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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Number 33: Chawanmushi from Izakaya Yuzuki

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 4:50 PM

One version of Izakaya Yuzuki's chawanmushi - LARA HATA
  • Lara Hata
  • One version of Izakaya Yuzuki's chawanmushi
SFoodie's countdown of our favorite 50 things to eat and drink, 2012 edition


Izakaya Yuzuki's flawless chawanmushi, or steamed custard, is a performance that begins with the lifting of the wooden lid that caps a stoneware bowl. The steam that rolls up off the custard and spills out the sides of the bowl announces that the dashi (broth) that Takashi Saito has whisked together with fresh eggs is not just a vague base for more important flavors but has a resonance of its own, a smell of smoke and salted fish.

The sea urchin placed on the top, which taste like cool clouds when you eat them on nigiri, here seem dense by comparison to the shimmering custard underneath. Saito has removed the bowl from the steamer just at the moment when the mixture of eggs and dashi have fully coalesced, and not a moment sooner (when it would be watery) or later (when it would curdle). 

As your spoon dips deeper into the bowl, you may find a mushroom suspended there, or a fat shrimp or silky leaf: His chawanmushi is not a static dish, and its ingredients change. You quickly find, as well, that the custard's solidity is an illusion. At the slightest touch -- of a spoon, or a tongue -- the custard dissolves back into curds and broth. You've been granted a moment with its perfection, and when that moment is gone, the performance ends.

Izakaya Yuzuki, 598 Guerrero (at 18th St.), 556-9898.

Other favorites in this series:

34: Fatted Calf's chorizo

35: Silvanas from House of Silvanas

36: Linden Street Brewery's black lager

37: Aged oolongs from Red Blossom Tea Company

38: Broken Record's crawfish grits

39: Cebiche mixto from La Mar 

40: Nutella-hazelnut hand pie from Black Jet Baking Co.
41: Fifth Floor's burger
42: Perbacco's agnolotti dal plin
43: Iced coffee from Sightglass
44: Cypress Grove's Purple Haze Chevre
45: Lechon from Tastebuds Cuisine
46: Duck with beets from AQ
47: Tai nigiri at ICHI Sushi
48: Fish with explosive chiles from Spices! 
49: Baker & Banker Bakery's blueberry cream cheese muffin
50: Kufta tajine from Cafe Zitouna

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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