"Want to eat me?"
It turns out I wasn't being sexually harassed, but rather I was being invited to The Fish Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Midtown to try a a new special on the menu named after a good friend of mine. I've often wondered how one becomes the namesake for a dish at a restaurant. It helps if you're a local celebrity like our very own Katharine Shilcutt -- but for the Average Joe, apparently you need to order an off-the-menu item, patronize the restaurant often, be gregarious and charming, ask nicely, and just maybe someone will name the dish after you
If you were going to try this anywhere, The Fish is probably your best bet. This has been my go-to sushi restaurant in Midtown since it opened around 2002 -- then known as BlowFish. There are others that have opened in the area -- all with the same trendy and sleek vibe sushi restaurants are known to have these days -- but in my opinion none are as consistently good, and the managers and servers at The Fish are perhaps the friendliest you'll encounter in this bustling area of Midtown.
So what is this dish?
"The Lino" special ($10) is described as a whole soft-shell crab battered in Japanese bread crumbs, then deep-fried and served with a Japanese barbecue sauce. This is known as katsu style, most commonly done with pork and chicken in Japanese cuisine. The sauce is a traditional accompaniment to the dish -- often it is described as a thicker Worcestershire sauce as it has the same sweet and sour qualities with vinegar notes.
The dish is served very simply -- just a good-size soft-shell crab cooked to an ideal golden brown color -- a perfect appetizer for two. I was a little worried about the batter being too thick for the crab, but it was done well. The coating is light and crispy, and you can really taste the crab as opposed to just the breading. The tangy sweetness of the sauce goes well with the natural sweetness of the crab itself, but I asked for a side of spicy ponzu sauce, as I preferred a little more acidity to fried dishes.
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Even without the novelty of ordering it by name, this is something I'd get again. The Fish changes its specials every couple of months, and "The Lino" will soon be off the actual menus again. But for now, it's still being offered, and all you have to do is ask for it by name, a secret password to a really good dish.
So if a were restaurant were to name something after you -- an appetizer, an entree, dessert or drink -- what would it be?