LaBan chat: South Street sushi; a watermelon refresher

Cy-sashimi don at Kidari Sushi Yatai, a new raw-fish spot in the 1800 block of South Street.
Cy-sashimi don at Kidari Sushi Yatai, a new raw-fish spot in the 1800 block of South Street. (CRAIG LaBAN / Staff)
Posted: July 19, 2013

Here is an excerpt from Craig LaBan's online chat of July 16, 2013:

Craig LaBan: In last week's chat, a reader recommended Kidari Sushi Yatai, from Raw's former sushi chef Sam Yoon, the new raw-fish counter on the 1800 block of South Street (across from the old Graduate Hospital). I'd had a so-so visit, so decided to go back and I really enjoyed it - especially this Cy-sashimi don, basically a sashimi salad with ribbons of tuna, yellowtail, and salmon with roe over greens and a bed of rice with gochuchang vinaigrette on the side.

I also had what might be the cool-off drink of the summer at Morgan's Pier, GM Joe Crouse's Watermelon Ricky. Here's a recipe for the watermelon simple syrup that goes on the bottom, beneath that float of 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon Wheat beer. Here's a batch version for your next backyard BBQ: 1 quart seedless watermelon puree (one small watermelon should be sufficient), blended with 2.5 quarts chilled simple syrup (5 cups each sugar and water, boiled so sugar dissolves). Fill bottom third of cup with watermelon simple syrup. Add ice, lemon wedge, and then a float of watermelon wheat beer. Sip and chill down.

Reader: Checked out Serpico last week, duck leg and lamb ribs were standouts, dishes offer so much more than a few words on the menu can describe, love the atmosphere, counter seats offer a great view of the entire kitchen.

C.L.: I've been hearing good things about Serpico's South Street debut. Can't wait to get there. From what I've seen, it's a beautiful space.

Reader: Enjoyed the Morgan's Pier review, but disagree on the overall value of the food. Go for the view and atmosphere first, food second. Nothing we had stood out (albeit we didn't have the crudo you raved about). The bacon sandwich was not good and the ribs lacked flavor. For all the buzz about the fries, I found them average. Wondered if George Sabatino was even around. A big disappointment.

C.L.: Sorry to hear. I did complain about the various smoked/pork things-not a highlight for me. But the fries were really excellent. Also, loved all the various fruit salads, the clams with house-made sausage, the baby eggplants with kimchi, the lobster-buttered corn, the succulent whole steamed fish, the veggie board - even the white fish salad was outstanding - plus, of course, the watermelon water ice. Maybe you ordered an unfortunate selection of a large menu. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised. With those kind of numbers, though, there are inevitably going to be some disappointed diners. Sorry to hear you were one.

Reader: Speaking of Morgan's Pier, with such a huge place, does your expectation of overall quality start lower than, a 35-seater? Can the food possibly be as good?

C.L.: To some extent, you definitely go into that venue knowing it's going to be a different experience than an intimate gastropub like Stateside. But I didn't encounter that many compromises. Even so, I was judging it more vis-a-vis the context of other Delaware River clubs more than Stateside. But when you have a big-name chef like George S, for many people the expectations are high. I think George and crew (including chef de cuisine Paul Lyons) lived up to them. But the burger - cooked sous-vide, flash-frozen in liquid nitro, then deep-fried to order - could be a poster child for food technology gone awry. Not worth the high-tech effort.

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