We hadn’t gone out for sushi in quite a while, so when she suggested having dinner at East before the play we were seeing on Wednesday night, I agreed enthusiastically. We’ve been meeting there for pre-theatre dinner for years–since before she moved to New York, and long before we shared the Country House. It’s one of our favorites: comfortable and convenient, and the food is always skillfully prepared and elegantly presented.
We chose an array of items to share: a fresh, crisp green salad with a warm-and-tart ginger dressing; vegetable tempura with an incredibly light batter, which prompted a physics discussion about how the texture of carrot tempura is so interestingly different from any other method of cooking a carrot; potato wedges with an even lighter coating of the batter that had been infused with garlic and served with a roe aioli dipping sauce; and, of course, some sushi. We both chose rolls: tuna belly and scallion; eel and avocado; and smoked salmon, cucumber, and cream cheese (or “Philadelphia” roll).
The eel was rich, well-cooked, and basted with a sweet barbecue sauce. There’s nothing slimy or raw-fishy about it. But it’s called eel, so for many it’s off-putting. Eel needs a new marketing campaign.
Tuna belly is almost flaky, a little less sweet and not as firm as the “steak” variety but not as oily or salty as the stuff you might slather with mayonnaise and spread on white bread. The creaminess of the avocado made for a very delicate pairing.
I’m a big fan of smoked salmon and cream cheese, but I prefer them on bagels. With cucumber, rice, and nori, it seemed an odd combination to me, but she enjoyed it a great deal.
At the theatre, we each found elements we liked and didn’t, aspects we agreed about and points of collegial dispute. As with our trip to The Country House, The Last Ship is in very early previews, so it’s hard to say how much will change before they open, and unfair to judge it too harshly. The production was beautifully designed and skillfully presented. We enjoy sorting out what works for us and what doesn’t even if we don’t think a show is perfect. Whether it’s a matter of texture, substance, or taste, not everyone likes the same things–sort of like dinner at a Japanese restaurant.