Thursday, May 3, 2012

Kome = Yummy

I have tried, with limited success, to eliminate seafood from my diet, which already does not include meat or poultry. I'm pretty much done with fish, well except for that albacore salad Warren's mom served up a couple months ago. And last autumn's food poisoning put me off mussels for quite awhile.

But I confess, when it comes to faceless sea critters, and thanks largely due to the Tam Deli garlic shrimp sandwich, well I'm not sure I will ever achieve genuine vegetarianism. Certainly not this week. Because the other night when Warren suggested we visit the newish sushi joint in my hood, I eagerly jumped at the chance. I'd been craving crab rolls for days.

Before I tell you specifically about my (excellent) experience at Kome, a little background on me and sushi. At the risk of sounding pretentious, I confess I experience a certain amount of glee telling folks (truthfully) that the first time I ever had sushi was in Tokyo. Not as in a restaurant called Tokyo, as in a restaurant in Tokyo. There were even a couple of burgeoning sumo wresters there trying to bulk up. Getting to eat sushi for the first time ever in Japan is sort of like being told to fuck off the first time ever in New Jersey-- it's a very, very authentic experience.

Edamame Dearest.
Still, I did not then, nor have I since, been able to get into the raw stuff. Nor have I educated myself on what the different terms mean. And on occasions I do go out, I'm inclined to act like some trophy wife from the fifties, and allow my dining partner to order for me. (I should say that, while Warren is good at this, my favorite sushi orderer has got to be Southpaw Jones, a man who knows his way around an eel roll to be certain.)

My Austin sushi experiences have included the crap you can get at grocery stores (which I like just fine), a number of wildly expensive but totally worth it trips to Musashino, and once, dinner at Uchi. That night was unforgettable, but maybe not for the reasons you'd expect. Besides the fact that my much younger (platonic) date showed up in a powder blue polyester suit with white buckskin shoes-- quite memorable in itself-- there was the dining "experience." Our waiter, a buff, mocha-tone octo-racial twentysomething who appeared to be a cross between a Benetton Ad model and a replicant, must've been in the other room trying on scowls and smirks when god was handing out senses of humor. Had he managed to condescend to us anymore, he would've gotten vertigo from looking so far down his nose at us. Call me an ungrateful fuss-budget if you must, but I don't give a rat's ass if my entree has been hand plucked from the ass of a rare albino elephant by Tyson Cole himself and then hand-carved and served up in a reduction of the urine of Jesus Christ Superstar. If a server acts like his shit don't stink and mine does, I'd much rather take it over to P. Terry's where they are always very nice.

I want to panko you for giving me the most wonderful potato pancake... of my life....
As I was saying-- the Kome decor is pretty casual.
That night at Uchi was many, many years ago, and I never bothered to go back again. Because if I am going to drop $200 on small portions of rolled up rice and little bits of fishy stuff, then I am going to stick with Musahino where the waitstaff might not qualify for friendly as a cuddly kitten, but their efficiency, in my experience, is... well, very efficient and certainly has never approached the reproachful manner of Uchi's Garcon Benetton K. Dick. (Aside: All that said, I still hear good things about Uchi and Uchiko, which I usually dismiss as hype, but occasionally I do get a little curious. So if any of you fine folk want to take me there and foot the bill to prove to me I'm wrong, I am open to the possibility-- message me privately.)

So anyway, Kome. I live in the hood, which in the seven years I've been here has become a bustling hub-- some might say gentrified hipster hellhole-- of restaurants, bars and coffee shops. I was glad to see Kome open, but hadn't managed to get over there until the other night. Boy oh boy was it good.

Where Musashino has a feel like you're actually in Japan, Kome for some reason struck me as feeling like a beach shack. It's super chill, with laid back, t-shirt clad staff, a bright interior, and a bustle that makes it feel a bit like the Magnolia Cafe of sushi joints. I ordered with abandon since I convinced Warren, in advance, to pay for the whole meal. I wish I could remember the names of the rolls I got, but I can't, except that the crab rolls weren't listed but our very helpful waiter told us she could definitely hook us up. I also got a tempura shrimp roll. Warren went for the raw stuff, which he pronounced (and continues to pronounce) to be excellent.

Backing up a bit-- we started out with miso soup, edamame, and a panko crusted mashed potato fritter thingy. All of that was quite nice, too. Miso and edamame are pretty simple dishes and pretty hard to screw up, true. But done just right they can be sublime. The scent of miso is definitely one of my big madeline experiences, and slurping away at Kome's miso, instantly transported me back to my visits to Kamakura, Japan, one of my favorite places in the world, a place I feel so oddly at home it makes me wonder about this whole past life thing and if, in fact, I was Japanese at some point (as, some say, my very first baby picture seems to suggest).


Go to Kome. It's really good. We seriously ordered enough for four people, including dessert (though no booze) and got out of there for under $70. You could, if you wanted to just groove on some miso and edamame, keep it under $15 and still have a really delicious time.

Yes, as Warren pointed out, dessert does sort of look like poop on a stick BUT it tastes great! I especially loved the rice balls with red bean paste.

Do not let his face fool you. Warren was learning about "acquired taste." At first, the rice ball dessert with black sesame paste threw him. But then, after a minute, he decided that, oh wait, it was pretty good after all. 

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