Thursday, September 21, 2006

Wild, wild sushi

Something my husband and I share passionately is … our love for sushi. (What were you thinking?) Before he introduced me to sushi, the only Japanese I know is that white rectangular sheet with a red dot in the center. (Alright, that may be an exaggeration but you get my point).

Unknown to many, the Japanese term sushi refers to rice—and only rice. But due to Western influence, majority of the world now refers to sushi as rice topped or filled with seafood, meat, vegetables and sometimes, fruits. Even more revolutionary are the many ways the “sushi rice” and its ingredients are put together. Some are rolled in dried sheets of seaweed (“maki”), some are prepared with hand-formed rice topped with a small sheet of your meat of choice (“nigiri”). Whatever form it comes, sushi is a testament to Japan’s mantra of innovation: put as many good things in as little space as possible.

At times, my and my husband’s passion for sushi becomes an obsession. Sometimes it is unhealthy (because of the amount of rice we eat), bothersome (because of the distance we have to drive to try different sushi joints), and expensive (no explanation necessary).

Still, my husband, bless his heart, continues to spoil me. He never tires of satisfying my insatiable craving for everything Japanese. Now, we not only frequent sushi places in the metro, but we order sushi to take home with us. Oh, if I could only prepare sushi on my own …

Last Saturday, in our quest to champion sushi throughout mankind, we went on a 50-mile drive (again) to try out Agami, a contemporary sushi bar along Broadway. Situated along a mile of traditional oriental restaurants (they call this area “Little Thailand”), Agami’s façade could have passed as a Michigan Avenue staple. Tall ceilings, bright, well-coordinated lights and shapes will shock you as soon as you put your foot in the door. So contemporary was Agami that instead of the usual Niponggo music, they play trance music in the background. Add Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, and you would be lost in translation.

The sushi did not disappoint either. We ordered “Ocean Drive,” which was a concoction of fish meats showered with citrus flavors and a hint of mint; “Agami Maki,” the house special; and “White Dragon.” Yes, you read it right, here at Agami, there are at least four types of dragon maki—and all of them come with a very, very fresh bite of seafood.

All in all, Agami is a place worth driving 50 miles to. We plan to come back, but in the meantime, let me list down some of my favorite sushi variants. (Pardon the incomplete descriptions. I just eat them, that’s all I really do.)

1. Volcano – maki filled with smoked salmon topped with thinly sliced scallops wrapped in “melted” mayonnaise and cheese. In other words, Japanese au gratin.

2. Godzilla – soft shell crab, shrimp with spicy mayonnaise and tempura; usually has asparagus.

3. Dragon –freshwater and sea eel, cucumber, and seaweed all wrapped in thin avocado slices. The rolls are arranged like dragon on your plate, hence the name dragon.

4. Dynamite – tuna and yellowtail with hot spicy sauce and masago (caviar or roe). Top it with shreds of lobster meat ("Lobster Dynamite") and your life will change forever.

5. Spider roll – yummy soft shell crab, that's all you need to know.

6. Rainbow roll (shown in the first photo above) - seaweed salad, cucumber, avocado covered in different-colored meats of tuna, salmon, crab and shrimp, then covered with masago or sesame seeds. In other words, colorful (shown in the first photo above).

7. Tiger roll - fresh crabmeat, avocado, cucumber sprinkled with teriyaki sauce in a zigzag manner

8. Nigiri sushi - rice and meat, usually seafood. For the purist at heart.

9. Alaska roll - smoked salmon, cucumber, avocado and masago

10. Philadelphia roll – salmon with cream cheese, a perfect ending to a round of spicy sushi

11. Mai Tai – Oh wait, that’s not sushi. I’m totally busted.


Julie said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Where do you live that's 50 miles from Agami on Broadway? Rockford?

here's how i do it said...

Naperville. Nice weather today, don't you think?