August 7, 2021

Saturday night sushi

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Over the past few months, we have gotten into the habit of pre-booking our next meal whenever we dine at Sushi Saito (鮨 さいとう) - just as one does at the Tokyo honten. We figured that we could always find friends who wouldn't mind joining us, and that's generally been true. When our friends who were originally slated to join us tonight had to cancel due to a change in travel plans, we didn't have to work too hard to find others who put their hands up for the seats.

As there were 4 of us tonight, we had the entire front counter to ourselves. So, naturally, there wouldn't be any weirdos nearby I would want to bitchslap - unlike my first 6 visits to this establishment. This has been such an amazing streak since last October, making it 5 visits in a row where I dined in relative bliss!

Salmon trout roe (鱒子) - seasoned with yuzu (柚子) zest. Definitely smaller than salmon roe.

Swordfish (旗魚) - the fish was smoked, and topped with some diced onions, shredded perilla leaves, and katsuobushi (鰹節) flakes. Very nice and tender.

A trio of cooked goodies is served in a large ceramic vessel:

Abalone (鮑) - always a highlight here. Love how tender this is, and the accompanying sauce made with abalone liver.

Kubota-san serves up a ball of shari (シャリ), topped with more liver sauce, to help us clean up the dish. So satisfying...

Octopus (蛸) - personally, I have always enjoyed watching chefs slice up octopus tentacles which had been braised. The slices are so, so tender... and the outermost part is always in a half-liquefied state with texture like jelly.  And I love the sweet marinade.

Mantis shrimp (蝦蛄) - really sweet from the marinade, with some citrus fragrance.

Pickled radish - always a refreshing palate-cleanser, with shaved green yuzu zest.

Pen shell (平貝) - this always comes hot from grilling, and served by simply wrapping it with a piece of lightly-griled nori (海苔) after adding just a dab of nama-shichimi (生七味) that offers a nice kick.

Lobster shabu-shabu (伊勢海老 しゃぶしゃぶ) - we were, once again, enjoying a shabu-shabu (しゃぶしゃぶ) of a Japanese lobster - this time from Miyazaki Prefecture (宮崎県). Served with a sauce made with lobster tomalley. The lobster itself was cooked mi-cuit, with a texture that was at once tender while retaining some crunchy springiness. A warm dish with a thick broth that was just so comforting.

Japanese hairtail (大刀魚) - this was the belly, and it was soooooo fatty... so after grilling it just got really soft and tender and the fat melted and became jelly-like. Flavor-wise it was a little more "fishy", but I had zero problems with that!

We then start with the procession of nigiri zushi (握り寿司)...

Stone flounder (石鰈) - yes... the immediate hit of that rice vinegar in the warm shari is familiar. Crunchy texture, with the medicinal flavors being more pronounced.

Chicken grunt (伊佐木) - a firmer crunch, and also a little more medicinal than the stone flounder.

Gizzard shad (小鰭) - I just have really bad luck... On my last visit, I missed baby gizzard shad (新子) by one day. This time... well, they'll be getting some next week. I guess it's just regular-sized gizzard shad for me, then... Pout.

Swordtip squid (白烏賊) - our substitute for lean tuna (赤身). Beautifully scored to create a lattice-like pattern, with a sprinkle of seaweed salt (藻塩). While not quite liquefied, this still made for a very soft and tender texture. Wonderful.

Japanese horsehair crab (毛蟹) - our substitute for medium fatty tuna (中トロ). This was very sweet.

Sardine (鰯) - our substitute for fatty tuna (大トロ). This is "niubai iwashi (入梅鰯)" from Hokkaido, which are caught during the tsuyu (梅雨) rainy season when the fish has the highest fat content. This was certainly very fatty, and was aged for 10 days. There was so much flavor here, with a little dab of asatsuki (浅葱) on top. Just awesome!

Hokkai shrimp (縞海老) - from Hokkaido. While sweet on its own, it was even sweeter with a topping of oboro (朧).

Bering Sea cockles (石垣貝) - wonderful texture here, tender yet still retains some crunch. Very sweet flavors. Just delicious.

Pink sea urchin (赤雲丹) - from Karatsu (唐津). Of course this was just like ice cream...

Conger eel (穴子) - beautiful and melt-in-your-mouth as always.

Thanks to that Japanese asshole I sat near on my first visit, there will always be a soup picture.

Futomaki (太巻) - making the futomaki is always an affair here. Tonight, in addition to the usual suspects of Japanese tiger prawn, cucumber, egg custard, pickled radish, dried gourd, conger eel, shiitake, we've also got some squid, mentaiko kobujime (明太子昆布締め), ebioboro (海老朧), and kimioboro (黄身朧). Lots of different flavors coming together, and absolutely satisfying when you chomp down on it in one bite.

Egg custard (玉子焼き) - Big Mac has never come across grilled egg like this, and I was glad that he got the chance.

Not that we didn't get enough food tonight, but we decided to get a little extra. Unfortunately, there wasn't much else on offer... and we had to settle for this:

Fresh sea urchin (生雲丹) - from Yoichi (余市). Really cold, and really just like ice cream.

Japanese white peach (白桃) - from Yamanashi Prefecure (山梨県). Very ripe and sweet.

We brought a couple of chards to go with the meal:

2014 William Fevre Chablis Grand Cru Le Clos, en magnum - good acidity, with just a touch of ripeness when paired with food. Flinty notes, still relatively lean on the palate, but not overpowering.

2016 Vincent and Sophie Morey Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru La Truffière - much more toasty on the nose, really nice, a little nutty, and almost some coffee. Really fragrant and lovely.

I was pretty damn full, and I'm glad Big Mac skipped lunch so he could fit this meal in. Let me see where I can take him next...

P.S. I'm glad a certain someone did not show up to dinner in a certain pair of footwear. I would have asked Gavin to keep this person out of the restaurant for the duration of my meal, since there was no way I would be caught dead anywhere near that pair of footwear.

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