Roman Flavors – Sushi at Hamasei


  Why on earth would you want to have to sushi in Rome? With all the traditional alternatives, trattorie, restaurants, enoteche, osterie, pizzerie, regional take-away joints, delis for fresh sandwiches, etc., is your urge for a sushi fix that uncontainable that you just gotta’ have some hunks of raw fish with vinegared rice, a little ugly mound of green wasabi and another little ugly pinkish mound of sliced ginger root? Well, yes.  

   That, plus the opportunity to try some Adriatic and Mediterranean fish, some of the most flavorful and expensive in the world, in a clean, direct and reliable way. You can’t get fresh Mediterranean tuna, which can cost up to three times more than its Pacific cousin, in most places in the US. At most you find these blue-brown, agonizing, chewy slices which, in case you do buy, have to be cooked until they’re dry enough to be put in a can with a bumble bee on the outside wrapper. And let’s get this straight: tuna is not chicken of the sea. Neither is it the duck of the oceans, the beef of the water or the pork of any land’s end. It’s a lush, deep, layered meat that should be at most singed on the outside before being served. Chef’s sometimes try to kick it up it with sauces, Balsamic vinegar, sesame seeds, mustard but really there just isn’t anything you can do to enhance its subtle, natural perfection. Leave it alone. Put it on some steamed rice and dip it a little soy sauce if you have to. That’s it.

   Of course, there is something we could all do: stop eating tuna for few years and let their stocks recover before it’s too late, before we eat them into extinction. At Hamasei you could order whatever else is on the menu, tempura of course, reiman noodles, their soups, barbecues, bento box combos; they’re all good, and good pretty much all the time, a rarity in Rome’s shopping district. It can get a bit expensive if you order willy-nilly a la carte, but if you keep it modest 25 euros will fill each person up completely; 20, if you want the be healthy about it and leave with a little room; and 10 if you’re a model.

   When you’re through, you could plop down to the Fondazione Roma museum on via del Corso, on the right hand side as you walk toward Piazza Venezia. Not too long ago they had a surprisingly rich Hiroshige, a noted Japanese wood-block print painter, exhibit. Maybe they’ll redo it. If you go as couple though, ah, one of you most likely should try not to stare too often at the surprisingly attractive staff dressed, at least the last time, in thin, dark kimonos for the exhibit. Just think of something else, I dunno’, like a tuna casserole or something…  

     Update: times change so very rapidly now-a-day, time isn’t what it used to be, with time no longer being the money it was just a short time ago. Money is now time-less, and so unweighted by time, so much of it has gotten and is getting into the hands of so few that, well, times have changed, in no time at all. It’s already time to add at least 25, 15 and 10 to the above price figures written a rather short time ago. That is, Hamasei is getting rather rich for the short time you spend inside having a meal, realistically 35-60 euros per person if you’re at all hungry, at least, though still of outstanding quality. Maybe it’s time to try some home teriyaki…     Hamasei –

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