Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Love Mitsuwa!

Mitsuwa is a Japanese grocery chain in the US that I've been patronizing over the last few years. Besides groceries, the Mitsuwa in the Chicago suburb, Arlington Heights, has a food court comprising of numerous Japanese, Chinese and Korean vendors selling cheap and fresh hot food. They have recently added a tea house-style vendor who also sells ice cream. My last excursion there was particualrly eventful because they had a tuna carving performance that afternoon, which I knew of in advance. Mitsuwa flew in a fresh, never-frozen, 500-lb tuna from the coast of Spain to be carved in front of their patrons. Being a sushi-phile, I planned for weeks in advance to journey 30 miles (and back) in order to procure fresh tuna. Specifically, I wanted o-toro, the desired super fatty stomach of the tuna!

Despite the promise of horrid weather, I was able to convince a dear friend to come along with me. And boy, was I glad that we went! The tuna was absolutely beautiful, with its dark-colored flesh and yummy-looking marbling. The fish may not look impressive in these pictures, but keep in mind that it was already gutted and beheaded. Remember that this is all pure meat!
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Even though I already had lunch (unagi from the food court), the sight of fresh o-toro made me hungry all over again.
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I was able to purchase about $15 worth of pure o-toro, which is considerably cheaper than what I would'be probably paid at a sushi restaurant. The "chef" was kind enough to slice them into sashimi for me and I had it with a sprinkling of soy sauce for dinenr at home. I was simply amazed at the richness and the purity of the flavor. I had never seen such extensive marbling of o-toro and this was definitely the richest o-toro I've had by far. At $15, this kind of deal is definitely not to be missed if it ever came to town again :)

My friend got a piece of the "chuck" tuna, which was also delicious. We coated it with roasted white sesame seeds and seared it on a pan. It was served with lettuce, tomato, some mayo on toasted shokupan. The sandwich was simply heaven on a plate!

As if all this fishy decandence wasn't enough, I also had dessert from the new stand in the Mitsuwa food court, Re Leaf. I had their special, which was the Matcha parfait, a layered concoction served in a clear, tall plastic cuo. It starts with matcha jelly at the bottom, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, red bean paste, some pie crust-like cookie chunks, mochi balls, more red bean, matcha soft-serve ice cream and a thin slice of buttery cookie.
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The pastries that they added were total misses. The parfait would've been way better without the pie crust-like cookies and the slice of cookie that they topped it with. Other than that, I absolutely loved it! The presentation was very pretty and the combination of jelly, mochi, red bean and matcha soft serve made me think of similar dessert creations that I had while travelling in Japan. The flavors were very strong and authentic. In combination, they marry very well together. If you're in the Arlingto Heights area, don't miss Mitsuwa. That place is an absolute treat and I always leave happy!
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glamah16 said...

I have heard of this from our Brazillian friends of Japenese origin. I need to check it out. They loved it.

food makes me happy said...

I love Mitsuwa too,
Their grocery is always nice and fresh,
And I get to buy whole bunch of chocolate cookies there!

Tektite said...

Mitsuwa is the best! I often go to the one right outside NYC

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