Pure Gold

Kaneyama is Japanese for "gold mountain," the 19th-century Cantonese name for California. Those who know their Japanese cuisine prefer climbing Kaneyama [9527 Westheimer, (713)784-5168], where you can experience this Pacific Rim aesthetic for a relative pittance in the form of Tobin-mushi, or "teapot soup" ($6.95). A little teapot with a tiny matching cup is brought to the table. Pour a few spoonfuls of broth into the cup. Smell. Sip. Then lift the lid and fish out a tiny clamshell or a slice of fish cake. Put it in the teacup. Smell. Taste. Sip again. The broth is a basic ichiban dashi in which several kinds of sea fish have been cooked and strained out, then the richer broth cooked with the ingredients served in the teapot. The result is a rich, subtly smoky liquid, truly umami, for those who understand the term. (See Toque Off)

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