December 25, 2021

Christmas sushi

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A mere 12 hours after the end of our Christmas Eve shindig, our foursome met up again for lunch - this time at Sushi Saito (鮨 さいとう). We happened to book this lunch the last time we were here, and these days it takes a wait of 3 months or more if one is to book a Saturday lunch at this establishment. Very happy that the Compatriot could also join us today since, after today, I may never invite My Birdbrain Cousin to have sushi ever again...

We start with a few otsumami (おつまみ):

Salmon roe (イクラ) - very light and elegant. The dashi (出汁) the eggs were marinated in imparted a small amount of smokiness, and as usual there was a little bit of yuzu (柚子). The membranes were certainly thin and delicate.

Bonito (鰹) - very, very tender. Oh so beautiful.

Mackerel bozushi (鯖の棒鮨) - always happy to have this. The mackerel came from the waters around Nagasaki Prefecture (長崎県). Great balance between salt and acid here.

Monkfish liver (鮟肝) - always so, so tender and melt-in-your-mouth, with a beautiful sweet marinade and the fragrance of yuzu. I always want to drink the marinade.

Then the nigiri portion starts.

Flounder (鮃)

Golden alfonsino (金目鯛)

Squid (墨烏賊) - thick cut and scoring was in wide strips. Really crunchy texture. I could taste the wasabi on top of the sudachi (酢橘) juice and salt.

Flounder wing (鮃縁側) - our substitute for lean tuna. Very crunchy.

Thread-sail filefish (皮剥) - substitute for medium-fatty tuna. Thick and chewy.

Female snow crab (香箱蟹) - substitute for fatty tuna. With dried mullet roe (カラスミ) shaved on top.

Sea urchin rice (雲丹ご飯) - Kubota-san mixed the sea urchin from a box into the rice, then topped it off with some fresh sea urchin.

Conger eel (穴子) - this was a pretty big piece, and while I detected the fragrance from the leaf that it was grilled on, it wasn't enough to cover up the muddy flavors.


With this spread, we knew Kubota-san's gigantic roll was coming up. Besides the usual ingredients, today we had some abalone, monkfish liver, cured mullet roe, mentaiko (明太子), and even some ark shell skirt.

Futomaki (太巻) - what a beauty! Of course, the only way to do this is with one bite.

Egg custard (玉子焼き)

Kubota-san told us that this was the end of the menu, and asked whether we wanted anything more. Well... I wanted a second piece of the futomaki so I asked him whether I could have one of those end cuts which he had sent to the back of the kitchen. He seemed a little surprised, but had it brought back for me, anyway. As it turns out, the Compatriot wanted the other piece.

A pair of strawberries - Amaou (あまおう) and Awayuki (淡雪).

Bijofu Junmai Daiginjo Yumebakari Time (美丈夫 純米大吟醸 夢許 Time), 30BY - seimaibuai of 30%.  Very strong notes of banana, starchy rice.  Much deeper flavors on the palate, more alcoholic, dry and spicy.

A very, very happy lunch - especially for the Compatriot. Very much looking forward to our next visit here in a couple of months.

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