Friday, January 6, 2012

Off the Map: Waitress, I Think My Drink Is on Fire

Sakura Smoked Hamachi Sashimi -- Oishii, Boston, MA

We have determined that Chef Ting San of Oishii Boston must have been a pyromaniac as a child.  How else do you explain that of the three things we ordered at his restaurant, two of them were on fire?
We Didn't Start the Fire
True to form, Vodka and her friend have arrived at Oishii after traipsing through slightly disarming South Boston and have asked to forego their reservation in order to sit at the sushi bar.  When the waitress arrives seconds later to help us, we confront her with "Do you have the smoked hamachi tonight?" as we are seemingly incapable of reading the menu ourselves.
Hooked on Phonics Doesn't Work for Boozers
She assures us that they do, and we place our order for one, along with two cocktails (unfortunately, based on Ginger's absence, there is no one around to order the "Ginger Manhattan," which would be the most aptly-named drink ever, if only it included the word "Tipsy" as well).
Also, The Entirety of This Pickled Ginger Would Have Been Consumed By Now
Before we can so much as get ourselves situated, our complimentary appetizer of shot glasses of edamame mousse arrive.  Now, Vodka is not the greatest fan of edamame, especially in pureed form, so one taste of the stuff with her miniature wooden spoon leaves her grimacing in horror ("No wonder it's complimentary," her friend remarks).
Not the Kind of Shot We're Used To
We decide that when we do eat edamame, it is for two things: the salt and the texture, so when both of those components are taken away and replaced with a pudding, the results are not all that successful.
Though If Anyone Would Like to Replace This With Vanilla Pudding, Who Would We Be to Object?
Even before our drinks arrive, a busboy presents us with a scarily tall wine glass, covered on top with a glass coaster.  Before Vodka can manage to snap a picture of the proceedings, the busboy whips off the coaster, and smoke billows out of the glass, three-alarm-fire style.  It seems Ming Tsai wasn't kidding when he chose this as his favorite SMOKY dish on Best Thing I Ever Ate.
Most Disproportionate Glassware Ever
Picking up our first piece of sashimi with our chopsticks, we take small bites and discover that the fish does indeed have a slight hint of charcoal from the redwood chips scattered in the glass.
I Don't Know About You, But I Always Eat My Sushi with a Side of Ashes
Thick and meaty, especially in terms of typical fish served at a sushi bar, the hamachi itself is savory, but the accompanying sauce in the glass is so sweet that Vodka feels the need to smother her pieces in actual soy sauce in order to combat it.
Luckily, We Have Been Provided With Ample Amounts of Soy Sauce
"Are we supposed to eat the coffee beans?" my friend asks as we reach the bottom of the precariously thin-stemmed wine glass.  There are, in fact, enough coffee beans in the bottom of the glass to last a local Starbucks at least two minutes of brewing time, though we decide they are not meant to be edible.  Overall, while the flavor of the smoke is rather interesting, we find that it doesn't linger for long, and while we would like to come back to Oishii to try other things, we would not necessarily need a repeat performance of this particular dish.
It's Also $20. Just Throwin' That Out There....
And then, there is the subject of our cocktails.  By the time they arrive, we are all but finished with our barbeque-in-a-wine-glass, only to find another witch's brew-like concoction being placed in front of Vodka's friend.
The Better to Drink You With, My Dear
The color and taste equivalent of adult fruit punch, it emits an unending stream of liquid nitrogen smoke which lasts even longer than the smoked sashimi had, and we are amused, and slightly drunk, at the ridiculousness of it all.
Pink Drinks Built for Tweens
Plunking down our credit cards for our highly agreeable waitress (who, to her credit, does not laugh mockingly at our kids'-first-fireworks reaction to the fiery dishes), we retreat to the bathrooms, which are just about the nicest we have ever experienced at a sushi place (Morimoto and their full service toilets aside).  As we make our way out to the chilly streets of Boston, it seems only fitting that our breath forms clouds of moisture in front of us as we walk, providing us with our very own smokescreen as we leave the Oishii experience.

Oishii Sushi's Sakura Smoked Hamachi Sashimi: 3 stars

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