April 16, 2022

Another no picture day

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Some 2 months after the opening of Sushi Fujimoto (鮨ふじもと), and having watch some friends hit the place a handful of times, it was finally time for me to check it out. LCKitty needed a place to celebrate a birthday, and I thought I would give her a hand by getting us seats in front of Fujimoto-san for this special day.

The restaurant had made it very clear in advance that there would be no pictures allowed during the meal, with the exception of the 3 pieces of tuna nigiri (握り). Well... as Fujimoto-san knows very well, I don't eat bluefin tuna. So that means I wouldn't be taking any pictures during my lunch, then... I have a history with restaurants which don't allow picture-taking, and I've never been back to any of them after my first visit. Let's see if this will be the exception.

Fujimoto-san was kind enough for offering me some of their cold-brewed Dong Ding Oolong tea (凍頂烏龍茶). I had heard about this from some friends, and it was indeed very fragrant.

The meal started with abalone (鮑) from Shimane Prefecture (島根県), and we began with a small cup of abalone broth with some kombu (昆布) and salt.

Next came a plate with two pieces of steamed abalone. The thin, large slice was taken "as is", while the thick chunk - which was very, very tender - was dipped into the abalone liver sauce.

Of course, we each got a ball of shari (シャリ) to roll around the small plate so we could soak up the liver sauce. Yum.

Firefly squid (蛍烏賊) - two little squid on a stick. So nice.

Monkfish liver (鮟肝) - two thin slices of this smooth and creamy delicacy, in a sweet and savory sauce. Very fragrant with the yuzu (柚子) zest shavings.

Japanese hairtail (大刀魚) - from Tokyo (Bay?) Two pieces of grilled fish, very tender and not too fatty, served in a bowl of soup made with hairtail and splendid alfonsino (金目鯛) bones along with shredded leeks.

We were each given a piece of scorched rice (お焦げ) before the nigiri portion of the meal started. Pretty nice.

Then the lights behind the itamae (板前) turned off, shamisen (三味線) music started to pipe into the room, and Fujimoto-san announced : "Showtime!"

I noticed that Fujimoto-san scored most of his neta (ネタ), which made them much more tender and sometimes without much of the crunch that some people may look for. Or perhaps he ages them a little longer for that texture.

Baby sea bream (春子鯛) - from Kagoshima Prefecture (鹿児島県). The shari seemed more al dente compared to his old employer, and the temperature wasn't as warm. The neta, however, was very, very, very tender.

Splendid alfonsino (金目鯛) - from Katsuura (勝浦) in Chiba Prefecture (千葉県). There was a new batch of shari and the temperature was a lot higher, and the hit from the wasabi was pretty strong. The neta was also very, very tender.

Gizzard shad (小鰭) - from Amakusa (天草) in Kumamoto Prefecture (熊本県). I felt that this was a really good piece, where the acidity from the vinegar and the salt were perfectly balanced.

Sardine (鰯) - from Osaka. Our substitute for lean tuna (赤身), with some asatsuki (浅葱) on top. Scoring the neta only makes the fatty sardine even more tender and melt-in-your-mouth.

Purple sea urchin (紫雲丹) - from Kawakatsu (川勝) in Yura (由良) on Awaji Island (淡路島). Our substitute for medium-fatty tuna (中トロ). Very creamy with texture like Japanese purin (プリン). The sweetness highlighted and contrasted with the acidity of the shari.

Clam shell (蛤) - from Ibaraki Prefecture (茨城県). Our substitute for fatty tuna (大トロ). With a little bit of yuzu zest on top. The sauce wasn't as thick and sweet as other sushiyas so the taste of iodine was more noticeable.

Bigfin reef squid (アオリイカ) - from Kanagawa Prefecture (神奈川県). Very thick cut, about 1cm, and scored on both sides. Aged to deliver a soft and sticky texture. As usual seasoned with a pinch of salt and drops of sudachi (酢橘) juice.

Horse mackerel (鯵) - from Awaji Island (淡路島), with some asatsuki (浅葱) on top. The neta was very tender, except when one bites down on the tendinous myosepta.

Cherry salmon (桜鱒) - from Yamagata Prefecture (山形県). Lightly smoked and very tender. Does remind one of smoked salmon...

Cockle (鳥貝) - from Hyogo Prefecture (兵庫県). Very, very tender and succulent, and surprisingly sweet. Was there a hint of ginger in the sauce? There was unexpected, which made this one of the best cockles I've ever had - other than this one.

Japanese tiger prawn (車海老) - very nice texture, and the flavors were certainly sweet, but the wasabi was more powerful than usual.

Japanese green sea urchin (馬糞雲丹) - from Hanayoshi (花吉) of Nemuro (根室) in Hokkaido. Just like ice cream.

Eel hand roll (鰻手巻き) - surprisingly Fujimoto-san said that he found that Japanese conger eel (穴子) was no longer tasty enough to be used in his restaurant, so he changed to using local eel. I wonder if this was the 白鱔 that we see in Chinese restaurants around town. Anyway... the skin was really, really crispy after grilling and I could hear the sound that was made as Fujimoto-san cut the eel into thin strips, placing 2 strips onto the shari on a piece of laver (海苔). This was really, really nice and I didn't taste the muddy flavors I usually get with local eel.

Soup time!

Kanpyo roll (干瓢巻き) - interesting that the meal does not end with futomaki (太巻き) here...

We got two cubes of egg custard (玉子焼き) today - the first one was the "regular" flavor in the same style as Sushi Saito... that is to say the texture was like Jell-O or Japanese purin. The second piece was flavored with Okinawan muscovado (黒糖).

This being lunch and not all of us were drinking, I brought only one bottle of sake to share.

Born Chogin Junmai Daiginjo (梵 超吟 純米大吟醸), R2BY - seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 20%. Lots of very rich and starchy rice flavors, along with some fermented flavors. Tasting this after the abalone, the palate was kinda short and flat. Later on this got very sweet and round on the palate, with a hint of dryness on the finish.

We were very full, and pretty satisfied and happy. My friend even got an extra piece of sea urchin sushi with a candle as a "birthday cake". Gotta be pretty happy about that, right?! I look forward to my next visit, and hope that the boss will change his mind about his photo policy some time down the road.

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