Monday, June 27, 2011
I’ve been craving sushi lately. Tangy, sweet, sticky rice, combined with soy sauce, wasabi, and seaweed is a taste that I can never get tired of. When I think about a piece of bloody red maguro marinated in shoyu or bright orange salmon with glaze of fat on top of the sushi rice, my mouth starts to water. And if I have been thinking about it for more than few days, I have to cure my thoughts before it gets to be a problem.
I know how to make sushi, decently enough, but never to the level of restaurant sushi. You know why? I can’t get the same quality of sashimi as they do. Same thing with steaks. If I want to eat a good piece of steak, I’d go to a restaurant because I can’t get the same quality meat from a grocery store. Have you ever seen prime grade in a store?
It was my first time trying Yuzu. I knew that this place wasn’t a traditional sushi restaurant, so I tried mostly their specialty dishes and rolls as well as chef’s choice of nigiri. First item was from their special of the week, Beef Tataki Sashimi: seared and sliced New York strip served with oroshi sauce (grated daikon with soy sauce), negi (green onions), and nori (seaweed).
Beef tataki is pretty popular at sushi joints, but everyone does it differently. I’m used to vinegary, gingery, salad dressing like sauce on beef tataki, which is how my mom used to serve it. But Yuzu’s sauce was more on the sweeter side with almost no acidity. A bit of spiciness was added from the daikon and negi. It was different but I really liked it.
Unagi Tempura Salad was next. Freshly fried unagi was crunchy and still warm. Served with organic mixed greens and drizzled with sweet unagi sauce.
Sushi Moriawase. This is what I was waiting for. Seven pieces of chef’s selection of nigiri, hence the omakase. If you are a true sushi lover, you can’t skip nigiri at a sushi place. This is usually how I judge their sushi game. No sauce, no nori, no combination of sashimi, only a single piece of sashimi on top of the sushi rice. All I can say is that I wish I could go back and eat more right now.
A few rolls came next. First one was Fusion roll. It had shrimp tempura, unagi, and avocado inside the roll, topped with scallops, chopped pistachios, and served with garlic butter chili aioli sauce. This one looked like sushi rolls but tasted nothing like it. The crunchiness from the pistachios and many ingredients that traditionally didn’t belong in sushi completely threw me off. But for what it was, it was tasty.
I tweeted about this second roll we got on Saturday. Actually we ordered it after seeing our neighbors getting it. It was a fine example of food turned art. Our friendly neighbor saw my eyes glued to the dish while my mouth was half opened, perhaps a bit rude on my part, short of drooling, but they offered to share some pieces with us. I guess it was clear how much I coveted. It was the Kyoto Mango Roll, which was one of the specials of the week. Sushi made with tai, suzuki, roasted bell pepper, avocado, and mango, served with yam chips and spicy mango sauce. This is probably one of the best creative rolls I’ve ever had. I loved everything about it: the flavor combination, design, color, fish, and the fact that it was still called sushi!
They had several choices of delicious sounding desserts such as sorbet and gelato. But since the restaurant is called Yuzu, I wanted to try something that featured yuzu. The yuzu cake spoke out the most. When it came, a perfectly sized scoop of vanilla ice cream and a sprig of mint topped a yuzu enhanced slice of pound cake. I got nostalgic. It reminded me of the homemade yuzu cake my cousin used to make. She also served it with a small scoop of whipped cream and fresh mint leaves.
It’s interesting having a sushi restaurant center around a theme, particularly, an unsung fruit in not only North America, but perhaps a bit at home, too. It doesn’t necessitate drowning everything in an infusion of yuzu concentration, much like overdoing the soy sauce with any type of sushi. It’s about nuance, like the subtlety that makes one fish different from the next. When done properly, it doesn’t draw attention to itself, but somehow, you just know something is better about it. Yuzu was creative, fun, and sushi craving crushing. It even brought back my childhood in many ways beyond the simple cravings.
3347 Fillmore at Chestnut
San Francisco, CA 94123