mary, zach, catherine, and i went, courtesy of catherine's fascist dinner tendencies, to kiss last week. a tiny, white room, with branches of flowering cherry in a high alcove and on a pedestal by the door. it seats maybe 10 people comfortably, 4 of them at the sushi counter. we asked the chef to feed us at his pleasure and he gave us an interesting winter-spring sushi meal.
a salad of koyadofu, hijiki, and gobo, marinated in soy braising sauce: a cold salad comprised of winter ingredients and a winter flavouring. koyadofu is made of firm fresh tofu allowed to freeze then thaw, leaving behind a mass full of holes left behind by melting ice. the soy braising liquid was interesting too, especially since it was served cold.
another salad of boiled spinach dressed with herring roe: this one was so bizarre none of us really knew what to make of it until we deduced (correctly, we think) that the white, creamy paste binding the boiled spinach was a mash of herring roe.
a plate of (separately) soy-braised eggplant, ikura, and soy-braised mackerel: really amazing, this one. japanese eggplant braised, very carefully, in soy sauce and then sectioned. it managed to achieve melting tenderness while still retaining structural integrity. the ikura was irreproachably fresh and exploded against the palate without the slightest trace of fishiness. the mackerel pieces were, texturally, the opposite of the eggplant -- robust, dense, meaty. the progression from eggplant to salmon roe, to mackerel was carefully measured though, with hindsight, i wonder if i should have grazed in the opposite direction. this was the highlight of the night.
sashimi: kohada, toro, tai, manila clam, yellowtail, mackerel, shrimp, squid. the squid was a particular revelation. having already tried a section of the manila clam ("this is chewier than i expected"), zach put a sliver of bright white squid in his mouth, chewed for a bit, chewed longer, and then swallowed. "again with the weirdness!" he said, "i want you to chew on that stuff for a bit longer than you would think to." and it turns out that squid goes from a squeaky firmness to frothiness that you'd never expect. the toro is spectacular.
manila clams with boiled radish: the manila clams were tender, their sweetness highlighted by the mirin. the yuzu on the radish struck me as a little excessive and unnecessary.
a single -- fortunately -- shell of chopped abalone with liver: this was odd. cubes of diced raw abalone dressed in abalone liver. the flavour was good, but it was like eating cubes of rubber that had also lumps of gristle embedded in them. we wrote this off to acquired tastes.
chawanmushi: bream, matsutake, enoki, sweet peas, dungeness crab, ginkgo nut (with the bitter heart left in, inexplicably). the custard was so delicate it fell apart when touched by a spoon and released a flow of clear dashi smelling of the sea, of smoke, and of amino acids.
nigirizushi: sake, ahi, mackerel, butterfish, tai.
at this point, they served up four glasses of sake per our order -- the marvellous one was the dry, floral jyokoudai.
miso soup: with matsutake and tofu. warm, light, rich. it was just right.
fruit: half a navel orange, carved out and sectioned.
for reasons not entirely clear to me, of the array of magnificently unassuming serving ware my favourite was the lima-bean-shaped chopstick-rest.