Based on J.L.'s excellent review* (and NOT crappy photographs), I decided to try out Morinoya tonight after finding myself a bit peckish after a school charity event. Not being very hungry, I decided to order the three specials of the evening, since it seemed to be the perfect amount of food:
* Simmered Giblet and Vegetables in Miso Broth (Motsuni)
* Roasted Conch (Conch Tsuboyaki)
* Skewer of Whelk Snail (Baigai Kushiyaki)
(The English names were what appeared on the printed English version of the specials menu--I saw some signs in Japanese that might have been the specials also--and the Japanese names were on the receipt.)
The skewer and soup came out first. The baigai (Japanese Ivory Shell/Japanese Babylon Shell) was simply prepared. I tasted no seasoning on it, and despite the fact that it was kushiyaki, it did not taste particularly grilled. That might make it sound kind of bland, and I suppose it was, but it was a nice textural contrast to the soup. The piece of the skewer that was the snail guts** was a little off-tasting (even accounting for what part of the snail it was).
The motsuni, on the other hand, was quite flavorful, as expected. The giblets were delicately cooked in the broth. I'm not sure what it was (it did not appear to be a mixture of giblets, just one type of organ meat, thinly sliced), but I know it wasn't heart or liver. Most likely it was gizzard, but if it were, it was incredibly tender. Konjac gel slices, daikon radish, and carrot(?) were in the broth, and it was topped with scallion. Very comfort-food-y!
I ate the two together, and then waited for the final dish. The conch was presented beautifully on a bed of ground salt. The conch meat was cut into bite-size pieces and appeared to have been cooked in the shell. The conch was delicious, chewy and briny. There were two ginkgo nuts in the shell as well that gave a bitter, nutty contrast to the conch. The conch guts were very delicate, more unctuous and flavorful than the meat, but not-at-all off-tasting like the baigai guts were.
I wanted to try some sushi or sashimi, especially the amaebi, but it was getting late, and I wanted to keep the bill low on my first visit, especially for a late-night snack, so I decided to wait and try it next time. I managed to get out of there for under $18 including tax, but before the tip, and will definitely return. Thanks for the rec, J.L.!
** The piece that looks like the olive in the photo.
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