Well, a traditional meal if you are over in East Asia. Or if you’re me, it’s something that I’ve been doing for the last six-ish years. That’s right, it’s sushi time!
This year for my birthday meal, Lindz and I went out to Osaka with Matt and Janessa. Since it was my birthday I got to get whatever I wanted (not sure how that is different from any other time we’ve gone there, but I just rolled with it). I decided that it was past due on ordering a boat load of sushi. I mean that quite literally.
Osaka has an item on their menu called the Love Boat. It contains 10 pieces of sushi, 18 pieces of sashimi, a rainbow roll, and a dragon roll. All served in a wooden boat. Hence the name.
All of the pieces were “chef’s choice,” so from the outset I wasn’t expecting anything too lavish as far as selection.
I was right about the selection. A lot of tuna, salmon, and the like. Nothing off the beaten path, but all very tasty and a lot of it.
Ever since Matt and Janessa ordered deep fried crab in RI, we’ve been ordering it as a an appetizer. Been working good so far.
Since I can put away a lot of sushi, I finished off Lindz’s half and still ordered a couple of extra pieces to cap off the meal.
For some reason I always forget how cheap and easy tuna melts are to make and how much I enjoy them. It may have something to due with the fact that I’ve had plenty of bad melts in my time. This mostly stems from institutions, i.e. school, and a particular restaurant that I used to frequent. In the former case, it was just flavorless and in the latter, the tuna always seemed to be cold. I’m guessing it was due to the fact that they pre-made the tuna and refrigerated the mixture and it never got a chance to heat through when they made it. Which leads me into the major benefit of making it for myself and Lindz. The tuna starts off room temp which is a 30 degree headstart going into the oven. Also, I get to make it to suit my palette instead of going with a more neutral flavor.
For two people, I start off with three tins of tuna and add mayo until I get the right consistency. For me it usually is where the tuna looks wet with mayo but not swimming in it. I finely dice a couple of slices of onion and add them to the mix. A little salt and pepper to taste, and this part is done. I then evenly distribute it among six slices of bread. For mine, I added some sliced banana peppers.
Add a slice of tomato.
And finally the cheese for the melt. I usually use cheddar, but this time I used up some mozzarella that was hiding in the back of the fridge.
Finally they go into a preheated oven (I think I had it set at 375 degrees F) for about 15 minutes (I think). I usually check it frequently to make sure nothing is burning. I pull everything out when I have a nice golden brown on the cheese.
You probably should rotate the pan once or twice while baking. As you can see, some of the cheese is significantly more browned than others. Unfortunately, Lindz’s pieces took the hit the hardest which ticked me off more than if mine were worse. It’s a pride thing.
The restaurant that Lindz and I went to was the one located in the hotel. I can’t describe Cosmos any better than the line from the New York Times: “Hybrid of SoHo slick and Minnesota nice.” Like the rest of 601 Graves, it has a modern chic decor. The staff was unbelievably nice from the hostess, to the bartender who chatted with me at the bar while I was waiting for Lindz to come down, and to our AMAZING waiter who was spot on with personality and menu suggestions.
We were seated in a quiet corner of the restaurant, which wasn’t too hard because there were not a lot of people dining that night. But they did take care to place at least a couple of tables between us and the closest diners for a more intimate experience. Lindz and I decided to split a bottle of one of their cheaper wines. $40 is cheap for a bottle considering they had some that ranged upwards to $1000. Like I was ever so subtly hinting at before, our fantastic waiter struck up a conversation with us right after we were seated. In the process of explaining our little celebration, he threw out a few suggestions to try on the menu. One of which was the tuna tartar appetizer. He described it as “habit forming” and that he would eat it as often as he could. Since both Lindz and I like sushi, we figured this would be a safe bet for a starter. Boy were we wrong. Saying that this tartar was a safe bet is like calling McD’s cheeseburger a safe bet and getting filet mignon set down in front of you. This tartar is not comparable to anything that I’ve ever had before. The freshness of the tuna was unquestionable. The richness of the fish and whatever spices they mixed with it was heavenly. Plus, as a side, they put a dollop of avocado ice cream on the plate. This may sound like a weird concoction that you would see on Iron Chef, but it really does work. The creaminess of an avocado transitions beautifully into the creaminess that one gets with a high quality ice cream. So like our waiter said, habit forming. One quick example why I have a bit of a foodie crush on our waiter is that he went ahead and had the kitchen split our app orders without asking us. He was able to anticipate our wants and needs even before we realized them.
The other appetizer that we split was some lobster bisque. I’m not sure what Lindz’ motivation was, but I just like to say “I’ll have the lobster bisque.” Makes me feel like a Vanderbilt. I was not to be disappointed with this selection either. The bisque was a thick creamy seafoody bowl of goodness. It was everything you would expect out of a bisque plus more. The more was a couple of morsels of lobster chillin’ in the bottom of the bowl like the prize in a cereal box. Only better. Much better.
Between our app and main course, the waiter brought out a palette cleanser for us. It was one of those fun little things that molecular-gastronomists like to do. It had a concentrated citrus liquid (orange I believe) suspended in a gelatin skin, which was in turn suspended in a different liquid in a shot glass. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a picture of it and the only thing I remember is the strong taste of citrus and the pop of gelatin skin. While it may not be the highlight of the meal, it was definitely fun and amusing. The timing on the courses was stellar. There was no awkward lag between one dish and another.
Lindz decided to go all out on the fancy seafood this night. For her entree she chose the butter poached lobster. There is really no way you can go wrong with that combination. The little bite that I stole from her proved that very well. Without a doubt, this was the most perfectly cooked lobster that I’ve ever had. The butter flavor was infused into the meat and since it was poached, the meat was unbelievable succulent and tender.
I opted for the white wine braised rabbit. I choose it mainly because I haven’t had rabbit in a long time, also it was the most out of the ordinary dish they had for entrees. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I like to be adventurous with my food. It pains me to admit this, but this was the weakest dish that we were served the entire night. I’m a self-proclaimed salt fiend and by the time I got to the end of my dish, it was getting a bit salty even for my palette. Other then being a bit heavy handed with the NaCl, this was a great dish. the rabbit was tender and flavorful. The pasta, I’m 98% certain was made from scratch and cooked to the perfect chewiness. All in all, it was a great meaty and earthy dish.
Even taking our wild sushi meals into account, this was by far the most expensive meal I’ve ever eaten. That being said, it was also without question one of the top three meals that I’ve ever eaten. As soon as we can afford it, I’m planning on going back.
I do feel a little guilty about the tip we left our waiter. Don’t worry, it was in excess of what we normally do and we are generous tippers. If we could have afforded it, I would have left him a 100% tip because with his help the experience was that great and the food selections were even better. If you can afford to splurge for a night, I recommend this place without hesitation.