Altibajos

2007.Sep.12 Wednesday · 1 comment

in Restaurants

 Curves are so emotional.”

– Piet Mondrian, Dutch artist

Buenos Aires – I love that there’s a single Spanish word that means something that has ups and downs or highs and lows. I gleaned it from the commentary left about a spot on our local online restaurant guide, Guia Oleo. The comment was left in regard to the original locale of a sushi restaurant here, one that I haven’t been to, and which receives, regularly, wildly mixed commentary in terms of its quality. They apparently don’t take the commentary to heart, since all the negatives have been duplicated in a recently opened up a branch near to me – opposite the Buenos Aires Design Center, in a semi-hidden spot… well, no, it’s not hidden, it’s underground, with a small sign and a bored looking doorman more tuned in to his MP3 player than to customers – he may be secretly registering your entry to the open wood lined stairwell, but he gives no acknowledgement, no greeting, no real sign of being connected with the place (in fact, I wasn’t sure that he was until one of the managers called him down to the bottom of the stairs… by banging on the metal stair rail with a metal spoon until he got the guy’s attention). As you leave the bottom of this semi-elegant stair, coming around a screen of white painted bamboo, you find yourself in a Mondrian painting – all cubes of red and black and white. If you’re lucky, one of the two managers? maitre d’s? hangers about? might actually deign to acknowledge your existence as well… no, that’s unfair, they actually will wander over to you in a moment, with a smile, find out how many are in your party, and then wave vaguely towards a table, before returning to their far more interesting personal conversations. We’ve arrived at Bokoto, Pueyrredón 2476, 4809-0265. [This place has closed.]

Bokoto - managers hang aboutFrom that point on, service kind of improves. While these guys who seem to be running the room are dressed down, in t-shirts, jeans, sneakers, looking like they’ve rolled out of bed sometime in the last hour, the waiters are dressed in smart black uniforms with red trim, the restaurant name embroidered on it, and Mumm champagne’s logo on their sleeve – guess who paid for the uniforms…? They’re friendly, they’re happy to present you with a menu, they’re delighted to take your order, even being helpful in making suggestions and listening to your special requests… and then they go off to stand around at strategically placed points, where they remain, immobile, until you wave at them wildly, hoping that, perhaps, your food, which you can see up on the counter, might actually be brought to your table by one of them, at which point they leap into momentary action… I had momentary flashes of being on a Borg Cube… But back to those management folk – and just the observation, as I’ve seen it here more commonly than anywhere else I’ve been – why do restaurants put money and effort into having their spaces and waitstaff, and sometimes even kitchen staff, looking so good, and then let their key personnel dress like… schlubs? And why, oh why, is the sushi-man wearing a stiff French beret the size of a large pizza?

Bokoto - gyozaThe food, likewise, is a mixed bag. It’s quite prettily presented. We tried out a couple of favorites, goma-ae and gyoza, the former the more mixed bag of the two – normally a nice little bowl of spinach and toasted sesame, this was presented on a plate with half a dozen or so tall, spindly spires of spinach, pressed together… firmly… how else could they stay together towering over the plate? The flavor was good, and there was a nice amount of it, certainly enough for two people to share. The dumplings were actually quite good – nice and light, cooked well, a savory filling, and lightly dressed in soy and oil, and again, a good number of them. Had we but stopped at appetizers…

Bokoto - maki special…but we moved on to the sushi. For my part, I thought I’d see what they offered up in a combination that wasn’t strictly salmon – after all, the menu points out on virtually every one of their combinations that they don’t include the various shellfish on offer – shrimp, oysters, crab…. Our charming waiter suggested their makis especiales, a quartet of differing half portions of some of their special rolls – and was their anything in particular that I was interested in…? Why yes – as noted, not all salmon, and please, please, please, no cream cheese, no filadelfia, on the rolls. Not a problem. For his part, my dining companion went with a simple plate of nigiri sushi – all salmon. So hmm… mine has… let’s see, a salmon and cream cheese roll, a shrimp and cream cheese roll, a salmon and white fish roll, and a crabstick roll. Yes, well, thanks, that was, umm, exactly what I asked for… The fish itself is fresh. The rice, a bit… no, a lot, on the sweet side – wayyyyy too much mirin. Easy enough on the nigiri for my companion to simply eat the salmon off the top of his and leave the rice behind. Not so easy for me, though at least dessert was not a consideration.

And, we’re off… not a spot we’ll be returning to. The bajos in the altibajos are just a bit too deep, and the altos don’t near make up for them.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

gustaw September 12, 2007 at 21:38

Dan,

Nothing to do with this entry, but I can’t let the date pass.

A git yur 5768!!!!

Gustavo

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