For our anniversary, FI took me to Ushiwakamaru, a fabulously low-key traditional Japanese restaurant in the West Village. It was a surprise, so I all knew was that I had to be at the corner of W. Houston and MacDougall. I actually got there a little early and it was freezing so I ducked into the restaurant on the corner for a glass of wine and to warm up. I hoped it wasn't the place we were having dinner, which it wasn't.
We had 7pm reservations and when we arrived, we saw that FI's name was written along with 7pm on a little placecard at our seats at the counter. This place was recommended by his co-worker who also suggested we sit at the counter so we could see the chefs do their sushi magic.
Our place settings at the counter.
We ordered sake and they brought out a tray of sake cups, all mismatched, for us to choose from. This was fun! I've never done this before, but I'm guessing sake cups are like wine glasses - different shapes for different types of sake.
We decided to go with the chef's menu where they make you plates of sushi based on what they know is fresh and have available and how they want you to enjoy the meal.
What was super cool was that we got to watch him prepare our meal in front of us and watch him do other meals as well.
Here is the sushi board with the different kinds of seafood he picked out and sorting before plating.
We started out with an appetizer - a fried eggplant soup that was very light and warm in our tummies.
First course - sashmi. I ate it from right to left, going darker in color. Each piece of fish was so fresh, there was no fishy taste and it melted in my mouth.
I gasped at the octopus tentacles the chef pulled out and he agreeably posed for a snapshot.
Second course - sushi, plain on rice. We had all of our sushi and sashmi in Japan this way and loved it. The freshness of the fish required no other "weird" ingredients (cream cheese, avocado, veggies, etc.) to mask its taste. We actually didn't go out for sushi for about 3 months after we got back, figuring that any taste would just make us miss the sushi in Japan even more. But these were delicious. I even did the unorthodox method of putting the sushi in my mouth upside-down (as suggested by Barry Nalebuff) so I could taste the fish better.
Third course - different types of sushi. Here we got to try some other kinds of seafood - eel, roe, etc. What was cool about these sushi pieces was the different textures of each piece. The red roe was soft and each bead exploded with salty goodness. The eel tasting a bit tougher than fish so you had something to chew. The yellow roe with lots of little beads that rolled around on your tongue.
Finally we had a red bean dessert with tapioca balls. This was a wonderful way to end the evening. Red bean is one of my favorite dessert ingredients.
It was a great anniversary dinner. I loved the truly authentic sushi they had and it was fun to be surprised by the chef's menu.