Sunday, March 1, 2009

Deja Vu at Bozu

Since there are at least two more editions of Asian adventures to come (I know, I'm sorry I'm slow, it's a lot to re-live!), I'll break it up with more recent food happenings. First, our celebration of Adib and Kelly's engagement at our favorite Japanese tapas place, Bozu.

There was some weird sort of magic in the air that day. The experience was made up of three odd coincidences, hence the deja vu reference in the title. 1) The night before I dreamt Bozu didn't have the sizzling hamburger platter, and then they didn't (yeah I dream about food, shut up). 2) I said at some point during the day, boy wouldn't it be great if Bozu served ankimo, and guess what showed up on the specials list. 3) As we got to know our amazing waiter named Phillip, he told Rob that since he felt they were "food soul mates" he knew a drink he might like to try -- the sesame shochu cocktail. Rob was about to order that exact same one.

Strange coincidental visions of hamburgers and ankimo aside, this place has always treated us right. It seemed like the stars were aligned that night and Bam! Everything was better than normal.
Before we ordered our usual dishes, Phil told us there were two specials for the evening. "Do you guys like weird kinda out there food?" he asks and when Kelly, Rob and I all chorus "YES!" (where were you on that one, Adib?) he tells us one is $5 and the other is $8, should he bring them to us? Another "YES!" I love surprises. Especially when they are brought on by very knowledgable and enthusiastic waiters.

The first special was raw shrimp. "I'll be back to tell you about these guys in a minute," Phil tells us. It tasted very much like one of the courses we had at Sushi Azabu, with the wet liquidy exterior that moistens your mouth. When Phil comes back he explains that the shrimp had been marinated for five days with its own brains. I start to dislike surprises a little bit. I wonder if Sushi Azabu prepares them the same way and think about how I was happier not knowing these little epicurian tidbits. The second special was the ankimo -- monkfish liver. This was served the more traditional way, not tempura style like at Sushi Azabu, but as small cold slices that melt on your tongue with a fishy aftertaste. Phil explains that the liver always tastes so good because monkfish eat a lot of shrimp and lobster. Wait, whole lobster? This is when I make the mistake of wondering aloud what a monkfish actually looks like. Adib google images it on his phone and there goes one other thing I was happier not knowing. Oh well, the mango mojitos were perfect as always and I started to forget these unappetizing mental images as I slurped them down.
Now back to our regularly scheduled (and highly anticipated) Bozu plates:

First the pork betty (cute name for pork belly), our go-to favorite. Served in bubbling and fatty sweet soy sauce and sake, how can you go wrong? You want to drink the stuff when you're done. Well, at least I always do. Phil said that this time it will have a surprise that will make it even better than normal, "as if you thought that were possible!" Oh no, I think, not another surprise. But it's perfect. They placed a soft boiled egg in the middle of the thinly sliced pieces of pork belly heaven. The heaviness of the egg went with the fattiness of the pork -- two delicious vices. It lands heavily in your stomach, but so worth it.

We also got the fried tako balls, which has a sweet glaze on the outside and warm octopus on the inside. It sounds weird, and it took me a few times of coming here and tasting it to get used to it, but its really devine. Then the rice croquettes with hot cheese, sage, walnuts and butter squash as a less adventurous comfort food treat. As always we got the sushi bombs -- little discs of rice with the fish piled on top, like a new take on sushi rolls. We got the party bomb (a combo of four types) plus the oo-toro bomb because, who doesn't love toro. Below (from left to right): tako balls, croquettes, one last brain-shrimp, oo-toro bomb and monkfish liver.

And the party bomb: pink bomb (salmon and scallion), McLowe bomb (tuna, avocado, wasabi cream), spicy McLowe bomb (my personal favorite: tuna, cucumber, spicy mayo and kataifi, that crispy fried stuff on top), and una bomb (eel, shiso mint leaf, and wasabi cream).
Then the tuna tar tar, served with avocado wasabi sauce, lemon infused shochu sorbet on top (!!) and edamame.

They were having another special -- Japanese curry -- so we tried that. It's a honkin' plate of rice with beef curry on top, Phil said it was different from Indian curry but I thought it tasted pretty similar. Nothing too special there.

At one point Phil came and brought us a special treat. Tiny pieces of red pepper that, he said, you can't get anywhere in the U.S. He explains that the red pepper comes from Japan, it fell off the plant and basically rotted in the ground after being buried in the snow for about six months. Then it's harvested. It doesn't taste rotten and it doesn't taste overly strong either. It had a very unique, hot taste that settles in the back of your throat. These are the types of surprises I like!

We ended the night on a light note with the tofu salad. Phil said it was his favorite dish, so we didn't ask questions. I'm not a big fan of tofu but this stuff was incredible! The texture was like mozzerella cheese. Phil explains that we can make it like this, if we want! All we have to do is get regular tofu, cover it with a cheese cloth, and put something on top of it so it adds light pressure -- not so hard that it squishes it, but hard enough that it impacts it. Flip it over the next day and repeat for five days. By the end you have these tight little tofu squares that don't jiggle and don't resemble weird meat and don't make you want to puke. Tofu, who knew?

All in all, an amazing food evening. We also got to sit in the back garden, which was heated and pretty cozy. It's nicer in the summertime though. Go now!! And ask for Phil.

Congrats again to my best pals Adib and Kelly!

296 Grand Street
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

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