The title’s a bit ambiguous as this was my fourth visit to Kiriko, but it's my second time having their lunch sushi omakase. You can read about the first time, which I really enjoyed, and the other two visits, which were not as great, here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/848518/.
After a disappointing time with their non-omakase lunch offerings, I'm happy to report that their $40 lunch sushi omakase is still a vast improvement from, and well worth the additional $16 over, their Deluxe Jou Sushi moriawase.
I arrived just after noon to an empty sushi bar and a few occupied tables of business men and women on their power lunches. I was seated the rightmost section of the bar with well-worn wood separating me and Shinji-san (I gotta be extra careful not to write "Shunji" during this review), instead of the usual glass case.
I was served the salad and miso soup first. A good start, but pretty standard. I did get one perfect cube of tofu in my misoshiru, which was very exciting, but I digress. After the starters, Shinji-san began my 10-piece sushi omakase with...
1. & 2. Hon Maguro Akami (bluefin tuna), Chutoro (medium fatty tuna), brushed with shoyu. The akami neta appeared to be a normal-size cut sitting on the shari, but it was deceptively thick. Not that I’m complaining, as the fish had a great flavor to it, strong but clean. The chutoro had a really beautiful gradient, running from medium-red to light pink across the piece. It was slightly chewier than the chutoro from my first visit, but still fantastic.
3. Tai (red snapper), topped with sea salt and lemon juice/zest. The flavor of the fish itself was very delicate and sweet, and (strangely but pleasantly) had an almost cream-soda-like undertone, kind of how uni often has a note of coconut to it.
4. Kanpachi (amberjack), brushed with shoyu. This was another thick cut of fish, which was flavorful with a hint of smokiness. Unfortunately, it had a little too much wasabi and was a little saltier than I would have preferred.
5. Homemade smoked salmon, topped with caviar. I paid special attention to this piece as the smoked salmon from my first two visits were very subtly smoked with little change to the texture of the fish, whereas the piece from the moriawase was over-smoked and more akin in texture to what one puts on bagels and cream cheese. Today's piece was definitely on the smokier side, not as delicate as the first two times, but it at least retained a little more of the texture of raw salmon.
6. Hotate (scallop), topped with sea salt and lemon juice/zest. It was a decent piece, a little more briny and less sweet compared to the piece from my first omakase.
7. Aji (Spanish mackerel), topped with kizami negi and grated shoga. The neta was deeply scored, so that as soon as I put the piece into my mouth, it fell apart. A little more “fishy” than last time, but not bad.
8. Isaki (grunt), topped with yuzukosho. This was the second time I've had isaki, and this time I could taste a distinct flavor different from tai and other shiromi, but I can't quite describe it. The yuzukosho did add a strong saltiness that luckily did not overpower the isaki like it did with the kinmedai from my first omakase.
9. Seared Toro (fatty tuna), topped with "unagi sauce" and "relish" (for lack of proper terms). The toro was prepared aburi, scorched with a blowtorch so that it looked almost like beef. It was an interesting contrast of flavors and textures between the sizzled, oily outer layer, the soft, fatty insides, and the sweetness of the sauce. It was amazingly good.
10. Blue crab hand roll, with cucumber. Sadly, the temaki was not as good as the first time. It looked somewhat smaller, which is fine as quality is more important than quantity, but was more mayonnaise-y than last time. The blue crab "salad" had small but noticeable pieces of the inner shell, the roll started to leak "juice" from its tail-end as I bit into it, and the temaki fell apart before the last bite.
I had pretty much the perfect blue crab hand roll the first time, so this was kind of a bummer way to end today’s omakase, but overall I still found the meal head-and-shoulders above the moriawase in quality, and I lucked out by being served two pieces of fatty tuna, with the chutoro at the beginning and the seared toro toward the end.
(I threw in a photo of the dessert menu, even though I decided to skip dessert today.)
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