Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bar Crudo

Sometimes the nicest things come in small packages and the most inventive restaurants come to small spaces. Bar Crudo was well established before it came to my neighborhood, but I was unfamiliar with it and was delighted to give it a try. As someone who seldom orders fish in restaurants it was a revelation to try some of Bar Crudo's small plates. I could go back again and again especially for the raw menu items, since sushi is a favorite of mine and Bar Crudo has a wonderful light hand with fish that does not involve Japanese traditions. Their oysters for $1 during Happy Hour, 5-6:30 p.m. are another reason to revisit.

Neither of these first courses seem to be on the menu so perhaps they were specials for the day and they were special indeed. The photo to the left shows a steak tartare with 4 separate toppings both savory and rich. The photo on the right shows a fish liver pate, but the type of fish escapes me at the moment. It too was rich in taste, but for my money, the tartare was the best of the 2 choices. Still, I have to admire the use of the fish liver in what seems to be a non traditional approach, yet so familiar to the pate lovers amongst us.

The Hamachi Collar for $13 was not the largest piece of fish I have eaten, but it was one of the best. It was moist, mild though very flavorful and beautifully cooked. The menu states garbanzo beans, but they served cannelini at the time this photo was taken. I've eaten sushi for very many years and Hamachi has always been my favorite raw fish, it is now my new favorite cooked fish as well.

The Head-On Louisiana Devil Prawns delivered the heat they promised and were a big hit at our table, but it would have been nice to serve them with some form of starch. I kept thinking about rice, as I tried one but bread would have been fine too. Anything to sop up the sauce would have worked to enhance this dish. I hated to walk away from the table with all that luscious sauce still on the plate.
655 Divisadero St
San Francisco Ca 94117
Mon - Sat 5 to 11pm
Sunday5 to 10pm

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sweet Ginger in Sausalito

If you find yourself in Sausalito and you like sushi, Sweet Ginger is your best option for price and a peaceful, spare, atmosphere. It resides just across the street from a small, quiet park, so the scenery is pleasant too. The sushi is well made and very fresh, but not exceptionally creative. Even so we always manage to find what we need and have always enjoyed our meal.

In the above photo, their classic approach is evident and the California Roll is easily identifiable. Granted, I have never ordered a special, so there may be more creativity than my experience indicates. But no one needs to stand on their head to please the patrons as this is good solid food.
Quality and freshness are mandatory for good sushi and this spicy tuna was a prime example of both. The addition of avocado cooled the palate while the cucumber provided a nice textural element; both worked just as well in the soft shelled crab roll to the back of this photo and the addition of crab meat pushed it over the edge in the flavor department.

The hamachi roll, in the foreground of the photo to the left, was so very fatty and rich tasting it practically melted in your mouth. It needed nothing more to boost the flavor, and was quite an achievement in its simplicity. Similar but less restraint was used on the Red Sun Roll, a California style roll topped with tuna. The sushi is so very fresh at this restaurant, it's a surprise that it doesn't still wiggle.
400 Caledonia St
Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 332-1683
Closed Monday Lunch Tues-Sat 12-3
Dinner Tues-Thur 5-10
Dinner Fri-Sat 5-10:30
Dinner Sunday 4:30-9:30

Monday, May 4, 2009

Jimisan Bistro

Jimisan Sushi Bistro is a sweet little restaurant with a pleasant modern interior that exudes warmth and familiarity without being folksy. I like the art on the walls, the light colored furniture, the friendly staff, but especially the complexity and bright flavors of the sushi. We happened to be walking by one evening and decided to go back for dinner because it looked so inviting.

Blizzard is the one specialty sushi roll we keep ordering over and over. The center is made up of tempura fried shrimp, surrounded by sushi rice, then topped with spicy crab and tobiko. The tobiko is not the characteristic red-orange color, so I sometimes wondered if it had been marinated in the raspberry sauce that is drizzled on the plate and over the roll. Tobiko, it appears, comes in black as well as the more typical red-orange color. They both provide a small crunch that texturally enhances the experience of eating sushi, creating a popping sensation.
Firecracker roll is another of the specialty rolls and a great example of the diversity of the sushi here at Jimisan. It's deep fried very rapidly for the crispy exterior, yet the center of spicy hamachi is not cooked through and barely warm. The classics are all on Jimisan's menu too, including a simple unagi and avocado roll drizzled in teriyaki sauce that is generally referred to as a Rock & Roll.
Above is one of the most beautiful specialty rolls, the Pink Lady. The interior is made from lobster salad and cucumber. Layered upon that is tuna, avocado, tobiko and mustard sprouts that have been drizzled with a dressing similar to a simple Russian salad dressing. It was almost too pretty to eat, but one can admire its beauty only so long before popping a piece into the mouth.
A California roll is beautifully presented with tobiko roe piled high on top, rather than rolled around the sides, as is most common if tobiko is used at all. The photo to the right is of the delicately flavored, deep fried, soft shelled crab that is available on both the lunch and dinner menus. I could be satisfied with just that served as a donburi. Udon, donburi, and many fish entrees are on the menu too.
When one thinks of "a little bubbly", it is seldom in reference to sake. This particular sake is served chilled and it had a sweetness to it that made it perfect for a pairing with dessert, unfortunately I ordered it to go with the sushi. My regular dessert of choice in a Japanese restaurant is green tea ice cream. It is regularly found on Jimisan's dessert menu, shown here with raspberry sauce, the same sauce used for the Blizzard. Waste not, want not.
1380 9th Avenue
San Francisco CA 94122
(415) 564-8989