Buenos Aires – First, and before we get to the raw fish and rice adventures… I was wandering a nearby street, looking in small almacens, or kind of what we think of as neighborhood delis or food shops – looking for pinenuts that didn’t cost the 30 pesos per 60 grams, or roughly $76 a pound, as the “imported from Lebanon” versions from three of the area’s supermarkets cost. I stumbled on El Mesón, and they had a lovely display of different dried fruits and nuts, including pinenuts – I picked up 150 grams for just under 12 pesos, or a mere $26 a pound – still pricey, but an obvious savings. As I was getting ready to go, my eye was caught by a small sign advertising pastrón, or pastrami, at 3.99 per 100 grams, roughly $6 a pound. That’s pastrami for those who aren’t sure. I asked where they got it from, and he said he makes it himself, and then offered me a slice to try. Slightly light on the black pepper, but tasty as could be. I picked up about half a pound. Scrambled eggs with pastrami and onions for brunch on Sunday. Yum.
On to the world of raw fish… A friend had recommended a restaurant called Ichisou, Venezuela 2145, in the Congreso district. Michael and I hooked up Saturday evening and headed that way for a sushi fix. The neighborhood, perhaps a touch seedy, the location, had we not had the address, we probably never would have noticed it. We entered – a Japanese family of four was seated in one corner, the kids rambunctious, a businessy looking couple seated at another table, gobbling food as fast as they seemingly could. Only three types of sushi available – salmon, and two white fish, pollack and mullet. The rest of the menu not overly interesting looking. We thanked the hostess and stepped back outside. Wisely, not knowing how busy the place would be, I’d brought along the addresses of several other sushi bars in the neighborhood (there seems to be a grouping of “Japanese for the Japanese” restaurants in the Congreso area).
The next closest location, about four blocks away, and we ambled over the broken up sidewalks to find a completely unmarked storefront at Yuki, Pasco 740. We were greeted out front by a toothless security guard who asked if we had a reservation. When we said no, he basically told us to take a hike – “we’re full, no one comes in without a reservation”. He did buzz in and ask a waiter to bring us a business card and menu. It took a few minutes and someone who appeared more like a chef came out, handed us a card, and announced “no reservation, you come back another day”. No menu. We shrugged, and headed back the way we’d come for the next on the list, Nihonbashi, at Moreno 2095. Very pretty, and a kimono clad hostess greeted us – unfortunately, with, “no reservation, no room”. She kindly offered us cards and a menu to peruse. The place was empty, but both it and the menu looked worth returning for. The fourth place was a significant walk, and we decided against it, figuring we were in for more of the same. Saturday night, after all, and we’re not Japanese.
We hopped a cab and headed to Las Cañitas, where we knew there were several good sushi bars. We decided on Moshi-Moshi, Ortega y Gasset 1707, a place Michael had been to once before, and liked. [This place has closed.] A second floor walkup, but we found ourselves in a beautiful room, very modern, but well appointed, with soft lighting (all three places in Congreso had harsh fluorescent lighting), and only a few tables taken up. We were welcomed, seated, and soon found ourselves with flasks of cold sake in front of us, and perusing the menus. Michael started off with a simple miso soup, I opted to try the one oddity, a Vietnamese appetizer, the pate imperial, or springrolls filled with pate. Quite good, and filling in and of themselves. Our waiter didn’t blink when I asked for hot sauce, in fact, offering a choice of chili oil or wasabi, I went with the former, which was amazingly, searingly spicy! Loved it.
A good selection of various combinations was available – either sushi, sashimi, or rolls. Michael went with a salmon variety pack, I opted for the “moshi-moshi sushi”, an eleven piece combination of various salmon, octopus, shrimp, and two types of white fish. They had four different white fish available, so I also asked for a piece or two each of the other two – pollack, mullet, porgy, and butterfish. Excellent quality, nice and fresh, perhaps a trifle pricey compared to some, but better than others. Friendly, attentive service. All good. We shared a dessert, the chocolate volcano, supposedly accompanied by green tea ice cream and a citrus fruit salad. We got the volcano, the ice cream was pinkish tan with crunchy praline-ish bits in it, our waiter insisted it was green tea, the fruit salad, various berries. Still, decent, though not quite the flavor combo we were looking for. Overall high marks.