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Thursday, February 3

Devastatingly Good Korean Sushi...

The problem with sushi is... you can never go back in quality. And tonite, I just took a huge jump upwards. My sushi budget suddenly looks rather small... We drove the Centennial up some steep, twisty paved footpaths (too narrow to be a street) and I concluded the Hyundai had a mountain goat somewhere in its ancestry. Which is only normal, Korea is 60% mountains, according to my lisping colleagues. Seoul certainly is, with much of the remaining area taken up by the Han river. We stopped on a 30% incline (the sidewalk looked like stairs), and the valet parked the car, and we were whisked into a real, live Sushiya. We sat at the bar, and proceeded to let our Korean host blow our minds and tastebuds away. The other Big Cheese was a Frenchie, too, (a Pont l'Evèque, perhaps?), and he'd had sushi once before, and didn't see the whole point. We'd had a three-way discussion yesterday about sushi being art, taking ten years to learn, bla bla bla, drink more cognac, so now it was time to put up or shut up. Well, I felt just as much the novice, for all my book learning, basic sushi-making skillz, and passion for the art, as my co-citizen. We had urchin and it had never tasted so good before, and we had three different tuna sashimi, and they all tasted like nothing I'd had before. A dozen other treats passed our lips and it was a joyous surprise at every bite! We... even... had... BLOWFISH! I'm psyked. I'm also basking in that wonderful afterglow that accompanies the digestion of good sushi. Lastly, I'm humbled by how much there is still to experience, in sushi in particular, and in the world in general. Gawd, I love to travel! Location : Hotel Shilla, Seoul, South Korea.

6 Insights :

Blogger wendy intuited...

Isn't Blowfish that one that will kill you if it's done wrong?

2/03/2005 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger Alekx intuited...

I can't wait to try blowfish
I love sushi
However something to put on your list of DO NOT EVER DO
is don't drink 8 bottles of Saki between two of you after a large sushi dinner
Sushi definatly tastes better going down then coming up with Saki
Just doing my bit to help you out luv

2/03/2005 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger james intuited...

I love to travel too!! Lori and I are leaving for New Orleans on saturday to visit her parents and experience Mardi Gras. Should be fun. So, can you get me a job?? I need a job. LOL!!!

2/04/2005 04:58:00 AM  
Blogger ViVi intuited...

So what did the other Frenchie think of the fabulous sushi then?

(And I have to confess, the only sushi I've ever had was made by my Thai friend for a party here in Troyes... and it was more like California rolls - no fish, thank goodness! I'm very wary of eating raw fish!)

2/04/2005 07:37:00 AM  
Blogger Mathieu intuited...

Vivi, he was shocked to find how much he liked it! He ate many bites of sashimi, just the fish, with no rice.

Like you, he was wary of the raw fish, but the thing is, it doesn't smell of raw fish at all! If it does, you should refuse to eat it, and leave the sushi restaurant immediately.

My reading indicates this is mostly due to the use of weak vinegar to degrade the enzyme that makes that smell and taste, but i'm sure it also has to do with the absolute freshness of the raw material, and the way they cut it.

Mostly, tastewise, it is not strong at all. The Fugu (blowfish) was very delicate in taste.

The stuff with the strongest taste is the (steamed, not raw) molluscs, and the sea urchins, and even those are far from overpowering.

Pick a good place, sit at the bar, not at a table, tell them you are a virgin, errr novice, and that you want them to make you discover sushi. That's their job, and really the best way to eat it. They should explain what each morsel is, what sauce to dip it in, and keep you away from the rawer stuff.

I hope you get as much enjoyment out of it as I have!

2/04/2005 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger Mathieu intuited...

Wendy, yes, fugu can kill you if not prepare properly, as it contains a toxin in the eyes, skin, testicles and particularly liver of the fish.

People die, now and then, of eating fugu, but it seems that mostly it's idiots trying to prepare it themselves, or going after a mythical thrill (fugu toxin is a paralyzing neurotoxin, and the numbing of the lips and tongue from small quantities of it is supposed to be a delicacy, why is beyond me). The numbers quoted vary greatly, but in recent years, they seem to compare favorably with the number of people who die of food poisoning from cheese in France, which is well tolerated, culturaly.

Now, I gather that the blowfish prepared here in Korea is not the exact same species as the Nipponese Fugu, and I presume it's not quite so deadly.

Lastly, it would seem that the toxin is generated from something in the fish's diet, because farm-bred fugu does not generate the toxin at all, while it tastes the same. I'm not sure it's on the market yet, but as wild fugu is overfished, (one ton a year of fugu is eaten in NYC alone), soon the whole debate about fugu deaths may be limited to culunary history books!

2/04/2005 07:59:00 AM  

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