Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tatsumi Japanese Kitchen, Christchurch

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One of the things that draws me to traveling is the ability to try new things. That means being drawn to restaurants and activities that aren't available at home. But B and I also like to try things that are similar and see if there are any differences.

For instance McDonald's. No, we did not eat there but I always check out the menu to see if there is anything that McD's has in NZ that they don't have in CA. The answer is Tandoori Chicken Wrap among other things.

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When we were having a extraordinary dinner at Le Pot Au Feu we told Chef Bono we had originally been looking for sushi. She immediately told us about Tatsumi.

I really suggest listening to the locals when it comes to food choices. This is especially true when you know you share similar food interests.

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After taking our order and removing our very pretty menus, our server set us up for dinner.

Now originally she put everything down so that it was exactly symetrical. However, B seems to like driving me slightly crazy and knew I wouldn't notice until later that he had moved things around. Such a butthead.

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I just love the plates and bowls they serve their dishes in.

*Important note* What we eat is not necessarily representative of the offerings of a typical sushi restaurant. Do not let it hinder you from trying Japanese food. They offer plenty of cooked/not scary/not slimy/ recognizable foods.

Can you guess whats in the bowl?

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Tako-wasa. This is raw octopus soaked in a wasabi sauce. The unusual part of this dish (and the reason we ordered it) is that the octopus is raw. Typically the octopus you get at sushi restaurants are boiled. The green is some kind of pickled pepper.

B adored this dish. Honestly, B likes slimy foods. Like really slimy. Like snot slimy.

I do not. The sauce on this was incredible. It wasn't overly spicy and had a hint of acid. I had a bit of this but not too much.

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Omakase appetizer. Basically Omakase is the chef's selection. We chose the 6 item omakase and received a variety of appetizers to try.

I wish all restaurants would do this so I never had to make a decision on what to get.

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On the left have Beef Tataki with ponzu gelee. When you order tataki it will be raw in the middle and seared on the outside. Those little reddish-brown squares are the gelee.

It is exactly what it looks and sounds like. Its a gelatin. This particular gelee is ponzu (a citrus, soy sauce more or less). Are you still with me?

Gelee's are fantastic because its a way to introduce a "sauce" without having something running all over the plate. In this case, with each bit of beef you got a punch of the ponzu as it melted in your mouth. Just remembering the intense flavor that coated my tongue makes my mouth water.

In the middle is Kimpira, sauteed and steamed lotus root. It had a slight crunch to it and I ate the entire bowl before B had a chance to get back to it.

On the right was the salmon with salmon roe. It was only fair that B ate all of this portion.

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We'll get back to the dish on the left next as we ordered it separately.
In the middle we have a seared venison with just the smallest amount of blue cheese. This was fantastic, just the prefect balance of flavor. On the far right is their version of the chinese chicken salad. Its nothing unusual but it was really nice.

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I regret to inform you that I cannot for the life of me remember what the name of this fish was. Its local and it starts with a K.

Anyone? Well, whatever it is, its pretty. And its so tasty too!

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For some reason when I tasted this on the Omakase I didn't like it. But it was so pretty when it came out the second time I decided to give it another try.


Fanned out are very thin slices of the fish, on the outside the spring onion, then various cooked cold diced bell pepper, toasted sesame seeds, some unknown crunchiness and a little salad in the center.

You just roll up a piece of the fish with all the yummy goodness in the center and pop it in your mouth!


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This rice bowl is topped with pork belly, spring onions, ginger and mayo. Its actually Kewpie mayo which is a smoother creamier Japanese version. They use rice vinegar instead of distilled vinegar which gives it a different flavor as well.


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Here is a shot of just the pork belly so you have a better visual. If you like pork you must try pork belly. You aren't getting stomach so don't let the name scare you.



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Classic tempura vegetables (and shrimp) and their dipping sauce was so good! My favorites are always the sweet potato and yams.



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This was all B although I really like the concept. On the bottom is basically hash browns and on the top is cheese. Both sides are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Whats not to love? The layer of smelt egg. It was just a little too much for me but B devoured it.

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Toasted Black Sesame Creme Brulee.



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If you've never had a black sesame dessert and you come across the opportunity please try it. I got addicted to it years ago when a pastry chef friend of ours made black sesame ice cream.

When ground together and added to something sweet you get a fantastically creamy nutty flavor. Its always makes me think of peanut butter. Its unique but not unfamiliar which is exactly what you want when you are venturing outside your comfort zone to experiment.

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Tell me, what are your thoughts on sushi? Terrifying? Delicious?

20 comments:

  1. Ohh I love sushi! We just had some last Friday. Can't get enough of Japanese food.

    And I would have totally tried that snot slime dish =P

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  2. Oh man, I love black sesame desserts. We got a pudding mix at the grocery store in Japan once that was great, and I've had the black sesame soft serve ice cream in several Japanese cities.

    Sushi is fantastic and is what got me eating fish again (I am otherwise vegetarian). I've made it at home several times, which is less exciting in variety and presentation, but much better in price. Especially considering that we each eat our body weight in sushi when we go out, and I'm a tall lady and weigh a decent amount.

    What a great account of your meal, though! I'm always too chicken to take photos. Maybe I just need to get over it.

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  3. I love sushi and sashimi, but only certain types.

    Black sesame seed? Love, love, love it! I've been meaning to write up a post about it (black sesame seed paste dessert). Josh loves it, too, but for the uninitiated, it can be a turn-off, because as one ex-colleague from Australia put it, "It's like tar, ewww!"

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  4. You know I am writing down everything that you and B did and ate. That way, when HHBL and I get back to NZ in a year or so we will know what to do and DEFINITELY what to eat.

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  5. Hello.
    This is your Midwestern friend who has only had sushi once in her entire life. Perhaps it was not as fresh, being served here in the Midwest, but I was not very intrigued with it. Perhaps next time we can get to a coast that ensures freshness, I'll try it again.
    The food you featured does look very interesting, however ... and your pics are lovely, as are your words!
    I wished I lived closer to you so that you could take me out on a sushi 101 crash course!

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  6. oh dear, honestly - terrifying! I'm not brilliant with seafood. I have a vivid memory of sitting and weeping when mum tried to get us to have prawn sandwiches when I was little. I'm trying to be a little braver though!

    I did roast pork belly on christmas day - it's amazing! I did freak out a tiny bit when I saw NIPPLES and made Dave cut them off before I cooked it. There's something about the idea of serving your guests crackling with teats that seemed a little wrong!

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  7. Yuuuuuuuuuuuum! It's four in the morning, I'm battling insomnia, and the LAST thing on my mind is food--or was, at least, until I saw this post. Now I am craving sushi!

    What a gorgeous blog you have--love the pictures! Can't wait to read and see more.

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  8. OMG Alice's comment made me just burst out laughing!

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  9. *gulp* Please pass the fried okra...Send buttermilk biscuits, quick...I think I need some of your creamed corn...

    Oh, it was pretty. The raw fish. Pretty. It was! Lovely presentation. Slightly disturbing explanation. You are an ultimate foodie.

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  10. Love sushi, but a little difficult to find in my rural NC town of 2,000. Actually more like impossible.

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  11. I need to go visit your town for the food alone. Take me with you to this restaurant if you please? I love sushi and I could eat Japanese food every single day. Match and I go to sushi for our anniversary and my birthday, and if I'm lucky a couple more times a year. It's delicious here but pretty spendy. I love how pretty those place settings were! Some day I want to learn to make some of those dishes at home. But I have a feeling it wouldn't be nearly as tasty!

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  12. I am beginning to think that you and B have a pallet for just about anything!! I love it...I on the other hand sorta squirmed in my seat at all the raw fish...ekkk...I tired sushi once, I was with my ex boyfriend and his whole family, I put the piece of fish in my mouth, gag, didn't even bit down and spit it out...my ex's brother in law didn't want to see it go to waste so he ate if off my fork! gag! that was my one and only experience...I am better with french toast bagels! :)

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  13. Beautiful presentation, although I don't really go for the raw stuff. But give me the rolls any time! :)

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  14. Yum! I am so ready for lunch now... But here in Gig Harbor,WA we don't have a good place to get food like that. I love sushi it is my fav for sure.
    I love trying new foods... but most of all I love introducing my boyfriend Tim to new foods... I took him out to Beni Hana for his 24th birthday a 2 years ago and I had the pleasure of ordering all the food for the night, so it was his first taste of sushi and first try of sake. Since then he is a sushi funatic, not so much a sake fan, but I had to give it a try. I love this post and I want to eat my computer screen, okay maybe just lick it... Well I read this post right in time for me to take a lunch break... But all I got is some split pea soup;)
    Smooches,
    Andrea

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  15. I could eat sushi for the rest of my life and never look back. The end.

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  16. I do like sushi but I guess I'm not as adventurous as most - other than eel a couple of times I pretty much stick to the basic stuff, spicy tuna, etc.

    Did you get a new camera? Your photos are just amazing.

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  17. You're a brave girl Dandy...I could not bring myself to eat raw octopus...I'm not a sushi girl at all! I'll take some of that dessert though!!!

    :) T

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  18. Love sushi, but I don't think I've ever had a meal as lovely as this one appears! Thanks for sharing!

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  19. Dawn, I scrolled through this entire post saying "OMG! OMG!" to myself...simply amazing - not only the visuals of the food, but your descriptions of them. My mouth is SO watering...

    I'm a huge sushi fan. Raw fish and everything. I thought I was pretty well-versed in sushi, but my husband introduced me to unagi on our first valentine's day together...yum!!

    When I lived in Tokyo I had an English student who took me out for sushi almost every week. I don't think I realized how fortunate I was. (I almost typed "a English student." Good thing I caught my mistake)

    My daughter has inherited my love for sushi and will often make her own rice rolls at home! She's not a raw fish eater yet, however...

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