Friday, May 15, 2009

Nippon Japanese Restaurant

One night I was craving some good Japanese and food and headed over to one of my favorite Japanese restaurants in Houston, Nippon. Bear in mind that I said Japanese, not sushi. Though sushi is Japanese, Japanese isn't necessarily sushi. I know too many people who mistake the two.

I love this place not only for its sushi, but also for its down-home Japanese cooking. This time around, I just got a few appetizer items to satisfy my craving.

Here are chunks of fresh chicken batter-fried. There's a bit of salt in the batter. With lemon squeezed on top, it's a deliciously simple appetizer.

This is one of my favorite dishes, ankimo, or steamed monkfish liver. Despite the monkfish being one of the uglier creatures in the sea, its liver sure is delicious when steamed and served in a mixture of ponzu and a spicy chili sauce topped with finely chopped green onions. It tastes like a milder pâté with a firmer texture. If you're a fan of pâté, definitely try this out.

This was Nippon's fresh aji, or Spanish mackerel. The small fish is filleted and its meat serve sashimi style with chopped green onions and sesame seeds on top of its bones.

One I was done with the aji meat, the bones were taken to the back where they were battered and deep fried. The frying makes the bones brittle and edible. In all honesty, I'm not exactly sure how much of this I'm supposed to it. I typically eat everything except the thickest part of the head, since its center is still very bony. But the rest of the bones are like crispy fish-flavored chips. Some might be turned off by that but I'm not sure why. There are vinegar flavored chips, which are nearly as yummy as this.

And the last thing I ate here this time was an order of amaebi, or sweet shrimp. It's two fresh shrimps, whose raw tails are served sushi-style. The heads are then battered and deep-fried. So like the aji bones, the shrimp heads become brittle, crispy shrimp-flavored chips.

Nippon rarely disappoints my cravings for Japanese cooking. Usually I come here for their more common Japanese dishes such as ramen or katsu don. But this night I just had a hunkering for little chunks of food.

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