Izumi Sushi

http://www.izumisaratoga.com/

This place is doomed.

It’s very good.  I like it rather a lot.  Which is usually good enough to doom a restaurant, but in this case they’re also chasing a market which may not actually exist in this town.   Here’s how the waiter’s interaction with me went:

*I flip open the wine menu to the sake section*

“That’s sake,” he says

“Yes, I know.” I reply.

“Oh, you like sake?  What do you like?”

“Well my favorite is currently Gekkikan Horin, but I also like Kanbara ‘Bride of the Fox’ and Tentaka ‘Hawk in Heaven.’  I’m not very familiar with most of these though.”

He looks at me rather suspiciously.  “Where have you tried these sakes? “  *pause*  “You work at [insert name of my employer here] don’t you?”  I confirm this, and then he asks me if I’m from California or Austin.  “It’s very difficult to get people to try sake,” he confesses. 

At this point, I’ve been accepted into some sort of “oh thank God, a white guy who’s not an idiot” Club, and he starts bringing me gratis shots of different sakes, and telling me that if I sit at the bar next time they will set up a tasting flight for me.  I wonder if this restaurant has been set up aspirationally with the influx of the more urban transplants into the area, or if it does sufficient business during racing season to sustain itself, or if this place is just doomed.  Which would be a shame, because it’s good.  I suppose I should actually write about the restaurant and the food.

The décor: a cross between tavern, lounge and old fashioned Chinese palace restaurant.  Red leather banquettes, stained glass, patina steel, polished wood and neon. 

The soundtrack: semi-retro lesbian dance club with K-pop.   Waiters in their late 30’s occasionally singing along.

The food:  I came here because of Restaurant Week.  When I came here, my mind was oriented toward sushi.  They did have a restaurant week special, but the appetizer course and the dessert course weren’t all that appealing to me, and the entrée choices were cooked food and a California roll.  But for $5 more, I could get the sushi/sashimi combo for one.  Which I did.  And it was very, very good.  And generous — I actually was too full to finish everything, so I left a slice of delicious-but-takes-forever-to-chew tako behind.  It’s difficult for me to find things to write about, especially when it concerns sashimi.  I could mention that they had the best salmon sashimi that I’ve ever had, but that depends so much on the particular fish that is available and arrived that day.  Obviously it takes a good sushi chef to not screw it up, but ingredient availability always play a role.  For example, while the salmon was the best I’ve had (indicating chef quality), the lean tuna was not (indicating ingredient quality).  I’ll need to come back sometime to try the cooked food and some sake flights, but at the very least, I’ve found a go-to sushi restaurant.  While it lasts.

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