March 26, 2022

My quarterly fix

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Three months ago I made a couple of reservations for my next meals at Sushi Saito (鮨 さいとう), splitting them between lunch and dinner. Of course, we haven't had any dinner service in town for 2½ months now, so naturally I've had to reschedule the dinner bookings. After shuffling a couple of times, I finally settled on an early dinner at 4 p.m. today. When it came time to figure out who should join us for this outing, I didn't think much before inviting the couple in the Tiny Urban Kitchen.

The restaurant no longer has a second chef other than Kubota-san, so for the first time in my experience, the two halves merged into one single space. They still limited themselves to 50% capacity, though...

Hokkai shrimp and glass shrimp (縞海老 白海老) - with oboro (朧) and perilla flowers on top. Always tasty to start with some raw shrimp.

Then came a trio served on a plate:

Oyster (牡蠣) - the steamed oyster from Akkeshi (厚岸) was really creamy, and came with some acidity from vinegar to balance things out. Very, very tasty.

Octopus (蛸) - always tender and always sweet thanks to the marinade.

Abalone (鮑) - from Ezo (蝦夷). As good as it always is.

As usual, we got a ball of shari (シャリ) drenched in liver sauce, which I then rolled around to pick up more sauce on my plate. Then I spooned whatever leftover sauce I could into my mouth and let it roll around my tongue. Slurp!

Mactra clam adductor muscles (小柱) - lightly grilled and surprisingly served on a skewer, with a dab of seaweed salt (藻塩) as one pleases.

Firefly squid (蛍烏賊) - I love these, and these were also lightly grilled and presented on a skewer, with a dab of nama-shichimi (生七味) on the side.

Japanese horsehair crab with bottarga (毛蟹 唐墨) - two ingredients I love. Can't go wrong with that. Love that the bottarga is adding some richness and depth.

Monkfish liver (鮟肝) - this is always served in thin slices, and always so, sooooo tender that it inevitably breaks apart on its way to my mouth... The thick sauce made with soy sauce and (brown) sugar was a little more salty than I had expected, so I didn't drink it today. The shaved yuzu (柚子) zest, though, still worked its magic.

Cherry salmon (桜鱒) - a little surprised to see this chunk of cherry salmon came completely drenched in lava-like Saikyo miso (西京味噌), which was pretty damn sweet.

We then started with the nigiri (握り) portion of the meal:

Cherry anthias (桜鯛) - from Awaji Island (淡路島). The thick cut delivered some chewy crunch.

Baby sea bream (春子鯛) - with a dab of kimioboro (黄身おぼろ) on top. This was very, very tender... almost like chewing on a piece of cotton.

Sardine (鰯) - from Toyama Prefecture (富山県), and served some asatsuki (浅葱) on top. Very fatty and oily, and a little more fishy than usual. So, sooo good.

Neon flying squid (赤烏賊) - our substitute for lean tuna (赤身). Really thick cut and scored beautifully. Very, very tender. The taste of wasabi was fairly prominent.

Japanese halfbeak (細魚) - our substitute for medium-fatty tuna (中トロ). With oboro on top. Nice and tender, too... but with slightly more crunch than the baby sea bream.

Japanese tiger prawn (車海老) - our substitute for fatty tuna (大トロ).

Japanese gaper clam (本海松貝) - thick cut which delivered a good amount of crunch I could hear while chewing, but this was still kinda tender. Surprised that I didn't hate it as much as I usually hate geoduck.

Japanese green sea urchin (馬糞雲丹) - from Akkeshi (厚岸). Even though the box had been sitting out on the counter for a while, when I put this in my mouth, the temperature of the sea urchin was still cold enough to remind me of ice cream. Very, very good.

Purple sea urchin (紫雲丹) - sourced from Daisen (ダイセン) in Aomori Prefecture (青森県). With a little more soy sauce on top, and definitely more depth of flavors.

Conger eel (穴子) - lots of tare (たれ) here, and very sweet.

No picture of the soup today.

Futomaki (太巻) - Kubota-san couldn't remember whether he had put 17 or 18 ingredients in this today, but the standout ingredient this time was itomitsuba (糸三つ葉), whose distinctive fragrance and flavors definitely came through. We also had the bottarga added. Very, very nice as always, and definitely taken down in one bite.

Egg custard (玉子焼き)

Gizzard shad (小鰭) - I decided to get myself an extra piece, and chose this as I saw it in the ingredient box. Smoky and not as acidic as usual, but the vinegar was ever-present, of course.

I think next time I will ask for an abalone handroll like my friend...

Strawberries - didn't ask which cultivar this was, but these were pretty good with a fine balance between acidity and sweetness.

2012 Lucien Le Moine Corton Blanc - very big and toasty nose, open and expressive, buttery with some flint, good acidity on the palate.

This was a lot of fun. Looking forward to coming back in 2 weeks, then...

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