Michelin Guide Website: Eat This: The Vegan Kappo Tasting Menu at Kobo
From Michelin Guide Website by Lani Furbank.
“Like the pearl in an oyster, Sushiko in Chevy Chase has a gleaming prize inside. It’s an 8-seat counter that offers kappo tasting menus—including an all-vegan selection—that go a step beyond omakase into sushi sorcery. Kōbō, the Japanese word for atelier, is truly an artist’s workshop, where guests can watch co-executive chefs and brothers Piter and Handry Tjan whip up 12 to 15 intricate and fascinating courses.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this restaurant within a restaurant, is that the chefs are pioneering the concept of vegan kappo, defying guests’ visual expectations and serving baffling creations that could be found in a chemistry lab.
Kōbō’s vegan kappo menu changes each season, but every dish is rooted in Japanese tradition and elevated with innovative techniques.
On the debut menu, a tin reading “caviar imitation” housed tiny black beads of seaweed, which had the same briny, savory qualities of the real McCoy. The illusion was achieved by cooking nori with agar-agar and then dropping individual globules into oil to seal them. It’s an intricate process, but Piter promises the mock caviar will be making appearances on future menus.
A staple course has been the delicate spheres of liquid inspired by Ferran Adrià’s experiments at El Bulli. Made using a mineral solution that creates a skin around the liquid, the wobbling spheres burst in your mouth, releasing the flavor within. The autumn menu’s sphere features kabocha squash topped with pickled cucumber, pickled red radish, pistachio, and pink peppercorn.
Nigiri is always on the menu as well, but instead of raw fish, the rice is topped with pickled or blanched vegetables. Some—like mashed kabocha squash and pickled myoga ginger—are meant to look like their seafood counterparts. The mound of amber squash mimics the prized sea urchin, while the painted red myoga could pass as raw tuna or red surf clam.”
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Featured photo by Rey Lopez.