Top Ten Sushi Meals of 2011

My top ten meals in sushi bars in 2011 – seems like a suitable way to remind myself how fortunate I’ve been. Not quite the list I would have guessed at the beginning of 2011 either.

The one here that took place in January, the dinner at Honmono Sushi in Thonglor, was a very strange twist of fate. And the whole year of great sushi dinners seemed to flow marvelously from there.

Here’s are the best of the best!

10. Katana Sushi – We stopped in here one night in February. We got there early, right after they opened for the evening, so we sat at a table without waiting and proceeded to enjoy an epic feast. We tried to set a record with a few dozen plates consumed, and ordered a lot of special stuff from the kitchen like spider rolls and tamago sandwiches, and they all came out quickly and perfectly made. This is a perennial favorite of ours, because although the seafood selection is somewhat limited, it is as fresh as possible and priced well too.

9. Oh! Sushi – We came here and got to eat a great meal and spend some time with the owner. The food was excellent, but getting to sit down and enjoy a fascinating conversation with Felipe and Veronica was priceless. They’re hardcore sushi lovers, but also smart and interesting people. We ate a lot of sushi, drank sake and talked turkey for hours!

8. Occupy Sushi Joe – This was one of our Sushi Socials named like a social activity, but really just an excuse to go back to Sushi Joe. Not that we need much of an excuse, that place is always good. It’s a small, friendly place where everybody knows our name.

7. Omakase at Gaysha – We got a chance to visit Chef Takeshi-san shortly after he opened his store. The sushi counter was free, so we spent the evening talking and enjoying his sushi creations. This former medalist at the Sushi Masters competition is creative and insists on using only the best ingredients, which is always a winning combination. Can’t wait to return for more, as soon as possible.

6. Splitsville Sushi Showdown – This competition was just off the hook. Five sushi chefs battled in a competition where they were judged on creativity, taste and also a timed speed event. Yours truly enjoyed a night of great tasting and sampling, being one of the judges, and it was one of the most fun sushi experiences in memory!

5. Feast at Honmono Sushi – Dining with friends, we ate so many terrific signature dishes that it’s hard to single out a few. But the portions are too large here, so it would not be possible to enjoy such a full meal like this if not for the group setting. This place is well known for having huge chunks of toro available, and serve it up like it’s going out of style.

4. Omakase with Chef Yozo – The venerable South Florida legend, Chef Yozo, prepared us a magnificent feast. Some of the highlights were a deep, rich seafood broth with hotate, a lightly battered anago tempura with savory sauce, and a terrific orange madai dish. Anyone with a chance to dine with this master should consider themselves fortunate!

3. Omakase at NAOE – Remembering a meal we ate there in November. This was one incredible meal, from a master sushi chef, Kevin Cory, before he closed up his tiny Sunny Isles restaurant. Plenty of unusual fare here, everything was absolutely as fresh as could be, and Chef Cory’s presentation and preparation skills are top shelf.

2. Moriwase at Maido – This has to rank as one of my favorite meals of all time for all the reasons you might expect. We got an amazing meal for a great price with a wonderful crowd of fellow sushi lovers. Oh man, it could hardly be better than this. Started out with great Japanese style dishes like takoyaki and agedashi tofu and ended up with fresh uni. Just perfect!

1. Kaiseki Dinner at Daimatsu – Ever so slightly over a year ago technically, this was so worth the temporal cheat. One of our finest Japanese meals ever, from South Florida’s most accomplished master. Third-generation itamae Kobayashi-san created a masterpiece of a kaizeki dinner for us that was out of this world. Just check out the appetizer platter above — takoyaki, shumai, avocado nuta and pregnant grilled smelt.

Update: Kobayashi-san is now running a sushi bar in Tokyo, where his father and grandfather before him spent their careers. We’ll miss you!

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