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updated: Oct 09, 2010, 9:30 AM
By Ms. Lemonjelly
I'll keep this one short and sweet. I went to Arigato with two acquaintances. One's a former Santa Barbara resident, and whenever she comes through town she must have two things: the fresh tortillas of Super Rica, and the sushi from Arigato.
We went on a Monday evening (kudos for actually being open on a Monday when so many other restaurants are closed), and the place was busy. Still, there were three open seats at the bar, right in front of her favorite sushi chef. Serendipity? And as soon as she saw him, she knew she had to sit up there with him and request omakase. Omakase, roughly translated, means "in your hands" and puts the choice of whatever to serve (and charge) in the trust of the chef. It's not a way of deferring ordering to someone else because you need some handholding through the menu, it's a polite request for the chef to do their best, nothing held back, and it often comes with a hefty price tag as it takes up a lot of the chef's time. It's also totally in the chef's right to decline. I personally couldn't make this request at Arigato, because I rarely go there and have no established relationship of mutual trust and respect with the chefs, but I love the challenge and
if someone else I'm dining with has the ability to initiate it, I'll be a more than enthusiastic participant. Also, it wasn't 100% in the hands of the chef; my friends did have a couple requests that influenced the dishes.
Due to the nature of omakase, it is not always possible to know exactly what I've been served, as the dish isn't necessarily on the menu. Like I said, it was up to the discretion of the chef. I have checked over the menu to find its closest match.
This was a carpaccio selection of thinly sliced sashimi with extra virgin olive oil and Arigato vinaigrette. We're guessing the fish was maguro, halibut and hamachi.
One of my friend's favorites: sunny side up scallops, torched with spicy aioli, quail eggs and garlic vinaigrette.
Nirigi assortment - from front to back. Seared salmon: ikura and chives, hawaiian pink salt, shichimi pepper, salmon roe. Yuzu pepper tai: yuzu juice, yuzu pepper, cilantro.
Jalapeno yellowtail: red jalapeno, habanero sauce. Su-Miso albacore: Mustard su-miso, jalapeno and cilantro. Ginger yellowfin tuna: grated ginger, yuzu garlic oil, Hawaiian pink salt and chives.
The green drizzle on the sides of the dish is a basil oil, really yummy.
A special request from the other diner, who lives in San Francisco: uni nigiri, made with Santa Barbara uni.
The last item I couldn't find anything similar on the menu. We thought the fish looked like maguro and albacore tuna, with a scallop and flying fish roe stacked between thin crackers. It was served with balsamic reduction and basil oil.
Price? Unmentionable. But the meal and enjoyment of everyone there was worth it, that's all I can say!
1225 State St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
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