The Omokase or "Chef's choice" menu is the way to go at Naked Fish, really, even for the sushi squeamish. T.J. can read his crowd and won't leave you astray, if you're more gringo about you're sushi, he'll tailor to your palate. Looking for adventure? Freshly killed prawn and gooey duck will end up in front of you. And here's the real kicker. The meal I had was $65 a person and it was a large, multiple-course sojourn. After three hours of taking whatever T.J. could dish out, I was full, enlightened and happy. While $65 a person may seem like a lot, consider how many crappy rolls you've downed in one evening. $130 for two people is not that far fetched and to have a guided tour of the world of sushi, sashimi and beyond like this is worth the price tag.
The sake and the all the Japanese words make it impossible for me to exactly recall every dish but here are a few of the highlights:
The sweet shrimp T.J. pulls it out of the tank, cuts off the head and sets it writhing on the plate. Not for the sushi squeamish. Later in the meal, the head is deep fried and crunched on down.
The jelly fish Served in a shot glass to be slurped this salty-sweet bowl of tentacles tastes better than you would think. It's jellyfish after all, but the concoction was a real eye-opener to the wide world of undersea eating.
The octopus Also freshly killed, and jumping on the plate. It doesn't get more fresh than that.
The tuna that I can't remember the name of. T.J. doesn't serve Toro or bluefin tuna at Naked Fish. Bluefin tuna is the most prized catch the sushi world and they are being hunted to extinction. He has found a source for a leaner and still yummy tuna that he says is caught and harvested from a sustainable population. Ask for it "can I have that tuna you have that isn't the tuna that is going to disappear off the face of the Earth any day now?"
Every thing else, from the fishy Dashi stew to the ginger gelato we closed out with, was exquisite and a true dining adventure. I felt like I'd had a master class in sushi and I'm spoiled for funky Charlie's and the like from here on out.
Amid a sea of cut rate sushi joints serving fried rolls and questionable fish, Naked Fish is throwing down the gauntlet and asking you to really learn about how sushi should be done. Belly up to the bar and get ready to find out what you've been missing.
And now a few words on the term "sustainability." It's hard to stomach sometimes food that's being flown half way around the world as "sustainable." It's an industry catch phrase that could use some work, semantically. But, while planes and boats are burning carbon to get it here, the term really applies to an ethic that Kwon is working at. The key here is that the fish and other sea creatures served at Naked Fish are caught or farmed or ranched by fishermen (or women, although I've never seen a gal on the Most Dangerous Catch) who are committed to keeping whatever swimming creature they hunt along for the long haul. Here's how Kwon explains the semantics of his goal:
"All of the seafood we serve must come from populations that are plentiful and in good health. Also, the method used to catch these fish must be done in an environmentally ethical manner (not damaging the surrounding ecosystem or other marine creatures). We attempt to source our meats must come from local ranches (or close proximity, i.g. Idaho) and the animals must be grass fed, hormone free, and free range. I'm working with board members from Wasatch Market Co-op, a local co-op, to try and figure out different ways to obtain local products.
Sourcing is only one part of sustainability. In order to be sustainable, we must also operate in a sustainable manner. We've joined the Green Restaurant Association, an organization designed to help incompetents, like myself, become more environmentally friendly. We try to purchase our power from renewable energy sources (for example, we participate in the Rocky Mountain Blue Sky Business Partner program). In addition, we have recently ordered reusable, chopsticks (due to come in next week). We use fully biodegradable to-go containers and all of our paper products are 100 percent recycled and minimum 40-80 percent post consumer content. We are looking to drastically reduce our production of waste by composting all allowable food items and are working with Momentum Recycling to have a comprehensive recycling program (for now we are simply recycling are aluminum, paper & cardboard and glass). I'm also working with Salt Lake Corp (e2 program).
We donate all corkage fees to Tag-A-Giant Foundation, an organization committed to reversing the decline of northern bluefin tuna populations. I'm also working with a partnership with the Marine Stewardship Council and Monterrey Bay Aquarium."
In an imperfect world, it's nice to see someone is trying. What do you all think about Kwon's attempt? Greenwashing through rose-colored glassess or on the right track? Chime in.