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Best Sushi Item

What is the best sushi/sashimi that you have ever had.

Right now I'm going with the simple Toro nigiri, but I would love to hear other faves so that next time I see them I know to get them!

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  1. I've always held that, in my opinion, when it is at its absolute best, there is nothing more pure or more delicious or more texturally exquisite than fresh salmon sashimi.

    Right behind that is an uni handroll with uzura.

    2 Replies
      1. re: ccbweb

        totally!!! I love me some salmon!

      2. Best sashimi: yellowfin pulled out of the Indian Ocean, cleaned properly sliced and eaten with shoyu and wasabi within four minutes.

        Best sushi: what my mother used to make.

        3 Replies
          1. re: FoodDude2

            "white tuna" isn't in fact tuna. if you are talking about the solid white fish that is creamy and oily then it's in fact escolar.

          2. re: Sam Fujisaka

            Oh man, Sam, that sounds utterly delicious! (Both of them, really.)

          3. Uni gunkan sushi, a textural and flavor symphony. Crisp nori, smooth uni, yielding shari

            1. Hm...Live uni with the feelers still moving a bit, or raw lobster sashimi...naahh. I still like mirugai/geoduck clam taken from the fish tank, cleaned, cut and sliced and eaten raw. yummy yummy.

              1 Reply
              1. re: badbatzmaru

                Had that for the first time 2 weeks ago in Issaquah, WA. Oh my but it was o so sweet. Yummy!

              2. I always have a soft spot for marinated spanish mackeral.

                1. Best Sashimi: Albacore dipped lightly in ponzu
                  Best Roll: Soy paper around crab, shrimp, and spicy scallops, no rice

                  1. This is a tough one.

                    Either Kawahagi (filefish) with raw liver on top. Distant cousin to fugu (blowfish) but non poisonous, or kinmedai (alfosino and a type of snapper) belly cut with the skin on.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: K K

                      The Kawahagi with liver at Kitsho is indeed very good. I'd dare to say it's even richer than foie gras. I had suzuki there last week. It was excellent.

                    2. live scallop with a dash of yuzu that made it flinch and live uni just plucked from the water. closely followed by aji and madai sashimi.

                      1. As far as sashimi, there is nothing better than good yellowtail. The giant king crab sushi I had as a bento box at the train station in Kanazawa, Japan lingers in my memory. So does the lobster with miso sauce from Sushi Roku in Santa Monica.

                        1. I have craving for hoya (sea pineapple) these days. http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam...

                          Also looking forward to seeing kamasu (barracuda) again!

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Pablo

                            Wow! Thanks for the photo link. The entire slide show of the sushi from Kaito is very impressive.

                            ed

                              1. re: Pablo

                                hi Pablo,

                                You are speaking my language! I totally love hoya, and shirako is one of my other faves! But both are so hard to find in NYC, I always have to wait till I go to Japan (may be West Coast will be easier ;D)

                                Great kohada is also ethereal; so is Ikura!

                                Ok, I am soooo having sushi tonight. Or else I won't be able to sleep! =D

                                1. re: kobetobiko

                                  kobetobiko, I am amazed at what I have been able to find here in San Diego. I should have mentioned kohada, it is one of our favorites as well as delicious saba, iwashi and he even has shinko sometimes! Had my first taste of nano hana couple weeks ago. Also love mekabu and natto. I don't touch salmon unless it's wild, which I have never seen in sushi bar, yet. And we have been really lucky in getting fresh anago and the bones lately! Next time your in San Diego, try Kaito!

                                  Thread to Kaito
                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/329090

                              2. for sushi I like uni. for sashimi i like geoduck (when it is really fresh)

                                1. My personal favorite is yellowtail brushed with a bit of ponzu. A place I used to go also used to top it with the thinnest slivers of scallion.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. sashimi - giant uni from Hokkaido served in shell. Each piece of roe (about 5 per uni) was more than 2 inches long. Super sweet with the fresh taste of sea. Ethereal~

                                    sushi - anago. Must be the whole piece, not a slice. Yum...

                                    1. I'm in the baby yellowtail contingent. No adornment.

                                      1. Toro, toro, toro! One place I go offers extra-fatty *salmon* as well, and that's wonderful too. Whereas fatty tuna is butter from the sea, fatty salmon is bacon from the sea.

                                        1. Otoro, with just a gentle splahs of ponzu

                                          1. I find the cultural preferences interesting. It seems people in the U.S. are crazy about tuna, yellowtail, and salmon as a sushi/ sashimi items. Tuna is universally loved, but salmon, I don't know. I don't understand the appeal. It doesn't taste like the ocean to me. Interestingly, over the last New Year's holiday in Japan, I watched a lengthy expose on mainland China's sushi boom and in their survey, the Chinese consumers preferred salmon as well and tuna as well. I've eaten some good toro salmon preperations the last couple years actually. (I'm thinking of aburi style where they blowtorch the toro, then season with salt and lemon- no shoyu or wasabi of course). I think when most people say "yellowtail" they are referring to hamachi, but in Japanese it breaks down into 3 (maybe more) different fish depending on age- inada, hamachi, and buri. If you can find it, I highly recommend inada as a sashimi. It's lean, but very good. It doesn't travel well since it's low in fat, so it must be fresh. Buri sushi I find alright, but in a blind taste test, I bet nearly any member of the ~t/dai suffix fish would win. If you like buttery, I recommend fresh kinmedai, which I think translates as ocean perch. All things considered, this is my favorite sushi fish. Seared katsuo (bonito) slices and chopped scallion, dipped in shoyu with a bit of grated ginger used to be one of my favorites. I also like the yuzu scallop preperation mentioned above, but straight or with nori is fine by me as well. Raw scallops to me, are one of the best barometers of a shop's freshness. You can't fake or cover up the consistency or "hagotai" of any fresh shellfish. Anytime I hear about scallops in some kind of maki roll, I cringe.

                                            34 Replies
                                            1. re: Silverjay

                                              That is interesting. I have grown up eating smoked salmon and lox ever since I was a small child so I have a natural tendancy to enjoy Salmon sashimi. Lox and salmon sashimi are very similar in my opinion. I find the sashimi to be more buttery though which is why I enjoy it. I need to expand my horizons though as I have never had toro or scallop or many others listed here.

                                              1. re: FoodDude2

                                                That's because most salmon sashimi in the US isn't really raw. It's either lightly smoked or brined.

                                                1. re: butterfly

                                                  I really think that depends on where you are consuming your sashimi. Here on the West Coast, we have the opportunity for raw and I have had the fortuneate chance to have wild vs. farmed. But it is very seasonal. Personally, I do not care for the smoked or brined, especially b/c they usually put cream cheese with it. Bleh!

                                                  1. re: justagthing

                                                    I'm not talking about heavily smoked salmon (that you might find in a roll with cream cheese). I'm talking about very lightly smoked salmon or brined/salted salmon that is used for sashimi and/or nigiri. I waitressed in sushi bars run by Japanese chefs on both the east and west coast and all of them either did this or froze the salmon to deal with the parasites. The chefs always said salmon was the worst fish of all parasite-wise (farmed or wild).

                                                    1. re: butterfly

                                                      I've had the same experience working in a sushi restaurant. I was told that salmon is considered a "dirty" fish. They're either frozen or treated with salt by the sushi chef prior to serving. Whether or not you want to call the salt treatment "brining" is a technical point. It's not like brining in the sense that the salt alters the texture and salts the fish but salt is used to treat/kill the parasites.

                                                  2. re: butterfly

                                                    That hasn't been my experience at all. There are many places that offer smoked salmon as an option but at any actual sushi bar, I've had fresh non-smoked, non-brined salmon.

                                                    1. re: butterfly

                                                      I should have also said--or flash frozen.

                                                      1. re: butterfly

                                                        Now that is most certainly true. In fact, the vast vast majority of fish used for sushi or sashimi is frozen at some point along the way. There are exceptions, of course, but most fish in sushi bars is, in fact, frozen at some point.

                                                        1. re: ccbweb

                                                          Yes, but I have not know mine to be brined or smoked???? It doesn't tast like it is. Will have to ask my guy next time.

                                                          1. re: justagthing

                                                            I'm in agreement with you on this. I don't think that the majority of salmon is smoked or brined to any extent. I do know that most of it is frozen, but that's a very different thing.

                                                            1. re: ccbweb

                                                              my Japanese mother recoils in horror at the thought of eating raw untreated salmon sushi. My theory on htis is that traditionally raw salmon is not eaten in japan and the meat is cured in a sugar soy mixture type of thing. could be wrong though. I hadn't seen raw salmon in a sushi restaurant until the past 5 years or something so it has always seemed like a new thing to me. I love it. My mother won't eat it in spite of being told that freezing kills the parasites.

                                                              1. re: oranj

                                                                For the most part, I wouldn't rush to eat salmon that hadn't been frozen previously. It does have a tendency to have parasites in large quantities.

                                                                1. re: ccbweb

                                                                  I've read that the farmed salmon for sushi tends to be parasite free, so this may be the one case where it is preferable to wild.

                                                                  1. re: Humbucker

                                                                    I'd be interested to see an article on that. Everything I've read suggets that there's not much difference between wild and farmed salmon in terms of parasites. I think that the issues for parasites have to do with the time salmon spends in fresh water (salt water is an excellent inhibitor of parasites). This is probably getting off topic for this thread though...

                                                  3. re: Silverjay

                                                    "Inada" (Tokyo) / "Hamachi" (Osaka) ... same "fish", same "age".
                                                    "Shinko"/"Kohada" ... same "fish", different "age"/flavor-sense.

                                                    1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                                                      In Tokyo, inada and hamachi refer to the same fish of a different age. This has been explained to me by chefs several times...No idea about Osaka. There's one more term (age of fish)- which I can't recall.

                                                      1. re: Silverjay

                                                        Given factors of "age", migration-spawning cycle, provenance and "manner" of harvest - aside from "kind", this stands as a world apart: yellowtail as a "shusse-uo" (fish appreciated by age/maturity) ... I'm given to believe that the young are refered to as "wakashi" while those "long in the tooth" are "warasa". I've also heard (and had as sashimi) "buri", which I had thought was "mature"/less than sushi grade yellowtail typically reserved for "cooked" dishes, used to distinguish "wild" from "farm-raised" catch.

                                                        But, more to the point, I think the OP has hooked something good.

                                                        Well actually, I meant to say that the SD post looks like a solid lead.

                                                        1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                                                          "Warasa", that's the one I was missing. Thanks!... I can only speak to the colloquial use of terms in Tokyo. I couldn't give a flying fish roe anything about any spawning and migration crap. They have nothing to do with those names in the Japanese language..."Buri" to some has a very good image, while others prefer hamachi. It depends on the preparation and the individual. There is a distinct buri season (I think it's the fall) and you see a lot of (mostly cooked) buri dishes on menus. It has nothing to do with "grade" or "wild/farm raised". I don't even know the distinct terms for that in Japanese...The terms are about age- i.e. size and fat content. I personally prefer inada for sashimi, followed by buri. My image of hamachi is as a cheapo izakaya sashimi (a la Shirokiya, etc.). If you're interested in expanding your sushi horizons beyond tuna and salmon, I recommend fish with a suffix of ~tai or ~dai, which tend to be white and can offer the fattiness of hamachi, with a more delicate consistency and taste. These fish will probably be fresher and a lot closer to what Japanese would appreciate for a fine sushi experience.

                                                          1. re: Silverjay

                                                            And, in fact, "inada" is Tokyo venacular for "hamachi".
                                                            Along with kanpachi and (with summer drawing near) hiramasa these are good selections in the jack family.

                                                            I may have created the wrong impression. By "less-than-sushi-quality", I meant to state that I suspect that any fish, irrespective of *all* other "factors", may be "unacceptable" while age/"maturity" can signal less than prime/optimal choice.

                                                            As far as the spawning/migration "crap" ( I'm partial to bonito ;-) ) "hatsu" (early-season)-gatsuo and "modori" (late season (n.b. these are figurative translations and does not apply to other fish))-gatsuo have much different appeal; especially when prepared "tataki" (in the "seared", not "chopped" sense) and certainly does reflect their migratory pattern.

                                                            Likewise, "mugiwaradai" (straw bream) - not a specific fish - reflects the spent (in a spawning sense) and less than appealing aspect of tai (sea bream) that's at its best during the cold months (excepting, juveniles, ko/chi-dai).

                                                            For those who may want to take up the suggestion of "~dai" offerings, please note that this casts a *very* wide net indeed: ama-dai (tilefish), ishi-dai (rock perch), kinme-dai (alfonsino), ibo-dai (butterfish) are radically different fish, given differnt treatment ... all having no relation to ma-dai, which will typically bear the name of the provenance as a prefix and cost you a pinky finger (assuming you can source this).

                                                            So, what's your take on Pablo's slideshow?

                                                            1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                                                              The recommendation for ~tai/dai fish should be a good general rule of thumb for sushi shops and it certainly a good way for less experienced sushi diners to break away from hamachi/tuna/salmon paradigm. Assuming it's fresh and well-prepared, one can't go wrong with tai, ma-dai, kinme-dai, and kuro-dai, but good point, the suffix is a broad term. Even broader is "shiromi-zakana" which will often be the various ~tai and others grouped together based on color (white)....It's difficult to reconcile some of the terminology you've got vs. colloquial and restaurant menu terms used in Japan. In Tokyo, ordering inada, hamachi, and buri will get you three different items. All rather delicious in their own way, but yes, all the same fish. But good point to get kanpachi in the discussion as well. Though I always seem to be disappointed when I eat it, always expecting more. It's pretty lean...I personally prefer fresh bonito sashimi with the minced onion vs. the seared thing. Either way though, I'll take it over katsuo sushi......Pablo's slideshow, via Cgfan, looks great. I like the generous size of cuts.

                                                              1. re: Silverjay

                                                                I agree that the leaner "shiromi-dane" that tend to show up in summer are not as likely to elict in many that "wow-OMG" response you can pretty much rely on with kinme-dai that has its skin flash torched "yakishimo"-like; in this regard, a decidedly preferable selection, especially for those looking to break from the routine you describe - nice call.

                                                                1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                                                                  Wow, just had this kinme-dai skin torch flashed nigiri, absolutely excellent, our first time! we were lucky enough to score the last 1/2 of the head for a sublime kinme-dai kama! The eye was HUGE!! Sorry no camera this time!!
                                                                  Thanks Silverjay, I understand your passion for ~tai/dai!

                                                                  1. re: Pablo

                                                                    The whole head (kabuto), including the eyes, of tai is as delicious as the collar (kama); grilled or simmered.
                                                                    Those who find the "white meat" summer line-up a bit too "subtle" might want to consider doing a side-by-side of hamachi: contrast a piece taken close to the "chiai" (bloodline) against a belly slice.
                                                                    Suzuki (sea bass) "arai" served with sumiso may also be worth a try.

                                                                    I believe it's "seigo", a young suzuki, pictured at top here ...

                                                                    http://image.blog.livedoor.jp/lilsqui...

                                                                    1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                                                                      Thanks for the info kabuto vs. kama. Does kabuto always include the kama? I have had plenty of kama's without the head included. Always on the look out for suzuki, it just doesn't come around too often. One other question on the hamachi side by side, I am assuming the wild vs. farmed makes a difference (fat)? Wild is harder to come by, I think it's mainly due to consistency.

                                                                      Should this kanapchi be labeled as kabuto then?
                                                                      http://www.flickr.com/photos/sushiman...

                                                                      Katsuo kama:
                                                                      http://www.flickr.com/photos/sushiman...

                                                                      Hamchi kama:
                                                                      http://www.flickr.com/photos/sushiman...

                                                                      1. re: Pablo

                                                                        I've only been served tai kabuto, both halves ... split sagittal section-wise, w/o the kama in sushiyas; collar (hamachi, maguro, sake) tends to show up predominantly on izakaya/robata menus.
                                                                        "Logically", I would probably label your first link as "kabuto" ... though I've learned, to my advantage, to treat what I "know" with regard to this pursuit quite provisionally.
                                                                        I've "heard" that certain farmed fish may be placed on diets to enhance specific qualities ... can't personally attest on such practices.

                                                                        You might enjoy these links on tai ...

                                                                        http://www.kikkoman.com/forum/009/ff0...

                                                                        ma-dai ...

                                                                        http://our.pref.tokushima.jp/english/...

                                                              2. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                                                                Yasuda in NYC had true madai, kinmedai, hiramasa, warasa, etc. on my last visit a few months ago. The madai was was probably my all time favorite with kinmedai a close second. It's nice when he places them side by side so you can figure out your personal preferences.

                                                                And if for some reason, you don't care for whitefish, there's always kama toro vs toro closer to the tail vs bluefin toro vs bigeye toro.

                                                                As for migrating fish/seasonal "crap" there's seigo, fukko, and suzuki. Fukko season is probably coming up in another 1-2 months.

                                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                                  "Shun" (seasonality) is quite fascinating ...

                                                                  http://www.coara.or.jp/~sueyoshi/food...

                                                                  More so, getting on good/"familiar" terms with your itamae ... ;-)

                                                                2. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                                                                  "By "less-than-sushi-quality", I meant to state that I suspect that any fish, irrespective of *all* other "factors", may be "unacceptable" while age/"maturity" can signal less than prime/optimal choice"

                                                                  I was under the impression that the older the fish, the more prized it is. Not only is it harder to catch older, more mature fish, but the texture and fat content changes with maturity. It's like cattle being brought to market to early and not having enough marbling and flavor.

                                                                  In the seigo/fukkko/suzuki progression, I think suzuki is more priced (and tastier in my experience) and in the inada/warasa/buri progression, buri is more prized (harder to find and also more tasty). This is of course, generally speaking and not accounting for personal preference.

                                                                  1. re: Porthos

                                                                    "I was under the impression that the older the fish, the more prized it is." ...

                                                                    These are my impressions (to date) ...

                                                                    Let's take maguro, specifically hon/kuro maguro (bluefin tuna) ... the "nakaboushi" is "prized" ... and these, though large, are middling in size.

                                                                    Fish vary. It is the light/lean/clean ("subtle") taste of summer-time tanes that holds appeal for many...in fact, suzuki - prepared "arai" tends to draw off oils. "Suzuki usu zukuri" ... ah, someday.

                                                                    Comparably, in the more seasonal shinko > kohada > nakazumi > konoshiro progression, where the oil content definitely increases with age, there are those who have a clear preference for shinko over kohada.

                                                                3. re: Silverjay

                                                                  Buri was very much in season in mid to late January when I tried out a number of Tokyo sushi bars and izakayas and it was invariably delicious.

                                                                  1. re: Silverjay

                                                                    I believe the season for buri is in the winter when it is called kan-buri (Jan-Feb). This is when buri is the fattest.

                                                                    1. re: Silverjay

                                                                      Update:
                                                                      I have since gotten clarification on this.

                                                                      The progression goes like this from smallest to largest: wakashi < wakanago < inada < warasa < buri. However, these are terms used in Tokyo. There are some differences in terms vs. Osaka and northern Japan. In Osaka, "hamachi" is apparently used for "inada". I recently asked Chef Yasuda at Sushi Yasuda in NYC what his translation of yellowtail is and this is what he told me:

                                                                      Yellowtail is "wakashi, inada, warasa, and buri". These are the same fish, different size/age. They are caught wild off of Japan. "Hamachi" refers to a farm raised fish from the Western part of Japan. According to him, "hamachi" is a slightly contrived name, though it does have it's own kanji. It was contrived by scientists at Kinki University when they bred the species for fish farming. The size of the fish roughly corresponds to the size of wild inada. Hence the naming confusion. But in Tokyo, "hamachi" and "inada" are not interchangeable.

                                                                      Anyhow, this is fairly consistent with my image of hamachi, in Tokyo at least. I've never seen hamachi offered at good sushi places and it's never highlighted on a menu the way buri is. Several years ago in Japan, I saw a travel program during buri season that featured weekend "buri get-aways" to ryokan hat featured buri cuisine- and yes, this was winter time, not the fall. Nevertheless, I still hold a place in my heart for inada sashimi.

                                                                      1. re: Silverjay

                                                                        Speaking of fish never offered in good Tokyo sushi places, what about salmon? I was told once that salmon is not served because it's considered a "dirty" and low end fish for sushi/sashimi in Japan.

                                                                        1. re: Porthos

                                                                          I've never heard anything about salmon being "dirty" while in Japan, except that masu-salmon can carry parasites. Mostly in my experience, salmon is just not considered a quality sashimi or sushi fish. You wouldn't see salmon sashimi served in sets with tuna like you see here. Salmon is just not a destination item in Japan.

                                                            2. shiromaguro, of course! sashimi style

                                                              1. "the" best is hard to pick but I sure enjoy aji, sashimi

                                                                1. The O-Toro nigiri I had was a thick slab of deliciousness that could only be likened to eating sweet butter... It was so good that it made me realize why all those Japanese 'talents' on those food shows make those googly-eyed faces and moans while tasting dishes. :-P

                                                                  1. Three for each

                                                                    Sushi: Slightly warm Unagi Nigiri, Uni, Onigiri Okaka (ball sushi with bonito stuffing)
                                                                    Sashimi: Taco with fresh ultra thin lemon slices and some soy, Hamachi, Hotegai (scallop)

                                                                    1. I have got to tell you, I'm about 3 minutes from printing this whole thread out, taking it to my favorite sushi bar and telling the chef to just give me one of everything he can get his hands on from this list. These all sound just amazing!

                                                                      1. ika from Japan, with just a small bit of mint is terrific

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: ibstatguy

                                                                          Oooh my fav chef gave us ika the other day with a touch of shiso and mint and it was AMAZING!!!

                                                                        2. I once had some shima aji so good, it made me want to kiss someone.

                                                                          I love baby soft inada when I can get it. I love fresh sweet uni. I love shirako just plain or deep fried. i love really good scallops. I love o-toro slightly grilled. i like kobe beef slightly grilled too.

                                                                          1. it was just plain old "toro", but it could not have been out of the water for more than an hour or so. when it comes to sushi or sashimi freshness is what counts for me.

                                                                            1. 1) yellowtail (hamachi) I think is the delicious, buttery standard
                                                                              2) giant clam -when available- sweet, & almost incongruously "crunchy" texture
                                                                              3) salmon roe with quail egg, in nori
                                                                              4) sweet shrimp -the fried head - better than anything else that crunches
                                                                              5) a box of premium sake, with all the above

                                                                              1. I like yellowtail, scallops, and salmon here in the USA.

                                                                                Best Japan experience: eating sushi prepared from fish I watched them pull out of a tank live at a restaurant in Tokyo right next door to Tsukiji.

                                                                                More unusual Japan experience: raw shrimp nigiri sushi;
                                                                                Most muscillagenous food ever: cold okra item for breakfast at a hotel there.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Romanmk

                                                                                  regarding your most unusual, you should try drunken shrimp, a chinese dish, where the shrimp is alive when you eat it.

                                                                                2. Sweet Shrimp, Uni, and Sardines are my favorites. Oddly enough, when these are not fresh, they can be pretty disgusting. But when they're good, they're mmm-mmm good!

                                                                                  And then there are the Oshinko-makis to end the meals . . .

                                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Tkn

                                                                                    Uni was the major educational point for me about freshness, quality and, most importantly, seasons. I had tried it on and off over the years and never liked it. Turns out, I'd been eating bad Uni. Not spoiled or "bad" and I never got sick. I had just been ordering it at bad times of year, or the restaurants I'd been to hadn't been getting the better quality stuff or didn't have enough turnover...whatever. I finally, in Seattle, several years ago had my all time favorite sushi chef say to me "you must try this" and I said, "I have, I don't like it" and he said "then you haven't tried _this_" Life changing moment for me :) After that I started learning about cold water seafood, where the best stuf comes from, what times of year to make sure to order it etc.

                                                                                    Fresh Uni...yum.

                                                                                    1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                      I've heard that the best Unis come from Santa Barbara. Not sure about the season though.

                                                                                      1. re: Tkn

                                                                                        I think that's true, at least in the States. Well, at least in my experience, the very best Uni that I have had has come from Santa Barbara (and on one occasion, _in_ Santa Barbara). The colder months are better, so late winter seems to be the best time, again, just from my experience.

                                                                                        1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                          Santa Barbara is certainly prime stuff when in season, but I've also learned to love the stuff from the North Coast, namely Mendocino county thanks to Sushi Koo in SF, but more importantly one of the best varieties when available is Hokkaido baifun (horse poop...the shape that is) uni that partly reminds me of so called Boston uni.

                                                                                          I've also had the pleasure of trying "Canadian" uni though from a box, huge wacky pieces though not my favorite. Ryu-san of Kisaku in Seattle introduced me to either uni from Alaska/Pacific NW, off season that was a bit bitter and brown (from eating too much brown kelp) although with a little fresh wasabi on top and soy sauce this took on another whole dimension.

                                                                                          1. re: K K

                                                                                            I didn't realize that's where the Uni at Koo came from. I particularly noted the quality of the Uni at Koo, especially in the "spoonful of happiness" appetizer.

                                                                                            Now I definitely need an uni fix and may have to rethink my earlier claim about salmon being the best item.

                                                                                        2. re: Tkn

                                                                                          It depends on one's personal preference. The two major sources are the big ones from Santa Barbara (several inches in diameter) and the smaller ones from Maine (somewhere between the size of a tennis ball and baseball). In my experience, Santa Barbara uni has more of a oceany flavour to it (which I really like), while Maine uni tend to have a "cleaner" flavour and slightly sweeter.

                                                                                          1. re: limster

                                                                                            I prefer the Santa Barbarato the Maine uni too..though sometimes the better Cambridge fish markets have the Maine..still live in the shell.

                                                                                            I ate quite a bit of sea urchin when I was in Guadeloupe..white, much milder flavor than what we get in the US..mostly made into sauce rather than eaten raw...not exported.

                                                                                            Back to topic, of the commonly available in the US..my faves would include various versions of yellowtail, toro, eel (though I prefer the Chinese live version;cooked) uni, mackeral.

                                                                                        3. re: ccbweb

                                                                                          I was in the same boat as you. Never thought I would like uni b/c of the 'bad' stuff I had been served eons ago. Then my sushi guy baby stepped me into liking it. But now I, like you, have learned the difference between good and bad uni. Sounds yummy for right now!

                                                                                          1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                            I used to frequent Okinawa when I was young (more than 20 yrs ago). We used to dive/snorkel and pick up a bunch of uni (along with other shellfish)--break the shells and eat it right on the beach. I hardly order uni at restaurants even in Japan because NOTHING beats that (most uni served at restaurants stinks and the quality doesn't justify the price).

                                                                                        4. Can't disagree with the wow factor of many of the items already mentioned including uni, kinme-dai and chu-toro but I would like to cast a vote for sayori which has grown on me since I first tried it a couple of years back. I like the look of the fish, I like the intricacy of the preparation and increasingly I like the flavour culminating in an excellent sayori sashimi at Kyubei in Tokyo earlier this year. That was chopped up and then served with chopped scallions and ginger. It always seems to surprise the itamae a little when a non-Japanese customer expresses a preference for oily, shiny, fishy fish like sayori, iwashi, saba, kohada etc and maybe helps you the customer to go up in his estimation.

                                                                                          One other preference - any of madai, kinme-dai or kasugo-dai served with some pink salt and lemon juice is superb.

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                                                                                          1. re: oonth

                                                                                            You people should know that you have those of us far from such goods salavating like Pavlov's mutt! Stop! Please!

                                                                                            1. re: oonth

                                                                                              I've always noticed that (former) "fence-sitters" who have accompanied me to better shops are invariably won over by the hikari-mono.

                                                                                              1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                                                                                                Thanks for the term of art, I hadn't come across the word/categorisation before.

                                                                                            2. Negi toro for me right now.

                                                                                               
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                                                                                              1. re: s0memale

                                                                                                Wow! that plate looks so yummy. Where is that from? please let it be somewhere close to me.

                                                                                              2. I am an unagi fanatic. Not to say that I don't love tuna, salmon, uni, etc. Eel is my absolute favorite, though.

                                                                                                1. fresh squid caught off of the coast (don't know where) of korea. The fish guy sliced it up, my mom dipped it in some chojang for me, and put it in my mouth. I was 11 or 12 at the time and I'll never forget the taste.

                                                                                                  oh and raw skate is amazing, as well as raw blue crab - I like both prepared in the traditional korean style

                                                                                                  I also like uni, otoro, ikura, and any flat fish

                                                                                                  sorry I can't pick a favorite

                                                                                                  1. uni from hokkaido.. it's *green*.. but tastes _amazing_.

                                                                                                    1. Uni and hamachi are my general favorites, had hamachi belly once and abalone several times - they were also really good.

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                                                                                                      1. re: steinpilz

                                                                                                        Someday I'll have to try abalone again. It was the only sushi I've ever sent back because I flat-out could not chew through the damn thing.

                                                                                                        1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                          I live in CA, and haven't seen abalone on a sushi bar menu in many a moon.

                                                                                                          Back in the early 90s (both back when I first started eating sushi and when I last saw abalone available), I had it twice.

                                                                                                          The first time, it was "like buttah", it almost reminded me of a slightly-springier-in-texture yellowtail, but with the most amazing abalone flavor (I've eaten it cooked numerous times to know). The second time, I thought I was chewing on a bicycle tire. Horrible and frustrating experience.

                                                                                                          I guess I should start asking for it again, but the last time I asked a few years ago, I got one of those looks, like "abalone, seriously dude?".

                                                                                                      2. Best sushi: Toro all the way

                                                                                                        Best Sashimi: see above; although a good yellowtail is good!!

                                                                                                        1. Hamachi sashimi with ponzu, green onions and smelt roe

                                                                                                          1. Japanese Scallop...so clean...very sexy.
                                                                                                            Just a slight pinch of flake salt on top...sometimes I'll lightly touch the scallop to the thin slice of lemon on the dish-like a soft kiss...mmm...I can't resist, I always use my fingers...pick up the piece gently, bring it to my lips, sneak a small taste and a slow, unnoticeable inhale to remind me of why I love the ocean...touch the lemon...another tiny taste...sometimes if I'm feeling naughty, a little tiny touch to the wasabi...like a tiny little tap on the ass...sip some sake...repeat with the remaining slices...make it last...always savour a sensual experience...sometimes a great meal can overshadow some of the greatest sex....One of my boyfriends said that watching me enjoy my scallops when we go out for sushi is how he likes to enjoy me...that was a very good boyfriend..too bad I moved away because he was also a great dining companion.

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                                                                                                            1. Salmon (or sake, however you prefer) nigiri all the way! I love it!

                                                                                                              Hillary
                                                                                                              http://chewonthatblog.com

                                                                                                              1. Uni. Love the subtle flavors and smooth texture. I order this sashimi style.

                                                                                                                Ikura - Pop, pop! Delightful blasts of salmon flavor.

                                                                                                                1. oh-toro (sashimi), hands down. I always get a couple pieces and save them for "dessert". The first couple times I ordered it, my husband would say "aren't you going to eat that" But I explained, I always save that for my last bite. Now he gets it.

                                                                                                                  1. Yellowtail nigiri. Blew me right away. Also ikura.

                                                                                                                    1. Two weeks ago, (with a twinkle in his eye), my chef suggested the Oo-Toro nigiri. Two HUGE pieces for $15.

                                                                                                                      As clean and soft as freshly churned butter.

                                                                                                                      Un. Be. Lievable.

                                                                                                                      (I love that guy.)

                                                                                                                      1. A really good quality uni, very fresh, always nails it for me.

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                                                                                                                        1. Right now I am in love with the following:
                                                                                                                          Aji-Spanish mackerel
                                                                                                                          Amaebi-Raw Sweet Shrimp (love the buttery tail chased with a crunchy head)
                                                                                                                          and...Tamago (the way I always end any sushi meal, be it a la carte or omakase)

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                                                                                                                          1. re: gmk1322

                                                                                                                            yes! and yes (i could eat a whole plate of shrimp heads)! my absolute favorites along with sweet, fresh uni and delicious buttery otoro. however, the single most delicious piece of nigiri i have ever eaten was ono, lightly bruleed with a blowtorch and brushed with bit of ponzu. it melted in the mouth like a marshmallow with just a hint of warmth and char.

                                                                                                                          2. I'm not very experienced in the way of sushi/sashimi (I am more adventurous than the other people I go with, so we invariably end up at more "westernized" places) but I love wild salmon sashimi. Not the farmed stuff; it's worth a few extra dollars to get the wild salmon because it's so much better.

                                                                                                                            1. Cut roll - 1. negitoro maki urasawa
                                                                                                                              2. uni/clam roll kaito
                                                                                                                              handroll - negitoro handroll kaito
                                                                                                                              nigiri - can't choose
                                                                                                                              seared kama toro urasawa
                                                                                                                              amaebi urasawa
                                                                                                                              anago kaito
                                                                                                                              ono kaito

                                                                                                                              1. Love sashimi, but also the yellowtail jalapeno appetizer is amazing if done right.