First off I apologize to everyone for not getting this up yesterday. The Angels and some computer issues were to blame. If it helps, I will have Brian write you an essay on why “Hella” is his favorite word. On to the review….
I always wonder where Sushi places get their name. It’s easy when it’s “I Love Sushi”, “Sushi Planet”, or when they use the name of the chef or owner. Me, I would call mine Mikey’s House O’ Fishies.
Kyoto is a place in Japan and one of its largest cities. It is also a huge cultural and spiritual center in Japan. Who said you never learn anything on this site? Naturally, you figure any place named after such a wonderful city should have a great spice rack and a good mix of traditional and modern flavors. Hop on my magic school bus and we’ll check it out.
Kyoto Japanese Restaurant – Telegraph/ Kimball
First, my usual disclaimer: Sushi is in the eye of the beholder. We all like different sauces, rolls, fish, etc. The questions are: Is the fish fresh? How is the presentation? Are the rolls they serve good quality?
These are all wonderful questions but I have a bigger one for you. How can you tell if a restaurant, especially a sushi restaurant, is close to going out of business or hurting? You stew on that for a bit while I continue move on to the fish quality.
First off, I always get a bit of Sashimi to get a feel for the quality and freshness of the fish. I ordered a little combo of albacore, red snapper, tuna, and yellow tail. My first issue was that the tuna was very gritty. The albacore had this very strong vinegar flavor. The red snapper was actually salmon and the yellow tail was just to the darker shade of should-have-been-served-last-week. I’m guessin’ the fish was meant for the filet o fish truck but got switched up and sent here instead.
I tried to put it past me and order a few rolls. I ordered the Telegraph roll – Baby lobster, shrimp, crab, cucumber, wrapped in avocado and served with a house sauce. I also ordered the Candy Roll cause fat guys love candy. It’s shrimp, tuna and salmon, with avocado, eel sauce and sweet mayo.
The Candy roll was ok. The shrimp was springy and fresh, the avocado was ripe, the salmon was a bit aged but better then the sashimi. I’m guessing the mayo and eel sauce helped. The tuna was the same gritty mess it was earlier.
The Telegraph roll had the same great avocado and that’s where it ended. The baby lobster was some kind of new lobster chewing gum trident must be working on, the crab was as crusty and as cheap as Sponge Bob’s boss Mr. Krabs and the shrimp was bland and possibly frozen that morning. Luckily the house sauce tasted just as horrible, being some kind of vinegar, soy, wasabi battle royal.
I was definitely disappointed. Sumo Sushi had left a bad taste in my mouth and I wanted, hoped, and dreamed of some better fish. Unfortunately I was not getting it here. In fact I gotta say it was worse.
So by now you must have some ideas of how to detect a Sushi joint that is hurting. Here’s my list. Of course the disclaimer is that its just one fat guy’s opinion so just take it for that.
Red flags for me are weekly coupons, all you can eats, and 50% offs. Everyone has deals of course, and in the time of our recent economic troubles, things need to be done. Try and analyze some of these deals before you dive in. All you can eat, to me, means we need to keep this fish moving because it’s at or beyond its expiration date. Fish is expensive. To give away all you can eat is not something that is done with fresh, vibrant, high quality fish.
Weekly coupons mean they are shooting in the dark. Nobody is showing up, they gotta get the bodies in. A coupon every now and then or a special deal here and there is ok. Weekly coupons however are too much and definitely could be a sign.
50% off deals with a couple different angles. Again, fish is expensive and nobody wants to lose money. If they are giving you 50% off the tab then the fish is low quality or it’s building up in their fridge. Just be cautious of the huge deals.
Another basic sign is missing fish; my red snapper had been replaced by salmon because they did not have any. Maybe it was a casual mistake, but a chef that doesn’t know the difference kinda scares me. As it turned out they were out of a few different fish. Also keep an eye on portion size. As a Sushi place does worse, their portion size may grow, especially if they are trying to clear fish. It may also shrink if they are trying to conserve. Sushi rolls and sizes are fairly precise; it’s an art, so changes in portion size are another sign of trouble.
Look at fish quality and pay attention to what the staff is pushing. Ask what’s fresh before you get 50 bucks in rolls. Try out the tuna, and some of the other fish you enjoy. The quality of that fish will give you a great clue to what you’re gonna get come roll time.
Getting anything baked or tempura will never give you a good sign of freshness. They doctor up rolls with teriyaki, mayo, soy sauce, chili sauce, smelt egg, and avocado. All of those things hide the flavor of the fish. Most of you peeps that love sushi want a good high quality fish. It should not break down to a gritty chunky mess. It should melt in your mouth and be smooth, never chewy. Remember we are talking fish not mollusks. You should never be able to smell your sashimi before it reaches the table.
You all have a sixth sense when it comes to eating. If nobody is there, there could be a reason, especially if it’s prime time for lunch or dinner.
Keep in mind this is what I use to determine where I want to eat Sushi. But I have used these same rules at every sushi place I’ve tried. You may have a great place that does all you can eat, or does coupons, or that nobody else eats at, but it’s rare. You may be saving your stomach, your wallet, and your bathroom if you pass on a place you’ve never been and go somewhere you already know is good.
As an added bonus of knowledge today, Kyoto is also a protocol to control the green house gas emissions which I experienced shortly after eating there.
Kyoto Protocol – An international agreement that aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and the presence of greenhouse gases. Countries that ratify the Kyoto Protocol are assigned maximum carbon emission levels and can participate in carbon credit trading. Emitting more than the assigned limit will cause the violating country to be penalized by lowering its emission limitation in the following period.