Tuesday, August 08, 2006

KASASOBA, Just the best Japanese in New Mexico

Kasasoba must be a distortion of the Spanish Casa (house) of Soba (Japanese noodles), but who cares cause the food is spectacular. Located just west of downtown (544 Agua Fria-tel 505-984-1969) Santa Fe and open for both lunch and dinner, this is a must on anyone's visit to Santa Fe. While they bill it as Traditional Japanese Cuisine, the Southwestern influence is easily spotted in many dishes.

The dining room has only twelve tables (there is also outdoor seating) so reserve ahead, and the decor is minimalist, with rice paper shades on the window and rice paper covers on the fixtures.The walls feature Spanish, Asian and Polish movie posters of those Japanese horror and cartoon features (Godzilla and Speed Racer).

I started with a refreshing KANI-SU: Fresh Dungeness Crab with Vinegared Japanese Cucumbers and Wakame. This is a great summer dish since it is so refreshing, and the huge crab claw chunks were meaty and moist as well.

I ordered a flight of three sakes for my dishes which were WAKATKE Daiginjo "Onikoroshi: which was silky, but slightly sweet, OTOKOYANA "Utamaro" Junmai a medium sake with a strong banana flavor, but dry, and finally the excellent extra dry and super smooth HARUSHIKA CHO "Karakuchi."

Next came GOMA-AE: Blanched Spinach with Sesame Dressing which was a new one for me. The spinach was cooked so that it melted in your mouth without even chewing, and the sesame was so rich and intense that I could have swear that peanuts were added, but I was wrong. This is the perfect dish for anyone with nut allergies that wants to know what peanuts taste like!

My "entree" (and everything is billed as a small plate) was EBI-KIMU: Mexican White Shrimp Strifry wtih Kimchi. A huge bowl of seven moist and juicy shrimp surrounded by Kimchi made with local chilis was amazing. This must be ordered with the BEST RICE I HAVE EVER HAD, which is served with Plum Flakes and Sea Salt! Kimchi is a spicy dish and should bear a warning, but it was superb, and not too fiery.

I had to order sushi and chose the LOBSTER FUTOMAKI with Avocado and Yuba which featured giant chunks of lobster in each huge piece of sushi wrapped with the yellowish wrapper (I guess that makes it Futomaki?).

A pot of superb herbal green tea finished me off as I headed to The Magic Flute, hoping for some wild monster in the opening scene just like those in the movie posters on the wall.

I must also mention that Tommy Lee Jones sat across from me and when someone brought him a drawing he was most gracious and kind; a really nice gentleman it seemed to me!