June 14, 2024

More passion, more sushi, more shari

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Some time ago Foursheets mentioned her desire to have some nice sushi, since it has been quite some time - going back to the middle of last year - when she last had some great sushi. As I had been visiting Sushi Shikon (すし 志魂) exclusively for almost the last 2 years or so, I thought it may be a good idea to revisit Sushi Fujimoto (鮨ふじもと). Business had been going gangbusters when they first opened during the pandemic, but of course now that everybody and their grandma is flying to Japan to eat, seats are no longer difficult to book.

One of the big changes since the restaurant's early days is their policy on photography. On my previous visits, photos of the food - with the exception of the pieces of tuna - were forbidden. Since I don't eat bluefin tuna at high-end sushi restaurants, that meant I had no pictures of those meals. These days there are no longer restrictions on photography, which is good for me.

The first things we saw were these big abalones from Shimane Prefecture (島根県), since they can longer get the ones from Chiba Prefecture (千葉県) like they used to thanks to Hong Kong's seafood ban.

But first, we started with a few sips of abalone soup. This was very, very flavorful, and it's not just salt but lots of umami and a long finish.

Abalone (鮑) - this was, of course, very tender after 6 hours of steaming, but also very springy along with the tenderness.

We were given some abalone liver sauce so that we could dip the abalone in the sauce. I love how this piece of abalone was cut so that it could easily fit into the sauce dish.

Japanese horsehair crab (毛蟹) - I was happy to taste this "as is" to get the flavors of the crab tomalley (蟹味噌), but adding a few drops of vinegar brought out the sweetness of the crab meat as a contrast. This was very nice.

Fujimoto-san brought out the rice that had just finished cooking, added some vinegar, and made shari (シャリ) for the sushi. As he went about mixing it all up, the room slowly filled up with the fragrance of the vinegar.

We were given a small ball of shari so that we could use up the abalone sauce from earlier.

Octopus (蛸) - this was tenderized before being steamed for 1 hour. Of course it was very, very tender by now... and I love that little bit of yuzu on top of the sweet marinade.

Tilefish (甘鯛) - the fish was charcoal-grilled before the scales were crisped up with hot oil, and I could taste the oil on the scales. Served with a nice, thickened fish stock.

Just like before, "showtime" starts when they are ready to serve the nigiri portion of the meal, with shamisen (三味線) music playing.

Karasumi and mochi (唐墨 餅) - I've always loved dried mullet roe, as they simultaneously deliver umami and bitterness. The sticky rice cake brings some sweetness to balance out the strong flavors from the fish eggs.

Baby sea bream (春子鯛) - I always enjoy the first piece of nigiri when you get the contrast between warm shari topped with a cold neta (ネタ).

Japanese bluefish (黒睦) - this was charcoal-grilled so add some wonderful smoky flavors, and also to melt the fat so that it blends with the acidic vinegar in the shari to create some magic. The neta was very, very tender but still retains a little crunch for a really nice texture.

Japanese glass shrimp (白海老) - always nice.

Yellowstriped butterfish (鰖) - this fish is new to me, and was our substitute for medium fatty tuna (中トロ). This was charcoal-grilled and melted the fat. Very tasty.

Rosy seabass (赤睦) - another substitute for fatty tuna (トロ). Charcoal-grilled until the fish was fully-cooked and smoky. Still very tender, but definitely more cooked than it would have been at Sushi Saito (鮨 さいとう).

Neon flying squid (赤烏賊) - this was sliced into thin strips and bunched up so that the strips intertwined with each other.

On the side, we got the squid fins which had been charcoal-grilled and served with a light sauce along with a little touch of yuzu.

Horse mackerel (鯵) - always one of my favorite pieces because of how tender the neta is, but more importantly, the asatsuki (浅葱) on top just adds an incredible fragrance thanks to the flavors infused into the oil.

We saw these big clams being brought out, and were really amazed by their size. These came from Kuwana (桑名) in Mie Prefecture (三重県), as they can no longer import ones from Chiba Prefecture like they used to.

Giant clam (蛤) - the neta was slow-cooked at a low temperature. The clams were very thick, but very soft... especially in the middle. Definitely more "gooey" in terms of texture.

Japanese tiger prawn (車海老) - from Kagoshima Prefecture (鹿児島県).

Purple sea urchin (紫雲丹) - sourced from Higashizawa Seafood (東沢水産) of Shiriuchi (知内町) in Hokkaido. So creamy.

Eel hand roll (鰻手巻き) - always one of my favorites here. Love how much smoky flavors come with the eel.

Kanpyo roll (干瓢巻き)

I love that we get two types of egg custard (玉子焼き) here, where the "regular" is made with dried shrimp and the darker one has Okinawan kokuto (黒糖) added.

We finished the meal with a slice of ripe and sweet melon (メロン).

2020 Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc - despite the relative young age this was already very ripe on the palate, and was hot and alcoholic. The nose showed some rubber and plastic notes, along with flint and some lemon. With more aeration the rubber dissipated and the nose got more fragrant, kinda oily. After 1½ hours of being on ice the palate was grippy and some of that lean acidity came out.

We were given pours of something we've never had before, which turned out pretty interesting.

Jyuyondai Ranbiki (十四代 蘭引酒), 2013 - a shochu that had been aged in barrel for 10 years. The wood was very much front and center, along with sweet caramel and tons of vanilla on the nose. So interesting as it kinda tasted like a Japanese whisky...

I'm glad to have come back for some of the best sushi in town, and always good to see Fujimoto-san. I guess we could use a little more sushi in our lives, but these days Japan is just too compelling a proposition for most of us...

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