Thursday, February 07, 2008


The "shiro ebi tar tare" (white toyama sweet shrimp with yuzu, shaved cured mullet roe, caviar, served in shitake ginger broth) at left goes for $18 at Soto, 357 Sixth Avenue in Manhattan's West Village. With that said, I can only wonder what the selections are like uptown at Masa, where without sake, tax, or tip, the tab is said to regularly exceed $400 a person. Let the picture suffice for further words except to point out that the two orange slabs atop the caviar are shaved cured mullet roe, a treat entirely new to Mrs. Yi and me, despite our close ties to a region of the US where mullet is almost a staple. I quite dislike mullet, but this cured roe was heavenly.

The main reason we picked Soto for my birthday is partially represented in the image at right "uni ika sugomori zukuri,"(fresh west coast sea urchin wrapped in thinly sliced squid and shiso, served with quail egg and tosa soy reduction). Sea urchin is known to be a passion of owner/chef Soto Kosugi, and this is is one of several preparations typically available. In the picture, you can see just a bit of light orangish uni poking out to the right of the quail egg yolk. Soto obtains uni that is sweet, mild, fresh, and far removed from that "icky" stuff in wood boxes at more typical American sushi bars. Our biggest and only complaint was that Soto ran out of fresh sea urchin before we could try any of its other uni specialties.

So we went for "tuna tar tare" (chopped big eye tuna with pine nuts, asian pear, cucumber, scallion, sesame seed in spicy sesame sauce) as seen at left, one of two tuna choices from Soto's "sushi" menu. The other tuna selection on the sushi menu was "chyu toro tar tare" (chopped blue fin fatty tuna with avocado coulis, garnished with caviar, chive, served in sesame ponzu sauce). In retrospect, I wish we'd tried that one as well. A less complex "sushi nigiri" menu offered five different cuts of tuna, which quite interestingly were from Turkey and in Ecuador. It was from this menu that I ordered the blackfish(tautog) of our previous post.

At this friendly spot where sushi fanatics take pleasure in sharing insights, word from the table adjoining us came that we really should try the "ika truffle "(thinly sliced japanese squid mixed with puree of black with black winter truffle from provence, France, and tamari soy reduction, old madera, shiso, wasabi tobiko.) On further reflection, the idea of combining raw squid with French truffle became indeed too much to resist. It tasted much as I would have expected and was delightful.