Sometimes I sound like a broken record – “Manresa is the best restaurant in the country” and “Sawa is the best fresh fish in the country.” Despite recent reports on Chowhound, the restaurant is alive and well.
Sawa is a controversial place, both online and off. Purists decry that the fish is cut in “American-sized” slabs that directly oppose the finesse of a traditional Japanese restaurant; however, the fish is pristine, rarely with flaw. The complaints about its expense are near universal; again, top-tier places like Kuruma Zushi (NY), Masa (NY), and Urasawa (LA) always run $250+ per person because top-tier fish pricing is exponential (and therefore, like many things in life, a lesson in diminishing returns where you must choose your point of departure.) Some say Sawa Sushi is a misnomer because there’s nary a grain of rice in many meals; again, you want pristine sashimi or rice?
This Sawa meal was meant to be a tour de force for a visiting chef that I happened to chance upon a day earlier. Craving raw fish for lunch, Sawa told me to return the next evening for “the good stuff.”
1. Kobe Filet Mignon Tartar w/ Ginger + Scallion sauce
Sawa is a specialist in obtaining the best ingredients. This kobe was unlike most I’ve eaten – it wasn’t that fatty but it was exceedingly tender. Even better, it had a nice bite that yielded the right amount of fattiness. The best parallel I can draw is comparing your average American chicken to a Bresse chicken from France. Absolutely delicious – I had another one at the end of the meal. Excellent.