Is it getting ridiculous yet? Are you sick and tired of hearing about Chef Takahashi, about Blue Ribbon Izakaya? Every few weeks, boyfriend DEMANDS we return to our tried and true… And every few weeks, I contemplate whether it’s too much to write yet another post on our most favored sushi ya. Today, we had a special guest, my dear friend whom I refer to as Kitty Kat. I ADORE her. She is so much fun to be around, and to all the male readers, she’s SINGLE!!! After having such a marvelous time and meal, I conceded, to myself, to just one more post!
Our Omakase tonight:
Small Plates & Sashimi:
- Sesame Tofu Gelée – Usually LOVE everything that chef serves us. This sesame tofu gelée? Not so much… Boyfriend and Kitty Kat devoured it though.
- Grilled Squid & Arugula salad – This is one of chef’s go-tos. It’s really quite fabulous. The last time chef prepared this for us, back in August, I thought it didn’t have enough veggies. This time, it was PERFECT. Served with a ginger & fish sauce dressing and spicy mayo topping, sprinkled with Shichimi (a Japanese peppery spice).
- ISE EBI (lobster) three ways – “Three ways” refers to the tail into Sashimi, and the rest poached, the claws are served as is, while the body is made into a sushi roll with an egg wrapping (as opposed to seaweed), all served with Miso Butter, which is just an awesome compliment. This along with whole LIVE Santa Barbara UNI are boyfriend’s two favorite dishes in the world!
- Live HOTATE (scallop) – Chef takes a whole live HOTATE, slices up the core meat as sashimi, takes the “tail”, the crunchy part, for a flash grilling, then serve it all with a scallop liver sauce. It is really incredible.
- AJI – It’s been a while since chef prepared a whole AJI for us. LOVE when we get this fish whole. It means we get the whole skeleton of the fish deep fried too. Just magnificent!
- Sashimi Platter (clockwise from oyster)
- KUMAMOTO Oyster – Served with a ponzu sauce, Chef’s oysters are always plump, sweet, creamy, and overall delish!
- CHUTORO (Medium Fatty Tuna) – Incredibly pure tasting medium fatty Tuna, with no chew (veins), and no funky aftertaste at all.
- KANPACHI (Amberjack) – Not sure why, but Chef doesn’t serve much yellowtails in his omakase. But I really do love KANPACHIs. This one was served with a tiny dollop of Yuzu Pepper sauce.
- Wild Ocean Trout – Not a huge fan of the orange fishes. Chef’s trout is very good though, he starts with a marinated trout, then ABURIs (torches) the skin, and tops it with a tiny dollop of mayo. Really great considering it’s a trout.
- NAMADAKO (Live Squid) – One of my favorite fishes. Chef likes to slice this super thin, and top it with a small squeeze of yuzu (Japanese citrus) and a sprinkle of sea salt. He then takes a few of the suction cups, skewers it, grills it, and then top it with the same small squeeze of yuzu (Japanese citrus) and a sprinkle of sea salt.
- ANKIMO (Monkfish liver) – Chef wrapped the ANKIMO with a small bit of SHISO and thinly sliced HIRAME (flounder), and provided a sweet miso dipping sauce to accompany it. This was VERY, VERY good. But to be 100% honest, I like the ANKIMO/SHISO/HIRAME in a ponzu sauce version he served us in November better. The tart ponzu sauce complimented the ANKIMO like none other.
- Escargot canapé – This is a first for chef’s omakase, and it was MAGNIFICENT. Chef draped the escargot in a buttery liver sauce, and served it atop a tiny little toast. Boyfriend is in heaven, he LOVES escargots! When I make it at home, I make 2 dozen JUST for him. And Kitty Kat does too! I remember fighting her for the last escargot during our trip to Brussels. We are all so happy right now…
- SHIRAKO Mushroom Chawan Mushi with KANI and UNI – I’m not a huge fan of cha wan mushi servings as part of the omakase, but chef’s chawan mushi is just so on-point! His KANI is always perfect, never the overcooked chewy mess, and he always uses his best UNI, never tries to pull one over us, with a lesser UNI varietal.
Usually, chef provides us so much in terms of small plates and sashimi, that our sushi round is pretty short. Today, I seemed to have a hollowed belly, and ate like a 500 pound football player. I’m a small girl, but as usual, I out-eat the boyfriend. Boyfriend, who is 6’2” and huge (the muscular kind, not the belly kind), wrapped up by the UNI round while I continued on to inhale 7 more pieces. Boyfriend watches me in amazement. Wussy girl!
- NODOGURO (Black throat) – Served with just a tiny touch of a yuzu salt, DELISH!
- HAMACHI SUNAZAKURI (Yellowtail Belly) – Topped with a thinly sliced pickled HARUKEI turnip, this was very good!
- BOTAN EBI – This was a special type of BOTAN EBI. Chef shared that it’s his absolute favorite kind, but after 3-4 times repeating, and I still couldn’t catch the name, I wasn’t going to keep chef screaming. Izakaya is a very LOUD restaurant.
- OTORO (super fatty Tuna) – Served ABURIed (torched) with MOMIJI OROSHI (Grated Daikon Radish marinated with red chili peppers) and scallions. Who doesn’t love OTORO???
- Santa Barbara UNI – I’m so thrilled that Santa Barbara UNI is back in season!
- Hokkaido UNI – This looked rather watery, but it was really delicious.
- ENGAWA (Fluke Fin) – Served with a small slice of SHISO, ABURIed, and topped with YUZU salt, fantabulous!!!
- AWABI (Abalone) – Served with liver sauce – OMGGGGGG!!! We LOVE AWABI! What a beautiful crunch, and OH MY GOSH, was that liver sauce the best compliment ever!?! Absolutely marvelous.
- KATSUO (Skipjack Bonito) – Not a huge fan of KATSUOs, but it’s very much in season, and chef really wanted me to try it, so I did. Very good for a KATSUO, but still not my thang…
- SAYORI (Needlefish) – I don’t know why it’s not more widely embraced, but I LOVE SAYORIs! This one was served with a tiny bit of shaved ginger, really fantastic.
- ANKIMO wrapped in SHISO and HIRAME – Time for repeats! My favorite ANKIMO is the way chef made it for us back in November, with PONZU sauce. This one is my second favorite, which says A LOT.
- UNI/IKURA – When you know chef’s UNI is amazing, and you know his IKURA is always good, how can you possibly go wrong with this? UNI and IKURA, a match made in heaven!
- NEGITORO hand roll – The grand finale! Thank goodness for stretchy pants!!!
There is a reason why I can’t help myself but to continue more postings of chef. We always leave chef, so happy, so stuffed. There really is no comparison. Chef gets a top rating of 34 out of 35.