Thursday, March 08, 2012

Sushi @ Kabuto Sushi

[ Originally posted February 5, 2012 ]

We went to another new sushi restaurant tonight, as part of my quest to try out new sushi places. This one we knew was going to be an "interesting" experience, as the sushi menu was full of things like foie gras, lamb, duck, and fruits. I read through a bunch of the Yelp reviews and knew that the lamb and duck weren't supposed to be great, but reviews for all of the other unique sushi were good, so I had high hopes.

Protip: don't trust the Yelpers!

In all seriousness, I'm glad we tried this place, as it really was a unique experience. The presentation of the dishes was generally quite nice. They were trying very interesting things. And they take reservations!

Unfortunately, the quality of the fish was just not there, and all the creamy sauce just couldn't mask that fact. It was mostly mediocre quality, with one piece being actually good (the live scallop) and a few pieces being really awful (hamachi, oyster). The fruit was even lower quality than the fish. I know I'm spoiled by eating pretty much exclusively farmer's market fruit, but this stuff was pretty flavorless, and it just didn't go with the fish well at all. I also have no problem with fruit in my sushi, as I love a lot of the rolls at Sushi Zone that include mango and papaya, and one of my favorite pieces at Sushi Sam's has kiwi on it. So, it isn't just that I don't like fruit + fish. There were a number of execution issues as well, such as the fruit being sliced too thick and the ratio of rice to other ingredients being off in a few of the pieces.

The pacing of the meal was also off. The first 6 or so dishes arrived rapid fire, faster than we could finish the ones before it. Since some of them were hot/seared, this was overwhelming. The waitress recommended things to us that were really not good and did so unsolicited, definitely trying to upsell and get us to order more. And the price certainly was high for the poor quality, $70 per head for 12 pieces of sushi each. I don't mind paying a lot for good quality fish, but this was very high for what we got.

I most likely will not return here. See photos for individual reviews.
Hamachi jalapeno.
We ordered our sushi, and then the waitress talked us into ordering this. She said it would be a great appetizer.

It was the worst dish of the night. The quality of this hamachi was horrible, some of the worst fish I've had in recent memory. The little slice of jalapeno on it was nice, as was the dot of hot sauce, but this was pretty bad.

I sorta wonder if she was just trying to upsell us, I forgot to look on the bill to see how much this item was.

Ceviche: Halibut and salsa wrapped with deep fried seaweed and served with lime and sea salt.
This was a cute idea, a play on ceviche. To eat it, you wrapped it in the seaweed and ate it taco style.

The halibut itself was decent, but I didn't really get any flavor from the salsa and definitely didn't get any lime or salt flavors. The strangest part was that the seaweed was dripping wet. I think it must have been with oil from being deep fried.

Cute idea, but was lacking in the promised flavors.
Hamachi Pear - Yellowtail sushi topped with sliced pear and kabuto fruity mustard sauce.
The "fruity mustard sauce" was pretty tasty and it worked surprisingly well with the pear and with the yellowtail. The hamachi was fairly decent, far, far, better than the hamachi used in the appetizer. The pear didn't work though - sliced too thick, and lacking any flavor, it just made it hard to eat and weird.
Foie Gras Sushi - Seared marinated goose liver served with balsamic raspberry sauce, raspberry, chives, roe.
The piece of foie gras was pretty tiny, particularly given the quantity of rice, so the flavor was drowned out by the rice. This is too bad, as it was decent foie gras and did go quite well with the raspberry and the raspberry balsamic sauce.

This either needed more foie or less rice. I guess there is a reason why you don't normally have foie gras sushi ... Still, it was interesting and I'm glad I got to try this one.
Baby Main Lobster - Seared lobster with spicy sauce
Very nice presentation!

I liked this - decent quality lobster, seared in a way that gave it a grilled smokey flavor. It was nothing like Sushi Sam's baby lobster though, which totally sets my standard for baby lobster dishes (at Sushi Sam's, it is not seared, a much smaller baby served almost whole, and covered with amazingly delicious mayo sauce).

I have no idea why there was a random piece of seared fruit on the plate. Or more dried cranberries. They so did not go with it.
Ono grape - Wahoo sushi topped with grapefruit and basal basil cream sauce.
I didn't like this one. The flavors just did not come together at all. Why was there grapefruit on my sushi? Why the cream? The grapefruit was pretty flavorless, poor quality. And the fish wasn't particularly good. Meh.
Shrimp & Crab Tartar sushi - Chopped shrimp and crab mixed with Kabuto tartar sauce served with egg yolk, capers, anchovy, cilantro, and grape.
This was probably my favorite dish of the night. Basically, a shrimp and crab salad, on top of some seaweed, on top of rice. It was kinda impossible to eat though. You can't see it in the picture, but there was nigiri rice under the nori, I'm still not sure how on earth you were supposed to do this.

Although I thought the flavors were great and really enjoyed the crab/shrimp salad, it didn't really make sense as a piece of sushi, and I'd just prefer to have the tasty salad on its own.
Live scallop - scallop nigiri, scallop chowder.
The scallop was just standard nigiri but very good, tender and fresh. My second favorite piece of the night.

The scallop chowder wasn't good. I couldn't really determine what anything was, just that it was probably some sort of chowder base and the somewhat chewy stuff in it must have been scallop, perhaps cooked?
1849 Oyster: Oyster, quail egg, 3 types of roe, uni, gold leaf. 
Close up of 1849 Oyster: Oyster, quail egg, 3 types of roe, uni, gold leaf. 
This is one of their special famed dishes. It reminded me of the "Spoonful of Happiness" we got at Koo a couple weeks ago (that was uni, quail egg, roe, ponzu), except the spoonful of happiness was MUCH better.

The name comes from the gold leaf, cute idea, but pretty gimmicky ...

There was a lot going on here. The uni was decent, but the quantity was so small you didn't get to taste it that much. I'm not a huge roe fan, so all this roe didn't thrill me, but it did add to the experience to have it popping in your mouth as you took this all in. The quail egg added a richness. I can't say I tasted or noticed the gold flake :) But ... my oyster was pretty nasty. Very fishy and not in a nice briny way. If the oyster had been better, I could see this being pretty ok, but as it was, it left a horrible taste in my mouth.
Hot Apple - Seared Scallop served with apple and fruity mustard sauce (says the description ... this was a creamy sauce instead).
This was similar to the baby lobster, seared with a nice smokey flavor. But the quality of the scallop was poor, and it was tough and way overcooked. It didn't go with apple at all.

The description said it had a "fruity mustard sauce", which the hamachi pear piece also said, but the sauce on these was not even remotely the same. The hamachi pear one did have a fruity mustard sauce ... this one had a fruity sauce and a cream sauce. I definitely did not taste any mustard. And like the hamachi pear piece, the apple was sliced too thick and was poor quality. You can't see it, and the description didn't mention it, but there was a piece of shiso leaf under the apple, that was actually really nice and crisp and refreshing, and went really well with the apple.

We had one of these left over at the end since no one wanted to eat it, and I deconstructed it to have just an apple-fruit sauce-shiso nigiri, which was kinda ok, and made for sorta a dessert ...
Wild buri
At the end, we wanted to give them one more chance, and decided to order nigiri off the fresh fish of the day menu. This SHOULD be the best stuff they have, and we were sick of the "special" sushi with its cream sauce and bad fruit. We ordered the butterfish, but the waitress told us this was the freshest thing of the day and the best.  So we got it instead.

Again, she led us astray. This was the second worst thing of the night for me (after the hamachi jalapeno she recommended).  Seriously, do not take her recommendations!

I didn't even bother trying the tamago.

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