SFoodie's countdown of our favorite 50 things to eat and drink, 2012 edition
|One version of Izakaya Yuzuki's chawanmushi|
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:
598 Guerrero St., San Francisco, CA