New pre-game ritual: Basho
I should rephrase that. Past tense. It used to be hard, but now there's Basho.
We walked in early on a Saturday night before a game. The weather was sticky and oppressive; Basho was cool and fresh, green and bamboo-y.
It was also empty, and at first we thought it wasn't open. But no; it's just that most people either don't know it's there or actually prefer a 20-minute wait for clam chowder and chili dogs at Remy's on an 80-degree day. Hey, it's a free country.
We had Japanese yam tempura, and — because I'd just read about a similar, doubtless more heavy-handed version cropping up at state fairs — avocado tempura.
There were deep-fried balls of crispy sushi rice topped with spicy tuna:
There were tiger rolls: eel and cucumber with salmon and squid, topped off with salmon roe, a lovely balance of textures and flavors:
And. There was. The. Steamed. Pork. Bun.
Not the usual filled nikuman, these were more like sliders: hand-sized and stuffed with sweet, fatty Korobuta pork and lightly pickled cucumber. It was good.
So good that when I went to lunch at Basho with work friends last week, I ordered the same thing. And they were still awesome.
The bento lunch boxes looked pretty good, too:
The one downside at lunch was slow, slow service. A 20-minute wait for food is not good when you only get a half-hour break. And when they messed up an order, it took another 15 for them to bring the right thing (which they at least comped, with many apologies).
I hope they work out the lunchtime glitches, because it would be a very civilized alternative to the desk-sandwich.
Last Basho bit: we were back there this week to celebrate a much-loved co-worker who is leaving for Denver (sob!).
The sadness at her departure was leavened by Basho's insanely good chicken balls, which are light, studded with vegetables, and coated with teriyaki sauce. I know I wasn't the only one wondering how many I could eat without drawing attention to myself, and whether more would be forthcoming once the plate was empty.
Basho is a huge space; for each of the visits mentioned here, we were in a different part of the restaurant. As well as the bar, dining room, and semi-private area with a 17-seater table, there's a sushi bar and a more private room.
It's big enough that the chances of not getting a table, even on a Saturday night in August, are highly unlikely.
In other words, there's no reason to stand outside anymore.