A year since our first visit, I have done a 180 on my views of Cagen. Tonight, I am happy to report, it was a fantastic meal and time!
I don’t remember what it was a year ago, but these days Cagen does two seatings a night, TWO. 6 and 8:45PM only. Frankly 6PM isn’t too early for me, but I’m a little nutty about time. I have an insane need to be 10 minutes early everywhere I go. Problem is, restaurants do not open till 6PM. To have a seating at 6, means on-time arrivers will definitively be waiting for others, and likely OUTSIDE. Tonight, we were about 20 minutes early, but the staff was gracious enough to allow us to sit inside. Thank goodness, it was a gazillion degrees outside!
The crowd tonight was not nearly as irritating as the last. I distinctly remember the obnoxious chatter of the snooty upper-east-siders, and the outrageously arrogant 20-somethings that think they own the world. Tonight we sat with other courteous patrons that chatted amongst ourselves, without forcing others to hear our conversations. This proves to me that it is not an acoustics problem at Cagen, it was just folks that had zero etiquette.
Hours and patrons aside, tonight, Chef Toshio Tomita knocked it out of the park. Not only was his servings on point, he didn’t have anything crazy (no crazy pairings), AND he really opened up and chatted! He’s like an onion… HA! I’m so corny!
Our omakase tonight:
- Amuse bouche: Gazpacho of chia seeds, corn, edamame, white fish tofu purée, and dried cilantro. Seriously? This again? It wasn’t good the first time, and guess what, it still ain’t no good the second. Sorry I get a little ghetto when irritated.
- KURODAI (black seabream/porgy) – The fish itself was fantastic, nice and fatty (only fatty during this season), and the skin had a slight crunch. Beautiful fish. The plum sauce atop, I was less fond of. No offense to Tomita san, but I honestly haven’t met one fish, where I enjoyed a plum sauce topping. Not ever.
- ISAKI (grunt) – Really good! The jalapeño topping on this fish was a nice touch, and did not overpower it at all. Lovely!
- AKA YAGARA (Red cornet fish, Red Trumpet fish) – A photo of this fish was on the wall, I should have taken a photo of it, but I failed to do so. I did pull this off the web though… When I saw the photo on the wall, I was like, I WANT THAT FISH! So intriguing! I figured it was going to have the texture of a shell fish, a shrimp maybe? A gummy shrimp? Nope! It tasted like just a mild, lean, white fish! It was good… just more exciting to look at than to eat…
- HIGESORIDAI (Sweet lip/Black grunt) – Another mild white fish, dressed simply with Tomita san’s special soy. Very good, but with the low fat content, I wouldn’t mind one of his special toppers, something beyond the soy…
- HIRAME (Fluke) – Served with crunchy chili pepper BETWEEN the fish and the rice. My favorite piece so far!!! This was absolutely delectable!
- AJI (Horse Mackerel) – Tomita san always did do AJI very well! I loved the layering of the AJI, and the ginger and scallion mixture was a great topper!
- KASUGODAI (Baby Sea bream) – Served with a chimichurra sauce. This was LOVELY. My second favorite piece of the night!
- Wild SHIMA AJI (Jack Mackerel) – Lovely mild flavors , just delicious!
- TACHIUO (Beltfish) – Chef actually seared this on the grill. Very nice. Very happy.
- KINMEDAI (Golden eye snapper) – I WISHED Tomita-san torched the skin. Wished! This was still really delicious though.
- NODOGURO (Black throat) – Another fish where chef took and seared (just the skin) on the grill. Lovely!
- Kumamoto Oyster – topped with a tiny bit of jalapeño pepper sauce. So, so good!
- FUE-FUKI-DAI (Pig faced snapper) – Another fish I have never tried till today. According to Chef this is the BEST fish of the night. It did have a beautiful fattiness and nice texture
- Miyazaki Wagyu – DELICIOUS, BUT I don’t know why all the sushi yas insist on incorporating wagyu into their sushi omakases. I love it, but I really would prefer just more fish…
- CHUTORO (Medium fatty tuna) – Incredible fat, no veins, no chew, and no funky aftertaste. YUM!
- AKAMI ZUKE (marinated lean tuna) – Served in NORI (seaweed). This was better than the CHUTORO!
- HOKKAIDO UNI – Uni just hasn’t been great lately. This serving was good, but not great…
- ANAGO (Sea eel) – I didn’t get this, I was smart enough to ask for no ANAGO. Boyfriend got it. Sucker!
- AKA HATA (tomato grouper) – This was my replacement for the ANAGO. Per the great Charlie Sheen, WINNING!!! Served with a tiny dollop of chili paste. For a lean white fish, yummy.
- OTORO (Super fatty tuna) – Talk about melt in your mouth. Another no vein, no chew, no funky aftertaste fatty yumminess!
- BOTAN EBI (spotted sweet shrimp) – Very good, but not live, and no fried head. That’s half the fun when ordering the BOTAN EBI – the fried head!
- NEGITORO (chopped TORO with Scallions) – lovely end to the night!