yasuda sushi, nyc. :
after reading how rude the service could be. how yasuda-san did not enjoy patrons who asked for omakase up to a set price, how they hated lateness, i was surprised at how lovely and sweet everyone was, i felt nothing but welcome the entire time. i was completely accomodated. of course, we got there about half an hour early, at my friend and i's mutual earliness and at my insistance after being told over the phone "oh, uh miss, you-uh, must arrive on time! we only hold table ten minute!" not a problem, said i. as it is often said, call me what you wish, but don't call me late for dinner.
the food! oh my gosh, beautiful, thin slices of immaculate seafood, served on perfectly formed and seasoned rice. it was amazing, i thought i would have to write my sushi order down, or at least give it to the waiter, but no, yasuda himself (who i reserved our dinner seats in front of) could commit it to memory and not only make it and serve it to us, but about 45 minutes later, write it down on a sheet accurately and give it to the maitre d to write up our guest check. it was actually quite an amazing ordeal to watch.
we got hiramasa (v. good), fluke (once again, v. good), arctic char (absolutely incredible), gensaba and spanish mackerel (very yummy), both maine and cali sea urchins (both excellent, though i preferred the west coast, a little less briny tasting), the ume with shiso (very good ume is quite difficult to find and this was really quite good, im picky about my ume, the shiso was also incredibly fresh and incredibly tasty). ALL of this was at the peak of freshness, it all tasted like butter going down. the balance between fish and rice was flawless. the tastes of this chef/ restaurant were immaculate.
the peace passage oyster was highly raved about on chowhound, and it had the check mark by it which showed that it was one of the items reccommended by the chef for that day, but i found the piece too thick for sushi, perhaps i should have had it sashimi, with the rice it was too much. however, i also live directly on the chesapeake bay, and i have plucked oysters out of the bay with my hand and opened it with a pocket knife and consumed it on the spot. a town near to us is incredibly famous for its oyster festival. perhaps i am just too picky with oysters.
the standout was the eel. oh. my. gosh. delicious. i exclaimed something to the chef like "this is the best eel ever! i heard it was your special in japan!!!!" seriously, the hot sake combined with the exquisite food made me vociferate in that manner. however, yasuda-san was responsive and a total conversationalist, he told us about how his first cooking job in japan was at an eel restaurant and that he had been cooking it from the start. this eel, it was immaculate. sweet and salty. like a combination of the sea, butter, sugar, and smokey firey flavour that dissolved on your toungue, followed by the rich creaminess of the rice, into nothingness. the sort of goodness that makes you and any other diners present absolutely quiet as they chew and digest in amazement and contemplation. it makes you wonder if it was just your imagination. it makes memories, it makes time stand still. we had first ordered the anago, the dark sea eel, and immediately after tasting it, i had to order the sawani, the fresh white sea eel in order to compare and contrast. the dark silenced us into amazement at first, and made us crave more, but the white was even more delicate, melted more quickly on the palate. this is the sort of food that makes your heart beat faster.
we also had two starters. a lovely and refreshing broccoli raab (spelled rape on the menu.) marinated in a very hot watery mustard sauce. very nice. then, yet another killer dish, the pan fried buds of the burdock tree (i believe it said on the menu.) it was such a delicate fried dish. somewhere between a brussel sprout and a cloud. a bright green spring flavour that ended in a slightly unctuous richness on your toungue, like a savoury candy. a slight crispness as though it had been slightly breaded with a light flour dusting. yasuda commented on us ordering this, he seemed very happy that we had, he told us it was a japanese specialty, with no translatable english name, that it had been imported from japan, where it grew at the foot of the mountains in early spring.
the food here, overall was beautiful. delicate, clean, and dissolving in your mouth. just a flash, there and then gone, alluding your senses. a will o the wisp, teasing you, leading you deeper, but you cant quite catch the exotic flavours and wrap your mind around them. the whole experience was both homey and mysterious. i loved it. elegance, without pretension in the highest degree.
it was a situation in which i was so enthusiastic, i ended up talking to the people next to us at the chef's bar who were doing omakase with yasuda, pointing out what we had had that was good, grinning in anticipation when i would tell them how delicious it had been for us, then watching them take the bite, their eyes connecting with mine and widening. then we would smile and shyly agree on how wonderful it all was. then there was the jackass that ordered about fifty rolls and smoked a cigarette in between rolls. i mean, really, with sushi? whatever. who am i to pass judgement. i had such a lovely time, it was really enchanting.