Hamachi Kama at Sushi Tei

sushi tei Hamachi Kama overhead

Or yellowtail collar, as it's also known.

By Jeff Janssens

On a recent expedition to Sushi Tei in Guilderland to satisfy a sushi craving, I made an exciting discovery on the restaurant's specials menu: hamachi kama, or yellowtail collar.

This is the part of the fish just behind the head, and while it may sound like something that belongs on an episode of Bizarre Foods (it has, in fact, been featured on the program), there's nothing particularly strange about it. Hamachi kama is really just a piece of grilled fish.

Except it's a remarkably delicious part of the fish, one that's worth seeking out when it's available at Sushi Tei.

The praise for hamachi kama runs wide and deep: Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern, in his Bizarre World of Food book, writes of yellowtail collar: "The collar bone is laden with fatty, rich bits of flesh, and it's worth every minute of the canoodling it takes to extract the fatty morsels." And Bon App├ętit's Manny Howard writes: "Ever since I discovered it ... I haven't started a Japanese meal with any other dish."

Any sushi restaurant is only as good as the quality of its fish, and Sushi Tei represents well on that front. Freshness and quality are also important when it comes to hamachi kama, because the fish collar is presented so simply. It's grilled and served with lemon for drizzling and a bowl of ponzu sauce for dipping.

sushi tei Hamachi Kama sideview

The fish used here is yellowtail -- specifically Japanese amberjack -- which is known to be a somewhat bony and fatty fish. The meat is tender and provides a surprisingly complex flavor combination: there's a bit of sweetness, some richness from the fatty parts, and a nice background note of grill flavor. The added note of acidity from the lemon works nicely with all those other flavors.

It's often the case that the tastiest meat is right along the bone, whether you're talking steak or fish, and that's the case here. This might test your chopstick skills considering how the bones lay on the hamachi kama, but do whatever it takes to get to those good parts -- the meat in there is worth it.

It's also worth mentioning the skin of the hamachi kama, which, like the best fish skin you'll taste, possesses a nice level of crunch, holds a lot of the grill flavor, and contains that delicious layer of fat between the skin and the meat. I know a lot of people don't like eating fish skin, and even for those of us who do, it's often not worth it because it's not cooked just right. That's not the case at Sushi Tei; the skin on the hamachi kama was cooked beautifully.

And let's not forget about the bowl of ponzu that comes with the hamachi kama. The meatiness of this fish makes the ponzu a perfect complement for it; it has the thickness to soak up the citrus flavors of the sauce while not being overwhelmed by them.

sushi tei exterior 2014 January

I find it hard to recommend items that aren't on the regular menu at a restaurant, but I don't feel bad doing so with the hamachi kama at Sushi Tei. For one, the sushi served at this restaurant is among my favorites in the area, typically fresh-tasting, skillfully sliced, and competitively priced. And the hamachi kama is unique and delicious enough to seek out. At $9.50, it might seem a bit pricey for an appetizer, but the portion here is easily enough for two to share.

At many restaurants, hamachi kama is unavailable to diners. Instead, it's saved by the chefs for restaurant staff and friends. You don't have to be among that sort of special circle at Sushi Tei; you just have to be fortunate enough to find it printed on the daily specials menu handed to you at the start of your meal.

Jeff Janssens writes about food and beer at The Masticating Monkey.

More Eat This!
+ COB Pizza at Red Front
+ Spiced Potato with Hot Pepper and Special Pancakes at Northeast Dumplings House
+ Samosa Trio at Umana
+ Tanuki Udon at Sushi Tei

Find It

Sushi Tei
1800 Western Ave
Guilderland, NY 12203

Comments

the collar of the fish is the best part...if you ever get a chance to get salmon collars...marinate in some teriyaki and the grill...you will think you died and went to heaven!!!

Sushi Tei is my go-to Japanese restaurant in Albany. As you can see, they serve way more than sushi.

Love Sushi Tei. I will have to look out for this next time.

Mari's does this too once in awhile (if mari's kids or the waitresses don't lay claim to it first.) They offer it teriyaki or salted and it's delicious in either case.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

Poking at some numbers for New York school districts, graduation rates, and income

Two things (indirectly) prompted this post: 1. The discussion around that Miss Pearl question about moving out of Albany for the school district. 2. Another... (more)

Chip Kidd at Skidmore

Designer/author Chip Kidd will be at Skidmore November 13 for a talk and Q&A. Kidd is probably best known for this book covers. He's designed... (more)

Toughness

Over at the Times Union, Deanna Fox talked with Eliza Winters about keeping her family's Hill Hollow Farm in Rensselaer County going after her husband's... (more)

Evil Dead: The Musical x2

Somewhat improbably, there's a stage musical version of The Evil Dead cult-classsic movie series. And somewhat even more improbably, there will be two productions of... (more)

Contractor for matching historical building style?

Omar emails: I'm buying a victorian-style house in Troy soon and would like to have a garage built. I would like it to match the... (more)

Recent Comments

... Let's also lower the city speed limit to 25 while we're at it. Maybe then these morons will not go 45 miles an hour down Washington Avenue. Why should cities surrender themselves to the automobile and automobile drivers? - the very forces that killed cities to begin with. ...

Poking at some numbers for New York school districts, graduation rates, and income

...has 1 comment, most recently from Jeremy

Contractor for matching historical building style?

...has 4 comments, most recently from Sean

Albany Common Council passes red light camera ordinance: comments, votes, thoughts

...has 35 comments, most recently from Joe A

Figuring Sh!t Out with Amy Biancolli

...has 3 comments, most recently from Deanna

Toughness

...has 2 comments, most recently from Deanna