Sunday evening I stopped in for a late dinner at Sushi-Ko, so late that I was to be the last customer who walked in that night. I asked if it was okay just to get a few maki, and they said “sure.” I took a seat, purposely not in front of Koji Terano, because I didn’t want this dinner to be any big deal for them.
I should have known better than to order four rolls since an extra course or two was inevitable. But I love the rolls at Sushi-Ko because they’re relatively inexpensive, the rice is always well-made, and the combination of flavors and textures is right up my alley (Koji often mixes the crunchy and the smooth).
I really enjoy the Salmon Avocado Roll ($5.25) which has salmon, avocado, and nothing else – it’s a smooth mush of joy, and stood in textural contrast with the Crunchy Eel Roll ($6.00) with cooked eel and pickled radish, California Roll with Blue Crab ($6.00, $5.00 with surimi) with avocado, cucumber, and smelt roe, and perhaps my favorite roll here, the Spicy Rock Shrimp and Cilantro Roll ($6.00).
After I ordered, I looked at the daily special menu, and noticed varieties of fish I’d never before. I asked Koji about them, and he said they all came from (the south of!) Japan. What was I to do now that I had already ordered? There was only one possible answer.
The next night, I had dinner again at Sushi-Ko, this time heading straight for the Japanese fish. I had Koji put me together a Chef Sashimi Plate ($34) which consists of seven of the “best selections of the day,” and fortunately, on this evening, there were precisely seven varieties of Japanese fish on the menu:
Me-Dai (Butter Fish), Kintoki-Dai (Red Big Eye Snapper), Fuefuki-Dai (Emperor Fish), Renko-Dai (Pink Snapper), Mejina (Large Scale), Tobiuo (Flying Fish), and Aji (Horse Mackerel).
Other than Aji, I’d never seen any of these fish before (note that Me-Dai is not the same as Madai). Koji had arranged them in the order listed above, and told me in which order to try them (I think it went 3-1-2-4-5-6-7, but I can’t remember exactly), with the flavors and textures getting ever-so-subtlely stronger with each fish. “Dai” means “snapper” in Japanese, so most of these fish were cousins of each another.
This was my kind of intellectual exercise – one that was as enjoyable as it was enlightening, not unlike doing a horizontal or vertical tasting of similar wines.