Sunday, May 26, 2013

Benkay Japanese Sushi Bar

I cannot begin to tell you how well we ate in Maine. Our vacation culinary adventures began in Portland, Maine. This coastal city is foodie bliss. We've written about our weekly sushi cravings and being right by the sea coast, we couldn't resist taking advantage of some of the best and freshest seafood in town. What I really wanted to try was Miyake, mainly because Alex Guarnashelli declared their mushroom miso soup The Best Thing I Ever Ate  and I remember seeing Andrew Zimmern making a Bizzare Foods stop, but being on a limited budget and because J hates mushrooms (one of these days he'll be a convert), we decided to go on a Yelp sushi search. 

Our findings led us to the best sushi meal we've ever had at Benkay Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar. We consider this our #1 all-time sushi spot now. Too bad it's now 4hrs away from Albany. We might very well consider a weekend trip just to eat this sushi again.

We knew we were in for a treat when they gave us hot wet towels when we sat down. Being the sushi lushes that we are, we started our meal with three appetizers.  J is a salmon fanatic so we order salmon three ways: sushi bites of arctic, sockeye, and atlantic salmon and fresh bluepoint oysters with ponzu sauce. Each salmon had a different and unique taste, but our favorite was hands down the Atlantic, so buttery and fatty. The oysters were to die for; so fresh, briny, and oceany. I can't remember the last time I had raw oysters this good. 

Because we're on vacation and in Maine, we splurged on lobster sashimi. We started our vacation on an adventurous note with no regrets. Good God this was the best decision we ever made. The texture of raw lobster paired with the slight touch of Japanese sea salt and grapeseed oil was heaven in your mouth. The lobster was so sweet and melts in your mouth. Just the slightest dip of soy and it's the perfect little bite. 

It was hard to get over how amazing the lobster sashimi was until we had more sushi. We tend to keep it simple when it comes to rolls (especially after not so great experiences at Sushi X) but decided to deviate a bit since we've never been at Benkay Sushi and I like to try things that I normally can't get a home. Our standard Spicy Tuna Roll was as simple as we got and man was that a delicious bite. While most sushi spots tend to mix their spicy tuna rolls, I appreciated that they left the tuna whole. I've never tried toro before and am now quite addicted after having it in the Triple Tuna Roll (toro, white tuna, and nigiri tuna). 

Another new sushi roll for us was the Gokudo Roll (mackarel, scallion, and ginger) which we haven't seen around here in Albany except in sashimi form. J loves ginger so this roll was perfect for him. My penchant to try unique things led to the New York Roll (Grilled Salmon Skin, Cucumber, Scallion, Bonito Flakes, Radish Sprouts) which was an ok bite. It's one of the better salmon skill rolls I've had; sometimes the salmon skin isn't crispy enough and that can be a real turn off. 

Most people have sweet things for dessert, we opted for more sushi and ordered fresh scallop sashimi. It's one of my favorite things to order at sushi joints and this scallop was huge!  So sweet and fresh; it was the perfect light bite at the end of our sushi extravaganza. If you're ever in Portland, do yourself a favor and stop at Benkay for a great sushi experience! 

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