Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sushi Aoki, Monzen Nakacho (鮨あおき)

I admit, I had looked at this place before and thought it was fairly nondescript in that slightly scary sushi way where you don't know what you're going to have to pay. Then I looked on tabelog, found that this was the top-ranked sushiya in Monnaka, and shamelessly planned to go. I'll go back; it was very good quality and reasonably-priced, with the kind of master who's slow to warm up but could be nice once you get to know him.

I wanted to have a reasonably complete sushi experience despite the weeknight, so I tried to order a little of everything. Drinks were a nama and a Hakkaisan, the standard one-two for me and sushi... The menu outside said there was an omakase including cooked morsels, so I asked for a menu of such delicacies, was told to ask the chef, and promptly heard that there wasn't much. All I remember was the helmet-style snapper...and then I started on nigiri.

It's Fall, right, so the silver fish are in season? I've said before that I'm not such a fan of sanma, but now I realize that yes, I've just never had a really good one. The sanma was excellent, and you can see on Tabelog how the chef gives blue fish a bit of extra knifework around the gills. Maybe removing more skin like this reduces some of the fishiness? The only thing better than the sanma was the saba. I nearly fainted, and ordered another 2 kan later. That good.

White fishes weren't as good, but I think that's to be expected; there were two different types of snapper (one pink, one brown). Shellfish were in good supply; I just had scallops as usual, and they were fresh and firm. There were tailagai also, and aoyagi and maybe some other things. Uni was excellent, but reminded me why I don't usually want to pay for it. Oh, the akami was great! I'm working on a theory that you can judge a chef by the care he puts into selecting and preparing his akami. Since it's not a luxury ingredient, it shows attention to detail. Egg was similarly interesting - a very individualized yolky and heavy version.

Very normal slightly-worn clean wood sushi environment, good food, fair pricing (I would say about 50% more expensive than Zanmai, which is really quite cheap - many things are Y100). This would have to be my new favorite sushi in Monzennakacho.

Allabout da mackerel...

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