Thursday, March 08, 2012

Dinner @ Chotto

[ Originally posted January 12, 2012 ]

Japanese Izakaya in the Marina.

Overall: nothing was bad, but nothing was really good either.

Food menu is extensive, spanning raw items, grilled items, fried items, desserts. We tried some of it all. Drink menu had lots of interesting cocktails, sakes, shochu.

Pricing: Not bad, but we had a 30% off Blackboard Eats coupon. Without it, I probably would have been grumpy at cost/tastyness tradeoff.

Service: Had an 8pm reservation, got seated around 8:10. Drinks took a long time to arrive. Timing was very strange - started off nicely paced, then we got bombarded with dishes, and then we had a very long wait for the last one. I'm guessing it was just different parts of the kitchen working at different speeds, but it was a little off putting. Finished dishes were not cleared very quickly.

Ambiance: We had a nice booth, plating was usually a little interesting (dishes came on things that looked like slates ... but were actually plastic).

Random note: They liked to garnish everything with a lemon or a red spice rub.

Not pictured are the drinks we ordered:
  • Yuzu: sake, yuzu juice, prosecco and honey. Sweet, decent.
  • Lime-Ginger chu-hai: Nice lemon/lime flavor.
  • House made lime ginger soda: sweet, gingery, good flavors in there, but not well developed.
Uni gohan: uni “risotto,” shallots, garlic, parmesan cheese, green onion.
The rice itself was well cooked, the warmth and cheesyness made it fairly comforting, but this didn't really pop for me.  Flavors didn't seem that well developed.  Uni was pretty lost in it, occasionally adding a hint of richness.

Japonica roll: spicy red & white tuna, cilantro, avocado, jalapeno, lemon
Standard sushi roll. Decently made, decent quality ingredients, but nothing all that special. The cilantro inside was a little fascinating. I did appreciate the spice from the slices of jalapeno rather than just spicy mayo. Would eat again, but not worth going out of way for.

Kinoko: tempura fried seasonal organic mushrooms, sweet soy 
Way too fried. Ratio of batter to mushrooms was off for me. Very oily. And kinda old nasty tasting oil at that. Would have preferred the sweet soy sauce as a separate dipping sauce rather than already drizzled on in order to get more sauce!

Bacon mochi: applewood smoked bacon, mochi, nori
The Yelpers rave about this so we had to try it, plus, it did sound fantastic.  I really didn't like it.  I love bacon and mochi, so I thought this would be a home run, but it didn't work for me at all.  I prefer crisp bacon, this was soggy. The whole thing was very greasy.  Mochi was gummy.

Yaki onigiri: grilled rice balls, soy, umeboshi, katsuo
The two rice balls are different: one filled with umeboshi (plum) the other with katsuo (bonito flakes). This was the most interesting dish of the evening. The outside of the rice balls was really crisp - my favorite part of rice (I love scraping the bottom of the rice pot to get the crispy bits, or having the tadik). To eat it, you wrapped it in the provided nori. I also dipped it in soy sauce. But ... the flavors just weren't there and the rice inside the ball was kinda mushy.

I could definitely see liking something like this elsewhere though, conceptually, I really liked it.

Uni hotate: hokkaido scallops, sea urchin, shiso, olive oil, tamari soy
This was decent, but it was exactly the sum of its parts: decent quality raw scallop, decent quality uni. They combine together ok. Nothing more, nothing less.

Grilled hamachi kama.
Decent, but the consensus at the table was that Sushi Zone does better. I found it to be very inconsistently spiced - some bites were crazy salty, some were really flavorful with whatever the red spice rub is that you see on the corner of the plate, others were just plain and lacking. The bites that were well spiced were really nice and fairly addictive, which kept me going back for more, only to get let down by a bland bite!

Sweet potato donuts with black sesame ice cream 
Another Yelp recommendation that led us astray! Perhaps we should have realized this from the quality of the fried mushrooms and not ordered?

Donut holes themselves were tough, not fluffy inside, like they had been over mixed. Way too fried and oily, again tasting like bad old oil. I didn't get much/any sweet potato flavor, but the inside was orange so I think it was there. Black sesame ice cream was forgettable. The caramel drizzle on the plate was nice though :)

Chotto on Urbanspoon
Related Posts with Thumbnails