>> Friday, October 05, 2012
Just a little over a month ago I celebrated my 11th wedding anniversary.
I guess I never really wrote about our celebratory dinner.
As you can see, I'm just a tad back-logged on my posts. That's what happens when you travel over the summer, I guess. You eat out more when you're on a trip (like every meal), and you have less time to blog.
So the posts (or, more accurately, the photos) pile up.
And then there are the weeks, like this past week, where I was inundated with work (my other job, as a lawyer). I almost never do this, but last week I worked into the wee hours of the morning multiple nights in a row. I was exhausted, severely sleep-deprived, and really unaware of anything else that was going on around me. Thankfully, my mom was in town and cooked me lots of yummy home-cooked Chinese food to sustain me that week.
I'm finally back.
Back to share with you about a really, really great meal I had last month. Perhaps it was because it was our anniversary and I was more relaxed. Or perhaps it was because of the excellent service we got at Uni. Or perhaps (more likely), the food is just exceptional here, and that really makes a difference.
Whatever it was, I really enjoyed our special (yet low-key) omakase ("Chef's Choice tasting menu) dinner at Uni Sashimi Bar.
Right at the beginning of the meal, the server handed us a little snack to curb our hunger - one of my favorites - blanched edamame with sea salt. I love it when a restaurant has food ready for you to nibble on as soon as you enter the restaurant. It's a really nice touch, especially when you're really hungry.
Tomato Water Martini
basil oil, jicama tomato squares, tomato Popsicle,
Soon after we ordered, the most intriguing amuse bouche arrived. This "Tomato Water Martini" is served at both Clio and Uni and is one of Ken Oringer's signature dishes. The tomato water is painstakingly made by gravity dripping mashed up tomatoes through a cheesecloth. Drip, drip, drip, drip. The "tomato water" is then mixed with basil oil, tiny tomato and jicama cubes (the knifework is astounding), and finished with a refreshing tomato popsicle on the side.
You have to try it to get it. It's absolutely incredible.
Next, we had the Winter Point Oysters from Mill Cove, Maine, which were served with pickled cherry, house made yuzu kosho, and birch pepper. These oysters were clean, sweet, and balanced. Although I could not really pick out the individual flavor ingredients, I thought overall the entire dish worked very well.
As you may know, I did not really like uni until I tried it in Japan. That is because I tend to find a majority of the uni here in Boston to be a bit "stinky." I was happy to discover that I actually really enjoyed our next course, the Uni Sashimi, at Uni. This uni (sea urchin) is from Santa Barbara and was served with pickled mustard seed, ume (plum) vinegar, and citrus rice.
The uni itself was nice, fresh, and creamy. I loved the touch of citrus, though I did find the mustard to be just a tad bitter.
Next up we tried the Suzuki Ceviche, gorgeous slices of striped bass from Rhode Island were served with Sudachi lime, thin slivers of golden beets and coconut green curry. I thought the presentation was whimsical and cute. The beet slivers were clearly made to look like ginger, and the coconut cream resembled wasabi dollops.
This course was also excellent. The overall dish had a lovely clean flavor from the citrus and the cilantro flavors that permeated the dish. The fish was just slightly "cooked", as ceviche should be.
I absolutely loved the next dish, Hirame, which consisted of fluke from Rhode Island topped with preserved lemon, tonburi, roast garlic and crispy potato. The quality of the fish was outstanding - the fish appeared to melt in my mouth and was definitely softer and smoother than most fluke I've had. I loved the crunchy potato strings, and the roasted garlic definitely gave the dish a strong, forward flavor which worked well.
I don't think I have seen Shima Aji, or horse mackerel, much outside of Japan, so I was surprised to see it as part of this tasting menu. Here, the shima aji is dressed with olives, ponzu sauce, and shiso as garnish. Although I've never had cured olives with raw fish before, here the salty olive actually cuts the richness of the stronger fish quite nicely. It surprisingly works.
Next, we had the Amber Jack, which came with a gorgeous slice of uni on top. I felt the uni flavor was almost a bit too strong here, and I longed for some sake to "offset" the strong Uni flavor (which we had ordered, thankfully!).
The next dish, the Branzino, was gorgeous presented and came topped with mini crispy rice, ginger, and "negi" (chopped scallions).
The Tako (octopus) came all the way from Japan and was served with hot sesame oil, yuzu, soy, cilantro, and ginger. I found the cooked octopus to be just a tad tough but acceptable. Bryan really liked the flavors of the dish a lot (he does love cilantro and anything spicy), and it paired really well with the Riesling which offset some of the spice.
For our first hot course, we had Lobster Tempura (from Maine), which was served with a Singaporean black pepper chili sauce. This course surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly, since it's Singaporean?) delivered a pretty substantial kick. The deep, rich, spicy sauce offset the rich, fried lobster in a balanced way.
We ended the hot courses with a Barbecued Unagi (freshwater eel from Japan), which was served with seasoned rice, sesame and pickled burdock, and a pickled ramp. I found the pickled "ginger" (or that's what I thought) to be really really strong - a bit too strong! However, the unagi was fantastic - perfectly charred, sweet, and crispy. The rice is on the sweet side, but very good.
For our first dessert, we sampled the Sour Cream Ice Cream, which was served with tri-colored raspberries (red, orange, yellow), cookie, lychees, hazelnuts, and a "snow" of sorts (yes, Ken Oringer most definitely dabbles in a bit of molecular gastronomy!). I liked the overall tartness of the dish. It felt sort of like a palate cleanser, yet much more sophisticated.
I don't typically love chocolate desserts (they often bore me a bit), but this Raspberry Chocolate Cremoux, which was served with a smorgasbord of molecular gastronomy products, was actually fantastic. I loved the deep, deep rich flavor of the chocolate and rasperry sphere, which went well with all the other crazy textures and flavors on the plate (e.g., other flavor "blobs", powder, crunchy cookies, and the bright red raspberry sauce. This was served with fragrant jasmine ice cream.
It was really an excellent dessert.
Since we were celebrating a special occasion, Bryan treated himself to a shot of MaCallan 30 (yes, Uni/Clio has a nice selection of various whiskeys, among many other types of drinks). He slowly sat and sipped it, slowly savoring each precious drop.
It was a fabulous 11th low-key anniversary, filled with kayaking along the Charles River, shopping for rain jackets (which I've used a lot since that date!), and just generally hanging around at home. Boston is such a gorgeous place this time of year; I was really thrilled to be able to savor so many parts of this beautiful city we live in.
As for Uni, I would most definitely go back. The menu is pretty vast, and I was surprised how flexible it was. You can spend over a hundred dollars on a fancy omakase, or just mix and match various small to medium sized plates, most of which are under $20. You can even get some of the cheaper items that I thought were only available on the late night menu, such as pork belly buns and fried shishito peppers.
All in all, I was very impressed with the food at Uni. Being a seafood person, I loved how every single course was seafood (yay! No heavy red meats to end the meal). I left the meal feeling satisfied, yet not overly full. It's really my favorite way to end a meal, and a near perfect way to end our 11th anniversary evening.
Uni Sashimi Bar
The Eliot Hotel
370a Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA 02215
The Eliot Hotel is located in one of the classiest neighborhoods in Boston - Back Bay. One of my favorite things to do is to walk along Newbury Street from Back Bay all the way down to Beacon Hill, another quaint part of Boston which is full of old historic buildings, such as Hampshire House, a mansion that houses the original pub from the iconic TV show, Cheers.