Friday, May 21, 2010

Mogami, Ginza (最上)

Until now, the only kushiage place I've really loved (or been to an appreciable number of times) has been Isomura. I'd probably still tell you to go there first for the funky country-style atmosphere, almost like a mix of American tacky country and Japanese farmhouse, and of course for the great fry at decent prices. But Mogami was just fine. I'm not sure how I feel about the cost performance, but there's no question the quality was higher. This was definitely the best kushiage I've had.

Kushiage being kushiage, they start you off with a bowl of vegetables to freshen up your mouth after lashings of fried food as well as a tray of dipping sauces. Compared to Isomura, the service level is much higher. For a start, the waiters are wearing vests and ties, but the more startling thing to me is that they pour the sauces for you. This is almost unnatural to me. And when one compartment of the sauce tray empties...they pour more sauce for you. With great dignity and poise. But you could tell right off that this place is something special food-wise - the salt was mixed with a light grating of seaweed, but the dark Worcestershire-based sauce and the light sesame-based sauce were a level above what you would expect from sauce.

The way kushiage works is basically omakase, meaning all you need to do is specify what you can't eat, then say "Go."  Turns out you can specify pretty freely what you want from the 36 or so varieties they have (the printed menu with English descriptions isn't accurate. They gave us a less classy but more current menu after a while). They were very open to our requests, e.g., I wanted to make sure we got asparagus, but the pacing was weak - big wait times followed by several servings, and at the finish the obligatory "Oh, you can't stop now, we've already got the next thing in the fryer!".  Not wanting to belabor the point, I'll collage these pictures. Some of which are really lovely, aren't they? The lighting makes all the difference; I think it was little halogen lamps. Wouldn't be surprised if they did that to highlight the beauty of the fry.

Shrimp and kisu (whiting) was first, then below that lotus root and pork with pine nuts. Asparagus and some other fried thing. Top right, beans, a first for me but delicious, and chicken with a weird green sauce.Below that, some other fried thing and then a chunk of squid tipped with (I'm guessing) wasabi tobiko, like the orange fish eggs on a California roll but packed in wasabi so they turn green. Not pictured was a piece of snapper topped with a little fresh rosemary. That sort of attention to detail made these really extraordinary.

Should you go, you'll enjoy it. Do remember to take your credit card though. Another store in Akasaka, then two in Kyoto. Must be from the south; they said okini as we left.

1 comment:

  1. Twas indeed good. The first time I have sat down for a meal that was basically all fried and didn't feel particularly guilty about it afterward..