Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Vegetarian Sushi

Sencha and sushi. Now that's a felicitous combination. The interplay of savory flavors in the food against the mild astringency of the tea works so well.

However the challenge for me has been how to abide by my usual vegetarian fare in a sushi restaurant without feeling a nagging sense of hunger at the end of the meal. And I want to be able to do so without indulging in the tempura dishes, which would be a facile way of becoming full. So E and I set out to a downtown Japanese restaurant this weekend with anticipatory derring-do.

Our cups of sencha were surprisingly good despite being derived from teabags; it was brewed, I was sure, at the right temperature which can make such a difference in determining the taste. Our dishes consisted of solely small plates. This conceit really maximizes one's dining experience in having a multitude of flavors in contrast to the often monochromatic nature of a standard sized (many times, super-sized) entree dish.

The seaweed salad was of wakame with hot chiles in mirin sauce, nicely mingling tartness and heat. The gelatinous consistency was fun to eat as well. The goma-ae, blanched spinach in soy sauce, was a humble dish elevated to stratospheric heights by the intensity of the flavoring. My carbohydrate craving was met by the shiitake maki, a happy pairing of aromatic mushrooms and sticky rice readily dunked in dipping sauce.

And where was the protein, one would ask? I found it in the tamago, satisfying my endless yen for all things eggy. Its pillowy texture and relative blandness was a fitting counterpart to the previous flavors that still lingered with me.

Buoyed by the company, food, and bracing cups of sencha, I was now thinking about dessert. Although I was pleasantly full, the dessert menu beckoned wildly. However, I did resist choosing the more fulsome trio of creme brulee and opted for the chaste( relatively speaking) espresso stout ice cream. And indeed, the stout did impart an off-kilter taste to the ice cream that would make me think twice before ordering that combination the next time.

As the candle flickered , another gastronomic adventure came to an end.

No comments: