"You'll likely never get this quality fish here again," said Takeshi Kamioka, owner of Wilton Manor's Gaysha
, just after 11 p.m. at the sushi bar last night.
The pink, veined toro was marbled with fat. The piece
was like softening butter. It was hard to pick up as it fell apart on its bed of rice. And wow, was it succulent and rich. "Bacon!" said Kamioka. "There's something about it that reminds me of bacon. Do you taste it?" And we did.
This minimalist presentation of one bite was accompanied with new saucers for soy sauce and a fresh serving of wasabi. The green condiment was the real deal, the root rather than the neon powder-based stuff that's usually served. This round of wasabi was grainy and an earthier green, with a bite that closer to its horseradish cousin.
Why were we able to eat such a rich fish last night? A huge tuna missed its Tokyo flight yesterday, where it was destined for auction at Tokyo's Tsukiji
market. Instead, a handful of local chefs bought various cuts of 20 and 30 pounds each.
Why is it so rare to find toro of this quality, not just in Lauderdale but in any restaurant these days? Tuna is so prized
Kamioka told us, that when the fish make their way down toward the Keys, a posse of buyers stand in wait for the catch with wads of cash, paying fishermen a mind-blowing sum for one fish that laborers couldn't make fishing local swordfish all season. So while a bite of toro might have been stunning, it was a guilty one too.
To show us a contrast of the fresh from the frozen stuff, he took out a frozen tuna slab. Nearly florescent pink, ice surrounded the cut that had been cryovac'd. "See? It's already drying out," said Kamioka of the contrast, fish he does not serve at Gaysha's sushi bar.
This toro was not our last course of the night, but rather the fourth of five. The final savory was a humble contrast to the decadent tuna.
"What would you like?" he asked. "We both like eel," my friend said of unagi, the fresh water eel drizzled with a sauce of soy, mirin, rice wine, and sugar. As we chatted, Kamioka sliced paper thin confetti of seaweed that led to a lovely garnish.
We fawned over the dish served as a cucumber roll in a rice wine vinegar reduction. "Enjoy it now. I'm not sure I'll ever make it again," he said. Kamioka prefers to try new combinations and presentations, to avoid making the same thing twice.
So while you may not be able to eat an eel concoction shown in the photo or the fatty toro tuna of our dreams, you can ask for omakase
any night of the week: an order that translates to chef's choice. Set the number of courses and a price range at Gaysha, and watch a sushi chef's creativity as it unfurls.
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2223 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors, Oakland Park, FL