Three of us came by for dinner last night and were seated immediately for our 8:00 reservation. The place was packed although it had thinned considerably by 10:15 when we left. This ranks right up there on the decible scale; it was so noisy that we had to lean forward to hear each other. The tables are uncomfortably close together but because of the noise you can't hear what your neighbors are saying anyway.
I chose the $120 omakase and companions ordered ala carte. I explained that I disfavored sweet sauces and preferred unusual things like natto and yamakake. Since I don't eat dessert the chef obliged and agreed to make the last course more fish. 7 courses, as follows:
1. O-Toro with sevruga caviar in a wasabi/ponzu sauce. The toro was a tartare topped with caviar, sitting in the very tasty sauce. I found a fish scale in it. After the first few bites, as the sauce was absorbed into the tartare, the sauce began to overpower the delicate fish. Lesson: eat this one quickly.
2. A trio: Ankimo sashimi (4 good sized chunks), seared black bass sashimi with black truffles (the winner of this course) and Japanese scallop sashimi. All delicious and the wasabi was FRESHLY GRATED.
3. A seaweed salad with sashimi of Uni, Aji, Awabi and seared maguro. The maguro was the standout with its thin sear and rich interior. The seaweed (the name of which I don't recall, but should) was a special type imported from Japan. The texture was silky and crunchy at the same time. Wow.
4. A sauteed sea scallop in jalapeno sauce on a bed of wilted baby brussels sprouts leaves. This was the standout of the meal. I've never seen a scallop this large, easily the size of two hocky pucks stacked. There the similarity to hocky pucks ends, as it was as tender as could be. The contrast between the carmalized exterior and the creamy interior was wonderful. The sprout leaves also were tender yet crunchy at the base and, while I thought the jalapeno sauce added little to the scallop, married very well with the sauce. A hit.
5. A single Ama Ebi in phylo dough, deep fried, with the head fried seperately w/o dough. This was delicious - the dough had the consistency of panko bread crumbs and was not at all heavy-handed. It was sauced with an unfortunately sweet pepper reduction that was delicious (but sweets are not to my taste).
6. 5 boneless Wagyu beef shortribs (not Kobe). Each measured about 1x2 inches and were delicious. They were seared and had a wonderful char and very beefy flavor. I was put off somewhat by the consistency as the very, very heavy marbeling left an unusual fatty aftertaste. Accompanied by sauteed baby Japanese eggplant - excellent.
7. The dessert course substitute was assorted sushi: sea bream, anago with the conventional (and unfortunate) sweet sauce, O-Toro, Kohada and sea bass, all irreproachably fresh. A good contrast with the ever-so-slightly warm rice. Accompanied by a bowl of miso soup with enoki mushrooms, no tofu. Also very tasty with a noticable mushroom flavor.
The companions had scallop sushi ($5.00), ankimo sashimi, squid pasta with a light garlic sauce ($14), a spicy tuna salad ($15) with a generous number of maguro chunks and a hot/sweet sauce which I'm told was delicious. The out-of-town friend who hates veggies ate all the veggies because of this sauce. Then broiled black cod with miso ($15), easily the best item ordered, omakase included. Finally salmon skin cut roll ($8.00) and the house special cut roll ($9), which this night was basically a rainbow roll with the fish on the inside. They were double wrapped in both soy paper and nori. Every one was very pleased with the sushi but the prices are a few dollars more than you'd pay at Echigo with no noticable improvement in fish quality.
The omakase was $120 and we had 3 carafes of mid-priced sake. The total was $294 before tip. A deeply satisfying, if somewhat pricy, repast. Next time I think I'll avoid the omakase and sushi and stick with the hot and cold speciality items.