Friday, March 6, 2009
I have finally gotten to this after many weeks lol. CL introduced us to Kaori Sushi in Fullerton. Man it is so far away but lets just say I have been back and tomorrow will be thrice! lol Gino is the man behind the sushi bar. He is very nice and passionate about his craft. I showed up super early and just sat in the car waiting for them to open. After class I'm usually super hungry and a lot of people were late. CL and I were there first waiting for everyone but I just kept staring at the food and everything Gino was making. Some of their rolls actually sound super good. I still want to try them! lol The decor is very simplistic with personal touches. I like the dried fish bones or skins of seafood that he has obtained and served displayed behind him. Keep an eye out for the awesome drawing of Gino on a box to the right too. The great thing is you can name your price for an Omakase. We decided to get the $50 Omakase with no rice. This is why PK and I really wanted to try the place especially after CL raved about it.
For starters we were given Seasoned Seaweed and Miso Soup. I thought their Seaweed was very good. It was tangy and full of flavor. PK asked for more later in the meal so I joined in too. O=9 We were also given a fresh Salad of Cucumbers, fresh Vegetables, and Roe. I was very good and healthy eating the whole thing.
They brought out a Shrimp Tempura Assortment in a wooden basket. The batter was nice and light, but it was a bit tough sharing and the situation got a little messed up. I thought it was not bad but a bit odd to see in an Omakase.
Next came the Yellow Tail Collar. It was very tender and flavorful. The collar was flamed in front of us with a torch and I loved the smell. There was a light layer of fresh Pepper on top drizzled with Ponzu sauce. PK and I had to share a bigger piece together. I wished that we had our own piece to work with for simplicity. There are a lot of bones to work through but the meat is very tender and tasty.
Each pair was given a whole Spanish Mackerel Sashimi, Aji from Japan. It's from the Kyushu region. The sashimi was beautifully presented with the remaining fish bones displayed. There was already Ponzu on it so all I did was just add Wasabi and a touch of Lemon. The Aji was fresh, soft, and not fishy. Definitely one of the better Aji I have had in a while. The only thing I had qualms with was that there was a few bones in my sashimi.
We had another cooked dish of either baby Lobster or Crawfish with Purple Onions, Mushroom, Eel Sauce, and Mayonnaise. The onions were a bit overpowering as they were not fully cooked and there was very little meat. At this point PK was questioning what kind of Omakase we would be having... and I had to agree. I was hoping and waiting for it to get better...
Everyone got a fresh shucked Oyster with Garlic Ponzu with Red Pepper Flakes, Crispy Sesame Seeds, Green Onions. I liked the Crispy Sesame Seeds because it gave the oysters a new texture full of bite. Personally, I still like the old fashioned way of oysters but this was interesting to try.
I don't know if it was just me but when I saw the Kurodai, Black Snapper, I couldn't help but think of Shark Tales! It was interesting how the fish was presented. The sashimi rose in the center was nice. Everything was super fresh with a chewy texture. It tasted really good when you add the Shiso leaf and Ponzu together. The flavors really come together.
Gino took the sashimi plates back from us after we were finished and I didn't think too much of it. The next course was Fried Fish Parts. At first I was wondering what this was and then I realized that these were the remnants of the Aji, Spanish Mackerel. I really enjoyed the idea that nothing is wasted and can be turned into something delicious. They were all fresh, crispy, and lightly seasoned. Even with the bones you can just eat all the pieces.
Next came the Kurodai, Black Snapper, head that was grilled. For seasoning Gino added Jalapeño Ponzu, Pepper, Sprout, and chopped Jalapeños. I though this was very fresh and flavorful. Everything was very well-balanced and the Pepper really helps the fish pop. I really enjoyed the Jalapeño Ponzu and bits of Jalapeño to really spice up the dish and kick it up a notch. ^_^
I had been dying to get my hands on all the fresh fish inside the case and finally came the first sashimi plate with White Fish, Maguro, Shiromaguro (White Ono), Sake (Salmon), and Hamachi (Yellow Tail). The Ono was fabulous! It was so fresh and delicious. The texture was perfect because it was fatty yet resilient and didn't taste too fatty. Mmmm Mmmm good. The Salmon was super fatty, smooth, and melted in my mouth. Gino cuts near the skin so it is all good fat that is consumed. Yay! lol Everything was so fresh and tasted even better with the Shiso leaves that I asked for. =9
This might be hard to believe but I have never had Live Lobster Sashimi! One of my desires had been fulfilled today when he pulled out this Lobster that was certainly alive and kicking. I was surprised that this would be part of our deal because it was definitely worth it. This was cruel but also so cool! We were all memorized in watching the preparation and presentation. I am also going to include a few small clips to show everyone how even if the Lobster was detached that it continues to move. Beware that it is kind of "graphic" but interesting to see. I felt so bad for the Lobster but darn them for tasting so delicious! My rule is that if I was so delicious then I can understand people wanting to eat me too. Alas, fate was cruel in making them taste so good that we consume them =9.
The Lobster Sashimi was almost translucent, lightly chewy, with a light sweet flavor. You can't get any fresher than this. It was still alive as we consumed it, but luckily not watching us eat it. I really wish that we had put it out of its misery. Some of the girls had fun playing with it when it first came out. I just took the video and pics. Even though it might be cruel, but I am really glad that I got the chance to experience this. The funny thing is Gino use to have a pet lobster but one day he came home to find the tank empty. His uncle at his pet! lol This reminded me of the Simpsons episode where Homer raises his own pet and then gives it a "hot bath". Lets just say he didn't go hungry that night. lol
Even after we were done with the sashimi, the Lobster head was still alive as you will see in the video. The ice bath must have kept it alive still.
At this point I really wished it had passed on. I know this is cruel but I have to show the pic. Here is the Lobster looking at us saying, "Don't eat me!!!" Not that it worked. After I took this pic, everyone whipped out their camera or phone to do the same. Gino really lets nothing go to waste as he asked us how we would like the upper half prepared. I voted on being fried but CL wanted it in Miso Soup. PK was on my side but a little more indifferent. In the end we decided to do a Lobster Miso Soup with the remnants. I am actually really glad that I lost the vote! lol The soup was so flavorful and full of texture. It's rare for me to give up my beloved preparation of being fried! We all know how I love anything fried! lol I still think about the soup! The taste and smell just resonates through the air and in your mouth. For the longest time we were wondering what the flower-like pieces were in the soup. On my last trip I asked Gino and he told me it was the Lobster Eggs that blossomed in the soup.
Next came the delicious second sashimi plate! Inside was Blue Fin Toro from Australia, Mirugai (Giant Clam), Tako (Octopus), Uni (Sea Urchin), Hotate (Scallop), and Hamachi Belly (Yellow Tail). Gino uses grade AA or AAA Toro, which ranges from $60-90 per lb. He explained the different qualities that was very interesting. I didn't know that they even have grades. The Toro was a bit chewier because of the tendons but nicely marbleized. I added Shiso, Wasabi, and Lemon on the second piece to make it even better. Normally I am not a big fan of Mirugai because it tends to be fishy but his was very fresh. In fact it was so fresh that it is alive and kicking. It was soft, not too chewy, and very sweet with the Yuzu. I really like that he did this to help bring out the natural sweetness. The Scallop was fresh and sweet. PK thought the belly was a little fishy, but still good. I used Shiso leaves and it was fine. ^_^
Last but not least of our fish courses was the Negi Toro Hand Roll and no rice. I saw him cut fresh big slices of Toro that I would have loved to devour on my own. O=9 This was Gino's own take of Negi Toro. Inside was Green onions, Sesame Oil, Ground Pepper, and Toro. You can smell the delectable scent of the Sesame Oil. Since we asked for no rice we didn't get any but I think this would have been better with some rice. I am glad we ended on this note.
Of course don't forget dessert! lol We were given a choice of Ice Cream or Mochi Ice Cream. I chose the Green Tea Ice Cream that was simple and good. Dinner took a long time and there weren't many people left. They supposedly close at 10PM but some people still came in and were served. Why not? We were still there to keep the party going O=9 These guys at the bar were drinking and finished their meal but not their Sake. They offered all of us girls some. We kindly declined but they insisted... so we each drank up a glass! ^_^ lol The Sake was actually very smooth and had a nice flavor. What a fun way to end the night lol.
All in all the night started out a little skeptical but ended magnificently. Hey I got LIVE Lobster Sashimi for the price! What more can I ask for ^_^ Gino was super nice. You can tell just by watching him that he is very skilled with the knife, detailed in presentation, passionate about the craft, and concerned that his customers enjoy the food! A very nice guy and he knows what he is doing. Every time I am there he gets really excited to talk about the craft with me. I always learn something new and glad too ^_^. He is the only Sushi Chef there and prepares everything himself. You should definitely come check out the Omakase for a show. I am bringing the next "tour" tomorrow 4/9/09. lol
Fullerton, CA 92832