prepared. Being a tuesday, it was slow and we sat at the bar. Gen-San, the sushi chef, was a very friendly guy and spoke very enthusiastically about everything whether in English, which he doesn't speak, or in Japanese which, in his enthusiasm was mostly too fast to pick up. Luckily I had Hi to translate and head up the ordering.
We were given a starter plate with various, perhaps experimental, rolls, one of which was described by Gen as Japanese fois gras. They were all delicious and we ordered some sake to accompany the meal. The sake was served in traditional fashion which means the glass is set inside a bamboo box and filled to overflowing. After you finish the spirits in your glass you tilt the square container to your mouth and finish the rest.
We had a perfectly fried tempura set with local mushrooms, fish, shrimp, and some delicate and pretty leaves-Japanese cuisine fully utilizes the array of flora found in Japan. After the Tempura Hi-kun ordered lamb. I was wary of this as I have never before enjoyed lamb, in fact, all previous experience I had with it involved some level of repulsion on my part. This, however, was ridiculously good. It arrived on a small plate, thinly sliced and raw, followed closely by a porous black stone beneath which a steady flame burned. We cooked each piece seperately, enjoying the hiss of the cooking meat. Like tiny steaks, we left the centers raw, while quickly charring either side. The delicate meat seemed to dissolve in my mouth and the taste was not strong like I remembered but flavorful, almost sweet. We had perfect, fresh maguro and salmon. We had another round of sake. Half-way through my glass I made the mistake of asking about some of the more mysterious items behind the transpicuous case. My questioning reached a stopping point when a particularly curious looking fish-part could not be adequately explained. Hi-Kun, seizing the moment, ordered me some before I could find out what it was. The nori served as a mere bowl for a collection of white organic undulations that, if it could produce sound, would surely have been making something of a "gluurg, glurrg" noise. I had to ask Gen-San whether I was expected to eat the whole thing at once as it was quite large but upon hearing his affirmation I went for it. It was not good. It was like cottage cheese though more slippery and less textured and much more unsettling. I finished it off and smiled, "oishi desu yo." I then made Hi-Kun eat the other one. After doing some reasearch later we found that Shirako, which is what the curious fish-part was callled in Japanese, is cod milt*.
After dinner we wandered around kakegawa a bit and met up with some friends for a beer later. Turned out to be pretty nice day, for a tuesday.
*milt is fish sperm.