(A squalid detail to put behind us: “vichyssoise” is misspelled in the review as “vichysoisse.” Slipshod, to be sure, but my esteem for Pete Wells’s writing remains intact. Even Homer nodded.)
Pete Wells said once that when he became restaurant critic for The New York Times he resolved not to write about food in a hackneyed way. Wells doesn’t seek umpteen ways to say a dish tastes good or lousy. That would be all about him and his feelings. He skirts foodie raptures as resolutely as poets shun sunsets.
— … Two mini-slabs of monkfish-liver terrine… are impossibly soft for something that has edges and corners.
— … Karasumi, mullet roe that is salted, pressed and aged into something that tastes like fish-egg ham.
What telegraphs the passion is disdain for low-hanging ecstasies in favor of down-and-dirty detail. Close naming of ingredients, process, presentation and ambience serves to instantiate food in a gustatory headspace shared with the reader, who stands to attention as if summoned by bugle before mysteries such as monkfish liver and cod semen.
— In late fall and into the winter, there may be shirako, sacs of cod milt in loose white coils over ponzu sauce.
— The rice will be just sticky enough to hold together for a few seconds on its way to your mouth. It will be just tart enough that you can sense the presence of vinegar without quite tasting it.
(Pete Wells, “Restaurant Review: Four Stars for Yoshino, Where the Omakase Stands Alone,” New York Times, 11-15-22)
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