One ex­pen­sive uni night out

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Food - with Ary­lene West­lake-Jen­nings

IT’S not ev­ery day my hus­band and I find our­selves roam­ing the back­streets of Ja­pan freely, and so it’s not ev­ery day we choose to fork out $500 for a sushi din­ner.

But it was with ab­so­lute fer­vour and delight we sat down at the counter at Sushi Bar Ya­suda in Mi­nami-Aoyama, Tokyo, with Naomichi Ya­suda at the helm.

You may know him as An­thony Bour­dain’s pal from Parts Un­known, or that vi­ral Munchies video that ba­si­cally taught you that you were eat­ing sushi the wrong way your en­tire life.

Man­hat­tan’s sushi cognoscenti were floored when Ya­suda made the an­nounce­ment he was leav­ing New York af­ter 27 years to open the 14-seater base­ment sushi bar we were sit­ting at.

That night, we were there for an in­tro­duc­tion to uni, or sea urchin, and wanted it done the right way. We had heard the first taste of uni can uni­formly de­cide your uni fu­ture.

You have two menu op­tions at Sushi Bar Ya­suda – the set menu with a 14-piece sushi as­sort­ment (?¥7800) or the omakase, which is the Ja­panese tra­di­tion of giv­ing the chef cre­ative free­dom to serve you (with a vary­ing price to match).

There was only one way to go here, in my opin­ion, and so as part of the omakase ex­pe­ri­ence, my hus­band and I were quizzed about our favourite kinds of sushi.

Piece af­ter piece of art­fully formed, skil­fully ex­e­cuted sushi was pro­duced in front of our eyes as Ya­suda talked us through the star in­gre­di­ent of ev­ery piece.

A slick paint­ing of his sig­na­ture soy sauce – a blend of shoyu, sea­weed, bonito flakes and sake – and the fluffy morsels landed del­i­cately on our bam­boo serv­ing plat­forms, ready for our ea­ger palates.

Ya­suda went in for the kill as we had men­tioned the uni thing, in­tro­duc­ing us to sea urchin sourced from Hokkaido, fol­lowed by a brinier, ochre-coloured ver­sion from Rus­sia. Mind­blow­ing.

We were in­tro­duced to steel­head trout, slow melt-in-your-mouth otoro or fatty tuna, ak­a­gai or arc clam, oys­ter from the Toyama pre­fec­ture, the fa­mously phal­lic pa­cific geo­duck, “squid face,” tiny green scal­lions (yes, as a sushi top­ping), anago or salt­wa­ter eel, and Ja­panese river prawns.

Chef Ya­suda also made us his per­sonal favourite, a fatty tuna and green scal­lion maki that was crisp, re­fresh­ing and way too good.

We learnt about the shari or sushi rice sourced from his home­town of Chiba, the top­grade sea­weed pa­per that he prefers to use, and his per­sonal soy sauce blend.

It was a true mas­ter­class in sushi if we had ever wit­nessed one and it was highly in­ter­ac­tive.

Clock­wise from top left: Geo­duck, mini squid, river prawn, squid face, prawn and sea urchin.

Ya­suda shows his craft.

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