They had me at no salad.
I dread the salad that comes with most Japanese meals. You know the one I mean — a clump of iceberg lettuce topped with a slice of cucumber and a slice of pink tomato over which someone has dumped a ladleful of orange dressing. This salad has been assembled in a glass bowl and has been stored in the refrigerator long enough for a puddle of condensation to pool at the bottom, turning a merely bad salad into a bad, wet salad.
But at Kiss’o in New Hyde Park the other night, I was informed that my sushi entree did not come with a salad, nor a bowl of rehydrated packaged miso soup. Yay! I waited happily while the sushi chef made my chirashi.
Chirashi is, traditionally, a bowl in which a bed of rice is scattered with raw fish. At Kiss’o, it comes in two black, lacquered hexagonal bowls. One contains the fish, the other contains the rice and garnish. The fish was of excellent quality. Among the highlights: pristine medium-fatty tuna, yellowtail, red clam, sliced octopus and tamago (egg omelet) that was enviably sweet and tender.
In the other bowl, the rice was sprinkled with a sugary pink substance that I’ve seen on chirashi before but never bothered to investigate. Well, I can now tell you that it is sakura denbu and, according to the very helpful Japanese food website justbento.com, it is a fluffy pink condiment made with flaked fish, sugar and red food coloring. (“Sakura” means cherry blossom.)
I can’t say I like sakura denbu, but at least now I know that next time I’m at Kiss’o, I’ll tell the sushi chef, “One chirashi, hold the sakura denbu!”
Kiss’o is at 1532 Union Tpke. New Hyde Park, 516-355-0587, kisso-sushi.com.