Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sushi of Gari: classic unconventional

Sushi of Gari is a quirky place. Look at the stone with the little face on it that the chopsticks are resting on! All the dishware are exquisitely designed. We ordered sake, so someone came by with a display of 16 sake cups, and we each got to choose one. I got black and gold.

We got a half-portion of soup that was somewhere between a dashi and a chicken broth with some cilantro. It was quite delicious.

From left to right:

Kanpachi with jalapeño: 9/10 Really clean, great fish, very balanced kick from jalapeño. It's great to have a more toned down sushi every once in a while at a place like Sushi of Gari. I ate it second to last as a palate cleanser of sorts.

Salmon with sauteed tomato and onion sauce: 7.5/10 I thought this was an atrocity when I first saw it, but it's quite good. The sushi arrives literally smoking hot, and you're supposed to eat it last so you don't burn yourself. It's less amazing than I remember. I also remember it having a garlic sauce instead of an onion sauce for some reason.

Red snapper with greens, pine nuts, and fried lotus: 10/10 I love that there are greens on here, and it works! I also love lotus and pine nuts. It's practically the only time I like crunchy things on top of my sashimi.

Seared toro with garlic and ginger sauce: 10/10 This is one of the top creations here. I'm amazed that I wasn't outraged by the fact that they seared some beautiful toro, but it was just as melty as if it were raw, and the taste was fuller (more rounded? I can't figure out how to describe it) because the fish was slightly cooked. The online menu says "hint of ... sauce". There's no such thing as a "hint" of anything in this restaurant.

Halibut with quail egg and truffle oil 8/10: I love quail eggs, and this could be a 10/10 if the egg were warm. Especially since it followed the hot tomato sushi, it was strange to eat an egg so *cold*. Not room temperature... cold.

The dish also tries too hard. It arrives on its own special plate, and the truffle oil seems out of place. If we must use an expensive ingredient... why not caviar? I think it would go better against the mild taste of the halibut and egg, and the combination of poached egg and caviar is more tried and true.

Left to right again

Some kind of fish with mushrooms: 3/10 I don't even remember what fish this was, but the weird creamy mushroom tasted kind of like a cheap casserole. It was also bland on bland.

Eel with avocado: 4/10 I don't know why they creamed that eel. It's all chopped up and fried, but chopped up again and mixed with sauce? I didn't understand what was happening, but it was a little ABC in texture. The flavor was good though.

Chu-toro with radish ponzu: 5/10-8/10 When the server told me that the topping was radish, I tasted a tiny bit (really strong on the ponzu... and it was more acidic than usual), and I removed 90% of my topping. It was great. I have to assume that if I left the entire dollop on, I would have choked.

Left to right:

Seared sea bass 6/10: Too fishy. Sea bass isn't even a fishy fish. It could have been a flavor that was brought out by the smoke. The flavor from the smoke was quite strong.

Seared toro again! our only repeat.

Tuna tartare with pine nuts and fried seaweed: 9.5/10 This one was really fun. The really hard crunchiness of the fried seaweed went very well with the tartare. It broke like a cracker, so you have to make sure that you eat it whole. I took off the 0.5, because it was really difficult to eat whole. It was too vertically stacked for my abilities.

Spicy scallop hand roll: 6.5/10. I guess it was okay. there was too much mayo, and I really don't get the hand roll thing... did someone lose their sushi mat?

Overall Sushi of Gari was fun! If you're a traditionalist, then don't waste your time. But if you like things like Sushi Samba and crazy rolls, this is the place to be. The sashimi are elaborate, but they don't change very often, so in a way the dishes have become classics. A lot of the dishes are very heavy handed with the sauce/toppings, so my biggest complaint is that I only had ginger and sake as palate cleansers. Even some shaved ice in the middle or some shiso leaves would have helped immensely.

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