Around 2-3 years ago, as my love and I was watching Andrew Zimmerman's "Bizzare Foods" on TV, we came across this name, Food Factory Miyake.
Miyake is a small little Japanese restaurant located in downtown Portland, Maine. It is about 2 hours away from where we are located and we have been waiting to try this for a while. What's better than celebrating our anniversary there?
Last year we attempted to go there. But my silly other hand didn't look carefully on their website that they are closed on Sundays, so we gave up as we almost head towards the door that Sunday.
So we finally made a reservation there, this year!
The restaurant itself is tucked away in a corner and it's quite small, as you would imagine how small some sushi bars are in Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. There is a sushi bar with 5 seats, and 8 other tables, and the entire restaurant may only be able to fit a handful of 40 people maybe?
We made a reservation at 6:30pm on a Saturday, and it's already jammed pack. Reservation is definitely needed!
We specifically asked for to be seated at the bar so we can see how our food was being prepared. And, we love to interact with the chef, Chef Masa!
And here's a photo of the menu:
There is not really a whole lot to figure out on the menu, but after 2 minutes we decided to go with the Omakase II (5 courses) and Omakase III (7 courses) to try a range of what Chef Masa (the owner) has to offer. Omakase (お任せ) literally means "it's up to you," a.k.a Chef's choice.
We started with this small appetizer on the house, it's tuna tartar served with chopped green onions and fresh Maine seaweed (talk about ingredients being local!!):
Just as we were trying the appetizers, I spotted this on top of the sushi counter:
That's quite creative to use the shells as a serving cup/container.
In about a few minutes, we got the same thing delivered to us for our Omakase set:
Monk Fish liver, taste like fois gras, but not as greasy:
Conch, slightly cooked, and very sweet and not chewy at all:
Maine squid, sashimi style served with chopped spring onions. Dip a little soy sauce with some wasabi on it. It's local and I am surprised how tender and non-chewy the texture is:
Moving on to the next platter, again, a very creative use of shells/tails as a garnish:
Sweet Maine lobsters, slightly cooked (it's perfect) and mix in with their special dressing, and it's so nice, tender, and sweet:
Chu-toro and swordfish sashimi. Very high quality and there is no unpleasant fishy smell. We can really taste the full fish favours:
Salmon toro, slightly torched on the underside. This is another great piece of sashimi too:
I had a little fun recreating a lobster while waiting for the next course to be served:
This is like chapachio (forgot the fish name) with arugala and sea grapes - the tiny green bubbly things that look like caviar, it's my first time trying it and it tastes like sea water (duh, they are from the sea, right?) and the texture is a bit crunchy, like the crab roe you will normally get in sushi. The little orange garnish on top of the fish is actually quite spicy:
Grilled Perch with a bed of Maine seaweed (2 kinds), I am liking the local seaweed here:
Grilled swordfish toro (belly). Normally we would expect swordfish to be rather dry, and this piece of swordfish belly is just heavenly!! It's tender, moist, and melts in the mouth!! I like it a lot! And it comes with scallion and fiddlehead garnish:
This spring fiddleheads are the main reason why we came to Miyake. In the show "Bizzare Foods" we saw these fiddleheads that are only available for a short period of time during spring of each year. Fiddleheads are actually baby ferns that sprung out during early Spring and it is only at that time ferns are editable to humans... when ferns mature, they are poisonous to humans, as it was said:
Duck 2-ways. The sliced one is a bit too "raw" and gamey for my taste and the shredded one is mixed in with some sweet plum sauce. Perhaps I am more used to Chinese style duck dishes so I am not particularly thrilled about this dish:
The finale, nigiri sushi! I forgot some of the names for the fish that we don't normally see in sushi places. I know the salmon looking fish is actually Rainbow trout, and there is also a trout from Ireland... and an exotic fish from Brazil... there is also the tuna chu-toro (yum, it just melts in your mouth!) and the ikura is amazingly fresh (trust me, I have eaten not so fresh ikura that tastes like wine)... and it's not fishy at all, now we are talking about high quality sushi here!
So that concludes our omakase courses. But we still have room for dessert, and for that night they have 3 kinds of desserts, green tea tiramisu, yuzu creme brulee, and chocolate opera cake. We opt in for the first two desserts!
Green tea tiramisu. This is certainly inspirational. Who knew that tiramisu will taste so good with green tea powder! And the tiramisu is not soggy at all! It's built on fluffy angel cake (I think):
Yuzu creme brulee. This has far exceeded my expectations. Who knew that yuzu will work soooo well with egg custard? My taste buds are having a heavily feast!
See how the caramel layer cracked open:
Both desserts were fantastic, but if I were to pick a winner out of the two, it would have to be yuzu creme brulee!
I tried to take some pictures of other works of art that the chef did, but they are really fast in serving the food. By the way, it's the Korean sushi chef that you see here in the picture:
It took us a while to convince all the chefs to take a picture with us (they are busy with the orders!) and here you see in the front (who is gazing away from the picture) is Chef Masa, the owner: