Are you all about to jump out of your seats in anticipation of the Papa Bear's promotion test outcome at Kiss Seafood??? The Papa Bear sure is. He doesn't know if he's been granted the Ikkyu rank or not yet, and he's asked me on more than one occasion. By the way, if you missed Part I of the Sushido Promotion at Kiss, I highly recommend you read it first...
If we had stayed with the standard course, the Nikyu promotion sushi plate would have been the second to last dish with a bowl of miso soup as the finale. But the Papa Bear and I are hungry bears, so we had The Chef add two more dishes and a couple of sushi pieces. The first of the two dishes The Chef added was another knock-out punch of tender, delicate flavors. The fish was definitely sawara, as the softness of the flesh, typical of sawara, was very memorable. The salt from miso marinade added firmness to the fish while bringing out the natural sweetness.
We were wowed by the miso-marinated sawara and its fragrant grilled aroma. The marinade acted as a casing for the scent-filled steam that rose right to our faces when we picked the fish apart. The Papa Bear was sufficiently impressed, and any beginner sushido practitioner would be blinded by the sublime quality of these cooked plates to taste and discern the true quality of the sushi...
Then came the ikkyu promotion test: kohada and saba sushi. These are vinegar marinated fish that pack a punch, and it takes some advanced sushi appreciation skills to fully enjoy the tenderness and the powerful flavors. I personally _LOVE_ these pieces. These were well-prepared and incredibly well executed. The dishes at Kiss really shines when The Chef tackles the ingredients head-on. The vinegar marinade was excellent, and the flavors of the ocean was sealed in the fish by the vinegar. I thought they were wonderful. I glanced at the Papa Bear, and unfortunately, he didn't quite have that blissful look to win his ikkyu promotion. He complained of the pieces being 'too fishy' and requiring 'getting used to' the onslaught of scents and flavors.
Alas, the Papa Bear is not ready for his ikkyu promotion... He didn't quite make the cut to obtain his ikkyu, since he couldn't quite enjoy the advanced sushi he had not been exposed to previously... Sorry, the Papa Bear, maybe next time!
We finished the evening with a dobin-mushi, which literally translates to claypot-steamed. These are clear broth soups filled with various goodies, steamed in a claypot kettle. Most famous for matsutake versions, dobin-mushi becomes ubiquitous during the Fall when matsutake season is in full swing in Japan. I was a bit surprised that he made a dobin-mushi at this time of the year, but the broth was so serenely sublime, I didn't complain.
I actually think The Chef brought out the dobin-mushi as a photographic opportunity for me. The little serving cup to which we fished out the goodies and the kettle provided me with a wonderful Zen-like ambiance, wouldn't you say?
One thing about Kiss is that the animal protein here is all fish. There is not an ounce of chicken, pork, or beef. It stays true to its namesake: Kiss Seafood. The food is prepared with so much love for the culinary arts and its ingredients, you won't miss the land-animals on your dinner plate. It is truly a pleasant experience that leaves you fulfilled without pretense, satisfied without oversatiation, peacefully content. Truly, a pleasurable experience.
The final result: the Papa Bear is awarded a Nikyu in Sushido.