Jeff Smith 2 p.m., Dec. 18
Whole horse mackerel, you say?
Seeking conciliatory sushi in Liberty Station, I found some true delights at Sushi Mura.
After my trip to AI Sushi, which was more disappointing than thrilling, I followed a tip from a reader (thanks, Reg!) to Sushi Mura (2816 Historic Decatur Road, 619-241-2587) in Liberty Station. It’s new, only being open since some time in December, and the building doesn’t really "pop" or anything. It looks unkempt from without and it’s on the very end of the mall in a weird spot. Still, I forged ahead in the quest for sushi consolation.
Walking in and past the sushi bar, I knew I would be in for some kind of a treat. The chilled case displayed beautiful fish, all lovingly prepared and protected in a way that bespeaks great professionalism. As the server, a young guy with great tableside manner, rattled through the specials, I started to get excited, bouncing in my seat like a little kid.
A whole horse mackerel, you say? Yes, please! These guys have to be ridiculously fresh for raw service, since they spoil easily. The sushi chef filleted the little fish, made sashimi and a few rolls from the flesh, and presented the entire dish with the mackerel carcass skewered in place and used to decorate the serving tray. The sashimi was finely scored, and dressed with a tiny bit of grated ginger, scallion, and a light soy sauce to complement the rich, oily fish. It was beautiful to look at and even better to eat. I only wish the server had told me it was $25 before I’d ordered it.
Even better, after I’d eaten the sashimi, the fish bones went back to the kitchen for a long, hot soak in the fryer. The skeleton returned, all brown and crispy, and I got to crunch the entire thing, head and all!
I could have stopped there, but I had to try an order of sea bream nigiri and some tekka maki. Both were indulgent. The sea bream ($8) was perfectly dressed with just a light coating of soy sauce so as not to obscure the delicate fish. The rice was beautiful; very sticky and sweet but still retaining its essential texture. Even in the tekka maki ($4), the individual grains of rice were still perceptible. Each bite was beautiful and truly a cut (or three) above the average, bargain sushi joints.