Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Now the Follow Up to my Pizza: my Bajillion Course Sushi Dinner! (insert exploding stomach here)

So I meant to write this post last night, but I got really tied up with Michael Clayton. Erin and I have just signed up for Netflix, and I feel like this is going to be the undoing of any motivation I had left to be productive because my original plan was to blog while watching the movie but it just required too much attention for that. I could barely handle eating popcorn and watching the movie. (Ok that's a joke. I can always handle eating popcorn no matter what the scenario.)

Anyways here we are at part 2 of post about the New Haven leg of the trip, the post in which I actually talk about the sushi that brought us there. (Crazy that I can squeeze 2 full length posts out of what was essentially a 6 hour visit, but I guess we just ate that much food.) So after a few jumping jacks (to work off the pizza, remember?) and a bit of a walk, we arrived at Miya's. Despite all our attempts to waste time til 7, we still ended up being a half hour early. Little did we realize then that we would need every minute of this half hour to complete our feast.

We start off by explaining to our waiter how we aren't from anywhere near by and how we made a special stop just to come to this restaurant. Then we ask him for his recommendations as to how to maximize our experience. He says (direct quote) "You are both going to get the Wednesday night special. I would lay down in traffic to keep you from doing anything else." The Wednesday night special is a flat rate for something like 9 or 10 courses. Considering Miya's normal prices, it is a steal. For us it ended up being particularly economical as our waiter told us he would not be "counting courses," meaning he was going to keep bringing us food until we begged him to stop, which is exactly what he did. At this point I started really regretting eating that pizza.

With every course came an in depth explanation of the philosphy and creation process. If you didn't think a sushi roll could have a philosphy, you have never met a chef like Bun. His menu is like a story book, behind the actual items with price listings are chapters, each dedicated to a different memory and explaing how this memory inspired a roll or an appetizer. Then behind the stories is another section the outlines every main ingredient to be found on the menu and describes, in a decent sized paragraph, why that exact ingredient was chosen instead of another. After all that reading, when Erin and I thought we knew more about that restaurant than any we'd ever eaten in before, our waiter would present the dish and offer still more information on why the tastes compliment each other or how the roll had evolved from earlier versions and how we could best enjoy it. I don't know if it was because we had traveled from out of town or if it was because the night was generally slow, but the Wednesday night special turned into an entire lecture series. For the casual diner, this may have grown old pretty fast, but Erin and I were utterly fascinated by knowing so much about our food.

I will try to remember as much as I can from what we learned, which unfortunatley is not very much, as I recount approximately 3 hours of what Erin's and my life looked like (minus a couple of courses that we forgot to take pictures of because we were in a black out food coma):

This was our first course, we had their miso soup was a bit creamier than normal miso, and this particular batch had some sort of pumpkin flavoring in it as well. Also on the side were their "Tokyo Fries," super thin potato straws with what I believe was a curry aoli, and behind that was an artichoke with the most amazing pureed pepper sauce. The waiter and the story book went into absurd detail on the preparation of this sauce. I think it involved months of pickling and marinating and such things. It was quite spicy, but not in the I-hate-myself-for-putting-this-in-my-mouth-I'm-never-going-to-be-able-to-taste-food-again way. It was spicy in this rich flavorful way. I couldn't get enough even though my tongue was burning.

I can't remember that this one was, but I can definitively say it was yummy.

This was one of the few piece of sashimi that we had. They used Marlin which was a new development. They used to use Yellow Tail, but after discovering that it was being over fished, they switched which turned out to be quite serendipitous as the new fish complimented the multispice bath far better than the old fish had.

This was my absolute favorite roll. It is was a potato roll wrapped around tempora shrimp with a dill havarti lemon cream sauce drissled over the top. Go figure my favorite roll would involve potato, fried food, and cheese. God, I am so predictably Irish/American sometimes.

Miya's seems to be especially excited about dehydrating different foods and then using the flakes as a crust on fish. This was Erin's and my first dish in this style. It is tuna coated in dehydrated seaweed. Our waiter told us we were absolutely not to use normal soy sauce or ginger on this dish because it came with its own soy/ginger flavors in the form of ginger roasted garlic pieces and a seasame sauvignon blanc soy sauce drizzled on top.

This was swordfish sashimi that came with 2 different crusts. The one in the foreground has dehydrated tea leaves seared around the edge. Out of the 2 that was my favorite. The one in the background had dehydrated tuna flakes as its crusts. So the one fish was actually seasoning the other. Although I found that concept utterly unique and fascinating, it didn't actually translate to me liking it more than the first combination. Erin, however, thought it was far superior to the tea flake fish. Just goes to show that Erin has terrible taste... haha no j/k! It goes to show to each his own.

This was the Doctor Zhivago's favorite shrimp roll. The roll notably contained within it roasted garlic and wild rice. There is a whole section in the novel/menu that talks about how Miya's favors wild rice for it's flavor, it's nutritional leg up on white rice, and its locality. If there's one thing you walk away from Miya's with (other than a tummy ache from eating too much) it is a respect for their use of local ingredients. Also if you are beginning to wonder how I've remember all this about a meal I had a month ago, I have to admit, the menu is online here and I have been cheating a bit, but I swear a lot of this I did actually remember on my own!

This would be the Mighty Mother Earth Roll, as Miya's says it's the Philadelphia roll for smart people. The smoked salmon is on the outside and then inside there's the usual cream cheese and then a whole bunch of other stuff: asparagus, shrimp tempura, caviar, regular salmon, and scallions. I think I would have like the roll a lot more without the asparagus. Despite all my parents hard work, that is one vegtable I never learned to love, I certainly have to give them credit for giving something named after Philly a bit of class.

This roll was probably the most conceptually interesting of them all. It was called the Japafrican Queen and has an entire existenial disertation written about it. It started with Bun asking himself the what would sushi have been like if it had been invented in Africa instead of Japan. What he came up with could certainly be called interesting. Instead of being wrapped in seaweed, the roll was supposed to be wrapped in this African tortilla thing, but the waiter explained that they could never get it to come out right in the baking. So instead they called the wrap what it was, a teff grain crepe, and pretended that was what is was suppose to be all along. (Apparently teff grain is also super healthy. The waiter told us about all of its amino acids and stuff. I forget exactly what he said but it was something along the likes of teff grain is the only food that contains all the amino acids... or something...) Inside of this uber healthy crepe was eggplant, goat cheese, apricots, avacado, pickled radish, scallions, and Ethiopian berbere spices. See what I mean about it being interesting? So it wasn't my favorite taste-wise, but I think it was my favorite story-wise. I'm a sucker for the sushi/philopshy combination apparently.

This was a pretty basic crab roll. A little avacado on top and some curry aioli to spice it up. While super simply, it was one of my favs. (Although my affinity for it could just be a reaction to being overwhelmed by the previous roll, but in any case I enjoyed it.)

Missing from this run down was at least 2 more rolls, one wrapped in grape leaves in stead of sushi that I loved! So all of this combined with the 3 apps would put us at a grand total of 14 course. 14 f-ing courses. At this point I was crying tears of both pain and joy, and I had to tell, nay beg, the waiter: no more! But did he listen? Of course not, or that would be the end of the blog post. Instead he brought us out the sushi dessert roll, and even though I didn't think I could physically swallow another thing, I made room for this. Oh my God. It was faaaaaaabulous. It involved peanutbutter and banana and chocolate and blueberries mushed inside, and it was all topped with their homemade rose ice cream. Aaaaaaaaaaaah. I've just drooled on myself a bit remembering it.

After our ridiculous marathon of eating, Erin and I both felt like this:

The feeling inspired a story about Erin's father. A little background: we both have fathers who are quite fond of food, and it always amuses us to compare their food related behaviors because their food behaviors, although entirely different from one another, are often amusing. This particular story that Erin told tonight was how her father finishes meals that he is especially fond of. Let's take a look:

O Mr. Morris. How silly! Well now it's time to get back to the train station and retrieve our (fingers-crossed) not stolen luggage. So we pay the check, tip our awesome waiter something porportional to his awesomeness, and call a cab, which of course is not going to come for 20 minutes even though the town in only 3 inches big. But waiting turned out to be a good thing because 2 funny things happened. 1) Our waiter brought us even stuff to consume! This time it was their homemade flavored sakis in lemony citrus and pine tree flavor (No joke on that pine tree flavor. I accidentially drank some pinecone residue that was on the bottom.) They were delish and totally changed my opinion on saki, which I had only had once before but it had been traumatizing.

And 2) our super helpful friend from the vistor's information office showed up for dinner with his friends! So we ran into him again which was nice. He asked us all about dinner and the Pepe's pizza, and listened politely as we told him how much we loved everything.

Finally our taxi came, and it was time to leave. We got back to the train station (where our bags lay un touched!) and sat there thinking about how much we had done in the last 5 days. When the 12:27 train came, Erin snuggled up in some seats and slept all the way back to DC, but I got off on the 2 am stop in NYC for the final stop of my trip!

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