Slimy Specials: Cod Sperm at Zenkichi and Pickled Baby Squid at Hagi

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Pickled baby squid and shirako Photo: Joe DiStefano; Michael Tulipan

Thought Kenkas jumbo curry was hard to stomach? Depending on your level of squeamishness, these izakaya specials may well be harder. Zenkichi, where the menu warns non-adventurous eaters about the fish guts, kindly informs us that shirako season is winding down, so go there in the next few weeks if youre hankerin for cod milt. Its available in sashimi form as a special (call ahead), and also in tempura form on the la carte menu as well as the new omakase menu below.

Also, Joe DiStefano points out a curiosity on Hagis specials menu. Hotaru ika okizuke, or pickled baby squid, has a pleasantly fishy, salty flavor with an undertone of mellow sweetness from the pickling liquid, which is composed of soy sauce and sake, among other things.

Early Spring Omakase
8-course tasting menu: $48 per guest (for 2 or more)
($60 per guest for individual tasting)
-Items marked with * are not available a la carte-

Miso Soup

Chilled Plate of Hamachi Tartar*
Yellowtail belly & scallion tartar

Fresh Uni Tofu
Homemade creamy tofu topped by uni sea urchin from Aomori

Sashimi of the Day*

Jidori & Kinoko Salad*
Gilled free-range chicken & mushrooms from Shizuoka, Japan on bed of greens, onion-ginger dressing

Shirako & Nagaimo Tempura*
Creamy cod milt, Japanese yam, shiso leaf in cod fish cake wrapped by nori seaweed

Saikyo Miso Cod
Grilled black cod in Kyoto miso marinade

Agedashi Goma Tofu
Deep fried sesame tofu made by kudzu powder in light broth

Mini Madai Don*
Red snapper from Japan, soy-marinated and served over rice

Choice of Homemade Dessert
Choose one item per person

Rice Flour Trifle (wheat-free)

Baked Japanese rice flour cake with Okinawan brown sugar cream, cashew nuts, whipped cream
and sweet azuki beans

Frozen Black Sesame Mousse
Silky frozen chocolate sesame mousse

Pear Cream Cheesecake
Japanese-style creamy cheesecake

Kabocha Chocolate Pudding
Rich dark chocolate pudding with kabocha pumpkin and roasted walnuts

Izakaya Hagi's Pickled Curiosity Horrifies Small Children, Tourists [Fork in the Road/VV]
Related: Shirako Season [NYM]