Friday, August 25, 2006

Conquering cuisine at KAZ Sushi Bistro

Last week's gluttonous outings ending on a wonderful high note, but also with the perfect place for a summer tasting menu at KAZ SUSHI Bistro (, winner of this year's RAMMY (Restaurant Award) for informal dining. The four of us were surprised to see a full house on a Friday night in the dog days of August, but I guess everyone else felt the same as we did. In the heat, if you have to eat, go for the filling, yet fun food, and keep it a bit lighter. Our 8 course tasting (you can do either $60 or $75) was superb and at no point did we feel stuffed, but we went home happily full and thrilled.

While everyone else opted for Sapporo beers, I did the $9.50 sake tasting which included the lightest Masumi, the medium Onikoroshi (which I decided is my favorite), and the heavier more mineral Yatsushika.

Our first course came and was one of Chef KAZ's signature dishes, the excellent SEA TROUT NAPOLEON, an amazing tartar of trout layered on crunchy chips--easily one of my favorites. Second was a superb SASHIMI GAZPACHO with tuna, salmon and flounder floating underneath the tasty cold refreshing tomato soup.

Our summer theme of "lighter" kept up with the SCALLOP CEVICHE with TAPIOCA which had an intense acidity from the lemon juice and onions, but was nonetheless totally tasty, with perfect quality slivers or pale opaque scallops.

At this point, I wanted to order more of the Onikoroshi Saki, but opted to choose a small bottle of HORIN from Kyoto, as it was listed next to the Onikoroshi on the menu as similarly fragrant and delicate. I enjoyed this strong (15.5% alcohol) sake, but still must say that I have found a friend in the Onikoroshi!

Course #4 was the CONCH ESCARGOT, a new dish for me and served on a small skewer with a garlic sauce (a la Bourguinnone). It was very tasty and some of the conch was delicate and tender, but some was also a bit chewy. This got us into a discussion of conch, squid and cuttlefish and how CAN chefs really determine if it is truly tender without chewing it first? Any ideas?

Our least favorite course of the day was the GRILLED DUCK BREAST with JAPANESE EGGPLANT and Garlic Miso. This had NOTHING to do with the quality or preparation of the dish which was infallible, it was simply our slight anti-eggplant feeling (ok, vegetarians, don't hate me!). If you like eggplant, this dish is for you, and the duck was superb with a yummy sauce, not an ounce of fat and cooked perfectly.

One of the highlights of the meal was our requested dish of SOFTSHELL CRAB with Wasabi/Ginger Sauce with perfectly tempura fried crabs served in a tasty, pungent, but not too spicy sauce.

The next to last course in the tastings is always a selection of sushi and Chef Kaz outdid himself with some new and traditional choices:
Tai Japanese Snapper with Ponzu--a wondrous new sushi fish for me Tuna with Roasted Almond--with almonds mixed into the rice
Yellowtail with Basil-Soy Foam
Scallops-which were simple yet perfect silver dollar slices of the shellfish
Blue Crab and Seared Salmon Belly with Soy-Lemon

Dessert was a most refreshing ASIAN COCONUT PANNA COTTA with Tequila-Strawberry Sauce and Blackberries, Blueberries and Strawberries, served in a deep giant martini glass the fruit had time to soak up the excellent sauce and the custard was just as good. A glass of chilled plum wine sent us home very happy, but not overstuffed, just right...knowing that we can always enjoy a tasting even in the heat of the summer!