Monday, March 2, 2009

Exotic Sushi Night

One of Sara's students took her, myself and his other teacher out for sushi the other night. We went to a place he's been going to for years - Ni Ko Japanese Restaurant. It is the sort of place where the owner has his picture on the big sign out front and his business card too.

It just so happened that the owner was there that night. Instead of ordering rolls, fish or whatever, you order the level of how fancy you want your sushi. It is all you can eat after that. Since the odds were pretty good we were the first white people who had been there in a long time, we got an amazing assortment of sushi, as well as many "service" items, aka free stuff, and also special stuff that the owner only carts out when he likes you. It also should be noted that he didn't cook many things - his role was mainly to have drinks served to him and to tell some people what to cook.

We started out with the most amazing tuna I've ever eaten. It was category defining. The flavor put all other tuna to shame. Not just shame... I'm at loss for an adjective to describe how good it was. Other tuna, once realizing how not up-to-par it was, committed ritual suicide... it was that amazing.

Anyway, we moved onto a variety of other fish:
  • Salmon - very good
  • Whitefish of many types - the texture was very stringy... not a fan
  • Sea Urchin - horrific texture... like slimy goo that held together
  • Eel - always good
  • Blowfish - the infamous Fugu - see below
  • Sea Cucumber - I passed, but Sara loved it
  • Abalone - strange flavor - it was still alive in the display case
  • Scallops - great
  • Shrimp - meh
Also on the menu:
  • Fried mountain potato - delicious
  • Korean pancakes with scallops, shrimps, eggs, green onions
  • Tempura things - I have no idea... not very good
  • One sushi roll - called "gimbap" - very tasty
  • Seared tuna with crispy leeks - holy crap was this delicious
  • Clam and lemon soup - very delicious

The seared tuna.

And to drink:
  • Beer - Cass is a pass
  • Hot Korean sake - good fruity notes
  • Soju - tastes like rubbing alcohol smells
  • Mushroom water - tasted like water
  • Raspberry wine - drank a full bottle of it
  • Tea - why drink tea when you got all the other stuff?
I'm pretty sure that this covers what we ate... I had a lot to drink, so I'm not entirely sure. Also, as a side note, we were told that about half the stuff we were served were either 1. aphrodisiacs or 2. potency enhancers. All the food was either offered off of a plate that you took from the chef with your chopsticks, or he just put it onto your plate with his hands.

Some upside down cups.

A potato.

An interesting tradition is that the chef gets to decide what he wants to drink and you order them booze. Waitstaff too. The trick is that once you bought them booze, they can't ask for it, so you have to offer. If you are offering too much to fast, they get loaded, since they can't turn it down as it would be impolite.

Some notes on the Fugu:
We ate its flesh, its skin and its intestines.
  • Flesh: very interesting texture... not sure if my palate is sophisticated enough to notice the flavor though
  • Skin: delicious like only skin can be... it was in a vinegary / salty sauce that was too much for me
  • Intestines: imagine a marshmallow that has been roasted so the outside is firm and the inside is gooey. Now imagine that it is fish guts. I actually really liked it, although I doubt I would ever eat it again.

Slapping the poor fugu

The fugu is in a total fugue

No video, so here is a poorly put together gif!

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