After a rather earth shattering experience at Mori Sushi last Thursday, it was hard to even fathom what kind of delicious aftershocks we would eventually encounter (followed by even more deep ass kicking rockin') the following night at Shunji. This was a place I had also lusted over since it was mentioned 3+ years back on this board.
Thanks to kind folks like Porthos, J.L., The Offalo, and many others of you who posted reports and reviews, I had some idea what to expect. But it still did not prepare me for the awesomeness of the entire experience.
The specials board would be literally a sight for sore eyes. F those DMV and eye doctor tests while covering one eye and reading out random letters to determine your glasses prescription! How about, "read me the 5th item down under Special Fish From Japan" or "read out loud the 3rd item from Chef's Creative Dishes"? What is the cost of that whole Hokkaido Hairy Crab if you are diagnosed with YOLO-itis?
So the strategy for us was simple. It was more nigiri focused the night before at Mori, and if we wanted to experience traditional and classic/avante garde Washoku in the same breath and sentence, then the need for more cooked dishes in focus, was our theme of the evening.
One of the waitstaff, Nana-chan? directed us to our table and graciously helped us noobs navigate and what to expect. We told her our preferences, in which she communicated (via her notes) to Shunji-san, and some of our wishes came true (whether it was already intended to be in the dinner was moot, but it was gladly appreciated either way).
Shunji's sake selection is interesting, though I have to say Mori's is hard to beat (even carrying bottles not available at say truesake.com based out of San Francisco). Mori doesn't stock Dassai Junmai Daiginjo, but you can find it at Shunji's. We wanted to try his exclusively brewed in Japan for Shunji by Shunji (Ichigo Junmai Ginjo). At $80 a bottle, I had even contemplated buying one or two as a souvenir to take home. When I casually asked one member of waitstaff, they seemed unsure about selling unopened bottles but would be fine if one bottle was purchased, opened, consumed (no matter how much) then brought home. (Eventually I would dismiss the idea, as the sake is the perfect pairing with his cooked food, does not overpower and is gentle/delicate enough, it will not necessarily taste as good somewhere else, and left the fond memory of it there).
The amuse bouche was sea eel larvae (noresore のれそれ) with a dollop of sesame sauce. Huge fan of this texture (and the noresore too), far more slippery and smooth than nama-shirauo. Quite the delicacy and treat!
Next up was a refeshing delicious chilled soup (butternut squash, and I believe some cauliflower) with four kind of mushrooms (maitake, shimeji, enoki, shitake) and some scallops. At this point we noticed that with each course, the ass kicking meter goes up a notch.
The next course blew our socks right off. Home made soy milk sesame tofu with dashi gelee and Santa Barbara uni on top. I must say, a perfect medley of flavors and textures. Ever get so excited at a concert of your favorite performer that you can't resist yelling, shouting, clapping, and it's only the 2nd or 3rd song in and the greatest hits (or obscure classics/b-sides) have not been played yet? This was how it felt.
(More to be continued, stay tuned).