Food, drink, film and other random thoughts from The Lone Star State.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Raw

Before I completely forget, a new-for-me recommendation.

Sushi restaurants come in varieties in Dallas. First we have the crap variety. These are usually buffet style where the sushi has been laid out hours beforehand, leaving it slouching lonely and lifeless under incandescent bulbs. There is something very wrong about the combination of raw fish, prolonged exposure to air and hot lights. And I'm sorry but no matter how cutesy you dress it up, it is always a screaming red flag when you see sushi parading around on any sort of conveyor belt.

Then you have the neighborhood variety. In Dallas, I can't think of a block that does not have a neighborhood sushi joint. These are all varying degrees of good.

Then there are the sushi masters. These are places with incredibly fresh and unique ingredients that have honed preparation and presentation into an art form. Dallas has two: Tei Tei Robata Bar and this place, which just entered the scene last year.

2633 McKinney Ave @ Boll
Dallas, TX

Yutaka really belongs in Manhattan; its a small shotgun space barely accomodating 25 people, 25 people sitting so close to each other they almost know each other biblically by the second sake. But in order to be one of those 25 you will first have to locate the space; it is on Boll near McKinney in an unassuming strip. There is a small sign, no valet and 5 parking spaces. Best to google its location first, park at the Quadrangle and walk over.

The inside is done in comfortable chic without trying too hard or going so overboard that it distracts you from the food or your company. The music is background, not centerpiece. The service is excellent; quiet, efficient and quite limber to move large plates from kitchen to table without tripping over the feet, jackets and bags that crowd the small walking area.

The menu is digestably small. Unlike most other sushi venues, Yutaka does not try to overwhelm you with every possible Japanese food item known to man. Rather, they put forth a couple of items from each section and a decent, navigable nigiri/roll list. What you will be more interested in are the nightly specials, which the server will recite before handing out the menus. You should at least try one of them, they are amazing.

Suggestions, all of which kicked the crap out of the neighborhood variety sushi houses: Black Cod With Blonde Miso, Sizzling Kobe Beef Bowl with Veggies, Yellowtail Roll, Spanish Mackerel Nigiri, Sea Urchin Nigiri.

Yutaka is an event, you should head through the doors expecting such with full confidence. You should also head through the doors with $50-70 per person since quality at this level does not come free.

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Blogger Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

There's a place like that in L.A., I don't even remember the name, a film guy took me there 15 years ago. On the back aisle of a little old fashioned neighborhood strip mall, $300 for a prearranged menu. Sublime food. Good sushi is some of the best food on the planet.

5:07 PM

Blogger Jim said...

Couldnt agree more Daniel. And while good sushi can be had in any city, great sushi is still rather rare.

7:18 PM

Blogger Bunny Lynn Boofay said...

I just love me some real good sush! Luckly, we got some real nice Japanese sushi restaraunts here in beautiful San Louis Obispo.

Huggs, etc...

9:43 PM

Blogger JC said...

If man were intended to eat raw fish, he never would have discovered fire!
LOL, well I do like raw oysters, so I guess it's just what you feel gastronimically safe with.

I have tried sushi before, one was really good, and I did get seconds. However, with all the rest I was left looking for a polite way to spit it discreetly in a napkin before I hurled. There were some tense moments there!

The lesson I learned: "Just cause you might be of asian ancestry, doesn't mean you can whip up some sushi." But ya know at those company covered dish things, you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, so it's only polite to "take" one - don't have to eat it...they'll be pleased that they are taking home an empty dish and probably the rest of the family is happy they don't have to hear Mom complain that no one ate it -or- that they will be forced to eat the leftovers. :-)

11:17 PM

Blogger Jim said...

Bunn Bunn, I visited San Louis Obispo when I lived in CA, it is truly a beautiful city. You are very lucky to live there!

7:28 AM

Blogger Jim said...

JC, Some of my friends are like you - maringal sushi fans, most will only eat the cooked rolls. Only one person I know will eat Uni (Sea Urchin), its definitely an acquired taste!

LOL, you are right, being Asian doesn't make you good at sushi. In fact, one of our best sushi chefs in town is Mexican.

7:31 AM


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