I didn’t realize how much I missed Sensei Sushi until Jason texted me about celebrating Patty’s 25th there. Specifically, by feasting on Bruce’s Degustation/Omakase. And how could I refuse? Imagine spending 3 hours in one of your favorite restaurants, munching on plate after plate of wondrous flavors that you never thought existed until that enlightening moment when the food as so much slightly glazed your tongue.
But then, the clincher.
“Oh, and Bruce just texed saying that he has some prime Chutoro coming in and can include it in the tasting for an extra fee per person. What you say, folks?” texted Jason.
Anti-sashimi me, clueless about Chutoro (I may have encountered the word while ignorantly flipping the pages of a Japanese menu), resorted to Google. My best friend in times of dire need such as this one.
Chūtoro is the name for medium fatty tuna when served in a sushi restaurant. A bluefin tuna yields akami (red meat), chūtoro, and ōtoro (pink fatty tuna). Chūtoro is usually found near the skin on the back and belly. It combines the lighter but deep, slightly bitter flavor of an akami with the sweet tenderness of an ōtoro. It is quite expensive and usually served only on special occasions. (Lifted from Wikipedia, obviously.)
Me to Jason: “I’m cool with any.”
Jason: “CHUTORO. God.”
Me: “You know that I don’t eat raw, but I will always make the exception for Sensei.”
And it was set.
My cousin Francis, Mr. Beerman.ph, also brought an eclectic selection of craft beer, which he paired excellently with each of the dishes. I know nothing about beer, so Francis is my guy when it comes to that. I am slowly learning.
SO. Enough with the chitchat. This post will function more as a photo-diary of our degustation just because! Also, if you’re wondering, I’m really bad at remembering things (especially Japanese ingredients), so I took note of each dish’s components by typing them hastily on my phone. :p #technology #notreally Anyways!
We were served a total of 15 plates (including palate cleansers and dessert!).
Dish #1: Chicken Skin, Roasted Tuna Belly, Mirin, Apple Purée, Katsuboshi, Mustard Seeds, Persimmon.
Dish #2: Hirame (Seasonal Fish), Ebiko, Malt, Salt, Olive Oil, Dashi, Matsutake Musrooms, Earl Grey Tea
Savory and floral.
Dish #3: A freaking huge (!!!) Oyster poached in its own juice, Japanese Butter, Pickled Mushrooms, Ikura, Breadcrumbs.
Not-so-fun fact: I am allergic to oysters (IKR). The last time I had oysters was December of 2011 when I had Omakase’s Butteryaki version. Despite my tummy yelling in agony, I gulped oyster after oyster, then rushed to the bathroom and locked the door. Easily one of the worst evenings of my life, I vowed to never abuse my body’s (bodily?) chemistry and partake of the divine mollusk. BUT. After this evening, despite a split-second of anxiety, I have emerged victorious from the oyster battle. HURRAH! This calls for a celebration. More oysters, govnah. Preferably baked with butter, cheese, and garlic.
Also, this one of the plates I enjoyed the most! Actually, we were half-joking that we would buy tons of fresh oysters from the dampa (seafood market) and ask Bruce if he could cook them the way he did in this dish.
Dish #4: Kampachi (Yellowtail), Ebi, Garlic, Sesame, Ginger, Egg Purée, Radish, Wasabi
Dish #5: Twice-Grilled Baby Octopus, Pork Fat, Watermelon (that was thawed and dehydrated), Elderflower, Pickled Watermelon Juice Gazpacho with Pistacio Oil, Garlic Aioli
Another one of my favorites. Can’t stress my love for baby octopus! Eaten with the Watermelon Gazpacho brightened the dish so much and left such a refreshing aftertaste. I kept scraping the bottom of the bowl even though only the tiniest pink droplets remained.
Dish #6: Torched Salmon Belly, Grated Wasabi, Nori Powder, Sushi Vinegar
Dish #7: Seared Japanese Scallop with XO Butter (!!!!!!!!!!), Deadly Pork, Uni, Lobster Shell, Coconut Froth, Squash Purée, Chinese Wingbeans
The sweetness of the Scallop with the richness of the umami-packed XO Butter made me close my eyes and give off a satisfied exhale. DELICIOUS. The pork was fatty and crisp, which I thought was a bit overwhelming combined with the sauce. Or maybe I’m just not fond of fatty, lardy pork. But I enjoyed this soooo veryyyy much!
Dish #8: Ravioli made with Japanese Egg Flour, Dehydrated Miso Noodle, Lamb Confit (!!!!), Shiitake Mushrooms, Sesame Oil, Lamb Flakes (cooked adobo-flakes style, also deserves a multitude of exclamation points !!!!!), Katsuboshi, Corn, Edamame, Basil
Love at first sight. Very biscuity and with notes of caramel.
Dish #9: An immensely generous slab of Foie Gras (steamed then roasted), Caper Raisin Purée, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Grapes
This is a particularly odd combination that I thoroughly enjoyed! Move over, red onion marmalade.
Dish #10: This is the Chutoro I was talking about earlier! Not much of a description because it was pretty straightforward. I really appreciated its velvety feel on my palate (not slimy at all!). Clean fish flavor, check!
Dish #11: Cucumber Yogurt as a palate cleanser.
Dish #12: Shirako (aka Cod Milt aka Cod Sperm), Ponzu Butter, Sake, Soy Sauce, Potatoes, Mushroom
This exotic fare that holds some semblance to brains is a Japanese winter delicacy that I was fortunate enough to have sampled! Don’t let the name (or what it actually is) turn you off because it’s surprisingly very tasty. Imagine a super-rich egg with extra extra flavor depth. If poultry were a volume turned on to maximum loudness, it would taste exactly like this.
Dish #13: Saga Wagyu A6 with Eggplant Purée, etc. (It stops here because I was pretty tipsy already from the beer, sorry!)
BUT, what I do remember was that it was a brilliant melange of melt-in-your-mouth BEEF FAT (honestly, the best kind of fat, in my opinion. Also, lamb fat) countered with the smoky eggplant that induced a lot of lip-smacking and me, shamelessly spooning more of the sauce into my mouth. Even though there was no beef left.
Dish #14: A simple Coconut Sorbet to refresh our tastebuds
Dish #15: Mango Yuzu Curd, Seasme Shortbread, Matcha Powder
We also bumped into VASK’s Chef Chele Gonzalez and Michelin-star Chef Oscar Calleja of Annua.
Of course, how could I not ask for a photo? :D
268 Aguirre Avenue, B.F. Homes, Parañaque City
0917 515 7018