FAIR WARNING: A lobster gets … dispatched in this video. It’s not graphic or gratuitous, and frankly I’ve seen Julia Child do effectively the same thing. But nevertheless, this is live lobster sashimi, and a giant sea bug is meeting its maker. John always is very respectful and clinical about his fabrication, and this is no exception. (Actual lobster-murder is over at 1:00. Sashimi starts at 4:00.)
In Japan, this is done with ise ebi, Japanese spiny lobster. But our suppliers could get Maine lobsters live, and, well, this is Colorado. We are not exactly close to the lobster-adjacent, here. After service this evening, my chef and I were talking, and he thought maybe he could find a way to get ise ebi next time, so we’ll see.
This afternoon was a small plate version, where we took the front half of the lobster and immediately boiled it in miso soup, while the tail was prepared. After cutting out the meat, he shocked it in ice water to firm it, and plated it with daikon, shiso, hamachi belly, and blue fin maguro.
This evening, the lobsters were accompanied by snow crab with tobiko, baigai whelk, and butter roasted freshwater scampi*, in addition to the hamachi and blue fin, and the lobster miso was served as a second course after the diners had finished the sashimi.
*Freshwater scampi: alias giant river prawn. Not a langoustine, and nothing at all to do with shrimps drowned in garlicky butter.
The video reveals my secret: we do kaitenzushi, on a conveyor belt. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little (LOT) sceptical when I first researched the restaurant and found out about it. Like, er, kaitenzushi is usually … fine. I’ve been to some that I like pretty well (why, hello there, Sushi Yama in Bellevue, or that one place with the train in Portland.) But, like, if I want nice fish, I … will not by default choose a place with a kaiten.
However. John blew me away when I came into his kitchen. His dedication to the quality of his ingredients is top-notch, he invested in an industrial blast freezer for storage, and he absolutely commands what he works with. With a couple of exceptions, I load the kaiten with the rolls, and he puts up beautiful, elegant plates of sashimi and nigiri. And occasionally keels some lobster ded.