Chirashi Attack! Kingyo Izakaya

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I didn’t visit Kingyo for its chirashi. I didn’t even know it had a chirashi. I’ve been to Kingyo countless times and I have practically memorized its menu. I know for a fact that I’ve never seen the word “chirashi” on its lunch menu. My family visited Kingyo at the behest of my daughter; I went into the restaurant with the intent of ordering their daily makunochi lunch box.

Before I could place my makunochi order, however, our server quickly introduced the restaurant’s monthly lunch special to my wife, kids, and I. Chirashi was their monthly special. CHIRASHI ATTACK!!! I, of course, ordered their monthly special.

The chirashi special was served in a rectangular porcelain platter rather than the usual circular bowl. There was hamachi, sockeye salmon, albacore, scallop, real (or imitation?)-crab-meat-strings, lemon slices, masago/tobiko, and ikura on top of Kingyo’s interpretation of sushi rice. The sushi rice was much sweeter than normal sushi rice, and the sweetness of the rice almost negated its tangy vinegar flavours. The sweet rice worked extremely well with the bitey masago and the fresher-than-expected and much-less-fishy-than-usual ikura (salmon roe). Not only were the flavours of the eggs and the rice a natural match, so were their textures. The bitey-pop of the eggs were a very nice counterpoint to the bitey-firm texture of the grains of sushi rice. The imitation/real crab strings further enhanced the enjoyable sweet flavours of the rice and fish eggs; their teeth-bouncing texture added another layer to the overall array of textures of this dish. The sprouts also contributed texture-wise. They added a crunchy-juiciness that very much liberated the rice, carb meat, and fish roe from their “cheap ingredient” connotations.

The various raw fish slices and the lone raw scallop also contributed in making the chirashi more than the sum of its parts. They probably wouldn’t have tasted as good if they were served by themselves as a sashimi plate, but MAN were they good as bite-sized thin slivers that blended harmoniously with the sweet sushi rice. The hamachi was unctuous; the sockeye had an enjoyably lean and substantial texture while never displaying the way-too-fatty characteristics of farmed Atlantic salmon; the albacore was totally-firm-and-never-too-mushy; the scallop was supremely fresh and sweet. Every piece of raw seafood felt like they naturally belonged on top of whatever ingredients resided below them. Every bite and every mouthful felt organic and complete. None of the components in each mouthful felt like they were forced together.

I enjoyed the chirashi that I was served at Kingyo so much that I finished the whole thing in less than seven minutes. Although its smaller portion size contributed to my speed, I finished the chirashi in such short order mainly because everything in the platter/dish was so good that I couldn’t stop shoving bite after bite into my mouth. As good as this chirashi was, I still could not hand over the crown for the best local chirashi to Kingyo. I was willing to overlook factors such as that the chirashi’s meager portion size and its sparse selection of raw fish/seafood, but I wasn’t able to look past one fact:  this particular chirashi happened to be a seasonal item that will disappear from the restaurant’s menu in less than two weeks time. What good is a king when he will no longer be able to assume his throne after 11 days?

Kingyo Izakaya 金魚居酒屋 on Urbanspoon

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