Friday, October 16, 2009
toro! toro! toro!
I've heard that once upon a time -- perhaps back in the orange-grove era -- Nogi Sushi was really good, but ever since we've lived in the West Inland Empire, Nogi has been wretched.
Thus I was delighted to see that Nogi is Nomore, replaced by another sushi-ya called Hayato. Last night, after a long day, I dragged K. out to give it a try.
And the decision is: Hayato FTW!
I spent a big chunk of my 20s in Japan, and I'm a terrible snob when it comes to Japanese food. I want my washoku to taste properly Japanese, not inflected with Korean or Chinese flavor profiles (or Italian or Ethiopian...).
But I'm happy to report that Hayato made me happy. Everything was great, and very Nihon-teki.
K. could eat sushi every night for the rest of his life, but while I could eat Japanese food forever, sushi is a once-in-a-while treat for me. So he ordered the sushi deluxe platter (moriawase), I had the oyako donburi (a big delicious mess of rice, onion, parent, and child -- er, chicken and egg), and we split an order of gyoza.
Sushi: Generous with the nigiri, excellent fish quality, well cut (and that's a big deal to Japanese sushiphiles). K. said the rice wasn't quite up to his standards, but perhaps it wasn't sweet enough for him (he prefers everything to be very sweet, except for me).
Gyoza: Homemade in formation, homestyle in filling. These tasted like the gyoza made at the gyoza parties my friends used to throw.
Oyakodon: Very tasty, generous portion.
Last and most of all, miso soup. You know the old song "Billy Boy," with its line, "Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy"? Well, misoshiru is the measuring stick of a cook in Japan. This misoshiru was better than anything I've had within 10 miles of the house, although you can get better in Little Tokyo. It had plenty of wakame (seaweed) in it -- very homestyle -- but the tofu was diced up in a brunois, just like in restaurants.
Overall, Hayato has a very Japanese feel, and the itamaesan and the servers were Japanese, speaking Japanese among themselves in what I think was a Northern accent.
Like the governator, I'll be back.