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What I Ate: December 23, 2009 (Musashino Sushi Dokoro)

Posted 24 December, 2009 at 1:42am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Food, What I Ate)

Dinner: After Christmas service at our church, we went to Musashino Sushi Dokoro (3407 Greystone Drive, Austin, TX‎ - (512) 795-8593‎) to try their sushi. The place claims to serve sushi "Tokyo-style" which, I took to mean, how they eat sushi in Japan. As far as I know (having only had sushi in Japan once in the Roppongi district of Tokyo), the etiquette is to use your fingers to eat sushi. Nigiri is made with wasabi already placed underneath the fish (on top of the rice), so only a light dipping in soy sauce is needed. The nigiri is placed in the mouth fish side down in the mouth so the flavor the fish is the first thing that the tongue can perceive before chewing begins. When eating sashimi, soy sauce and wasabi can be combined and then the fish dipped (because sashimi is not prepared with wasabi already on it). I prepped Tina before we left home and when we perused our menu found a nice guide on how to eat sushi in the back of the menu. In addition to the items previously mentioned, they also ask patrons not to rub their chopsticks together. Our chopsticks were of fairly high quality, but there were still splinters when we snapped them apart - if they don't want us to rub them, then they should have given us higher quality sticks. :) We picked off the few splinters by hand in deference to their request then ordered a couple appetizers, a selection of different nigiri to try, and ended with a couple rolls.

Sake Kama Shioyaki (Grilled salmon cheeks) $10 - This was excellent - the cheek meat was buttery, succulent, and strongly flavored (a pleasant fishiness). Along with the cheek came an ample amount of salmon steak which was also cooked just through (but not any further). This was a great way to start the meal, and I wouldn't hesitate to order it again.
Musashino Sushi Dokoro - Sake Kama Shioyaki

Ika No Sansai Ae (Marinated squid salad with wild vegetable) $6.75 - The squid was nicely textured with a good balance of ginger, sweetness, and acidity.
Musashino Sushi Dokoro - Ika No Sansai Ae

We ordered a variety of nigiri (from top to bottom / left to right) - big eye tuna (mabachi maguro, $3.25 each), fatty big eye tuna (toro, $5.50 each), fatty salmon (sake toro, $3.75 each), sweet omelet (tamago, $2.00 each), salmon (nama sake, $2.75 each), yellowtail cheeks (hamachi kama, $4.00 each), and blue fin tuna (hon maguro, $4.50 each). The fish was extremely fresh and tender. There was not a single piece that had any chewiness - it was completely soft (without feeling limp) and smooth. The fish flavors were all extremely subtle (also a mark of freshness), but this worked against Musashino - the rice (sushimeshi) was so strongly flavored that it almost completely masked the subtle flavors of the fish. Don't get me wrong, the sushimeshi at Musashino is some of the best I've ever had - sweet and vinegary with an incredible texture that lets you feel each discrete grain of rice in your mouth, but not well matched with the mild and subtle flavors of the fish. Even the toro was impossible to taste against the overwhelming sensory input provided by the rice. Only the sake toro and the tamago worked really well with the rice. (Later, when we tried a roll, the strong rice flavor made more sense as it was balanced against a strong sauce). We also found the wasabi to be inconsistent - a couple pieces had a lot placed in it while others had so little that I couldn't even taste it. The tamago was the highlight of the nigiri with a strong sweet, fermented rice flavor permeating the omelet. At $2 each, this tamago is not something to be passed up.
Musashino Sushi Dokoro - Assorted Nigiri

I was a little disappointed that they didn't have any sea urchin roe (uni) tonight. We'll have to go back.

We ordered a couple more nigiri - yellowtail (hamachi, $3.00 each) and more sake toro (since it was the only raw fish nigiri we felt was worth eating more of).
Musashino Sushi Dokoro - Hamachi and Sake Toro Nigiri

I had also ordered ika ume jiso maki (cuttlefish, pickled plum, ooba leaf, and cucumber) but they later informed us it wasn't available. The couple next to us had recommended the Texas Hybrid Roll (Tuna or salmon rolled with rice paper, avocado, and scallions, $15), so we ordered that. The rolls were fairly mild in flavor but came with a potent mayonnaise based cilantro spicy sauce that we couldn't get enough of. This was where the strong sushimeshi flavor stood up well against the strong (but not heavy) sauce.
Musashino Sushi Dokoro - Texas Hybrid Roll

We finished up with kampyo maki (gourd strips, $5). I had meant to order the shinko maki but forgot the name of it and just requested the pickled burdock roll. Instead we received kampyo - dried and marinated/pickled strips of the calabash gourd. I liked it well enough and found the sweet and acidic kampyo to work well with the sushimeshi's sweetness and acidity.
Musashino Sushi Dokoro - Kampyo Maki

When our waitress asked us if we wanted dessert, she presented us with the typical Japanese ice creams and then mentioned their Japanese tiramisu ($8.75). Our interest was piqued, so we ordered that. I don't know what we expected, but I imagined a tiramisu-like dessert but using Japanese flavors (green tea, sake, etc.). Instead we got a really dense Italian tiramisu. The cheese layer seemed like it was simply sweetened and whipped mascarpone cheese (instead of a zabaglione or lightened with whipped cream or something else) and the ladyfingers were soaked in a mild coffee solution (and supposedly brandy, but we couldn't really taste it). Pass on this.
Musashino Sushi Dokoro - Tiramisu

Next time we go back (and we will go back at least twice - once at lunch to try their ramen and once later to try some other sushi), I'm going to order the sake kama shioyaki and tamago nigiri again. I'll also try sawagani (deep fried small crabs), uni nigiri, and a couple of popular Western rolls. My guess is that the uni and rolls like a spider roll or rock and roll will hold up real well against their strongly flavored sushimeshi. Perhaps getting sashimi will be the way to fully enjoy their fresh fish.

Lunch: Tina made steak and eggs (with avocado and grilled onion) sandwiches for lunch. Delicious - a great way to enjoy left over steak.
Steak and Egg Sandwich

3 comments to What I Ate: December 23, 2009 (Musashino Sushi Dokoro)

Scott, December 24th, 2009 at 2:16 am:

  • Re: Tokyo style sushi

    To the best of my knowledge (which is still gappy, mind you!) Tokyo style sushi should refer to nigiri sushi. Using fingers or chopsticks is a matter of personal preference, and what's necessarily done fish-side down is soy sauce dipping. (You want to flavor the fish, not the rice (it's already flavored) and furthermore, if you dip the rice-side in soy-sauce you're far more likely to wash some of the rice off of the piece.)

    I haven't actually seen people go to any effort to put pieces in their mouth fish-side-down, but I don't tend to eat at highly refined sushi-restaurants, so I'm not necessarily witnessing correct manners!

    On a personal note, I tend to find (tuna's) toro less flavorful than the red flesh, but what flavor there is, is more… tenacious? The fattiness spreads the flavor more thoroughly over my mouth, lasting well past the passing of the wasabi and vinegar. Salmon toro, and especially salmon toro aburita is a totally different story though!

Michael Chu, December 24th, 2009 at 12:05 pm:

  • I totally agree on the toro - whenever its available (and whenever the price is $10 a piece or less) I get an order because I love the subtle but ultra-rich taste it has. Unfortunately, last night's big eye toro was a little disappointing as it didn't have that affect on me - in fact it tasted bland and simply a little sweet. Since the texture of the fish was so good, I could only blame the strength of flavor in the rice…

What I Ate: January 15, 2010 (Musashino Sushi Dokoro) | Orthogonal Thought, January 16th, 2010 at 12:45 pm:

  • […] also had a piece of sea urchin roe ($5.50) (since they were sold out the last time we ate at Musashino for sushi) and got their last piece. It was full flavored, but fresh (didn't have that sickly strong […]