Several weeks ago I dined, er...strike that...was barely fed at Kiriko with my brother and his wife. The food was pretty good but the service was so bad as to render the experience borderline-miserable. Many hounds complained of the service that same week. I won't go into details; I think TechBod covered it well some weeks ago. What I will tell you is that my experience there last night was stellar.
To begin with, we were seated at the far right of the sushi bar infront of the owner, Ken. (Yes, that is his name.) I asked for the Omikase and he politely inquired as to whether or not my date and I both wanted the Omikase, if we wanted primarily sushi or cooked dishes, and if there were any things we did not like. I informed him that we ate everything and would like mostly sushi. He then asked if there were anythings we really liked and I told him anything with yuzu, the house-smoked salmon, and uni.
1. A duo of tuna and O-toro, negiri style. The tuna was so ruby-red that I was certain it might twitch and the toro literally melted on my tongue.
2. A beautiful plate w/ a trio of an oyster in house-made yuzu ponzu (more on yuzu later), a deep fried fiddler crab, and a piece of house smoked salmon wrapped arround a tender slice of mango and topped with a mound of caviar (pearly grey, probably sevruga).
3. A piece of Japanese Yellowtail, very firm and rich.
4. A salad consisting of skipjack and albacore sashimi, dressed in that citrusy house-made yuzu, topped with slivers of toasted garlic nestled against a tower of greens and herbs that included arugala, watercress, tiny purple basil buds, itallian parsley, chives, and chrysanthemum petals. The fish had been well-marinated and had a very loose consistency; it fell apart in my mouth almost the way the toro did. Delicious. However, the best part of this dish was the salad. The combination of herbs was amazing and set off a fireworks show of flavor in my mouth. My date agreed, it was spectacular and perfectly complimented the fish.
4. Red snapper topped with freshly grated pink salt and yuzu zest. A very clean tasting dish. The yuzu falvor was perfectly set off by the salt.
5. A piece of fish (sorry, that's all I remember about this one) accompanied by a piece of japanese half-beak (like needle fish). The half-beak was a very mild fish twisted into a braid and served negiri style. It looked beautiful. The fish itself was almost crisp and the flavor very subtle.
6. A 1/2 inch thick slab of smoked king salmon on a very small lump of rice. Ken told us that he had only smoked the salmon a little. This was so good and the smoky flavor so perfect that I dubbed it "bacon of the sea".
7. Some kind of mackrel topped with thin slices of ginger. My date didn't care for this because it was rather strongly flavored. I like the fishier fishies and this was one of them. It was great.
8. A piece of uni, negiri style on a bit of rice. Ken explained that this uni was exceptional and for that reason, it was not wrapped in nori as uni is generally served, but instead topped with a little salt and yuzu juice and should be eaten w/o soy sauce. This was incredible. The flavors erupted in my mouth sequentially. First the salt, then tangyness of the yuzu, followed by the briney taste of the ocean, giving way to iron-rich flavor of uni and finishing with a sweet citrusy flavor. AMAZING.
9. Mountain potato, bonito flake, and ume paste hand-roll. Ken said not to use soy sauce because the ume paste was salty enough. A party in my mouth. The nori was really crisp and toasty. The mountain potato starts out crunchy when you bite into it then develops this okra-like slimy texture which sets off the fishy flavor of the bonito flakes at which point the salty taste of the ume paste takes over.
10. Desert. Yuzu sorbet with bits of yuzu zest in it. Texture: perfect. Flavor: bright and clean. A perfect finish to a great meal.
I have eaten at many great sushi restaurants including several times at Ginza while Masa was still in town. This was one of the best sushi meals I have ever eaten. The service was prompt and friendly. Our glasses were never empty and the meal was perfectly paced. The dishes seemed well planned insofar as the flavors seemed to build on each other with the stronger flavors being served later in the meal. Not just a great meal, but a great experience.
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