Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sushi Mizutani: Gaining perspective on Sushi and Tamagos

Not all tamagos are made equal. If there was a standard for tamago, there should be one for all the tamagos I’ve eaten and then there is Mizutani’s. It defies being a regular tamago and it is really a cut about the rest – rich, sweet, eggy and almost custardy – trust me, you’ll want more than a piece and will go back just for seconds.

When it comes to sushi, there are no real measures. No cookbook can tell you how much wasabi to put in a sushi; the parallel measure to that is a pinch of salt – how much? That really translates as: unless you know, you won’t really know. Neither would the book tell you about how much rice. The rice is a delicate balance and for each piece to have a consistent mouth-feel. That’s craft.

Why knife skills matter? It isn’t just how sharp your knife is but also your relationship and knowledge of the muscular structure of the fish or sea treasure that matters. With every slice, there are choices – how thick, what angle? Why it matters? Because it just does; because it can change everything. Abalone sushi to me has always been on a chewy rubbery side but here, Mitzutani slices at a calculated thickness and this transforms it from rubbery to crunchy – amazing, I’ve never had abalone sushi like this.

Now I think I understand. This is the art of sushi. This is sushi Mizutani.

Sushi Mizutani
Seiwa Silver Building B1F
9-2-10 Ginza, Chou-ku

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Killer Style Teppanyaki

My memories of Teppanyaki are family dinners. For some reason there was a period when I was less than three-feet tall that we used to have weekend dinners at this particular Teppanyaki shop that now closed. And then, since the proliferation of the quick and dirty version of teppanyaki at food courts and I haven’t been to a teppanyaki for a long long time.
There is so much beauty in the simple things.

I’m a big believer of simplicity, pure simplicity. And here, they keep it simple. Very simple – quality ingredients treated with the highest respect (excellent knife skills are a pre-requisite).

As with a lot of eating that we did in Tokyo, there was a close physical proximity to the man that prepares your food. The chefs here have their personal groove; they work with the hot plate and they do things well. Part of the experience is the dramatized cooking, a little flame a little steam and a “smell-track” that is designed to whet your appetite.

Our order included both surf and turf – both exceptional, so if budget and diet permits – have both. The cooking here is cone with commitment and integrity. After the live prawn are presented, they slide onto the hot plate and are gently held down, then deftly beheaded, shelled and de-veined. Special attention is given to everything. Care is taken to flatten the tail shells, removing the unsavoury bits from the head and then coated in oil and left to fry up to a crisp. Head to tail eating. Yum, the crunch and the intense flavours that were concentrated at these extremes were even better than the sweet crunchy flesh. A little salt, some heat and a fresh piece of sweet flesh and all carefully orchestrated on the shiny hot plate – so deliciously simple.

Teppanyaki Akasaka

Tokyo Zennikku Hotel 37F,
1-12-33 Akasaka,
Minato-ku, Tokyo
Tel: +81-03-3505-1437

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Friday, July 03, 2009

The Skinny on Skinny Pizza

The Skinny Pizza to me isn’t pizza.

It looks like a pizza but it sure doesn’t taste like one and thankfully is a fad that has not taken over all the pizzerias. I had the Ah Taki Tuna Skinny at Barracks that promised much but really it was more like tuna salad (tasted ok) served on an edible cracker plate. Sure it was skinny and yes it made a wonderful crack and snap but it was also too crispy and hollow to be a good honest pizza dough. I’ll vote for thin crust –crispy and tender- any day!

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