Sunday, February 17, 2008

Blogging for Sushi

The single most annoying thing about being a fan of Top Chef is not being able to taste the food. Whenever I get the chance, I want to taste for myself what all the fuss is about. Just such a chance presented itself when the lovely Ms. XaXa of Amuse Biatch mentioned that she was traveling home to Texas to check out Tre and Casey's hometown digs. You know I just had to latch on like one of those burrs in the fall prairie grass. I fired up Shamu One, took a quick plane ride down to Big D and spent three glorious days chomping my way through the city. And I want to share it all with you.

The first day of the adventure was spent alone. While XaXa is quite lovely, she cannot live on her looks alone and must have gainful employment. I, on the other hand, have no looks nor am I highly useful at my place of employment. Therefore taking a Friday off is, for me, frankly, too easy. But I was at a loss at how to make productive use of my time when the blog queen of my life made a brilliant suggestion. "Get thee to Nobu!" proclaimed the Java Junkie. Knowing me for the sushi whore that I am, reservations were made immediately. And that's where we are going first my little monkeys. To the land of clean and amazing flavors.

Nobu is well known throughout the world for it's distinctive Nobu style and heart, quality freshness, unexpected flavor pairings. I decided to put myself in the hands of the chefs and ordered the Omakase or Chef's Choice.

Time to meet the chefs.

This is my chef for the evening, Richie Feng. I doubt Chef Feng realized that the crazy blog lady would be asking so many questions and taking so many pictures but he was a good sport and presented me with a simply amazing experience.

Helping answer my questions when Chef Feng would have to step away was Roger Man. A Nobu veteran of many years he helped me understand a little of the Nobu philosophy.

The first dish of the evening was...

Salmon Tataki with Wasabi Tobikko and a miso broth. How funny that I'd been complaining all season about the numerous seafood tartares we'd seen and this is the first thing I'm served. But this ain't your Top Chef tartare. The knife work on the salmon is amazing and the flavors exquisite. The dish is meant to be eaten with a little of each component so the flavors explode on your tongue; the spicy caviar, the mildness of the fresh salmon each heightened by the miso broth. Wonderful. Once you've finished your fish you cleanse your palate with a Japanese Mountain Peach or Yamamomo. It tastes like a cross between the sweetness of a raspberry (but not the tartness) and the depth of a sweet apple. Too bad I can't get these at Whole Foods because they are wonderful.

Next was Suzuki on English Cucumber with Chive and Sesame Seeds. Citrus oil is the base. While you can't tell from this picture (and really I couldn't tell by looking), the fish is very lightly seared to add texture and bring out more of the fish flavor. I do have to admit this one severely challenged my hashi skills. Another excellent dish.

The third and last cold dish was a salad of Fried Sweet River Shrimp with seared Tuna. The salad had two dressings, an onion dressing with the heavier items and a cleaner, lighter citrus sesame oil with the vegetables behind the protein. This dish just rocked - it was my favorite of the night. The entire shrimp (head left on for more flavor and juiciness) is split and delicately fried and the tuna is lightly seared. A whole shiso leaf separates the protein and the vegetables. It has an incredible flavor that I find hard to describe but ask Harold since Perilla is the genus name for shiso...

This is the Alaskan Black Cod with Miso. Sounds so simple. Just cod with miso. This was a very close second to my favorite above. Cod is a nice firm fish that will hold up to broiling or baking. This fish just soaks up the sweetness of the miso and if you want to cut that sweetness you can always nibble on the pickled ginger root. This dish did not last long on my plate, and was, to my great joy, accompanied by another mountain peach.

This was, in my opinion, the only unspectacular note. A beef tenderloin with shitake and enoki mushrooms and asparagus on a bed of onions and broth. This is no fault of the dish or the chef. It's just that I came to seek out and consume all things seafood. Not to worry because after beef it's time for...

Sushi and mushroom broth! The soup was steaming hot with all manner of mushrooms. Hidden in the middle of all that fungus is a tasty clam in it's shell. The sushi (from left to right) is Tai or Red Snapper, Toro or fatty tuna, Aji or Spanish Mackeral, giant clam and last but not least is Unagi or eel. It was just as wonderful as it was beautiful.

It's at this point of the menu that your wonderful chef asks you how you're doing and if you are ready for dessert. I took just a few seconds and decided that I was not. I asked if they had a new dish or something that they were experimenting with. Chef Feng said yes and described it. How could my response be anything else but bring it on?

I'm glad I asked. Thin slices of white fish sitting in a bed of olive oil, topped with dry miso crumbles and chives with a tiny little potato chip. Heavenly. Dried miso could be very addictive and I'm going to be attempting to replicate.

Finally it was time for dessert (...don't ask her if she wants ANOTHER dish...).

A Bento Box of warm Chocolate Fondant Cake with Goma Tuille and Green Tea Ice Cream. Each by itself would have been wonderful as a dessert. All three together was just decadent. Pair that with...

...the house Nobu Mango Sake and you have the perfect ending to a most exciting and satisfying meal. My thanks to the fine folks at Nobu Dallas. I'm not a food critic but I do love food and I enjoy when food is done well.

Original post date 9/14/07

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