Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sushi Seizan, Tokyo

On my recent business trip to Tokyo, I organized a bunch of meals with my fellow visiting coworkers, mostly at Michelin starred establishments (spanning from fancy French cuisine, to Japanese tapenyaki, to sushi).  But our hosts also took us out to experience more normal Japanese cuisine.  We went to BeeHive for lunch one day for mediocre ramen, and to President Chibo for okonomoyaki, that left three of us with food poisoning.  When we were asked what else we'd like to experience, we clearly said sushi, so one night, we went to a large group dinner.  Since our budget was limited, they selected a sushi restaurant located in the same building as our office, Sushi Seizan.

We had a large table on the side, semi-private.  Service wasn't very attentive, but we also didn't really need much.

Since we were a large group, our hosts arranged the menu ahead of time, a 10 piece nigiri plate per person.  Most of it was no different from what I could get at a grocery store in the US (the only exception being the stellar uni).  I wish I knew the price, because the sushi was so mediocre that I really hope it wasn't expensive.  (Don't worry, we'd have good sushi at Michelin starred Sushi Kanesaka a few days later).

The serving style was quire odd, as they brought out the dishes, each designed for a single person, rather slowly, and often one at a time.  I can't imagine they were preparing them as they went, so it was a bit strange how long it took to serve us all.  They also didn't seem to serve in any order that made sense, not serving women first, or starting at one end and working their way down.  Random, and very slow.

Anyway, it was nice to get out and have a meal with our larger group, it was easy to get to, and the semi-private area was perfect for allowing us to talk easily as a group, but I certainly would not return for the sushi itself.
Assorted Sushi.
Top Row:
  1. Maguro (tuna): Flavorless, 7th pick out of 11 pieces.
  2. Hamachi?: I wasn't entirely sure what this was, I think hamachi.  It was very plain, no flavor, 8th pick.
  3. Toro (tuna belly): Stringy, remarkably bad. Toro shouldn't be bad!  Least favorite.
  4. Ika (squid): Fairly standard, not offensive but not particularly good, 4th pick.
  5. Hotate (scallop): Mild and sweet, my second favorite.
  6. Tamago (egg):  I always love tamago, and use it for my "dessert" with sushi, but this was just ok, pretty unremarkable, still, my third pick overall.
Bottom Row:
  1. Ebi (shrimp): Very standard and unremarkable, 6th pick only because I REALLY didn't like anyway I ranked lower than this.
  2. Kani (crab): Very standard, a bit stringy, 5th pick because it didn't insult me, but I wouldn't want another.
  3. Uni (sea urchin): The uni really didn't look good.  It was strangely colored and just kinda lumped into the nori.  But I love uni, so I dug in anyway.  I was shocked: the flavor was good, and it was really, really creamy.  Not only was this my first pick, and radically better than anything else in the meal, but it was so good that I'd go out of my way for it.  One of my co-workers didn't want his piece, so I gladly helped him out with it.  I wonder if I just really prefer Hokkaido uni to what I'm accustomed to in California?
  4. Ikura (salmon roe): I never like ikura, and it was pretty standard.  Second to last pick, but mostly due to personal preference.
  5. Unagi (freshwater eel): Not as bbq'ed as I'm used to in the US, less sauce, less cooked.  Third to last pick, as it was slimy and unappetizing.
Miso Soup.
The miso soup was served after the meal, which seemed odd to me, but perhaps that is normal in Japan?

It wasn't very good, the fried tofu skin was really, really soggy.
Yuzu Ice Cream.
After a fairly disappointing meal, I was obviously looking forward to dessert.  We were each served a tiny little scoop of ice cream, yuzu flavored.   I was sad at first when I saw how small the scoop was, but, it turned out I didn't even want to finish the scoop I was given.  It was more like sorbet than ice cream, in that it wasn't at all creamy, and was really icy.  Really, really not good.  I went out for dessert elsewhere after.  Stay tuned for that review!
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