Usually at the mmm-yoso foodblog, Kirk is the head chef, presenting meals from around the world and in San Diego; many times Cathy serves up some interesting dishes here too; today, however, ed (from Yuma) has some sushi (from San Diego) for you to enjoy.
Like most people, I am a creature of habit. I also love sushi, so when I find myself overwhelmed with desire for a sushi dinner (or two), I head to San Diego. Which explains my two day visit earlier this month.
The first dinner was Shirahama. I had been twice before and posted about it here and here. Because the chef’s presentations on this evening were similar to previous visits, a lot of this post will be pictures with minimal comments.
The crab was very good, but the shrimp was rather different from what I would have expected, meaty but a bit dry and lacking in standard shrimp flavors.
The sprat was quite appealing to the eye, shining and reflecting light, a silver strip at each side of the little filet. This relative of herring had a clean fresh fishy flavor. The taste of the amberjack was even more striking – balanced firm richness, worthy of the mmm-yoso dance according to my notes.
The mackerel was flawless and nicely accented with fresh grated ginger. On this evening, I was especially impressed by the clam which had a nice variety of textures from crunchy on the edge to soft chewy in the center, all very fresh and flavorful. One of the other customers said to his friends, "mirugai overwhelms rice; this clam is more balanced and refined." It was a good point.
Its label says that it has a floral nose and a mellow fruity flavor, along with "a wholesome freshness, a green apple tartness, and a refreshing finish." It seemed fine to me.
To me, the bream tasted a lot like good hirame, fresh clean whitefish flavor. The octopus, on the other hand, was uniquely wonderful. Uncooked, it was creamy and moist with a firm soft chewy texture and mild molluscy flavor. Three stars in my notes. Certainly one of the highlights of the meal and even better than the clam I had fallen in love with just a few bites earlier.
The ika was fine, pristine and mild in flavor, making it a perfect foil for the sardine, which had a big mouth filling flavor, the taste of the sea but not overly fishy, rich but not unctuous. Another excellent fish.
Koji-san had already wondered if I was finished, but I simply couldn't stop the wonderful meal. I did worry, however, that he might be running out of interesting sushi. The toro and yellowjack that he delivered next convinced me that he had not run through his bag of tricks yet:
The jack was okay though I am hard-pressed to remember much about it because the toro sitting beside it was so absolutely wonderful. Tender and buttery. It melted in my mouth, dissolving into creamy bliss. Wow!
I thought it good, but not exceptional.
I took that picture of the gari as a reminder to myself. Shirahama’s pickled ginger that night seemed especially floral, complex, and sweetly spicy, so good it almost made me doubt my taste buds.
Shirahama is still on its game. Rather than trying to say what I have already said in some new way, I’m just going to plagiarize myself: Koji-san is the master of the traditional and old school and understated. Like a rock garden. If you have some extra money sitting around (this meal was $111) and want to have real Japanese sushi in a Japanese environment, this place is for you.
Sushidokoro Shirahama, 4212 Convoy, San Diego, 92111, (858) 650-3578, open daily 12:00-2:00 and 5:30-10:00