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(For some Umamimart Rashoman, please see ayagwa's perspective on this very same day.)

So the day I flew into Tokyo, I met Aya, dropped off my stuff in the Shinjuku Washington Hotel, took a shower and a nap, and we headed over to the Shinjuku station to meet up with Yoko, fellow Umamimarter (or is it, Umamimartyr?) who I've been curious to meet from seeing her amazing photographs. Turns out we were also meeting up with Jade (another new UMer) and her friend, Saskia, who were both interning at the same architecture firm, and who was wondering how we all knew each other. Umamimart is the new Friendster.

Washi, Yoko's awesome bf, took us all to DanRan Sushi, which Yoko previously blogged about here. I won't bore you by showing you the same dishes, but I'll just give you my highlights and my memories of that wonderful first meal in Tokyo.

Dan Ran Sushi

I think one of the virtues of this little place is that it's not assuming at all -- in many ways it is in my mind the archetypical sushi joint: small, humble, simple, and quietly expert in its preparation of the food, no frills, no fancy ice sculptures, or fusion. It's just about good, fresh fish.

Octopus caviar

This was the first appetizer brought out to us: octopus eggs. They were warmed (I think baked a little) served with a little seaweed. Delicious, flavorful, not overwhelming. Quite delightful.

Washi (wearing an Oakland A's World Series T-shirt) and the wonderful Yoko

Beautiful shiitakes

Monkfish Liver

OK. Here was the highlight of this entire repast: Monkfish liver. Can you call it pate? I guess you could. I wouldn't argue if you wanted to call it a mousse either. Buttery, somehow subtle and rich at the same time, incredibly light and delicious. I call it dangerous.

Being ever the American tourist, I knew not a lick of Japanese, but I found myself constantly asking the Master chef what we were eating, and the Japanese speakers at the table didn't know the exact english names for the fish. So what he would do is run over to the back of the counter and flip through his amazing book of seafood (which I asked to see later) and point out the picture of each creature who gave its life up for our pleasure.

"Stupid American landlubber doesn't know his fish"

Gotta get me this book

Pike eel balls

For this, he took out a long piece of pike eel (not unagi) and chopped it fine and made balls out of it, boiled it, and placed the balls on a shiso leaf for fragrance, and it was eaten with a dab of umeboshi sauce, which perfectly brightened the somewhat bland flesh of the eel with a bitter sour zing.

I believe this dish was called Rockin' asparagus

Squid sushi on the left, toro on the right

Toro = heaven on earth

I love this guy


  • omg you guys are all so awesome!!! i love that you are all hanging out- but there’s one crucial thing missing… ME!

    the food looks unbelievable. can’t wait to try those eel balls.

    UM the next Friendster? hell yes. we have some love connections to make. i’ve already started scheming a few…

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TMONKEY! this was one hell of a birthday meal, no? Enjoy Tokyo!

    kayoko on

  • OCTOPUS EGGS??? Umm I thought they were spontaneously created or something ew! Just kidding I love the eggs of sea creatures. I want those pike eel balls. You should eat chicken sashimi too…Have so much fun I am mad jealz!

    Sonja on

  • Yoko, why did we go to a dodgy Okinawa restaurant? Did you NOT want me to go do a nice restaurant? I WANTed to go to Danran Sushi, damn it!

    Yamahomo on

  • Also love the Rashoman reference

    Sonja on

  • Yoko- i will laugh at your jokes ALL NIGHT if you take me to Danran. um, and you also must intoxicate me. deal???

    kayoko on

  • Yamahomo, lunch after practice with three straight guys did not call for niceness. Next time you come, squeeze me in for a DINNER date – I promise to redeem myself.
    Kayoko, your friends are the best. I am intoxicating them one by one so they have to laugh at my jokes. Thanks for looking out for me, my socially unretarded sista. Seriously, they are the awesomest.
    Long live the UM crew!

    yoko on

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