The Best Dish of 2009

On the coldest day to date this winter, the boyfriend and I bustled around downtown Shanghai in order to prepare for our holiday travel. Hair was snipped, last-minute items were purchased and bills were paid as we got our proverbial “ducks in a row” for the next 3 weeks in South East Asia. A quick itinerary of our trip to follow. But first, a note about food.

 As it’s becoming a bit of a trend that my posts gravitate around wonderful food consumption, I thought it worthy to quickly mention the dinner I had on the aforementioned evening. After a long afternoon spent shopping ‘round the chilly city, Ray and I decided to meet at Ninsei: a local Japanese restaurant on Nanchang Road. Hunkered down in our winter coats, with rosy cheeks and numb toes, we were delighted to find the ambiance of Ninsei dark and cozy and the sake piping hot. 🙂 Our entire meal (from the seaweed wrapped fois gras to the green tea frappe with sugar cubes dessert) is worthy of a blog post unto itself. But I’ll keep it simple and just highlight the rasion d’être for this post:  my order of Oh Toro Steak. Ever hear of it? Because we had not.

Oh it’s fish! Wait, is this steak? Hmm, it looks kind of like white meat…could it be pork? Oh wait, see how it’s striated? Maybe it is beef!

Such was our conversation when the Oh Toro Steak arrived. (The obvious solution is: ask the waiter, dummy! But the staff was the “real deal” insofar as they only spoke Japanese and a bit of broken Chinese). The second solution to this problem was to bite into this unidentified, but lovely smelling mystery meat. So I did…and then I died and went to heaven. When I came-to, I declared (with mouth still watering): “I think it IS fish!” Warm, rare, lightly grilled with a buttery taste that was the most wonderful thing I’ve eaten, possibly, ever, in my entire life…fish. After savoring every.single. last. scrumptious. bite. I went home and promptly googled “Toro.”

Wiki gave me an array of possible definitions, although the only ones edible being:

 “(rodent) a spiny rat in the genus sothrix”;


“fatty bluefin tuna belly” 

I’m praying for banking on the latter. For those of you that know what Toro meat is, I’m sorry to bore you with my culinary naivety. But for those that don’t, I suggest running to your local Japanese joint and ordering it pronto. I’d attempt to describe the taste in a bit more detail, but I simply wouldn’t be doing it justice. Just know that if you like awesome, savory, melt-in-your-mouth food, that’s better than anything you’ve ever tasted…well, enough said. The smell alone is so alluring that (like me) you’ll dive right in without even knowing what animal it’s from! (And let’s all keep our fingers crossed that it’s not spiny rat genus afterall).

As 2009 is drawing to its close,  I can finally declare what my best meal of the year was with absolute confidence—a bold statement coming from a girl that’s spent the past year eating her way through London, Paris, Edinburgh, Dubai, the Greek Isles, Taipei, the metropolis of Mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia.

What’s your favorite dish of 2009?


One thought on “The Best Dish of 2009

  1. You are only the 2nd person I have heard talk about the beauty of Toro!

    Paul Ptalis could discuss this fish for hours. He would be able to get it on occuasion from Wegmans. They would call him when the fish arrived and they would cut it special for him. It is not something you see in the fish case at the local market.

    WOW! Your favorite meat of 2009! Better than mushy peas! Love Mom

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