2.064 Skate Sashimi


10 (Thu) March 2011

Skate Sashimi


at Dowon

-Woncheon, Yeongtong, Suwon, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-


Dowon is a Japanese restaurant.

Located around the corner from Ajou University, it’s a popular venue for professors hosting dinner parties.

As described in a previous post (see 2.015 Tuna Sashimi), a typical sashimi meal at a mid- to upper-scale Japanese restaurant in Korea involves several courses and sides along with the fish.

Beyond the food, professors tend to get special service, like the chef bring the fish and the cutting board and the knife into the private dining room and kneeling on the floor to prepare the sashimi platter right then and there.

The meal started with an appetizer of the skate liver.  At first glance, I had severe reservations, not being in the mood to ingest slime.  “It’s just like foie gras!” enthused the chef, encouraging me to try it.  Apparently, he had never actually seen foie gras.  I managed to get a small glop onto the tip of my spoon and, dabbing a touch of sesame oil and salt, hesitantly flicked my tongue at it.  It was awesome: luxuriously creamy, with no trace of fishiness or other off-flavors one might expect from raw fish liver.  But nothing like foie gras.

With regard to the fish itself, I didn’t find the skate to be particularly remarkable.  Due to the extensive cartilage within the meat of the wing, a characteristic of rays in general, the chef had to pound/cut the individual slices with the blade of his knife to break down the cartilage and make it tender enough for consumption.  Even then, the odd juxtaposition of soft flesh and crunchy cartilage in each bite, similar to eating shrimp with the shells, was somewhat uncomfortable for my uninitiated palate. The wing meat was extremely lean and, thus, without a lot of flavor.

The fattier portion closer to the neck was free of cartilage and much more flavorful, a clean taste akin to sea bass and other large white fish.

After the skate, we were served additional types of sashimi, in ascending order of fattiness.

Assorted non-fish sashimi as appetizers [clockwise from top left]: sea cucumber, sea snail, octopus, red clam, scallop, sea squirt.

Hamachi kama (yellowtail neck): this may very well have been the most exquisite single piece of sashimi that I’ve ever tasted in my life.

Other cooked dishes were served intermittently throughout the meal.

Generally, a meal of this caliber would run somewhere in the neighborhood of 150,000 won per person.  Perhaps even more with the skate, a specialty item rarely available at most restaurants.  But as noted above, Ajou faculty tend to get special treatment, so we were only charged the minimum of 70,000 won each. Still a lot of money on a single meal, but well worth it

Negitoro maki (scallions and tuna belly roll): by personal request from me, my favorite way to end a Japanese meal.

The 2.0 rating for this post reflects the skate portion of the meal.  If considered in its entirety, however, the extended meal would certainly have earned a 3.5.  A perfect 4.0 for that piece of yellowtail neck.

(For more details re food, see WHAT)

(For more details re venues, see WHERE IN KOREA)

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