Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mizuki Sushi (水喜), Monzennakacho

One of my colleagues was looking at the map-and-pin system last week and said "So, you don't have any recommended sushi places?" The reason for this is more a result of Google's functionality than anything else; I didn't see a suitable icon for recommended sushi. But to a certain extent I didn't have any sushi recommendations either. Until now. Unfortunately it's not Mizuki.

Mizuki has some things going for it. It's been around for a good long time, judging by the pleasantly dark and aged interior. There's a tiny little counter (I counted 7 seats) and two tables. The master is young and intense; the waitress is a bit dark and brooding. There's a fish tank, with some shellfish bubbling mildly at the bottom and some eels fishing around. And some shrimp, but they were dead.

In classic style, the master asked if we wanted to start out with some sashimi. He had a broad range of shellfish, and we asked for some varieties of these plus some white fish. These turned out to be torigai (the black and white one) and tailagai (the 'pen shell' once featured on Iron Chef, which is like a huge, meaty scallop once prepared), tachiuo ('scabbard fish', I can't believe I'm remembering these...) and something white-and-red like kawahagi. These were all a day past fresh, like the shrimp, god rest their little shrimpy souls.

We moved directly on to nigiri. Some confusion about availability - we both thought there was buri, but there wasn't when we ordered it, so we had three types, all white. Of these, the lightly-seared tachiuo with salt turned out pretty well, but the others were forgettable, and I've forgotten them.

By the time we were halfway through the sashi, we both felt like the master was pressuring us to order more, and by the time we finished we were ready to go. The nigiri was really only for completeness. 4 types of sashi, 6 nigiri, 1 bottle of beer --> $60. Fortunately, right around the corner is Sushi Yata.

The difference in freshness was almost mind-numbing. I'm still mind-numb thinking about how fresh the akagai looked when the master presented them along with the other shellfish and blue fish in their wooden cooler box, and the taste was all that and a bag of chips. As I've said before, being related to a fish company has obvious advantages. Another of these is the incredible quality of the tuna; I got through a quick 'tuna tasting' of akami, chu, oo and smoked. As noted on the first visit, even the akami is good. I usually dread the akami on a lunch sushi set, because it's a watery-yet-waxy slice of nothingness, but this akami was tunalicious. The chu was perfect, and the oo looked like nothing so much as perfectly marbled beef - none of that thick-lines-of-fat-falling-apart stuff you get at lesser places. The house-smoked (akami?) was a pleasant and creative twist. It's worth noting that the master has a distinctive style - his white and blue fish are pretty normal, but he cuts the tuna thick and square, then scores it longitudinally for a little easier chewing, like most people do with squid or mackerel. This is a good thing.

Yata is also distinguished by the variety and creativity of the cooked-food menu; last time the fried tuna cheek (breaded, skewered, deep-fried), this time the oyster-sauce grilled version. The toushi included three elements - two snail-like beasties (like little sazae) out of their shells, a few sprigs of just-boiled nanohana, and a mouse of something tofu-related - whose presentation would not be out of place in a much longer course. Even the condiments reflect an interesting sensibility - the ginger may be made in-store since it's less sweet, a little firmer, and, well...gingery, and it came on a separate plate along with some soy-pickled wasabi leaves. I once went to Matsumoto in the spring, and at that point acquired a deep, deep love of all things wasabi, especially pickled leaves and stems.

As a result of all this, I feel comfortable escalating things and saying - I think Sushi Yata is worth a trip. No idea how it compares to a ridiculously expensive sushiya elsewhere, but I promise you that it's a worthwhile destination for fish lovers even without considering the prices, which are certainly much cheaper than they might be elsewhere.

Sushi Mizuki

Previous Sushi Yata post

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the extremely useful info.
    I will definitely check it out the next time I'm in Tokyo.