Much of what I try to share with readers includes pro tips on what to do when they're deciding where to eat. I'm pretty good at this eating-out stuff. But sometimes, even I get it wrong. In that case, it's my duty to share my Mr. Bungle-style lessons. And last night, I made an expensive error at MF Sushi.
Though the menu says chef Chris Kinjo's omakase menu is available from Tuesday through Saturday, it turns out, this is no longer true. His off-menu delicacies can now only be enjoyed on Friday and Saturday at the sushi bar with a specific advance reservation. My dining companion and I asked to do an omakase-style tasting nonetheless and our server was happy to oblige the request. The kitchen, however, seemed less than inspired to pull out any stops. At around $100-a-head, it was a pricy disappointment.
And that $100 tally, by the way, was with only one beverage—but at least it was a doozy. Shiso belongs to the same lamiaceae family as mint and Americans often call it "Japanese mint," but the commonalities end there. MF's Shiso Mojito underlined the difference with the herb's brightly mouthwatering vegetal presence. The promise of the cocktail and our server grating fresh wasabi on sharkskin at our table was exciting.
The meal started auspiciously with an appetizer of tender sea bream (madai) soaked with luminous ponzu. Each piece was dotted with a single ball of yuzukoshō, a salty paste that combines notes of hot chile and tangy citrus. The next dish of truffle aioli salmon, also from the appetizer menu, was a tad chewy but delightfully flavored with sweet soy sauce, the aforementioned truffle aioli and perhaps the most delicious half of a cherry tomato I've ever tasted. So far, so good.
But then something strange happened. A plate of house nigiri had some stand-outs to be sure, most notably the melting mackerel flavored with truffle soy sauce and a firm jolt of lemon. But many of the tricks from the previous dishes were already being reused. We saw more truffle aioli atop more salmon, then another blob of yuzukoshō. Perhaps the MF team has learned that when Houston diners are opening their pocketbooks for a special meal, they want truffle everything.
Before the sweet finish of a pair of Hawaiian-made mochi ice creams, our tasting ended with the Avocado Ball appetizer—yet another version of the same flavors we'd had all night, albeit with truffle mousse on top instead of one of the truffle sauces.
Lesson learned. Don't be Mr. Bungle. When you're looking for variety when ordering expensive sushi, it's time to trust your gut and choose what you want to eat. A little truffle goes a long way.