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The Gossiping Gourmet: Japanese delights at Slow Fish

April 11, 2012|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz
  • Slow Fish roll is a tempura roll filled with baby lobster, masago and bell peppers sprinkled on top.
Slow Fish roll is a tempura roll filled with baby lobster,… (KEVIN CHANG, HB…)

Slow Fish is an attractive little storefront sushi bar and restaurant tucked away in a Huntington Beach strip mall.

Its imaginative small plate menu impressed us most. The most spectacular offering seems to appear on almost every table, and it is called the Fat Avo.

From a distance it resembles a green apple, but it is actually thinly sliced avocado formed around a core of lightly seared, seasoned albacore. It's topped with a tall cracker-like leaf, a sprig of greenery and, for color, the brilliant red of an anachronistic maraschino cherry.

Remove the cherry and dig in to this luscious faux fruit. Avocado and tuna make the perfect couple and the beautifully textured, creamy avocado marries deliciously with the slightly spicy, silky, diced fish. Fat Avo is lovely to look at and delightful to devour.

Another small plate featured three, medium-sized, sautéed scallops in a very flavorful orange miso sauce. We enjoyed this California/Japanese fusion sauce, which was new to us, and it added some liveliness to the rather ordinary scallops.

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Soft shell crab season doesn't come until May so what you get now are the frozen variety and they're never quite as good. From May through July, we get them shipped fresh from the East Coast, and they arrive fresh, sweet and juicy.

In Japanese restaurants, soft shell crab is traditionally battered and fried. We blame ourselves for ordering them out of season, but Slow Fish must take responsibility for the taste of overused oil that made the batter taste greasy. The accompaniment was a pleasant little salad that had a refreshingly tart dressing.

Elle has been enjoying hamachi collar since she discovered it umpteen years ago on her first visit to Japan. However, this under-appreciated delicacy has recently been getting a lot of attention in this country, and deservedly so.

Hamachi (yellowtail tuna) is a sweet-flavored, fatty fish, and the collar is the most tender and tasty part. The fish is salted, broiled and always served on the bone, which makes for a bit of work when eating it but is certainly worth the effort.

Here, the meat right next to the bone was the juiciest, but the thickest part was oddly a bit dry, although still tasty, especially when dipped in the very lightly sweetened soy-based sauce beneath it.

Sometimes, an extensive sushi menu can be mystifying. To save you from embarrassment at the bar, Slow Fish has provided a brief description of each roll on the back of the menu.

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