Back then we used to take a break from Fortran coding, cross the street from the old Physics building to McDonald’s to refuel at midnight. Now having moved up the ladder, we have little unpretentious Chinese and Japanese down the block, though certainly they don’t open 24/7. A vegetable tempura is much lighter and less savory than a chicken nugget, but many of them would do. The batter is a mere coat for earthy cuts of sweet potato, squash, onion rings, and broccoli. The flavor does not go beyond steam pockets eagerly exploding and crumbled flakes scattering like confetti. Like sushi, Japanese tempura standing alone sans sauce is food for the eye, not quite the taste buds.
The same thing holds for beef teriyaki. Dark red grilled complexion topped with sesame seeds beautifully masks a rather dry and sinewy texture. The clear, thin dipping sauce needs some more ingredients to balance its salty lonesomeness. If you order teriyaki at Anzu, don’t expect the commercialized, Americanized, sauce-logged beef and chicken teriyaki in a Subway sandwich, it’s simply not the same.
The katsudon saved the day. Short for tonkatsu donburi (deep fried pork cutlet rice bowl), the concoction has the sweetness of egg-coated onions, the tenderness of breaded lean pork, the moist of gooey white rice. Each spoon was filling and satisfactory. Maybe I’ll eat this again before my next exam.
The trophy of Simplest Delicacy that day must belong to a tie among the miso soup (I suppose this is shiromiso (white miso)?), the edamame (boiled green soybeans in the pod), and the red beans which I have searched everywhere to no avail (but to find this colorful assessment on pickles in Secrets of the City). A miso soup this simple is more or less a salty version of herbal tea, you warm your hands with it, you gulp it down, no spoon, no vegetable, no meat, no chewing, just tiny white dusts of fermented legume forming vortices and clouds in a translucent dashi (vegetable and seafood stock). Then you squeezed a firm, crunchy soybean out of the pod, preferably with teeth and tongue, to taste a hint of salt on the fuzzy case. The red beans with their complimentary sweetness and a very, very quiet pickling sensation were just pure joy. We found these at Berkel Berkel too, any idea what they’re called?
Update: Anzu revisited
Anzu (in Berkeley, not to be confused with Anzu in San Francisco)
Dinner for 2: $24.58
2433 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704