Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Otomezushi, Kanazawa

One of the most famous food personalities in the Instagram world - at least in Asia - is Little Meg Siu Meg, who seems to own a money tree or printing machine, since she eats at famous and posh restaurants almost every day. She's either at Sushi Saito, or at Noma, or at Matsukawa, or at some other posh restaurant. And her descriptions are really involved, and sometimes downright hilarious - I remember once she likened a piece of steak at Kawamura to Megan Fox's sweat and exclaimed "I died!". I also died from laughing. 

But I digress, because we're not here to talk about Margaret aka siu meg, as interesting a life as she may lead. Rather, we are here to talk about one of the best sushi restaurants that I have eaten in my lifetime. I've eaten at Harutaka, Tokami, Sushi Ya, Sushi Suzuki, Sushi Iwa, so far, hardly the who's who of sushi but I think that's a respectable collection of sushiya. But Otomezushi, in Kanazawa, has catapulted up to the top of the list, at least in my humble opinion. 

Kanazawa is a city of about 500,000 people located in Ishikawa, on the North side of Honshu island facing the Japan Sea. It is said to rain all the time here, and indeed it hasn't stopped raining since we arrived a few hours ago. We took the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo and it took us about 2 and a half hours to get here. We are planning to explore the famous gardens here tomorrow, and the 21st Century Museum of Modern Art, and perhaps one of the samurai neighbourhoods. But the reason why Kanazawa is famous for its seafood is because it apparently sits at the convergence of the cold current and warm current.

To get to Otomezushi is no easy feat: the entrance is a hole in the wall with only the name of the shop printed on a wall to direct you to the restaurant. Thankfully, we are in the era of Google Maps and wifi, which made the journey that much easier. But entering the place was like stepping into an oasis of calm: the decor is warm and inviting, with lots of wooden panelling and a large sushi counter. It reminded me a little of Tatsuya in Singapore in its layout.

The sushi master chef of Otomezushi is Kazuhiko Tsurumi - from online articles, he's the 3rd generation chef of Otomezushi. He was really friendly throughout, and always smiling. He asked what we would like to eat - we just said "omakase". Let the games begin.

The first sushi piece we had was amaebi - sweet prawn. This was just so good, very tasty and sweet, with an intense prawn flavour, topped with a slightly sweet glaze which complemented the prawn perfectly, allowing the prawn to shine. This was just yummy. (9/10) 

The next piece was just as good: Ara, a tasty fish, very fresh and sweet with very clean flavours, with a lovely chewy texture and a long sweet aftertaste. Very elegant, and certainly a highlight. It's hard to even describe the taste but it was really good. (9/10)

 Toro from Katsura in Wakayama prefecture was next. The toro (from the portion in between the O-toro and the Chu-toro) was just sublime: the tuna flavour was intense, deep, rich, and sweet, with a long finish, and somewhat delicate. Truly awesome toro. (9/10)

Next up: Ika with ginger and sesame, pretty delicious, although ika isn't one of my favourite pieces in the sushi hierarchy. (8.25/10)

That was followed by Noduguro, which is one of Kanazawa's specialties. This was really deliciously yummy as well, full of flavourful fish oils, clean, sweet, and rich oily flavours. So good. (9/10)

Next up: baby tuna, smoked lightly in a tataki-style, delicate and tasty. Not bad. (8.25/10)

Bafun uni with a sweet glaze. Floral, pretty tasty. (8.5/10)

 Torigai came next: metallic flavours, and yet clean tasting. I'm not such a big fan of tori-gai but I understand that it's in season now, and it's always interesting to try different fish. (8.25/10)

The kohada was excellent as well: clean and tasty, yet rich and sweet, truly capturing the essence of the sea. Very flavourful. (9/10)

Another standout was the botan ebi, which was just insanely creamy, sweet, rich, and full of prawny flavour. (9/10)

Next up: aji with spring onion and ginger - the entire piece was very harmonious. (8.25/10)

Unagi hand roll was superb. I really liked how the sticky, tasty and sweet glaze complemented the eel which was grilled perfectly for a great charred flavour. (8.5/10)

Kegani (hairy crab) with its roe was another standout piece - very intense, rich, creamy and fresh, with a really deep flavour of the sea. A standout piece, and truly incredible. I don't think I've eaten crab this sweet before. (9.25/10)

Amadai marinated in konbu - clean and delicious flavour, with the kombu providing some needed umami. (8.25/10)

The penultimate piece was sea snail: crunchy and fresh. (8.25/10)

Last up: tuna hand roll, capping off a most amazing meal. (8.25/10)

Overall, I was very impressed - even blown away - by the standard of the sushi at Otomezushi. I can safely say that Otomezushi has been one of the most impressive sushi restaurants I have ever visited (in my short gourmet sushi eating career), and dare I say, has probably catapulted to the top of my list. Each piece was a highlight, and there were just so many mind blowing standout pieces. And yet, overall, the meal was very consistent, and in my view the chef's treatment of the seafood was masterful in that he allowed the natural flavours of the seafood to shine and complemented it perfectly by introducing other elements to bring the seafood to the next level. But, overall, throughout each piece, there was a sense of balance, harmony, and elegance - never overpowering the seafood with disparate elements and always ensuring that the final piece had great depth of flavour. Amazing and if this was in Tokyo, it'd be far harder to book and certainly in the Tabelog Top 10. I only paid 10,000Yen for lunch and I already ordered far more than the normal "lunch" menu. Would certainly come back! 

Overall: 9/10

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