Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve at Zen Toro

Agedashi tofu

Merry Christmas!  Last night, my parents and I had dinner with two family friends at Zen Toro, which I think is the best Japanese restaurant in Davis (especially when you take ambiance into account).  We started off with green tea and, for appetizers, edamame, agedashi tofu, and calamari.  The edamame was perfectly normal (do you really expect anything else from boiled soybeans?), but the tofu and calamari were really well-prepared - greaselessly crisp exteriors giving way to interiors that were tender and tender/chewy, respectively.


My parents and our friends all decided to go with the seafood shabu shabu, for which each two-person set consisted of a platter of vegetables, udon and vermicelli noodles, and a second platter of fish, shrimp, mussels, scallops and clams.  Each person also got a little dish of sunomono (cucumber salad) and a bowl of rice.  The servers brought gas ranges with a pot of water, in which you cook the ingredients to your liking, eat them dipped in sesame or ponzu sauce, and then finally enjoy what is now a savory broth.

Seafood shabu shabu

I decided to be an individualist and go with the "Momiji" plate, which consisted of 12 different types of sushi, sunomono, and miso soup.  The nigiri were salmon, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, yellowtail, egg, clam, octopus, and one more which I couldn't identify.  There were also little tuna and cucumber rolls, and a salmon roe sushi.  I'm far from being a sushi expert, but I do know that this fish was impeccably fresh; the shabu-shabu eaters said the same thing about their seafood.  Anyway, what matters more is that I definitely enjoyed this sushi (minus the octopus, which I've never been a fan of; I gave it to my dad).

"Momiji" plate

For dessert, my dad had a confection of thick red bean soup with little toasted rice cakes; the rest of us had ice cream (mango, green tea, and ginger).  Zen Toro serves ice cream with great creaminess and texture - it's almost like you have to pull off each spoonful, if that makes sense.  The ginger flavor, with lots of pieces of candied ginger, is especially good.

Our server took very good care of us, although service slowed down toward the end of the meal.  Fortunately, we were all happy and full enough and chatted for a while, so we didn't really mind.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday!  I am going to be in China for a few weeks and most likely won't be posting during that time, but I will share plenty of pictures and descriptions of all the awesome food when I return.  See you in 2011!