At Last! A Big Sushi Smile!

2005.Dec.17 Saturday · 5 comments

in Food & Recipes, Restaurants

Dashi - place settingBuenos Aires – I’ve complained in the past here about the lack of variety in sushi. It’s generally salmon, salmon, and more salmon. Occasionally there’s a little tuna, octopus, or shrimp thrown in, but then it’s usually back to more salmon. So I wasn’t expecting much yesterday while out wandering in Palermo and came across Dashi, Fitz Roy 1513. I’d seen ads for the place before along with my weekly e-mails from the Jardín Japones, occasionally offering special sushi demos or courses. So I thought, at least it stands a chance of being pretty decent quality. How’s that for logic? Besides, it’s a very handsome venue, a large dining room with windows facing two sides (it’s on the corner of Gorritti), done up in a minimalist Japanese fashion, and in the interestingly contrasting colors of grey and fuschia. The tables are done up to look like traditional black lacquer, and are set nicely with linen napkins and decent glassware.

Dashi - chicken gyozaBut let’s jump to the menu. It’s reasonably extensive, starting off with a list of daily specials. There are all the common Japanese appetizers that I’m used to, though with minor creative twists on them. And I ordered a plate of gyoza, which at Dashi are filled with chicken. They’re quite good, browned perfectly on one side as these little dumplings should be. They need to be drained before being plated guys – the puddle of water on the plate around them was the only detraction.

There’s a list of sushi rolls of, not surprisingly, salmon, salmon, salmon, and a few scattered selections of tuna or shrimp. And then, there’s the nigori (on their menu spelled niguiri) sushi, or “by the piece” list. And it’s a list! Eleven different varieties are on the list. Salmón rosado, pulpo, langostino, atún, and salmón skin – okay no surprise there, those are the common ones. But then, congrio, lenguado, bonito, chernia, besugo, pez limón. But wait… what are those stars next to all the unusual suspects? There’s no note on the menu, but, as I suspected, they’re “subject to availability.” But then, there turn out to be others that might not be on the list and are available depending on the day – my waiter had to actually go ask the sushi chef what fish were available for the day – now wait… I’m in a room that seats 70 people. There are roughly 50 people in the room, every table but one has two or more people at it.

Dashi - sushi selectionWhy does my waiter not know what fish are available? Because, looking around, no one is eating anything but either hot dishes or various salmon rolls. Not one other person. I leave it up to the sushi chef, merely specifying that I’d like six varieties, from whatever the special selection of the day is. I end up with a delicious selection, and a decent sushi fix. So what did I end up with? Salmon and octopus in the middle, and a sort of inexact mix given varying translations – let’s see, on the plate at 1:00 is palometo, which is a sea bream, or red porgy; 4:00 is the pargo, croaker or snapper; at 7:00 the besugo which is another name for sea bream, but was clearly a different fish, possibly two different varieties; and at 10:00 the lisa or mullet. (Palometo is part of the names of other fish, such as palometo pinteda which is leatherjack, or palometa rotunda which is butterfish, so it’s possible that this was a different fish entirely.) One interesting note, the menu also offers “sushi combinations” – guess what – all of them are just salmon and tuna, so if, like me, you want to try other fish you need to order by the piece – a pricey approach (lunch, with gyoza, twelve pieces of sushi, water, and sake – gekkekan’s bottom of the barrel available either hot or cold – was 80 pesos).

Dashi’s menu also lists two other locations in the city, one in Belgrano and one near the Botanic Gardens. I’ll have to give them a try as well!

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Chicken with homemade hot sauce and five-spice riceI’d decided I needed to use up a bunch of chilies before they got all wrinkly or moldy in the refrigerator, since back the day before his birthday party Henry had gone a little crazy with the purchases of bags of hot peppers. It’s also really hard to find good hot sauce here, and I wanted something I could use sort of as a hot barbecue sauce for some chicken last night. So I got out the blender, put about a cup and a half of light olive oil in it, then added two unpeeled cloves of garlic, two small red onions, a large handful of the remaining fresh chilies, a couple of dried chilies, two quartered tangerines, and a tablespoon of salt. I put the whole thing on high speed and let it go for a few minutes. Then I let it sit for a few hours and strained it. It made a fantastic spicy barbecue sauce for chicken, which I served along with rice that had a bit of chopped cabbage, red bell pepper, and homemade five-spice powder for seasoning. Five-spice is a common ingredient from szechuan cooking and is a blend of roughly equal parts of szechuan peppercorns, fennel seeds, star-anise, and cinnamon with about 1/3 the amount of cloves.

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