By David Minsky
By Nicole Danna
By Sara Ventiera
By Candace West
By Emily Dabau
By Doug Fairall
By Candace West
By Laine Doss
Kamioka said that he shops daily for fish and that his supplier knows his habits. He won't serve the neon frozen stuff. "You know when you go to a sushi bar and it's so bright?" he said. "That's how you tell." He took out a block from the freezer that leaned toward fluorescent and was surrounded by colored ice. "It's drying out already." He keeps the block on hand only to show customers the comparison; he doesn't serve it for dinner.
Our best bite was up next. Kamioka told us of a rare bluefin that had missed its flight to Tokyo that morning and was instead parceled off among four or five local chefs. It had been headed for Japan's famous Tsukiji Market, where fish commands the highest price and about 900 seafood vendors have stalls. In many cases, fish — or parts of fish — that don't sell are then shipped back from where they came. The bite was an unsettling reminder that a sea creature might take a laborious, roundtrip, postmortem journey before arriving on a plate, even when caught in local waters.
"This fish is really tough to get," Kamioka said as he prepped bites of toro for our minimalist plate. "You likely won't find it here again."
The pink, veined fish marbled with fat was like softening butter. The toro was hard to pick up as it fell apart on its bed of rice. And wow, was it succulent and rich. We were given new saucers for fresh soy sauce and real wasabi — the root rather than the neon powder-based stuff that's often served. This round of wasabi was grainy and earthy green with a bite similar to horseradish, its cousin.
As we savored the bite, Kamioka sliced a paper-thin confetti of seaweed that would garnish our final course: a humble bite of unagi. Freshwater eel was drizzled with a sauce of soy, mirin, rice wine, and sugar presented in a cucumber roll.
"I'm not sure I'll make it like this again," Kamioka said. He prefers to try new combinations and presentations, to avoid making the same thing twice.
We never did get to try the egg. Neither did Kamioka's mother, whom we'd just missed when we arrived. His mom doesn't eat sushi, which is why Kamioka has so many vegetarian options.
"Wouldn't you know I didn't have eggs the night my mom came in?" he lamented. A gracious host, particularly for his family, he revealed a note of regret. "I had been busy earlier. And that egg," he said with a shrug, "it's a lot of work."