As we get older, we get jaded, we inevitably take things for granted. Driving a car for example, once a dream experience, is now a mundane endeavor. Unfortunately, this applies to food as well. Even avid food lovers like Logan and myself can become apathetic about delicious cuisine now and again. It truly is a rare occurrence when you find something so delicious, so extraordinary, that it’s like you’re seeing things through the eyes of a child, as if for the first time.
This happened to me recently on a visit to Morimoto (88 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011). My father and I met a couple of friends for dinner before a late night jam session. I’ve been wanting to visit Morimoto for some time, so I had high expectations. We began with a bottle of fine daiginjo sake, a couple Sapporos and a fine conversation.
Apps were as follows:
Upper left: Wagyu Beef Carpaccio
Upper right: Oysters Foie Gras with Uni and Teriyaki Sauce
Center: Spicy Tuna Pizza with Watercress
Lower left: Crispy Rock Shrimp two ways: Creamy spicy sauce & Wasabi aioli
Lower right: Alaskan King Crab with Spicy Sauce
While all of these were absolutely, “eyes roll in the back of your head” delicious, the best was yet to come. We ordered nigiri omakase for four. We made sure there would be adequate toro of various kinds as well as uni (sea urchin) and hotate (scallop). However, our waitress informed us that there was a special item that night, not found on the menu. It turned out to be Keiji Salmon. Now I skipped the descriptions of all those tasty apps, for the sole purpose of talking about this fish. First a little background, Keiji Salmon is basically the veal or the lamb of the salmon world. This particular salmon is exceedingly rare, only one or two per 10,000 caught are Keiji, so the chances of finding it at your local sushi joint, or any sushi joint for that matter, are unfortunately very low. Salmon mature at sea and are caught as they make their way upriver to mate. In rare cases, young, underdeveloped salmon will follow the adults to the rivers. The Keiji meat is higher in fat content but lighter in texture and has a sweet taste and absolutely no trace of a “fishy” odor. While a normal salmon would have anywhere between 2%-15% fat content, the Keiji regularly reach 20%-30%. The mouth feel was very similar to toro with its slick, buttery texture, but had the most pleasantly sweet flavor, and was just indescribably tender. The difference here is that you can usually find toro anytime, the unpredictable nature of Keiji really makes for a piece of sushi that almost trumps toro as the King of Nigiri for me. Almost…but not quite! In any event, it was far and away the finest piece of salmon I have ever tasted, it was outrageously delicious. The four of us just looked at each other in disbelief, all realizing that this was a rare occurrence. You can spot the Keiji at the top of this photo, nestled unassumingly between the Uni and the ginger.
It truly was an eye-opening experience. While it was like having salmon for the first time, I feel that it was enhanced because of my previous encounters with the fish. I always dread having the best “insert transcendent foodstuff here” on my first try, because, where do you go from there? I feel privileged to have had the chance to sample this amazing feat of nature, although I hope there is an even more mind-blowing specimen swimming out there in the deep blue as we speak. Until we meet again Keiji!