July 31, 2009

Friendly sushi chefs

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I was set for a quiet evening at home when a friend asked if I wanted to have dinner together. She was looking for "something good" and after thinking about steak, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, we ended up at Sushi U (鮨雄). The restaurant was pretty empty for a Friday night, and we took our seats at the sushi counter.

First, a small glass of beer to cool us down, and a plate of edamame (枝豆) to go with the beer. The chef also put down a single, baby sawagani (沢蟹, freshwater crab) in front of me. It's been cooked but its cousins are still crawling around in a large bowl right in front of me. I eventually break it apart and munch on it, but it's really mostly shell...

In the mood for sake but unable to finish regular bottle between the two of us, we chose a smaller bottle from the limited selection. The Mizu no Eau (水の王) has a seimaibuai of 50%. It's a little drier than the sake that I normally drink, but surprisingly light and watery in taste. Later we found out that it was called daiginjo light...

We started with a sashimi platter with 3 types of fish: isaki (伊佐木, chicken grunt) is a white fish. We had two differen cuts and it was pretty decent, but what a name...

kanpachi (間八, greater amberjack) was good, but the katsuo (鰹, bonito) was something else. There was lots of flavor, but the chef hadn't completely sliced through the tataki, so two thick slices are still connected to each other.

We split a regular sushi platter, and I took some tekka maki (鉄火巻き) and a piece of the egg. The kajiki (梶木, Pacific blue marlin) was very good - the thick slice of fish was fatty and a bit chewy, almost like a white fish version of toro. The maguro (マグロ, tuna), sake (鮭, salmon), ikura (イクラ, salmon roe) were the next to go.

We ordered some ika (イカ, squid) with some salt and lime juice on top, and a little shiso (しそ) between the squid and the rice. Very nice both in terms of flavor as well as the chewy texture.

The anago (穴子, conger eel) was decent although I had hoped for something better.

I asked for botan ebi (牡丹蝦), and the chef delivered a huge one...the head was deep-fried and it was large and impressive. This was very, very good.

I'm full but asked for the dessert platter, with warabimochi (わらび餅) made from bracken starch; slices of white peach; anmitsu (餡蜜) with red beans, jelly and ice cream; and some lychee concoction that was pretty decent.

To be honest, while the sushi was pretty decent it didn't wow me. I wouldn't say that it's tops in Hong Kong. But what my friend and I really enjoyed was chatting with the chefs. My Japanese friend is talkative, and I know enough Japanese to be able to participate. Chefs Sasaki and Uchida were very friendly, and the evening passed quickly. The overall service was pretty friendly, too, probably a result of the restaurant not being too busy. This was a good and relaxing way to spend Friday evening...

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