Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Eating Kennesaw's finest Bait

While I appreciate the proliferation of sushi joints in the 'burbs, I'm sure most folks still consider raw fish no more than means to lure in live fish, which becomes raw fish, which becomes cooked fish, which becomes food, which becomes...anyway, sometimes the fish is simply mounted on the wall. Yes, I covered that up nicely.

And while many suburban sushi bars are dishing up plate after plate of California rolls, it's cool when you find one that actually gives a damn about its sashimi, or the raw stuff (meaning the good stuff). One such place is Sake, a seemingly standard-issue Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi joint in a shopping center off a main road in Roswell, GA. The wife and I, through several visits, have had the pleasure of getting to know the owners- David and Sung- and have continually been impressed with the quality of sushi-grade seafood they bring into their restaurant (as evidenced by the sheer number of regulars who frequent this unassuming restaurant space). Well, their friendly approach to their customers and their dedication to good product has clearly worked, because they've opened a new place- Yellowtail Sushi & Bar- in nearby Kennesaw, GA. Being of unlimited financial means*, the wife and I decided to pay a visit.

*what a horrible, horrible lie. But, fortunately, our lack of funds ended up not killing us.

Upon entering the expected (now commonplace) "hip" setting, we quickly were seated and ordered the ultimate wine pairing for any sushi meal:

Ah, 22 oz. Sapporo bottle. Long time, no see, my fast friend. And the incredibly clean, dry taste of Japanese lager is SO good with food. I've tried to go the wine route with sushi before, but this is just a match made in heaven. Yeah, I know the FTC has required bloggers to disclose when free samples are given as to clarify paid endorsements, but I paid for this Sapporo, and I'll still say it. I'll shout it from a mountain. You've got it, Sapporo. You've got it.

Onto the food. What I liked about the menu was the large variety of goodies that I always lean toward: nasty bits, odd treats, and fried oreos (I'm saving those for later). What jumped out at me first was monkfish liver, which I rarely see on suburban sushi menus. From there, things just fell into place:

First Course: "Ankimo", or monkfish liver pate...nice, fishy flavor (in a good way), sort of like bacon and canned tuna married together. A little dry, but a tasty start (it's way less scary than the name might suggest to some).

Second Course: Shrimp and Vegetable Tempura plate. 3 shrimp, an onion ring (not quite "Varsity", but solid), zucchini, sweet potato, and some sort of squash...maybe pumpkin or butternut. Want me to sit here and criticize fried food? Screw you, then.

Third Course...On the right: melt-in-your-everlovin'-mouth white tuna (Shiro Maguro) and some thinly-sliced yellowtail (Hamachi). Both served slightly cooler than room temperature, so the fat was SO silky. This sashimi- the fish and fish alone- is the ultimate in sushi enjoyment when done well. This was. On the left was a roll consisting of fried eel, avocado, cucumber, and some sauces. Pretty good, but overshadowed by the sashimi.

Fourth Course: Hotate (scallop) on the left and Ika (squid) on the right. Totally a textural experience. The scallops, which I've never had raw, had a nice flavor (similar to jellyfish...wow, that doesn't help anyone), but the texture was pure velvet. The squid was incredibly chewy, but it "popped" in your mouth, and the sensation was delightful. Yeah, "delightful"...you come up with a better description. What? Huh? Still waiting. Okay, sorry. That was mean.

Fifth Course: Oh crap. That's where the Uni (sea urchin roe) was. It just doesn't last long when it gets in front of me. If you've never had it, or you think it sounds gross, GET OVER IT NOW! The texture is heavy cream, the flavors are so sweet and nutty and absolutely delicious. Possibly one of my favorite foods ever. Go get some Uni. I don't care if I sound bossy. It's that important.

In addition to all this goodness, we had another roll and some saba (mackerel), 4 giant beers, and we got out of there for under $100. No, that's not reasonable for most Tuesday night dinners, but we were celebrating something special, so it was a steal for what we got. Case in point: it's taken me about 3 hours to write this post, due to incredible food-coma. All I know if that I had some very fresh fish, some oddball items that are usually not in stock on a Tuesday at a standard suburban sushi place, and I felt we really got our money's worth. Best of all- surrounded by all this "bait"- I didn't have to relive my "Worst Angling" nightmares.

So, in the spirit of the evening, let's leave it at this: Kampai!
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