Monday, April 28, 2008

$10 Trip to Tokyo

My friends and I have started a food club. This is basically just a way for us to remember to plan interesting trips out to new restaurants. It's not really anything that difficult (no books to read, things to practice, etc.) Tonight we went to Tsukushi. I had read about this place in a very minor comment on Frank Bruni's blog (NYTimes Blog Post mentioning (at the very bottom) Tsukushi) and then the review that I then found once I had the name (NYTimes Tsukushi Review).

It sounded awesome. And once (third time's the charm) we finally found a day that worked for us all, it was great. In the pouring (really, cats, dogs, rabbits, who knows what else) rain, I got out at the south east corner of 41st and 2nd. There was a navy awning with little white letters over what looked like a rusted closed door just up 41st. Turns out the door swung open easily into a place considerably more comfortable/less scary than the outside would have led you to believe.

We settled in and they brought the menu - the drink menu. Now the Times hadn't been super specific on how ordering was handled. But after a few questions, it was clear that you got what you got - unless there was something that you didn't eat. We were all pretty much fine (one exception for meat).

The first course was some sort of boiled vegetable. Celery? Not fibery enough, but kind of. Cucumber? Definitely not - too fibery. Radish? Too green. Really, I have no clue (and don't ask why we didn't ask, because I'll tell you my mom and the trees story: Once upon a time, my mother, who loves plants came to visit me in Japan. As we toured around, she kept pointing to trees (and other plants) and asking me (her black-thumb daughter), "What kind of tree is that?" I responded with some version of, "Sorry, I have no idea." Finally, unable to bear the suspense she suggested, "Well, you speak Japanese. Ask someone." I responded (probably a little frustrated (I like flowers and nature and stuff, but lots of plant discussions are not my cup of tea)) with something to the effect of "And when they tell me what the name is, what do we do? Because I don't know the translations, so we still won't know what it's called in English." It's a problem with languages - you can have conversations, but for details, you need the vocabulary. Anyway, we enjoyed looking at the non-plant scenery for the rest of the trip) So tonight, I didn't bother asking, but whatever it was, it was a nice refreshing start to the meal.

After that was something called Shirozuki (maybe?). It was noodles (maybe potato or some other non-pasta-y kind of noodle) with a pinkish roe. Absolutely awesome.

And then the best Edamame I've had in a while. Perfectly cooked. Perfectly salted.

And then a plate of sashimi with hamachi, salmon (and this was fantastic - I don't normally eat salmon, it's just not that interesting/tasty for me, but this was good - great even) and uni! I love uni. And I got to finish up J's as he doesn't (silly boy). Also there was a piece of Albacore, which I keep thinking I'm going to like one of these times. But really, it just doesn't quite do it for me. But I do think that this was pretty darn good Albacore.

And then the Agedashi-dofu (Deep Fried Tofu). Wow. Really, although I'm now saying more; I really shouldn't. Wow really covers it. It was homemade, fresh tofu. And it was amazing. I don't even know how to describe it. It was almost more like a pudding, but it wasn't - it was still tofu. And the broth was fantastic! Now, I'm a huge Agedashi-dofu fan and this was just an amazing version. Now I want another one. Right now.

And finally - codfish. That's when you're sorry that she says something in English. Codfish really isn't what I think of when I'm searching for something out of this world. This was just a very simply grilled (maybe shioyaki - not exactly sure) piece of fish. It was served with a bit of grated daikon (mmm, I love daikon) and a tiny bit of lemon. Simple. Easy. Perfect. No, really - perfect. The fish was so rich it actually melted in my mouth.

J & J ordered dessert. Now I love Japanese food, but not so much the desserts. They got the brown tea mousse and the black sesame ice cream. I tried a bite of both and marginally preferred the mousse. They adored both.

Overall, a total success. Really good food and not super-expensive at all. I'd say try it. But I have to agree with others - I'd prefer for it not to get too 'discovered'.


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