The Chirashi Bowl @ Musashi, Berkeley


Chirashi Bowl @ Musashi, Berkeley. Ahi, Hamachi, Salmon, Mackerel, Scallop, Octopus, Squid, Monkfish Liver, and Tomago. All served over sushi rice.

My iPhone said the temperature in Berkeley was 63F today, but I’m sure it had to have been pushing 80F. This weather report may sound a bit like bragging, but I’m actually complaining; California is in the midst of a megadrought, with the prospect of dead lawns and raging forest fires in our near future. At the restaurant where I cook, one of our produce purveyors already has asparagus on the radar, which is absurd for mid-February. At this pace, we could be enjoying heirloom tomato BLTs by May.

Although I did manage to eat some cassoulet at Bistro Jeanty while it rained last week, our otherwise warm weather this winter has deprived me of the opportunity to eat the braises and the broths that I usually associate with the winter season. With the sunny weather, sushi has been on my mind since last Friday, when I tried to visit Zushi Puzzle on my way out of San Francisco (I abandoned that mission when parking seemed too prohibitive).

This week, Berkeley beckoned and I set my sights on Musashi, which offers the tremendous price-value quotient that you would expect from a mom-and-pop-style restaurant. At just $18, the sashimi-laden Chirashi covers a broad spectrum of flavors, allowing the diner to sample the lion’s share of Musashi’s sashimi menu (the Chirashi also includes a small bowl of delicious miso soup to start, making it an even better value).

If you were to grade a sushi restaurant in just one sitting, a Chirashi bowl would give you the most insight by far. It encompasses an impressive amount of different proteins, and in the right hands, it can showcase the bounty of our oceans. The sashimi at Musashi — all 10 varieties — were impeccably fresh and delicious. This dish would cost you $50 in New York City.

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