day 3 report

Another late start, another late night. Today was Japanese day. We hit up the Sunshine movie theater for the ham-handed film Steamboy, by the creator of Akira. Pretty standard fare in the “technology has a dark side,” “science is running amok,” and “children and old people are the only ones who can see the truth” genre of anime. The treatment was more didactic than Miyazaki, and the story was a little formulaic. I think the story and characters were lifted from a manga, and so had to develop faster on screen in one story than they could over the course of several stories in print.

From there we searched, first unsuccessfully, and then successfully, for Koi (2nd Ave and 11th), a Japanese restaurant with probably the best sushi I’ve ever had. We both got tasting plates, but Adam’s came with three appetizers, which we split. As a starter we each had a piece of nigiri — eel for him and fresh octopus for me. The rice was still warm, which was a new touch for me. Then came the appetizers: sea urchin, sweet shrimp, and mackerel sashimi.

The sea urchin was fresh, served in the urchin itself. Normally I don’t like urchin, but this was pretty tasty, especially with lemon and a little wasabi. The shrimp continued the slimy theme, and were served with the heads on. Ahain, pretty tasty, and there were enough for us to explore combinations with the soy, wasabi, lemon, daikon, and carrot. They took the heads away and fried them in a little tempura batter to create a little sweet postlude. The mackerel sashimi was excellent — it came in a little pile atop a slice of lemon in front of the fish that it came from, pinned into a “U” by a bamboo skewer through tail and neck. The final touch was a sprinkling of scallions and sesame seeds. A little lemon, mackerel, daikon, wasabi and soy made an excellent combo, as did lemon, mackerel, and shrimp head. The appetizers were almost a meal in themselves.

The tasting plate had 8 nigiri and 4 maki (tuna). The highlight was a massive piece of sea eel, easily 4 times as long as its pedestal of rice. It was sweet and melted in the mouth. The fatty tuna was also delicious, and I swapped Adam my urchin for his mackerel. There was one other mackerel-like fish whose name I didn’t catch, a fresh squid, a crab, and one or two others. The best part about the tasting platter I thought was that it didn’t intersect at all with the kind of nigiri combinations you get at other sushi places, but had a whole set of tastes that were new to me. To pair with

After all that food I was in a coma and we retired to a very Asian tea house at St. Mark’s and 3rd Ave. Alp’s or something or the other. I had a passion fruit green tea which tasted mostly like warm passion fruit juice concentrate and not at all like tea. It was too sickly sweet. The place reminded me of boba joints near Berkeley’s campus — a very similar crowd, but this place (like everywhere in NY) was open later. Damn you, Bay Area. We had a bottle of not-so-dry but oh-so-smooth sake (Shirakabegura), and a less sweet nigori (Shirakawago) to go with the meal.

Improbably, Dave Taylor was also in NY and we met up with him and went to the Angel’s Share, a Japanese bar on 9th and St. Mark’s just down the street from the okonomiyaki place and the St. Mark’s bookstore. It’s a small place upstairs with seating only, expensive cocktails, and a nice ambience. I had a manhattan that came with a black cherry rather than the usual maraschino. It was very well mixed. The Sazerac that I had afterwards was a little too strong on the anise but at least they knew had to make it. I had a little sip of Dave’s negroni, which is a drink I’m just getting into now, and regretted my order. The bar went from crowded with people waiting for a table to half-empty in the two hours we were there, which made it even nicer and harder to leave, but sweet sweet sleep called to us and we packed it in.

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