Friday, August 19

Tanto Japanese Restaurant - Santa Clara

As I teased before, I've been doing a lot this summer and will finally get a chance to show you guys. For my birthday dinner, Phil took me to Tanto Japanese Restaurant for some fusion tapas. Tanto's cuisine is much like Gochi. I love Gochi's food and was dying to see if Tanto could compete.

Tanto is a smaller and narrower restaurant than Gochi. In terms of space, I don't prefer one or the other as long as they're both clean and welcoming. Tanto's smaller space made it feel more intimate and family friendly, whereas Gochi has larger groups of friends and businessmen and the atmosphere was loud and exciting. Two different approaches.

 ($12.50) Nama Uni Shiso Maki - fresh raw sea urchin served with shiso herb. Our first dish was something I've been wanting to try for a long time, but then again I want to try everything. I've never had it raw or cooked and it does have quite a reputation of being prestigious and exotic; something you would find served in a shot glass with fancy sauces and after consumption, you can claim some kind of credibility as an adventurous eater. Well, apparently you can find fresh uni in good 'ole Santa Clara, CA and it tastes yummy! Wrap it up in a shiso leaf and nori, dip or don't dip with soy sauce and its a fantastic salty, juicy, iodiney, squishy goop of goodness. By the way, I love shiso leaves.

($12.50) Tai Carpaccio - thinly sliced red snapper with ponzu sauce. This was my second favorite dish after the uni. It tastes much like the carpaccio at Gochi. Raw fish in ponzu is always good. Ponzu in general makes everything good. Salty and sour, mmm.

($6.50) Gyutan - salt broiled beef tongue. I was very much looking forward to the beef tongue dish after having a beef tongue taco in which the beef tongue was soft and tender and well seasoned. Sadly, this beef tongue was the opposite. Chewy and tough and bland. sigh...

($6.50) Tori Kara Age - chicken karaage. "kara age" is how they spelled it on the menu, not entirely sure this is correct. Phil ate most of this dish since its one of his favorites and he seemed to like it a lot.

(forgot to get price) Fried onigiri. Onigiri is a rice ball and this one had salmon inside and was fried and crispy on the outside. It's actually really good but to eat an entire ball the size of your palm of the same flavor with just a tiny center of cooked salmon, gets boring after a while.

Here you see the salmon inside and salmon roe on top.

(forgot price) Regular onigiri. This is basically the same as above but not fried. It's seasoned rice and also has salmon in the center. I don't think this one was as good. It's too plain and if I felt that the more flavorful fried onigiri was boring after some time, I definitely thought this was boring. 

Rice on the ouside, fish on the inside.

($14.50) Tai Nitsuke - braised red snapper. I wanted to order the braised rock cod for comparison with Gochi's rock cod but they were out. I was a little underwhelmed by this dish. The fish was more chewy than flakey and the sauce was a little too sweet. It's not too bad but not the greatest.

The spread.

The boy.

Our meal started off really strong with the uni and the carpacchio. Then it slowly wound down to a disappointing kaput with the regular onigiri. I'm a bit disappointed as rumor has it that Tanto is supposed to be more authentic than Gochi. I guess I just have more of a fusion taste then. Still, Tanto is worth a try. The uni and carpacchio lead me to believe there is potential and that I ordered the wrong things for the rest of my orders and next time I will choose differently. The prices are slightly cheaper than Gochi so I still suggest you give it a try.

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