Since living in Montclair, Lisa and I haven’t taken much advantage of all the great restaurants around here. We’ve hit a few and found some favorites, but there’s so much more to explore. One that really grabbed us was the Okayama Japanese Steak House. It was situated right near the A&P and next to a laundromat, so we decided to try their sushi one night.
Now let me explain something about me and fish. I never ate fish growing up. The mere thought of it frightened me. The only reason I partook in fish sticks was the heavy fried breading, and the copious amounts of ketchup I used to cover the not-quite-fish taste underneath. !@(okayama/tuna.jpg:R150 popimg: “Oh Tuna! You delectable temptress of the sea!”) As I grew older and was forced to mature my taste buds, certain of our seafaring breathren became a part of my diet. Typically anything steak-like (or not fish-like), including swordfish, mahi mahi, and the o-so-delicious tuna. Tuna, you are a wonderful treat – seared, grilled, pan fried, or just plain raw I can eat you so many ways… Sorry, got distracted there for a second.
!@(okayama/makingsushi1.jpg:L150 popimg: “First you cut up the Tuna”) Entering my late twenties I had added a number of new dishes to my palate and even given the dreaded raw seafood from Japan a try. Surprisingly I didn’t find it disgusting, but I also didn’t see the huge appeal of such an expensive treat. Then I realized that, as with any good food, it depends on where you go. The first few places I went were alright, but you need to try it at a great place to realize how good it can actually be. Enter Okayama.
!@(okayama/makingsushi2.jpg:R150 popimg: “Then you put it on the rice”) Trying the place on a whim (it was also new to the area), I was pleasantly surprised to find that the sushi was incredible. I ate a couple other places since then, and found them to be greatly lacking – especially when it came to the all important tuna. Not that they were bad, or anything, but Okayama was just that good. They had an impressive selection of rolls (including a Montclair roll), and presented each one beautifully. The prices weren’t bad either, and I would frequently toss on another tuna roll at the end of the meal just because. Suddenly sushi was becoming a weekly affair (or at least biweekly).
!@(okayama/makingsushi3.jpg:L150 popimg: “Then you roll it up”) One of the main reasons for the deliciousness of their sushi was Allan, their chef. I loved watching the man work. He sure knew how to cut a fine tuna. Unfortunately, last week when we went in, the decor had changed – and so had the name. It was now Durama. The staff was friendly enough, and the manager was very curious about how we felt they were compared to Okayama so we gave it a try. While not quite up to snuff, the first dinner was definitely good. Even better, all sushi is 50% off for the first month.
Last night was a third visit in about two weeks. Since Ivy and Paul joined us, we ordered much more than usual and got to try a variety of rolls including their dragon roll, something with lobster, and a bunch of shrimp tempura. Everything was good, although I think we all agreed that the shrimp tempura was better on its own than in a roll. Currently my favorite dish of theirs is the ISO Fantastic (which includes tuna, whitetail, salmon, roe, and avocado in white seaweed). If anyone else is interested, the 50% off is good until the end of August. I know there’s little time left, but I’m sure we can fit another trip or two in by Wendesday. 😛
Durama’s biggest failing is the lack of specials. Okayama had a much larger selection of rolls, and I’ll certainly miss that. Above all else, I’ll miss Allan and his Pepper Tuna – one of the most delicious meals you could ever imagine.
!@(okayama/allan.jpg:L195 popimg: “Allan hard at work”) !@(okayama/peppertuna.jpg:R195 popimg: “Dear Pepper Tuna, I miss you so. Please come back!”)