Excellent eating in San Francisco, part 1

I enjoyed everything I ate! I want to highlight my three dinners for you. Alas, I only had a camera with me for one of them. I’ve backdated the posts to when I ate the food.

First excellent dinner was at the Japanese restaurant, Ozumo, attached to the boutique hotel Harbor Court. I was staying there while in San Francisco for some business meetings.

Usually when I’m travelling alone and eating alone, I tend to bring my computer and sit at a small booth and have my dinner while working or surfing. I thought I’d pay full attention to the food this time, and arrived without electronic gear, and sat at the sushi bar. I was early, it was pretty empty (and still daylight out!).  Ordered a beer and some edamame, read through the menu. Oooh. Was introduced to the sushi chef working my session (and blast, I’ve forgotten his name, which is unfortunate, because he did a great job).

Three specials: scallops, horse mackerel, and salmon belly. I figured that the specials were as good a place to start as any, and so received a pair of nigiri sushi of each of them, one dish at a time, organized as the chef saw best. First was the scallops: I had a choice between little sweet bay scallops and stronger, larger diver scallops. I went for the larger scallops, and gosh: if those weren’t considered sweet, the bay scallops must have been like candy. They were sweet and tender and fresh.

They were followed by the horse mackerel nigiri, which was topped with some grated ginger and finely sliced scallion greens, as is traditional. Very fresh, it had that slight fishy oiliness that is a signature of this fish. One of my favorite fish, it isn’t offered as part of the standard sushi sets in Toronto (although I have been lucky enough to get it as a salad as part of a sashimi plate at Sushi Marché, just up the block from where I live).  I would happily have that for breakfast at least 4 days out of 7.

The third of the specials arrived next: the salmon belly. Oh, it was rich and delicate. Between the mackerel and it, I felt like I was getting my Omega-3’s!

Looking over the menu, I decided to get items that are either not often available in Toronto or sometimes of questionable freshness. I ordered uni (sea urchin) and monkfish foie (as they put it on the menu). I asked where the sea urchin was from, and was told that it came from the peninsula and was fresh.

It was delivered, in the usual nigiri format, wrapped in nori sheets, with the uni presented on the top.  I can only imagine what it would be like to have it straight out of the water (as Gail C. has had). It was creamy and rich and quite different from what I’ve experienced in Toronto. I could have had more of it, but there were other things on the menu I still wanted to taste.

Next up was the monkfish liver, which had been steamed in a torchon, and was presented as a series of five half-coins of liver standing on edge in a sauce of soya and I don’t know what else.  It rivalled duck liver. It was perfect. Slightly fishy but not obnoxiously so, cool pieces of heaven swished in a salty sauce to complement it. I’ve had monkfish liver once in Toronto in a sushi bar — Hiro Sushi on King Street. Hiro had smoked it, which was a stronger flavour. This was absolutely delightful. Firmer and fattier than cod liver, it was like a foie gras from the sea.

I still felt like I could eat one more dish. Sitting at the bar, I had noticed these red tentacles in the container to the far right. I’m used to octopus, but this was really really red, so I wanted to taste it to see if it tasted the same.

Pretty much 😀 I don’t know what they had put in the pot with the baby octopus to make it that color, but it didn’t have much effect on the taste. I liked the cut the sushi chef did, which was to take the slice and butterfly it, and serve it on top of the nigiri that way. It was good, but I think the best ever octopus I’ve had was at Massimo Bruno’s: it was presented as a carpaccio, tender, marinated, and delicious enough to go back for seconds.

Still, this was tasty and tender.

All in all, a great meal at the sushi bar. Glad I left the laptop upstairs.

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