Sunday, February 12, 2006

Crudites Are Good, Crudités Are Gross

Sushi Club. ALICIA M. DE JUSTO 286 - PUERTO MADERO. 0-810-222-SUSHI

After our pheasant-ñandú-alligator feast, the venerable Nepalese medicine man Claxon Bajadi and I desperately wished for a return to dietary normalcy.

Raw fish! our stomachs cried. We need raw fish!

As I mentioned before, the sushi at the Asociación Japonesa en la Argentina (see the entry “Lighter Fare”) was pricey and not particularly abundant.

A friend had mentioned a place in Puerto Madero, so we hopped into a taxi and cruised down the Avenida Santa Fe to Puerto Madero, a stretch of brick warehouses lining the set of dikes that forms the port of Buenos Aires, situated directly behind the seat of the government, the Casa Rosada. Yes, the Pink House.

Puerto Madero was developed during the privatization-happy presidency of Carlos “El Turco” Menem and, like this toothy, unctuous politician, it is crassly commercial.

That being said, Puerto Madero is home to some of Buenos Aires’s finest restaurants, including the cavernous steakhouse Cabaña de Las Lilas.

We arrived at Sushi Club at 11:15 pm. The front dining room was packed, and the suspiciously blond hostess told us the wait would be twenty minutes. She offered us egg rolls and drinks: Claxon ordered a Chardonnay; I asked for a Campari and soda. The drinks were unusually meager, but we later discovered they were complimentary.

Scanning the menu, our eyes immediately spotted the option of “sushi libre”: all-you-can-eat for 55 pesos ($18). The menu was a fairly standard variety of nigri, sashimi and rolls, in addition to tempura and a few other cooked alternatives.

Our waiter informed us that tuna was not available, which seems to be the norm, not the exception in Buenos Aires.

We began with a variety of nigri (octopus, salmon, and shrimp), sashimi of the same, and some rolls whose name I forget, but that contained avocado and langoustine and another set with cooked (canned?) tuna.

The fish was good and fresh, and we ordered a second round of salmon sashimi, salmon skin rolls, and some more langoustine rolls.

Now, for those of you seasoned in the ways of American all-you-can-eat sushi, there are three primary rules: 1) stick to low sodium soy sauce; 2) eat as quickly as you can; and 3) leave nothing on your plate, lest you pay a hefty penalty.

The first rule of Sushi Club is that there is no low sodium soy sauce.

The second rule of Sushi Club is that you may continue to order at your leisure until the restaurant closes, at 2 am.

Unlike the stingy rations of sushi meted out at American establishments, our second order of salmon sashimi turned out to be a helping of some thirty or so slices of the most noble of pellet-fed fish.

Claxon and I put up a good fight, but had to leave a few pieces of sashimi on the wooden serving board.

At the table next to us, a rather lecherous man, who was an uncanny cross between Chris Elliot and Jabba the Hut (a rare sighting of an obese Argentine), and his dining companion left well over half of a tray uneaten and seemed unconcerned.

After our server cleared the table and we had paid the bill, Claxon and I stumbled outside and took a walk along the waterfront, admiring the Santiago Calatrava footbridge.

Price: $155 pesos ($51) for two orders of sushi libre, miso soup, and two glasses of wine.


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