Entering the proverbial place with no name -first revealed to me through Kirk's blog and subsequent Chowhound postings- you are hit by the accolades of "Irasshimase."
[My 1st Sakura Posting: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/... ]
I was quickly seated and two menus were place before me. The familiar and a new hand written one.
The ladder was headlined: "Lunch Special Plate $12" and beneath this was written in both Japanese and English:
Creamy Seafood Croquette
Unable to read the fuller Japanese description, I assumed you picked one of the above. I told the waitress that I would like the saury. She nodded and ran to the back.
Soon arrived my tea - which included Maccha powder that sunk to the bottom of the mug. I cherishly drank this (freezing out) while watching the Itamae setting up the fish case which was framed by 'reserved' signs.
Then! Here I see the very petite waitress coming with this HUGE tray. Nearing, my eyes literally lit up like the kid from A Christmas Story finally unwrapping his lusted bebe gun.
EVERYTHING listed on this bonus menu leaflet IS the 'lunch special plate.'
A bento box encapsulating:
This has been my latest favorite Japanese dish (considering the weather) since my Dinner at Yu Me Ya. In this version, I especially enjoyed the halved quail egg which delighted me with its unctuous, creamy yolk. The baby daikon slice was perfectly tender and the mini-fishcakes and sullen-looking tofu soaked up all the broth.
- Pork Shogayaki:
Oddly, I have never tried this dish before, despite being enticed by the Dotch Cooking Show. It was a treat in that I feel that the ginger is the perfect paring for a rich meat like pork. This has spurred me to try to make a version at home.I relished the Shogayaki and its liquid with the-
-Rice (the 'star' of the bento):
Working at a Japanese restaurant, I have learned to value and appreciate the nuances of perfectly cooked rice. The accompaniments could be prepared by Morimoto himself, but if the rice falls flat, the entire dish was made in vain.
This gohan was amazing - each grain stood up in its own character, perfect 'bite', and a light stickyness -just about to give.
I am not lying when I say that I would be happy to eat this rice alone with the packet of teriyaki nori strips they lovingly accompanied alongside this bento.
I had to ask the waitress as to the type of rice this was - as I did the Itamae looked up and said: "Koshikari."
= Yep, no messing around at the Izakaya.
Takuan & Kuri no Kyuchan:
I love takuan and Sakura actually uses one of my favorites: The Akita prefectures smoked 'iburi gakko' daikon (http://www.media-akita.or.jp/akita-sh... ). Took bites of this in between dishes a la sushi gari.
A crisp exterior brushed with earthy tonkatsu sauce of this little guy revealed the sinfully rich interior. I wanted to save this for my 'last bite' -didn't last long.
Not bad, strong salt flavor, good with the rice. Perhaps a little overcooked (but it was a thin piece).
I liked this portion the best. I think its the consistency in biting into this oily fish - which I think benefited well from a soy simmering. This is the owner of my restaurants wife favorite thing to eat.
I have been perfecting this dish at home. I liked the minced ham, onion and parsley flavoring. Good layering,hint of sweetness - only reccomendation - a little exterior browning for caramelization.
I am really intrigued by the salad dressing - they wouldn't let me buy a salad to go - as I hoped for further inspection of its contents. I think it is a heavily fortified with egg yolk mayo dressing - hence the vibrant color. I'll have to try to recreate it.
As you can see I got my christmas present early this year and could not be happier. Good food makes the soul sing.