You know you’re in for a treat at Tanuki when Chef Janis Martin asks, “Is it okay to go weird?” That’s the thing when ordering “omakase” style: it’s the equivalent of telling a chef to do whatever they want to your palate. You’re saying it’s up to them; you’re only taking enough agency to order your sake and eat whatever happens to land on the table.
What arrived on the table this last Saturday was marinated shark bones. Not shark fin, but shark bones.
Chef Martin explained the preparation to me—something about a kind of jam she soaks the bones in under weights until they’re soft enough to “not poke a hole in someone’s esophagus.” But between her explanation, the sake, and the fact that Meatball Machine was playing on the TV, I was having a bit of trouble concentrating. Mostly I remember Chef Martin’s assertion that cooking at Tanuki was about bringing ingredients to “a level of non-lethality.”
What I remember clearly is that the shark bones were fucking delicious: the texture was simultaneously springy and crunchy in that cartilage way, but the flavor had a delightful fruity sweetness that was balanced with salt savor and a vinegary twang. The whole package was wrapped up with a square of rice and a band of nori. Very nice.
So, have you eaten anything memorable lately?