The scene was a Japanese food lover’s dream last Sunday evening at Yutaka as the Chef/Owner presented a seven-course menu for guests, each of whom donated $200 to benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy. The menu was created and executed by the host and three of the top sushi chefs in the U.S. as shortlisted by Travel + Leisure magazine in 2012.
The rock star chefs in attendance were Ken Namba of Kiriko in Los Angeles, Taichi Kitamura of Sushi Kappo Yamura in Seattle, and Hiroki Fujiyama, the executive chef of Morimoto in Philadelphia.
After a photo op with the chefs on the red carpet entrance, we were seated and given a Lychee Saketini to start the night. Yutaka gave a brief introduction of the chefs and event, and the evening began with a round of applause.
The first course was the “Zensai Three”, a trio of hors d’oeuvres created by Chef Namba. It featured tender braised Japanese Octopus, Pacific Oyster with a spicy “Tosazu” Gelee, and his famous homemade smoked salmon wrapped around mango and topped with caviar. The octopus was smoky and so tender that it melted in your mouth.
Next came a beautifully presented “Seasonal Sashimi” of Yellowtail and Sea Urchin (Uni) wrapped in Flounder, all served inside the shell of the Uni. The sea urchin was creamy and sweet. Some folks just can’t deal with the texture, and a diner next to me left hers on the plate. I had to resist grabbing it when our server removed it.
Chef Taichi is known for using local fish from nearby areas at his Seattle restaurant, and for our third course he selected Alaskan Black Cod and King Crab for his delicate dish of Cod and Crab Kabura Mushi.
Next we were served a bright, clean salad of Snapper Carpaccio, created by Morimoto Philadelphia executive Chef Hiroki Fujiyama.
The night was not without a meat dish, and for his second creation of the evening (his first was sashimi), Yutaka plated rare slices of prime tenderloin marinated in soy-Koji, alongside mushrooms, asparagus, and Okinawa Potato.
Of course what dinner featuring top sushi chefs like these would be complete without, uh huh, sushi. Named the “Sushi Tour of Japan”, this ten-piece plate included stellar Tuna, Shiso Plum Flounder, Yuzu Salmon, Yellowtail, Snapper, Anago (Sea Eel), and a Negitoro Roll.
For the finale we were treated to two types of Japanese desserts: “Namagashi Kuri Mochi” made from rice flour stuffed with sweet red bean paste and kuri (chestnut), meant to reflect a sense of the seasons; and “Yokan Mt Fuji”, a fiber rich gelatin made from seaweed with ume (sour plum). A traditional green tea ceremony prepared by the Chado Urasenke Tanko-Kai DFW Association finished off the course.
The chefs put on a show, all working together to build each dish as the 40+ plates of each course were constructed. In such an intimate setting, the entire sushi bar, kitchen, and counter tops were used to hold each plate until ready to be served.
Throughout the night the lively attendees chatted with the chefs, who were eager to share any information about themselves, career, and dishes. Sampling these exquisite dishes while simultaneously benefiting Hurricane Sandy relief efforts made it a special evening for all involved. Thank you, Yutaka.