It's great that Taisho is doing so well. I found out that Taisho was an experiment in more refined, upscale yakitori for the owner (who also owns Yakyudori and Hinotez). They've done so well, that from what I heard Yakitori Hino is going to be fairly similar when they open.
Yakitori Taisho 5185 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. San Diego, CA 92117
Some Kale Pache and Garlic Paste from Harvest Market:
Recently, they expanded their offerings a bit and put in a dessert counter, have samples during the weekend, and lo' and behold, they had Kale Pache! Which I had to try.
This very rich version is lamb feet, head, and a whole lot of lamb tongues. The Missus was kinda grossed out at the lamb tongues, but I peeled back the membrane and She loved the rich and flavorful meat. The broth is super fatty though, and it needed a good bit of salt. I'll probably have it again....
The okra stew was not very good though; overcooked, very mushy, and lacking in flavor.
Beef Flap is back on the menu in the household. I grilled up a bunch along with other veggies and meat to last the Missus most of the week. This time I did the Cumin and Sichuan Peppercorn thing. The next day, I picked up some garlic paste and flat bread on the way home. We had cucumbers from the garden, some Roma tomatoes, and Vidalia onion. And I mixed some Labneh with mint and a touch of lemon juice. I also had some thinly sliced Berkshire Pork basted with garlic olive oil. Talk about a quick and satisfying dinner.
Harvest International Market 4220 Balboa Ave San Diego, CA 92117
I've found that the bottle prices at the Poseidon Project are even cheaper than most markets and liquor stores. Here's a few items I've had over the last couple of weeks.
Not too impressed with the NG Native Ale; pretty boring, not quite a brown.
This was an odd one:
Really just tasted like a standard San Diego IPA....really foamy. Don't know what the "Shojo" part is about.
The Missus just loved the Tusk & Grain Coconut Stout.
Though at 13.4% ABV, a couple of sips was all she wrote for Her on this one. In case you didn't know. T&G is Saint Archer's "artisan" line of beers brewed in Bourbon Barrels. They don't mess around; everything I've from T&G is at least 12% ABV.... yikes!
Poseidon Project 4126 Napier St San Diego, CA 92110
We got into Tokyo mid-afternoon, and proceeded to take the Narita Express to Tokyo Station. We decided to stay in the Nihombashi area fairly close to Tokyo Station. Our apartment was pretty small; like really small, though it had a laundry in the basement (remember the Jingisukan?). So we took care of all of that stuff; got in a short nap. By the time we woke up the sun had set and it was time for dinner. In spite of the hustle and bustle, we really liked this area, it made travel around the city quite easy. Anyway, with my trusty pocket wifi, I looked up our first option on my map; some Oden sounded great, but there was a huge line at Otako Honten. Plan B, grab some yakitori from Isehiro, but they were strangely closed down for the night. Plan C? I dunno..... I guess we'd grab some ramen from this little shop.
Boy did they like the signs and the posters....and the lamps! Even inside. The young lady working was a joy, very friendly, and patient.
Anyway, we ordered the Max #1 ramen, large size for me, a negi gohan, and onsen tamago for the Missus who'd of course share some of my ramen.
Man, that was shredded scallion allright....with some nice pieces of pork and a quail egg.
This was actually pretty tasty as they sauced the rice. Plus, the Missus loved the egg.
The ramen was different from other versions I've had.
That broth was really fatty, the texture was almost like oil. It had some definite chicken tones and some porkiness as well....but good lord it was so rich to be almost greasy. It also bordered on being quite salty. Good thing it was quite hot or we'd have some sludge on our hands. That egg was quite good, nice flavor, and nicely soft boiled. I really enjoyed the noodles which were fairly thick, a bit flat, but had been prepared to a wonderful pull and chew. I don't know why places here in San Diego have such a hard time getting it right, when this random ramen place on the corner here in Tokyo nailed it? The pork was a bit on the chewy side, but had decent flavor.
The quail egg and the spinach was an interesting touch. Walking back to the apartment, I suddenly realized we'd just had Yokohama style Iekei Ramen. I remembered reading about the shop that spawned this style of ramen, Yoshimura in Yokohama. And the thing that really made this place a legend was that the owners of Yoshimura-ya actually gave away the recipe to anyone who wanted it!
This was actually pretty good, if a bit too greasy and salty for my taste. No complaints for a random ramen shop we found.
Sorry about the address; I couldn't find a Romanized version of it.
Shinagawaya Yaesu 八重洲2-3-9 Chūō, 東京都 〒103-0028, Japan
We walked back to the apartment with warm bellies. Tomorrow would be a rather early day as we were heading to Kamakura.
The Missus loves crab, I have never seen anyone destroy a pile of crab with speed and efficiency like the Missus and Her Cousins. So I decided on what I read was he oldest crab specialty restaurant in Sapporo; Hyousetsu-no-Mon. Located in the Susukino district, we had made reservations on our first evening in Sapporo. We had a rather difficult time finding the place the first time and we headed over a bit early just in case we got a bit lost. Funny story about our reservation. The restaurant is multi-level deal, you have to find the level with the front desk, which we did. The studious looking gentleman behind the front desk was very professional and serious looking. He spoke decent English and we worked out a time for our reservation. Then he took down my name.....with a big look of surprise....then a huge smile, "Aaaah, Xxxxxxxxx-san, Xxxxxxxxx-san!" He was so friendly, like a different person. He didn't think I was Japanese! He then wrote my name down in the book and showed it to me. Now, I'd never, ever seen my family name written in Japanese, so I just smiled and nodded. By this time, the Missus was cracking up!
The Missus couldn't help but laugh when we walked up to the reception desk, and the gentleman saw me and called out a greeting!
We were taken to one of the private rooms. The woman serving us was probably in her 60's, but was amazingly efficient. While walking to the restroom, I saw the youngers girls trying to keep up with her. When she slide open the door, I looked at the table and went "oh-oh". I dread having to sit on the floor, it's just an accident waiting to happen. Luckily, the floor below the table was sunken. Whew.
I had ordered the Live Hairy Crab and King Crab Course for the Missus (13,000¥ - about $125/US) and the King Crab Full Course (9,300¥ - about $90/US) for me.
Of course you needed sake; we started with something from Otokoyama, the kuniyoshi nona torizake (1,010¥ - about $10). A nice, crisp, and clean tasting sake.
While we met our guest of honor.
And the appetizer course arrived.
Man, we loved the crab roe!
The Sashimi Course was three hairy crab legs
So sweet, if a bit on the chewy side.
And a nice crab claw.
I gotta say, the King Crab Claw meat has maybe the best flavor of all the pieces I had. It was really sweet and had a very clean taste.
Then a portable stove and hot pot was delivered to our table.
We were both given King Crab Legs and some vegetables for the hot pot. This was nice, but no big deal. We just made sure not to cook the legs too much. For some reason, I thought the hot pot broth tasted quite good on its own.
The grilled king crab was nice, with rich, smoky touches, and quite delicious.
Then came what I call the Missus's course; the steamed hairy crab. I let Her have all of it; She does love Her crab.
While I ordered Chitosetsuru Junmai-Daiginjo (1,375¥ - about $14/US). Floral, on the light side.
While my steamed King Crab Legs arrived.
Rich and buttery, nice clean flavors.
Up next were the tempura courses; which both the Missus and I thought were light and crisp, but nothing especially distinctive.
The next two courses weren't our favorites. The crab in a vinegar sauce was too sour and you couldn't make out anything.
The King Crab Gratin was a bit too rich for us and you really couldn't make out any crab. It was quite filling though.
Our last sake was our favorite, simply called Maruta (935¥ - about $9/US). Considered one of the best examples of Ginpu (a sake rice grown on Hokkaido) Junmaishu.
Crisp with an interesting tongue feel.
I wasn't too sure about the Crab Nigiri, but it was quite good, served Aburi (torched) style, which helped to develop the flavors and texture.
We both enjoyed the final course, which was an egg drop porridge. It helped to finish things off and really did have that "aaah" factor.
And the serving was quite generous.
The nice palate cleansing sorbet was the dessert.
This was quite a meal. You'd think we'd be stuffed. But because of the pacing, both the Missus and I, while full, didn't feel like we were bursting at the seams. The service was excellent. While I don't think we'll be doing this again, it was a fun experience and we were glad we did it.
Hyosetsu-no-Mon Minami 5 Jonishi Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan
We really enjoyed our time in Sapporo and were kind of sad to be leaving the next day. So we took the long way back to the hotel......
I gotta say; as years have passed, the longer I live in San Diego, my reception of what's going on over "the coconut wireless" gets more and more faint. I think most folks use the four lettered word site to get their info these days. But here's one I got a day after posting on San Diego Poke Company. Anyway, he who wants to remain silent told me the poke at this tiny little, mostly take-out shop in the East Village was worth a try for the poke. I was warned off the nigiri and he knew I don't do the rolls thing. Which is how I ended up at Tokyo Deli.
Loved the shop which was sparkling white; the crew all Japanese, there are a few brands of soy sauce and other Japanese items for sale in a small retail area.
The drill is basic order at the counter and get your food. The folks are professional.
The poke bowls can be made on rice, as a salad, or half and half. They start at $9.80 with two toppings gratis and an upcharge extra items or even more for avocado and/or cream cheese.....cream cheese....on a poke bowl. So, no Flamin' Cheetos toppings or any of that stuff here, after all, did you want all kinds of "stuff" or fish, eh?
There's a glass display of items from the menu.....no, it's not plastic food.
Wanting something basic to determine how good the fish was; I went with the rice bowl, with tuna (of course), the sesame soy sounded closest to shoyu poke, with onions and cucumber.
It was delivered to me in a little plastic bowl, with a couple of butter lettuce leaves and shredded purple cabbage. This is not a big eater portion size, but it was enough for me. First things first, the fish was good quality, nice meatiness, no tough or mushy pieces. This wasn't too salty, decent balance in salty-sesame oil, but there was a wasabi kick to the sauce; but it wasn't a gooey-watery mess either. The rice was excellent, cooked perfectly. The onions and cucumbers did the job; pungency with a nice clean palate cleansing. The really nice woman who brought me my bowl also dropped off a cup of water; a nice touch.
Which if course, meant I went back; this time for take-out.
This time I went for the half and half; half rice half salad with tuna, the ponzu sauce, avocado ($1 upcharge), onion, and cucumbers.
There was a nice generous portion of avocado; but this bowl seemed a bit lightweight with all the greens; which by the way, wasn't dressed, and that sauce for the poke really didn't extend to all that kale. Also, the fish just didn't seem as good in quality this time around; low in fat and oil, and quite a bit of "that pink" bled onto the rice. The ponzu was ok, it could have had a bit more zip and I thought the fish needed to be dressed a bit better.
Now the really nice guy who recommended Tokyo Deli also asked me to try the Sushi Burrito......something I usually wouldn't go for. He also instructed me to get a whole one ($10.80) since half really would only do for a small snack. So, I went with the tuna sushi burrito (yeeesh) and since I was going to defy that little voice inside of me going "wtf", I chose the spicy aioli as the sauce. Man, this fish was dark, the texture was still good, but it was just getting to the edge of shelf life for me as I could make out a mild "smell". Still, it wasn't bad.
As before, the rice was prepared well. This was basically an uncut makizushi with poke as a filling, which wasn't too strange to me. It was kind of light on the fish; they piled everything in the middle before rolling, so the ends were tapered, with hardly any fish. The spicy aioli; was more aioli than spicy. At least to me. At least you'll get some greens and a nice portion of avocado. I did get full; but mostly on rice.
So, what do I think? This place is decent and would stretch to good if they can get consistently good fish. The place is clean and spotless and service reserved, thoughtful (remember the cup of water?), professional, with a certain dignified, understated approach that seems so Japanese. I like that. The portions aren't very large, but as a whole ok for me. They also serve Edomae nigiri sushi; which looks a bit better than what you'd get at a Japanese market. Sorry, I don't eat it there other than kappa maki and natto maki, so you'll have to try it yourself. There are also various rice bowls and the inevitable California and Philadelphia rolls on the menu as well.
I'll eat here again.
Tokyo Deli 871 G St San Diego, CA 92101 Open Daily 11am - 7pm
After sampling a few brews at Otaru Brewery we walked back to the JR Station. Just to the right of that station stands a rather nondescript street and a very discreet doorway. Behind that door is Sankaku Market. It really doesn't look like much from the outside, but walk thru that door and you'll enter a bustling little market.
Full of some of the most wonderful seafood I've ever had a chance to see.
Opposite the stands are restaurants....more like stalls with tables. One of them had a crazy line of people waiting to eat. I looked at the menu and saw that it was the cheapest place in the market.
Right before that stood another shop, this one was also busy, but we decided to just take a chance. The woman in charge gave us a paper with a number and we stood off to the side to wait.
I went for a walk to the loo....which is how I noticed that the crowds here gather around the area where the restaurants were.
After about 15 minutes, the woman in charge found us and we were seated and a little bowl of ika; which looked like it was colored with squid ink was placed before us.
We were given menus and here's where I'm glad I took a photo of the menu since folks here don't believe the prices we paid for lunch.
Not realizing how much rice was in these bowls we ordered three! Later on during the trip, Kat mentioned that we could order half portions of rice. Which we'll do when we return.
We shared the three bowls. The first to arrive was the most expensive one (2000¥) a bit less than $20. Geez Louise, look at all of that sweet crab!
Which I thought was the weakest item in the bowl. The salmon was nice and mild in flavor, fatty, with a wonderful texture. I've had Hokkaido Uni before and thought it to be very briney and intense in flavor, but this was so creamy, slightly sweet, with the wonderful flavor of the ocean. Like you took a bite of the cleanest, sweetest, water of the Pacific. The ikura were perfect, briney, not overly salty, with a wonderful snap to them. For around twenty bucks!
We also ordered this which cost 1300¥. More of that wonderful ikura and those scallops were super sweet.
The ebi were tender, but very mild in flavor and not particularly interesting....but that ikura.
I was curious what a 980¥ (about $9.50) bowl of salmon would look like. Sheeesh......
10 pieces of fresh and delicious salmon. I'm very cautious about getting salmon in restaurants; but the stuff in the market looked so fresh and of good quality. We really didn't need the wasabi as everything tasted clean and fresh, just a bit of soy sauce for the salmon. We did feel bad having so much rice left over, but we'll know what to do in the future.
This was one heck of a meal for under forty bucks....remember, there's no tipping in Japan. I came back and mentioned how good the Hokkaido Uni was to Tommy at Catalina.....which he wasn't too happy about, but what the heck.
Man, we left fat and happy. We managed to get back to Sapporo and squeeze in a nap and a nice walk before dinner, which was to be at the oldest crab specialty restaurant in Sapporo. We sure were eating well!
I have a few acquaintances who love the Michelin Star/Best Restaurants in the World kind of thing. And earlier today, one of them sent me this link, telling to look at #13....it was Maido, where we had just eaten last month. What I thought was a bit strange was that Maido was several notches above Azurmendi. Just goes to show you the fickle "sport" of ranking restaurants and also why, while I take all those things into consideration, in the end, I try to figure out the food, how the place suits us, both in cuisine and service (those restaurants where staff is constantly hovering is not for us), before making a decision. A few hours later, "SomTommy" who sometimes comments, sent me an email mentioning the same thing. I replied that I thought this was both interesting and surprising. He then asked me what my favorite restaurant in the world was. What really surprised me was how easy it was typing out my reply; it was Suzunari which we visited during our first trip to Tokyo. The place just suited us; Kaiseki, perfectly prepared, elegant, but not fussy, without pretense, in a casual atmosphere, the customers were all Japanese. Oh, and while it was basically a husband and wife team, with one assistant, this tiny shop had acquired one of those "star" thingies.
Funny thing was, we enjoyed our previous experience so much we returned the last time we were in Tokyo. So I thought I'd do a quick photo post, out of chronological order, but it seemed somewhat timely. We had our good friend Reiko make reservations for us before our last visit; we also insisted that she come along. Even though we knew the pacing of the meal, pretty much in line with traditional Kaiseki, it was still fabulous.
From the steady silent interactions of the chef, his wife, and the assistant. To the sincere service, we loved sitting at the bar, and watching the flawless execution.
The Hassun, just fantastic.
Reiko, a Tokyo native told us that this was the best meal she's ever had and we were so glad to have been able to share it with her.
I'll always remember overhearing some advice from a Japanese National who advised the young couple that if they really wanted a "true" experience, to bypass the multiple Michelin Star Kaiseki places and work a bit harder to find the places that Japanese would go to when they had a nice meal. This lead me to researching a bit and finding Suzunari. My favorite restaurant.
Suzunari 7-9 Arakicho, Shinjuku-ku Tokyo
Later during the morning I sent an email to Ed from Yuma and Cathy regarding the list. Ed's response was priceless: "Rereading the post you did, it is amazing that the place had so many little shortcomings. But you are picky." I really don't think I'm picky, but I do know what I like, and after all these years, I think I'm pretty good at mentioning those things I don't care for. Funny thing about places like Maido. These places take chances, are innovative, they have a vision, and move toward that vision. There might be items that aren't your cup of tea, but, at least for us, the highs are amazingly high.
Maido, or even Etxanobe perhaps. Suzunari? I'm pretty sure we'll be back.
But it's a big world and we've only been to 23 countries. The Missus has told me that the US can mostly wait until I'm old and decrepit. Which might be anytime now. And while all these places are great....even the occasional banquet or two.....
It was early in the afternoon when we returned from Asahikawa and it was time a nice afternoon nap. After the light snooze and freshening up, we decided to head out for dinner. Walking through the lobby we noticed, not one, but three weddings taking place!
I guess the Old World charm of the Hotel Monterey makes it a hot spot for weddings!
We noticed that it wasn't very cold out as we walked to our dinner destination. I was told that we absolutely should try Jingisukan (Genghis Khan) while in Sapporo and while it was kind of touristy, we should at least check out the Sapporo Beer Garden. It was a pretty relaxing, quiet walk.
There are several restaurants on the premises. We chose the very casual "Kessel Hall", which has a large beer cauldron, made in 1912 looming over it.
While the place seemed a bit busy, we had no problem getting a table. In an interesting move, we were given large plastic bags for our jackets.....which should have been a hint as to what we'd be exposed to.
After a rather large breakfast and ramen for lunch, we weren't very hungry, so while the all-you-can-eat option wasn't even in the plans, we just ordered a single portion of the mutton with vegetables.
And some other items from the menu that we were curious about. Loved the nice piece of fat used to coat the griddle.
We also got a mug of the Sapporo Hokkaido Limited which I thought was a bit lighter and sweeter than the usual Sapporo lager I have once in a while.
In an earlier post I mentioned Hokkaido produce and dairy products. We had a chance to try a few items from the menu; first Hokkaido baked potato....which, unlike the potatoes in Peru and Spain, were really mild in flavor. Also, being cheese lovers, we jumped at the chance of trying Hokkaido cheese, this one being a nice and creamy, but very mild in flavor. We both prefer Camembert with a more full bodied riper flavor.
The mutton actually had a pretty strong, gamey flavor which we both enjoyed.
The fat basted the bean sprouts and the onions added a mild pungent flavor. It was just enough for the Missus and I.
There was one interesting downside to eating here. Remember I mentioned the plastic bag for our jackets? Well, we should have actually worn plastic over our clothing as the place has no ventilation.
It was so thick that it could almost knock you over. We ended up quarantining our clothes from this visit until we had access to a washer in Tokyo!
Sapporo Bier Garten 9-2-10, Kita7Jo, Higashi-ku Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan
There was one thing we learned about at information center. A very nice woman was giving out samples of Hokkaido corn soup, the stuff is made from a powder, so I've always been leery. It was actually very good! The Missus really wasn't interested in trying it, but I had Her try a sample and She was hooked. We bought a couple of boxes home with us and though we can't find the exact same brand here in San Diego, we found one that is a reasonable facsimile. It's great as a little snack or even breakfast on a colder morning.
We took a short detour on the way to the hotel.....trying to stay downwind from folks as we visited the basement of Daimaru looking for some snacks.
There was a Hokkaido Products shop along the way and I purchased a little "nightcap" for me.
This was a nice Hefe, for some reason the fragrance reminded me of bananas! It was a mild, but refreshing beer, which I enjoyed. We were headed to Otaru in the morning and I recalled Kat and Satoshi had visited the brewery a few years earlier. So we now had another item for our agenda!
We always try to plan at least one "special" meal during our trips. Lima, being one of my favorite food cities has some difficult choices, but Maido, without a doubt was the one place I just wanted to experience. The chef Maido Mitsuharu puts forward a "Nikkei" menu....inspired by Peruvian and Japanese cuisine. Mitsuharu has a pretty good resume, having attended Johnson & Wales and even trained for almost three years in a sushi restaurant in Osaka. You can read his bio here. Being a Sansei from Hawaii, where we have our own spin on Japanese cuisine, much of it based on the lack of many traditional Japanese ingredients, I've always been fascinated by Nikkei Cuisine. And was really excited about our dinner reservations at Maido.
Located on the corner of Calle Colon and Calle San Martin, Maido was quite easy to find. The building itself is quite distinctive. It was 10 minutes before opening and there were folks lining up. Considering all these folks had reservations, it seems that I wasn't the only one excited about eating here.
The interior of the restaurant is somewhat austere, with a sushi bar area and tables. The one really interesting feature are the ropes hanging from the ceiling.....kind of cool and yet kind of strange. I believe it also helps to absorb noise since most of the areas are quite hard.
We had ordered the "Nikkei Experience" when making reservations. This is a 15 course menu of dishes, none of which are revealed until you receive them. You don't even get a listing of the dishes until your meal is complete.
But first, some cocktails. The Missus, in a genius move, ordered the Pisco and Tonic, a wonderful balanced, grown up drink. It was my favorite cocktail of the trip. In fact, I ended up ordering another later on in the meal! At a loss for what to order, I went for the Sakura; a Pisco, Sake, Strawberry, and Camu Camu juice. It was light, clean, refreshing....but was more of a "chick drink".
Lucky for me, the Missus really liked this and we traded. She was especially taken with the flowers in the ice cubes.
Soon enough, dishes started arriving. Things were really paced well, our Server described the basic dish, and seemed pleased when I recognized tastes, flavors, and even knew some of the ingredients in the dish. Service was very professional with nice, friendly touches....."un-stuffy" and perfectly suited to our taste.
Things started off with an interesting "snack". The stuff in the cone was delicious pressed and fried chicken skin dusted with shichimi togarashi. It was so very nice and crisp, with that wonderful "unfowl" flavor of chicken skin.
The other part of the dish were sausages, which seemed like a cross between a bratwurst and chorizo, layered on plantain, senbei (no kidding - senbei) with a sachatomate (tamarillo) emulsion. Nice, but nothing to really get excited about.
What really got our attention was that sauce at the bottom of the photo above. We put some on the chicken skin and cracked up! Pachikay Sauce......it's scallion, ginger, soy.....this tasted like the dipping sauce for for Kwai Fei Chicken! Basically, the sauce for what we call "Cold Ginger Chicken" back home. This had a more complex flavor, the ginger seemed to have been blanched or cooked taking the edge off the flavor, some smokiness, it was also a bit on the salty side as well. Still, we really enjoyed the chicken skin.
The next dish was simply called "Churos"....no not churros, but churos, an Amazonian land snail. The snail had been simmered in a soy based broth, with perhaps some sake and mirin. It was enrobed with a very tasty foam made of dale dale root, which I believe is a type of arrowroot and garnished with "chalaca", a basic topping made of corn, tomato, and onion.
The snail was so tender and full of flavor and the foam really tempered any strong flavors and refreshed the palate.
Next up, one of my favorite items of the evening; simply called Lapas Cebiche. Lapas are "limpets". So, the folks from Hawaii will understand; this is opihi! Really good opihi, served on what was described to me as aji-cilantro-lime juice frozen by liquid nitrogen.
Good lord, this was leche de tigre sorbet! I love leche de tigre.....when our Server heard me exclaim that, he came over, smiled, and said, "yes, it is frozen leche de tigre". Amazing flavors and textures.
Next up was the Paiche Sandwich. Paiche is the legendary Arapaima from the Amazon. It has a nice texture, delicate, yet slightly firm.
The bun, like a mantou was hard, crumbly, and not up to the task. The lulo criolla, strangely didn't register much flavor.
My friends know how much I love cuy (guinea pig)...but cuy gyoza? Well, that's a new one. The wrapper was decent, crisp, not gummy. The filling was interesting, like the filling for a croquette, very soft and mushy....give me this and tell me it's pork and I'd believe you. The sauce was delish.....soy sauce, probably rice vinegar...combined with the onions and chilies, this really tasted Chinese.....as did the Pachikay Sauce. It seems the strong Chinese influence on Peruvian cuisine was in play as well.
Next up, well Sushi de Mar......An ika and hotate nigiri. Now, of course I'd never expect anything say...the level of Sushi Iwa or Urasawa....
But for me, the rice did this dish in. The gohan was hard, dry, and very cold. It really detracted from any enjoyment of the very nicely prepared seafood.
While the color of the dish screamed "bland" the "Amazonic Cebiche" was much better.
I loved the "Nikkei leche de tigre", which had some soy sauce in it. It tasted like revved up ponzu. I'm also a big fan of the shaved hearts of palm, which looked like noodles in this dish. That topping, which I was told was made of yucca flour was delish. I believe there was some garlic in here somewhere. There was also some very mild heat from aji charapita.
The next dish was also very good; Cancho con Yuca. This looked like compressed cubes of pork belly and yucca, wrapped up in some kind of dough based wrapper and topped with fried pork skin.
It was served with a "ramen reduction" which was quite salty.
Next up was another dish which just blew me away; Sacha Soba.
The noodles were made from sachapapa an Amazonian tuber. Flavor and color was added via the use of various chilies, and no, this wasn't spicy. But the texture of the soba was perfect; nice pull, that slight smokiness and mild spice from the chilies, balanced by the sweetness of the crab. My goodness, this was so delici-yoso!!!
We just had to have some drinks to celebrate! I got another Pisco and Tonic and the Missus gave in and had a Pisco Sour, which I thought was the most balanced, in terms of booze to sweetness to sour of what I had during the entire trip.
Next up were the Sushi Tierra (Earth). These fared much better than the seafood; possibly because the fat tempered the textures for me.
The A lo Pobre, a wonderfully beefy piece of meat torched, then topped with a quail egg. As a bonus, the quail egg had been injected with ponzu sauce, which added the nice salty-acid component which meant all the difference to this piece of nigiri. The mollejas (beef sweetbread) was nice and fatty which aided the texture, but this was a bit too tame in flavor compared to other piece.
The Missus really enjoyed the "Regional Beans", which had some nice flavor components, the quinoa crisps were very nutty and the Missus, who loves beans, also enjoyed them when mixed with the avocado cream.
So, the Missus has always preferred my misoyaki to everything She's ever had....even to pointing out the failings of what was served at Nobu's and Matsuhisa (!). Until tonight. On this evening, She proclaimed the Gindara to be the best She's ever had. Now I take a back seat.
I have to say, the flavor of the miso sauce/glaze was perfectly balanced; not too strong. the nuts; which I believe were cashews and bahuaja (Brazil nuts if I recall) just placed another layer of texture and flavor. I thought the potato cream was much too salty to enjoy.
The flavor and texture of the Wagyu Shortrib, which they said was cooked for 50 hours.....I'm pretty sure via sousvide, was amazingly tender and the flavor was a nice balance of salty to sweet.....and the egg yolk just added more richness (as if it were needed) to the dish. We both found the Cecina (cured pork) fried rice wrapped up like a spring roll to be kind of odd as it was on the mild side in regards to flavor.
The Missus really enjoyed both desserts. The Cacao; 70% pure, with yuzu and all the nuts.....
And I even enjoyed the "Maduro", which had the odd combination of an ice cream made with plantain and shoyu!
All that really nice tapioca balls, water jelly, and rice milk.....along with some Amazonian fruits like camu camu really made for a nice way to end the meal.
We really enjoyed our meal at Maido. In fact, the Missus told me that this is easily one of the most enjoyable meals of Her life. Me? Well, I can easily say that my favorite dining experience is Suzunari, which we actually returned to on our last visit to Tokyo (I know...I'm really behind). But this was an amazing experience in terms of food and flavors. And while certainly not on the level of Azurmendi, there was one thing they had in common. While not every dish worked to our enjoyment, the "highs" were extremely high. We could relate to the flavors....the combinations of which weren't frivolous.....the cuisine and thus the customer was respected....you could detect the "soul" of the cuisine here, it wasn't some meaningless mash-up. And while I wasn't able to wrangle a reservation at Central; we were both very happy to have the chance to dine at Maido.
Maido 399 Calle San Martin Lima, Peru
This was a wonderful meal. We'd have to get up at 430 the next morning and get our ride to the airport. Next up....Santiago, Chile...even if it was just for a single night we were looking forward to it!
I noticed the "ABC" notice on the window of the former location of Mama's Grill.
A closer look revealed it's going to be "Yakitori Hino" and the owner is "Yakyudori Inc".
Interesting.....I'm going to have a bunch of questions for Taka-san next time I'm at Taisho. Though with the owner of RakiRaki opening a Yakitori shop and now this; I'm wondering when we'll hit critical mass.
7420 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92111
Also, in the Same Strip Mall.....:
A location of the Creamistry is opening.
7420 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92111
Poki One N Half:
Speaking of critical mass..... Yet another poke (not poki) place.
This used to be the old Subway location in the same strip mall as Mitsuwa.
8055 Armour St San Diego, CA 92111
And just in case you need some Camel Milk:
You now get some, albeit frozen at Bristol Farms.
If you're as curious as I am about camel milk, there's some info here. The Missus was really up for buying some, until She saw the $18.99 price tag...... So maybe you can tell us how it is. I've eaten camel and really didn't think it was that good; but we loved riding them in Tunisia.