In my search to replicate the exquisite dining experience that I had during my visit to Japan, I have visited many a Japanese restaurant in my time. However, none of them seemed to come up even remotely close to what I had tasted. That high quality sushi (particularly the fresh fish) and the succulent traditional dishes just seemed to be out of my reach. I had come to terms with the idea that no good sushi or Japanese dishes could be found in Puerto Rico. Luckily, I was wrong. It all changed last week when I visited Daimajin Japanese Restaurant.
The restaurant is small with a warm and welcoming ambiance. Immediately, we were approached by our server and asked where we wanted to sit. I quickly though to myself that if I wanted the true sushi experience I would sit at the sushi bar and say the magic word: omakase. It is a Japanese phrase that means “I will leave it up to you” and comes from the Japanese phrase “to entrust”. When you say omakase, you are entrusting your dining experience to the chef of that . It also gives the chef the chance to get creative and serve up his freshest and/or favorite dishes. Best part, typically when you say omakase you get to sample some off-menu treats.
After being seated by our server at the sushi bar, we met executive chef and owner Keiho Yanagawa. He greeted us with a reserved smile and informed us about the day’s specials. After he was done, I looked at him and said the magic word: Omakase. Chef Keiho looked at us with a quiet excitement and promptly got started with our dishes. Our lives would never be the same after that. While we waited for the delectable eats to follow, we decided to order ice-cold Sapporo beers with hot sake (KAMPAI!).
First up was the Fluke Sashimi with Ponzu sauce. The fish was remarkably fresh and the taste and texture were perfection. Definitely a must have when you visit Daimajin.
For our second course, we were served the Red Miso Soup. The hearty and rich flavor of the miso soup was delicious!
For our third course, we were treated with Sea Urchin (Uni) Tempura. My husband and I are both big fans of Uni, but had never tried it this way. Every bite was decadent. The creamy and warmed Uni against the tempura’s crispy crust was just magic in our mouth.
For our fourth course, chef Keiho prepared and assorted platter of Sea Urchin (Uni) nirigi, Shrimp nigiri, Seared Yellowtail nigiri, and a Tomaki Roll (eel, shrimp, and egg). They were all exquisite, but the rockstar of the dish was the luxurious Uni. The creamy melt in your mouth texture that I had desperately craved since I went to Japan was here (FINALLY!). It had the perfect balance of sweetness with a touch of ocean brine. It is a must have when visiting Daimajin.
After our fourth course, chef Keiho told us that he would give us time to decide if we wanted more food or if we just wanted dessert. I looked at my husband and said: “forget about dessert! I want more!” He nodded in approval and we continued on in our culinary adventure.
For our fifth course, we had the Spicy Tuna Tataki. The tuna was beautifully seared and perfectly sliced. I love spicy food, so I was very intrigued as to how this take on the traditional dish would taste (and I had my trusty heartburn medicine, like this Zantac OTC, in my purse, just in case I needed it). It did not disappoint! It had just the right amount of spice and was topped with delicious crunchy veggies. What more can you ask for!
We were feeling pretty full at this point, but we decided to order one final dish. Our sixth and final course was the octopus sashimi. Many sushi places tend to get this simple dish wrong by slicing it too thick which makes it tough to chew on and appreciate the flavors. This was no the case at Daimajin. The octopus was thinly sliced and just right.
At Daimajin, you can expect chef Keiho to treat you with amazing sushi and authentic Japanese cuisine. On the menu, you can find Udon Soup, Okonomiyaki, Yakisoba Noodles, Yakiudon Noodes, and Mochi, just to name a few. We enjoyed our meal so much that a few days later we were desperately craving more, so we paid them a visit again. So if you are in the Guaynabo area, make sure you stop by and let me know how it went.