I’ve written about Nodoguro extensively – I was lucky enough to hear from a friend about their very first pop-up, and for the past 1.5 years, have attended many of the pop up dinners at their space now next to Pastaworks on SE Hawthorne. Every 90 days or so they rotate out/in a new theme as the inspiration for their menu and their decor. However, last week was my first visit to their Hardcore Omakase Sushi dinners. And so this is a recap of that 21 course dinner.
At these dinners, Ryan chooses what the menu will be just like his themed nights (aka Omakase), but there is more of a focus on sushi, and it’s not your usual tuna and yellowtail, and there’s no imitation crab meat or anything with cream cheese or drenched in sauce in sight. Everything is dressed intentionally, but simply. Of the 21 courses, you get to see Ryan carefully slice the fish he has displayed on the platter at the beginning of the evening for about half the dishes.
Rest assured it is not a night of just raw seafood despite the “hardcore” in the name. Ryan includes many “snacks” before the sushi parade starts, and not all of the fresh seafood which he just picked up less than 24 hours before, ordered from Tsukiji and Fukuoka Municipal, comes in raw form.
The dinner menu if you attend will depend strongly on what was ordered, based on what is freshly caught at the market and if there are certain fish in season. In my visit, Sanma, or Mackerel Pike, an autumn silvery fish, was a feature that you won’t see long after the beginning of winter. (naturally in Japan, there’s a festival in celebrate the arrival of Sanma season). For the last course you get a chance to request a second helping of your favorite, so of course I went back for this specialty though without the rice, as excellent as it is (as covered in detail by Kyle Hildebrant here).
Nodoguro now is offering two Hardcore Omakase Sushi nights – Sundays and now Wednesdays, partially to help alleviate the response of the October Sunday nights selling out in 30 minutes. Make sure that you follow Nodoguro on Twitter and get on their email list on the Nodoguro website so you get a pre-announcement the day before of when the $120 ticket will go on sale on their website.
The ticket includes dinner but not tip or alcohol – and pretty much you should always get the flight that beverage director Paul Willenberg curates. I have never ever been disappointed, unlike some of the alcohol choices at other pop-ups. If I had not had a work call after my dinner (I was the last to leave at around 10 PM), I might have “helped” them finish their open bottles…
I wanted seconds and thirds, or maybe the whole bottle of the delicious Johan Vineyards 2014 Pinot Noir Petillant Naturel whose color was gorgeous, it was bubbly and effervescent sparkling, and very light and too easy to drink. Too easy. The Ohyama Big Mountain sake was fruity yet dry and I thought went with everything, another easy drinker.
Meanwhile, the yellower sake you will see in later photos is the Senkoma Koma Colt Sake had a much stronger maltier flavor that made it a sipper but I never tired of the depth of flavors unfolding as it warmed to room temperature that you will want to save to try tasting just a little sip with the dishes to compare what it can bring out in flavors.
Next week, I’ll be going to the themed dinner (Harajuku). But for now, without further blabbing like I always do, here is the food porn you are waiting for.
Ryan plating geoduck with toasted matsutake sautéed miso butter. It still annoys me that you say “gooey duck” even though it’s spelled geoduck. This is the most attractive I have ever seen geoduck. It was also sorta fun for me because I know matsutake also has a long, um, tubular stem to see it with the geoduck.
Tasmanian ocean trout, marinated 2 hours in soy sauce and finished with aged soy. This was my second favorite fish. Well, after Uni but I don’t count Uni as fish… it should be spread freely, like truffles on pasta or fries or well anything.
Hand roll with crab and uni. Oh man this was so good too, the crab was so buttery and then with uni, and the hand roll meant I got 4 bites out of it. How many favorites have I used so far – this would be numbered in the top 5.
Tamago. Look at those perfect layers of this Japanese omelette. F usually doesn’t eat eggs, but I told him he is going to have a hard time when we visit Japan in December. Besides now being able to eat natto, and eating things with red bean, when he tried tamago he finally understood what I meant that Japanese egg is better than European or American eggs – it’s much lighter.
What do you think of what I had – would you have eaten them all? What do you think you would have liked the most? What is your favorite Japanese restaurant, and what is your favorite thing to order?