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Jewel Bako report (long, but not as long as the meal)

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Jewel Bako report (long, but not as long as the meal)

bill p | Jan 15, 2004 12:15 PM

Went last night for my birthday and happy to say Jewel Bako is still everything it ever was: an amazing dining experience. Was there for nearly three hours at the sushi bar with the full-on Omakase w/ sake pairings. I may be mixing up the order of dishes but I had:

• Amuse: little piece of octopus with some sort of miso paste on top. very nice.

• They've changed things up a little with the first course. You now get a plate with four treats. A kumomoto oyster w/lemon; the signature toro tartare w/ avocado and osetra caviar; more lightly-cooked octopus with a little sea salt for dipping; and monkfish liver w/sort of salty-sweet sauce on top to cut the richness. all four were very good.

• One of the night's specials, toro scraped from the ribcage (they brought the ribcage out and showed it to us) in ponzu sauce. I thought this was off the charts, just great. As it's prime season for it, lots of toro was on the menu that night.

• Fermented broadbean soup with tofu. It looked sort of like pea soup. The fermentedness came through in an interesting aftertaste that I can't quite describe. I must admit I was hoping for the yellowtail meatball soup here, but this was nice.

• Sashimi: three kinds of yellowtail, sweet ebi shrimp, toro, mackarel that had been blowtorched (skin was crispy and very tasty), parrotfish, and best of all fresh uni in it's shell. i'd never had not-from-a-box uni and it was a revelation. anyone who says they don't like it should give it another chance if they get to have it fresh like this.

• A variety of mushrooms steamed in foil with butter and white wine. squeeze a lemon wedge and you've got simple deliciousness.

• There was a palate refresher but I can't for the life of me remember what it was.

• Then the sushi onslaught came: bluefin tuna marinated in soy sauce (?) for 30 hours or something; scallop; many tiny shrimp formed together, very nice; needlefish, almost translucent, excellent; chopped jack mackerel with ginger and formed with a shiso leaf, this is one of my favorites; unbelievably soft, delicious eel; orange clam; ikura (my friends request, i'm usually not a big fan but this was excellent with the nori nice and toasty.

•Best of all the sushi was a rare treat: toro from the cheek! It was so fatty it looked like prosciutto. The sushi chef blowtorched it before making the sushi. Dear lord, this was something else. So good. And I gaurantee you only people at the sushi bar got this.

• Lichi sorbet and a nice pastry from Payard was desert.

• I highly reccomend the sake pairings. I can't remember all of them, but if you enjoy Jack's flowery descriptions of the food, then this is even more of it. "With it's distinctive flowery aroma and light taste, it could only be.... Poem of the Hill." He should really consider a career as a television announcer. The sake pairings cost $75 total for the both of us, not bad at all and we would have never tried all that on our own.

Jewel Bako remains my favorite restaurant in the whole city. Whenever I have some extra money, it's the first thing I think about.

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