Kushi Bar Muramoto

Where are you eating and what do you think? What's opening, closing, succeeding, failing?
Elliot
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Kushi Bar Muramoto

Postby Elliot » Tue Oct 14, 2008 5:57 pm

I'm not in the business of full restaurant reviews - so I'm sorry if I can't think of everything that goes into one of these; I also went there a day or two after the initial opening several weeks ago, but I did have about 75% of the menu. The highlights for me were, first and foremost, the drinks. The place is aiming for a nattspil-like idea: good drinks and atmosphere with good snacky food (but no loud djs!). The drinks are made typically with the Japanese alcohol shochu (straight from the website):

Shochu is Japan's other indigenous alcoholic beverage, but unlike sake, shochu is distilled. It is also made from one of several raw materials. The alcoholic content is usually 25%, although sometimes it can be as high as 42% or more.

It makes the drinks a little on the light side but they are very good. If you like sake, they have an extensive list, but I don't know shit about sake, so take that for what it's worth.

I suppose you want to know about the food. You may or may not know that Kushi Bar Muramoto is a skewer and rice bowl bar. One skewer is not enough, unless you're not very hungry. A skewer typically contains 2 to 6 pieces of the meat or vegetable. A couple is a good, varied meal. Another staple of the menu are the sauces you can dip your meat or veggies in (again, taken straight from the menu):

tonkatsu works the best w/panko fried skewers.
curry cream try w/ chicken, even w/spicy wings
spicy miso mayo also good as dipping sauce for your salad
house hot sauce very hot!!!

My bland American tastes compared the tonkatsu with A1, the curry cream with mayo, the spicy miso mayo with ketchup, and the hot sauce as... hot sauce.

I had the gizzards (suganimo). They were hard and didn't have much taste, I thought, but I'd never had gizzard before, so why not? The panko fried pork (buta) were really good, as were the beef tenderloin (gyu hire). The quail eggs (uzura) were surprising - I didn't think I'd like it as much as I did and they didn't really need any sauce to make them better than they were already. The scallops (hotate) were decent, but the most forgettable in a memorable meal. The green peppers (shishito) were tasty as well, and also a good compliment for all the meat I was eating. Maybe the biggest flavor bomb of the meal were the bacon wrapped tomatoes. Incredibly delicious, the tomatoes practically exploded in my mouth. Big fan of those.

The rest of the menu consists of some salads, appetizers, and the rice bowls known as Donburi. I had the Agedashi Tofu, which is mostly just tofu in broth but it was pretty tasty. We also had the teba, known just as "spicy chicken wing," though you get a plate of them, not just one - for the rest of the night we decided we could only speak in singular, which is hard. I also had the Spam salad, which I didn't expect much from but was nevertheless a fan of. The chicken wings were good, and rather cheap, too. That's the nice thing about the menu, every individual thing is rather cheap (except the curiously placed foie gras on the menu, which comes in at $20 for 5oz).

The Donburi, which I mentioned earlier, is intriguing, though I haven't indulged yet. It appears you get the meat over rice... and that's it. There are Japanese options and also some American options. Apparently you can get a bacon cheeseburger rice bowl or taco rice bowl. I saw the bacon cheeseburger tonight, and goddamn if that isn't a beef paddy with bacon and two tomatoes on top! It smelled like it should, and looked like it would taste just like you'd expect.

They open 5pm and stop serving at 12:30 or 1 in the morning, so it's ideal for a dinner date or good for late night eating. I give the place two chopsticks up and hope they continue to change their menu around with new ideas.

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Postby Athena » Thu Oct 16, 2008 2:25 pm

I went to Kushi Muramoto shortly after it first opened. The menu is short with several of the small skewers and then appetizers and rice bowls. The bacon and tomato skewer was the best one I had and my husband really liked the pork one. The chicken rice bowl was very good, not fancy but well seasoned. The service was great and very attentive and willing to explain everything. The drink menu is extensive and the one I had was quite good. Pretty much the only problem with the place is that I felt like I tried everything I was interested in on the first go and had no reason to go back. I'd recommend it as a late night snack and drinks place but not as a regular dining option.

TAsunder
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Postby TAsunder » Thu Oct 16, 2008 3:25 pm

Are the rice bowls basically the same thing Muramoto served during the Taste of Madison?

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Postby altcountryman » Fri Oct 17, 2008 6:48 pm

TAsunder wrote:Are the rice bowls basically the same thing Muramoto served during the Taste of Madison?


Man, I hope so! I had one there and have been thinking about it ever since.

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Postby Athena » Mon Oct 20, 2008 3:37 pm

Sorry, I wasn't at Taste of Madison this year so I have no idea. They have a red sauce if that helps.

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Postby Velvet Coffin » Mon Oct 20, 2008 5:11 pm

I've tried most of the skewers by now and can't argue much with Elliot's thoughtful review up top. But here's something worth noting: Saturday night I finally made an occasion for that glorious oddity of French-Japanese fusion, the foie gras donburi.

Of all the things Muramoto offers that shouldn't work but do, let this be king (but only because I won't try the spam-pineapple-quinoa salad). Under a blanket of green sprouts rested several thick slabs of foie gras. They were briefly seared in sweet soy glaze so that the edges were warm but the insides remained cool; this temperature difference was another engaging touch in an already arresting dish. The donburi was flavorful and the sauce thick and sweet.

A good dry sake to cut through the fatty foie gras would be a perfect accompaniment.

I find the skewers an ideal accompaniment to a date. They're weird, easily shared, and a useful conversation piece. Not really a meal. But that foie gras donburi will haunt me till I return for more (which, at $20 a bowl, will be more infrequently than I consider ideal).

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Re: Kushi Bar Muramoto

Postby christopher_robin » Fri Nov 14, 2008 9:21 am


TAsunder
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Re: Kushi Bar Muramoto

Postby TAsunder » Fri Nov 14, 2008 11:09 am

We went there a few weeks ago. I am going to disagree with Powell's assessment of the bacon tomato panko skewer. I liked it, even though the bacon was not as crispy as would be ideal and it was somewhat difficult to eat. The real winner for me, though, was the peppers. Overall those were the only two that really impressed me. We also tried the agedashi and chicken. The sweet potato fries were good, but obviously nothing terribly unique.

The thing that I found disappointing is that the skewers are really small. It seems like a good value but to really get a good amount of food you'd have to order 5 or more to even come close to the amount of food you get in the rice bowls. I think they would be wise to add a "chef's choice skewer variety" or "customer choice skewer variety" option similar to what they have for sushi at the other locations.

We got the taco bowl as well. It was really quite good and a pleasant surprise. I'm not a big sake drinker but the drink menu was impressive in scope. We got a few more traditional cocktails but nothing to write home about, and hardly reason alone to go there over a place like Opus.

A couple of the rice bowls and a few drinks would be a cheap, satisfying meal there.

We saw them making one of the sauces and it was quite simple. Just one vat each of two ingredients mixed together.

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Re: Kushi Bar Muramoto

Postby TheBookPolice » Sun Dec 07, 2008 1:00 am

Stopped in during the dead period that visits all no-TV joints during Badger games. Maybe that had something to do with the quality, or maybe more alcohol needs to be introduced to the equation.

Scallop, shrimp, and quail egg skewers were all overcooked. The second of two bacon/tomato skewers was over-fried and too dark. Might have been the medium showing its age.

The skewer I'd definitely get again is one of the skewers Adam skewered in his review: liver. It could have used a little more sweet soy, and maybe slightly more sizzle-time. Nothing's going to step on the flavor of liver, so amping up the treatment couldn't hurt. But it was generally great.

The miso pork rice bowl was as good as Adam's review indicated. The braised beef, on the other hand, was A) very strong on ginger, which is not indicated on the menu (the lady probably wouldn't have ordered it had it been written there), and B) pretty fatty. This would be fine in some circumstances, but it made the whole dish kind of greasy, and some pieces were more fat than muscle. Kinda gross.

The Tokyo Mule(s) might not have had any alcohol in it(them).

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Kushi Bar Muramoto

Postby kulgar » Sat Mar 07, 2009 5:22 pm

The restaurant has gotten it's legs under it, it's been open nearly five months, time for an update.

Finally stopped by Kushi Muramoto and disagree that it's just for drinkin as as the latest "New Restaurant Muramoto" post states. Do agree that if you want a full sit down meal near the Square that Restaurant Muramoto is the place, but Kushi also has great eats to go along with the drinks.

It's not pickled pigs' feet, hard boiled eggs, jerky and those damn sweet peanuts I used to get with my Grain Belt, but it is bar food. Japanese bar food with an Asian fusion twist? Madison 21st Century tapas? Can anyone pigeon hole or distinctly classify it?

One of the keys to the food is that this little bar serving a bit of tapas has the supply chain of Empire Muramoto behind it, the ingredients were high quality and very fresh for a relatively low volume bar and that's very important in great food. Add in Shinji's culinary vision and I found the food sublime and still relatively inexpensive. It's about taste: it's not a place to ruin a $50 drunk with a $5 burrito, go elsewhere for that.

For that intimate environment, drinks and something to nosh and talk about, it's a great addition to Madison. NO, I have no financial interest, it's just that I've consumed way too many frozen pizzas, greasy burgers and fries, and the crap mentioned above while having a drink that I really enjoyed the food here. Just drinking in a bar can make you a drunk, enjoying fine food, even a bit, makes you a connoisseur....

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Re: Kushi Bar Muramoto

Postby Strangler Lewis » Tue Mar 31, 2009 7:50 pm

I've been a few times, would highly recommend it.

Get:

Japanese sweet potatoe fries w/spicy aioli
Wasabi/pork shumai
Sake

Rinse and repeat.

They also have the occasional odd treat, one night being a panko breaded mini snickers bar..../homergargle.

Go.

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Re: Kushi Bar Muramoto

Postby tillybob » Tue Aug 18, 2009 2:59 pm

Just heard that Kushi is going to be closing. I would be sad if the others were leaving as well, but they will continue, and the one at Hilldale is going to go to Japanese barbeque.

I'm intrigued. I love their food.

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Re: Kushi Bar Muramoto

Postby TheBookPolice » Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:51 pm

Just got confirmation that Kushi Bar Muramoto will indeed close at the end of the month. August 29th or 31st, depending on quantity of supplies on-hand at the end of the weekend.

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Re: Kushi Bar Muramoto

Postby Ducatista » Wed Aug 19, 2009 5:19 am

If I were granted three wishes, I'd ask for a pony, for really great hair, and for the Gila Monster to magically reappear in that space.

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Re: Kushi Bar Muramoto

Postby Crockett » Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:20 am

I won't miss it. And I hope they don't dilute the sushi at the HIlldale one by bringing on a bunch of terrible skewers. The prices at the Hilldale one are pushing the limits for what the sushi is. Any change could be dangerous.

What we need is a good, simple sushi place here in town. No frills but great fish at value prices. Somewhere you can get takeout and not pay $16 for a roll. And yes, I've paid $16 for a roll elsewhere and I can tell you Muramoto's $16 roll is not worth it. Where's the fish? And what's with all the hot sauce?


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