West Houston @ Sullivan
I had been planning this dinner with Andrew since the beginning of the summer. Good sushi in NY is a real treat because it is so expensive, and mediocre sushi is cheap and not that good. Ushiwakamaru offers sushi omakases at 3 levels as well as omakase menus with cooked appetizers. David, Laurea, Andrew, Katie and I all chose the top sushi omakase tier, 15 pieces for $50.00, of which you can have all sashimi, nigiri or a combination. I chose the combination, which first came with a selection of sashimi and then two servings of nigiri.
This is my sashimi plate. It had kampachi (amber jack), tuna, ebi (you can barely see it behind the leaf), saury, japanese sardine, red snapper and sweet ebi. As kampachi is my favorite, I saved it for last. It's buttery and mild but not as good as I remembered, especially compared to other fish that came later. The ebi (shrimp) were not my favorite as they were slightly slimy and mushy. This is not the fault of the restaurant but rather the fault of the animal. I'm not sure what saury is but it was surprisingly good, with red meat and silvery blue skin. The sashimi pieces were the perfect size as well, not like most pieces you see that are thick and large and awkard to eat.
After the sashimi plate they gave me this nigiri course, which had (left to right) toro, striped jack and aoyagi (orange clam). I saved the toro for the very last - super buttery and tasty! The striped jack was another favorite - similar to the amber jack, it was a little more firm and less oily. The aoyagi wasn't such a hit, for its lack of flavor and strange texture. But again, the fault of the animal. It is after all, a clam.
This was the last nigiri course, which had uni, ikura (salmon roe), abalone, sea eel and wagyu. The wagyu was surprisingly good - tender and soft and just lightly seared. The sea eel was silky and fell apart in my mouth - so delicious. The abalone was alright, cooked lightly. I usually have it in a Chinese dish with mushrooms and this was a welcome change. The ikura was fresh and good. I had never had uni before, simply because it has always looked unappetizing to me. However at the urging of the table I placed the entire piece in my mouth, prepared for a mouthful of fishy disgustingness. Contrary to this it was very creamy and fresh, with a slight briny flavor. Delicious and possibly one of my favorite parts of the meal. I'd like to try it as sashimi one time, to get the pure taste of it without the rice and soy sauce. I can't believe I waited this long to try it.
For dessert everyone ordered the grapefruit jelly. I ordered the zenzai which was a red bean broth with two soft rice cakes floating in it. You have the option of ordering it warm or cold. Very mild and comforting and not too filling. Perfect end to a great meal, especially when paired with some roasted barley tea.
This was definitely a great treat. I'd been holding off on sushi for the whole summer. I'd love to come back but only to sit at the sushi bar and watch the chefs at work. So far I haven't stopped eating well - it's so nice to eat with friends who really enjoy food. This makes the experience even more enjoyable.