My old college friend Birdman aka David Krauss seems lately to have been in the mood for the straight-up food of his youth. But Birdman was raised on the Upper East Side, so his comfort food isn't oatmeal or meatloaf or macaroni and cheese or burgers-fries-and-shakes.
No, for Birdman it's high-end sushi and the food of Daniel Boulud. And expensive alcohol.
So last Saturday we went to Bar Boulud, Daniel’s first Upper West Side venture, which opened at the very end of last year. We sat at the communal table and got the charcuterie tasting, followed by a plate of grilled Maine sardines and then the cheese tasting, sampling the wine-by-the-glass menu along the way, until the end when we splurged on a glass of fine de bourgogne for Birdman and one of calvados for me.
Birdman and I have mostly similar tastes, although he has an aversion to sweet elements in savory food, or cocktails, and he likes more subtle wine than I do, with a distinct dislike for earthy, flinty flavors which I enjoy. He doesn’t like “jammy” wines, either. When I drink Rhône, he's likely to have Beaujolais.
During dinner, he expressed an interest in having another meal this week.
“I’m in the mood for sushi,” he said.
When Birdman is interested in something, he learns everything there is to learn about it. When he decided — many years ago, of course — that he liked The Lord of the Rings, he went on to read The Hobbit, of course, but then continued with the Silmarillion (as I did, too, I admit) and then went on to find Tolkien’s unfinished works and read them, too. That’s just the way he is.
Birdman is interested in Japanese food.
He’s also a purist, so the rock-and-roll sushi with multicolored roe and diced mango and plum sauce and melted cheese holds no appeal for him.
And so the people at Sushi Yasuda know him.
We had 9:15 p.m. reservations because, well, sometimes that’s just the way it is when you call on Monday for a Wednesday reservation at Yasuda. Birdman’s shtick at Yasuda is simply to sit down and put himself in the hands of the sushi chef to feed us as he sees fit. And so we had, among other things, raw scallops and yellowtail and octopus and shrimp and lean tuna (akami) and fatty tuna (toro) and — and this was interesting — two kinds of uni (sea urchin), one from Santa Barbara and one from Maine.
What do you suppose Japan would be like if it were in the North Atlantic rather than the North Pacific?