Tamotsu Suzuki | Crystal Fish
Teriyaki is just a sauce – a marinade of four or sometimes five ingredients, and so fundamental the word is easy to overlook on a menu of nigiri, maki and sashimi. In fact, “teriyaki” doesn’t even appear in the heading of Chef Tamotsu Suzuki’s sesame chicken at Crystal Fish.
Yet a dip in the sauce takes pieces of tender fried chicken into an almost empyrean realm – an earthiness confining both bitter and naturally sweet notes with pricks of ginger over which drifts a smoky haze. A faint streak of citrus peeks through.
It’s a deft show of soy and mirin. The sesame is almost too timid, but here and there a nutty calm eases through.
But this is a chicken dish, and despite the teriyaki-induced reverie, the crackle of that golden halo brings you back to the mild, juicy pieces of breast meat.
Crystal Fish also lists teriyaki dishes – teriyaki refers to a method of cooking – on the menu. And these may also draw attention away from the sushi menu (even though Crystal Fish often receives best sushi nods).
But their sesame chicken is a great use of the extra sauce.
CRYSTAL FISH, 514 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey. 649-3474, crystalfishmonterey.com