Last night we met an out of town friend and some of her friends at Toshi's sushiya in Menlo park. I had been there once for lunch, had some sushi and a some lunch special, the only thing I remember about it was that the food wasn't memorable.... But the friend of my friends insisted that this was their favorite place for sushi, so I went along.
The night started off bad. We were six, and all their tables seated four or two, so we had to wait for 2 tables to clear out together. All the while, more and more people were getting seated. I think we waited around an hour or so to get seated. To give the hostess credit, she did keep coming over and offering us drinks and food. I just kept thinking to myself, dinner isn't always about food, right?
Well, once we sat down, I was in for a huge surprise. The food was amazing. We started with something that was their house special.
Thinly sliced potato in plum sauce with avacado. The dish was visually stunning, a fluffy mound of white potato, against a backdrop of salmon colored sauce contrasting with the cool green of avacado. I think they used the same technique to do the potato that they usually use for the daikon. It was cut into thin spiraling threads. I've never had raw potato before,
but the crunchiness of the texture was great combined with the slight tartness of the plum sauce (I think it was mostly grated umeboshi in some kind of creamy sauce) and the creaminess of the avacado. Divine.
Next came a tray of oysters. They were extremely fresh and rich, each topped with a little vingrette and hot spices. I don't have much to say about them, because, well, fresh oysters speak for themselves.
We also had 3 other small dishes. Agedashi Nasu (eggplant), similar to Agedashi tofu, but made with eggplant. Perfectly executed. Grilled tofu brushed with a light sauce of miso and I think yuzu? I got just a slight scent of citrus at the back of my tongue. This dish was interesting in terms of the newness to me, but I think execution could be changed just a little as the tofu was a bit tough from the grilling. The last dish was baby squid parboiled,sliced and then tossed in a sweet dressing that hinted of seasame
and something more complex. I think this one was my favorite after the potato dish.
And then just when I was starting to get a little sated, came the sushi...
The first thing I notice was the fresh grated raw wasabi (although I was told we were being given this because the owner knew our friends). We had toro, shiro maguro, atlantic sockeye salmon, uni, black sea bass, hamachi, spicy tuna and a couple of other things.
I've never had shiro maguro (white tuna) before, and this was certinly a treat. It was light and fluffy, almost unfish like. One of my friends said it was almost like a spread, where it melted in your mouth. The atlantic sockeye salmon was also new to me as sushi, but I didn't find it that memorable. The black sea bass was fasinating because it was so beautiful. The flesh was transulcent white and the wasbai underneath caused the whole thing to have a
faint tint of celdon. Gorgeous... The taste reminded me slightly of hamachi but with a firmer texture, again wonderful.
The uni wasn't the best I've ever had in the US (that award goes to a small sushiya in south san jose), but it was fresh, and didn't smell fishy.
The best though was the toro. It was sooo good, so rich and creamy that it was hard to believe it was fish. I literally stopped talking and closed my eyes
to savor it. I think this is the best toro I have had in the US so far, and I have had a LOT of sushi here. We ended up ordering seconds of this, after already having 2 a piece.
Dinner went from 7:00 to 10:30, and was completely enjoyable. I don't know what the bill of the whole thing was, because of the guys generously paid for
it all without telling us. A great ending to a great meal, but I would have gladly paid twofold for that food.
211 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025
650.326.TUNA (8862) tel
parking in the back.
Don't go for the bento box, go for the sushi....