Restaurants & Bars 21

Sushi Sho in Berkeley

Jesse A | Jun 28, 2005 12:55 PM

Had a wonderful meal there with my girlfriend last Friday night -- the restaurant is tiny, probably a dozen seats at the counter and another 20 or so at tables, but they only accomodate as many people as the two chefs can easily serve, so the tables were closed. This made for an fun and intimate dining experience.

We started with miso soup, and when we tried to order the beautiful eel we saw behind the counter, the sushiya reprimanded (in a friendly, helpful way) us and insisted that oily, saucy eel come at the end of the meal, and that we must start with fresh and raw items.

We started with salmon and, at the chef's recommendation, seabream nigiri. Both were excellent; we had never tasted seabream and it had an extremely subtle, fresh, brininess that was a wonderful contrast to the rich marinated salmon.

Moving on to stronger-tasting items, we had nigiri of seared bonito (strong, meaty and fishy in the best sense) and tender, flakey grilled scallop, served japanese-style with the roe still attached.

Next were beautiful hand rolls of hamachi (yellowtail) with avocado, followed by a vegetarian roll of cucumber and pickled radish.

We then asked for the grilled eel to finish the meal, and at the chef's urging we had it in a reverse roll with cucumber and tobiko. The contrasts between the sweet, rich eel, the crisp and fresh cucumber, and the crunchy, salty roe were a delight -- perhaps the best item of the night. We learned from the chef that sushi served with a sauce, such as eel, should be tasted first without soy sauce, but successive bites can have more and more soy sauce to experience a sweet-to-salty transition.

The sushiya appeared a bit intimidating at first, but as we expressed appreciation for his delicious and beautiful creations, he warmed up -- it's clear he is passionate about his art, and any sternness on his part simply stems from his desire for his food to be fully and properly enjoyed. We had a wonderful meal and will certainly be back.


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