The problem with being a foodie traveler (over time) is that it’s hard to forget peak experiences — those meals when all your senses are engaged and great chefs surprise you with their artistry — and approach each new table as a clean slate. I visit Kaiko with an open palate, but my vivid memories of a sushi feast I had courtesy of a friend on a visit to Manhattan last year cloud my expectations. Or, rather, raise the bar.
At its core, sushi seems a simple food — just some rice and a sliver of raw fish. So why isn't a sharp knife and one good hand enough to assure sushi mastery? The secrets are revealed in the fascinating documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi
, which I highly recommend if you have Netflix access. Fish, rice and the attendant condiments are far more complicated than they seem to the untrained eye. Jiro is a shokunin, literally an “artisan.” It’s a weighty term; you won’t find shokunin sushi at Publix. Or, unfortunately, at Kaiko either.
The miso soup that starts our meal is simply broth without the additions of tofu, seaweed or scallions that might make it interesting. It sets the tone for the entire evening.