Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sushi Izakaya Gaku

Negitoro Tartare

There's very few times I'm really wowed by a restaurant and their food. Gaku was one that I was extremely wowed by. My goodness, I wish I could repeat the night Kathy and I had. A quite magical experience. Not to mention, I am an official Uni lover now!!!!!

Must've been that I had old/rotten Uni years ago, and the fishy taste plus the texture did not suit my palate. Thank goodness fresh Uni doesn't really taste like that. The best way I can describe it? Sweet, creamy, custard-like, and smooth. "Foie Gras of the Ocean." Everyone was always surprised that I love raw oysters, foie gras, escargot, ikura, but couldn't stomach Uni. Well now I know why I was mistaken! Bad Uni, people, BAD UNI! Eat it as fresh as you possibly can, and you will not regret the melt-in-your-mouth, lush and sensual Uni tongue.

Also, a good tip- sit at the Sushi Bar, and request Chef Manabu if you can. He is the Master. I am much impressed.

Parking- You can park in the back lot, but I heard it is small, and patrons double-park. When you're ready to leave, you must go back in, check who parked behind you, and then everyone maneuvers themselves around in the tiny lot. Better scenario? Street Parking! Reservations only from 6-7pm, so make reservations early, and more than likely, you'll find street parking. Easy!

Kathy and I essentially wanted to order the whole joke! But we ended up talking to Chef Manabu and ordering Omakase (you leave the ordering up to the Chef himself) with a request of lots and lots of Uni and Ikura (and Ankimo...and Unagi...and Oysters...and...)!! Kathy is an Uni connoisseur, and by connoisseur, I mean she can eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner plus knows all the different types of Uni and the flavors associated with each! And I, on the other hand, love Ikura. I am always up to try new things, so of course, I didn't mind eating some Uni too. Plus, I ended up enjoying it! Chef Manabu really delivered the Omakase to our liking, and we were more than happy.

Some favorites? OK, OK, everything was my favorite, but some standouts? Otoro is every foodie's dream, and in this case, it was everything it was supposed to be and more. Melt-in-your-mouth, rich, fatty, oily. However, I was awed by Chef Manabu's delicately Seared Garlic Otoro with some lemon and sea salt to top. The second I had one bite, I knew I would be ordering another. It was an epicurean delight- one I will never forget.

And if you get through the amazingly flavorful Otoro Nigiri and Seared Otoro and have room for more, ask for Engawa and Akamutsu- more flavorful cuts of fish. Engawa is actually a fattier part of Flounder, found closer to the fin, and very much a delicacy. I believe Chef Manabu torched this ever so slightly too. We were also served one piece each of Akamutsu; apparently called "White Toro" in Japan. Another great piece of fish.

This has become my ultimate Sushi place here in Hawaii. Highly regarded by many, and now I can definitely see why. Everything we had that night was the freshest I've ever had. This is how Sushi should be, folks!!

On King Street, next to Hinone Mizunone, before Keeaumoku Street

"First" to start, I requested Fish Bone Senbei of course!

First of the Omakase- a dish of Yuba, Seaweed, Uni and Ahi cubes. The fresh Yuba was dainty, savory, and refreshing.

Six Oysters topped with Negi, grated Daikon, and Ponzu

A beautiful dish. Starting at top, clockwise: The most buttery and tender Hamachi. So tender I mistook it for Otoro. Next, mini Uni and Shiso wrapped in Hirame (flounder). Two pieces of Amaebi (Sweet Shrimp), and ending with lightly seared Sake (Salmon). Again, a melt-in-your-mouth piece of flavorful fish.

Negitoro Tartare with fresh raw quail egg, shoyu, tobiko, and Negi. Wait for it........

Mix and enjoy with Nori!!

Another one of my favorites......ANKIMO!! Aka Monkfish Liver.

Chef Manabu made these especially for us. Ikura Shooter and Uni Shooter!!!!! Both topped with Shoyu Jelly.

Yes, let's look at this beautiful creation one more time.

Dumplings. I could have done without this.

Finally! The good stuff! Engawa up first.



Santa Barbara Uni and Marinated Ikura! Ikura is marinated in a dashi, so it has a smoky depth to it. Absolutely delicious and unique. Love the presentation of overflowing Ikura!

Yep, got my one order of Unagi too!

MY FAVORITE OF THE NIGHT. Seared Garlic Otoro.

Sardines Soup. Could have done without this too.

Our Dessert! One more piece of Uni and Scallop for Kathy, and one more piece of Seared Garlic Otoro for myself.

Japanese Cream Cheese Cake

Sweet Potato Moussé


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