Sunday, October 16, 2005


Found: Matsutake!

I have a new favorite restaurant.

Perhaps not surprisingly, it is the sister restaurant to another favorite, Yakitori Totto. This new restaurant is called Aburiya Kinnosuke; it is fantastic and very, very authentic.

People sometimes ask me which restaurant in New York is my favorite for Japanese food. I usually say that Yakitori Totto is my favorite yakitori, then list a few others for comfort food, ramen and sushi. But I think that Aburiya Kinnosuke might just be my favorite for "real" Japanese dining. New Yorkers have yet to learn what true kaiseki is. I know that there are other restaurants out there billing themselves as kaiseki, but to be honest, they've really underwhelmed me. If New Yorkers adjust to Aburiya Kinnosuke, they just might learn!

We ate a variety of things on Thursday night, but I wanted to point out two matsutake dishes -- matsutake being a gourmet item I've talked about a little while ago.

The first is matsutake tempura, which was just superb. Not oily at all. We ate it with the tastiest salt you can imagine (no sauce for dipping). Who knew that the kind of salt you eat can make such a difference in a dish?

We also had matsutake on a robata grill, which a little sauce. We topped this off with a Japanese lime, which is not at all like your standard lime (of course).

I asked the waitress -- who I happened to know from the dance studio -- where the matsutake had come from. She hesitated, then told me the mushrooms came from Washington State. I made a comment about how these matsutake were perhaps not quite the same as the Japanese version. She very confidently told me that these matsutake were perhaps not quite Japanese, but certainly smelled better than the Chinese version. There are just so many ways to interpret that statement.

For purists out there, you might note that we made the mistake of grilling the matsutake on a houba leaf. Rest assured, we corrected this error, removed the leaf, and at the matsutake hot off the grill itself.

I understand that the Japanese MATSUTAKE is darker and the American kind is paler or rather whitish. I agree with your waiter that the American kind is larger in size and taste as good as the Japanese kind. I love to use MATSUTAKE in SUKIYAKI. I find it that the longer you cook MATSUTAKE the tastier the MATSUTAKE becomes. Slice MATSUTAKE (quite thick) and sauté it along with other vegetable. Bon appetite.
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