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I’m back from an all-too-short week spent eating, drinking and hiking in Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands. Images of platters of smoked salmon, drams of Scotch and bowls of cranachan (a parfait of raspberries, oats, cream and whisky) are still racing through my head.
I enjoyed the iconic dish made from sheep’s “pluck” (heart, liver and lungs) as part of a full Scottish breakfast, in and atop a hot dog, in Scotch eggs with plum whisky chutney and as flavor seasoning for a bag of chips. Gamey but not as intense as one might assume, I found its flavor depends heavily on the chef’s skill and pairings.
Sacramento chefs similarly were supposed to transform off-cuts on Sunday, when an event, Have An Offal Day, was scheduled at the Food Literacy Center in Land Park. But organizer Catherine Enfield, known as Ms. Munchie on social media, canceled the festival three weeks before it was to be held.
Chefs such as Pedro Depina of The 7th Street Standard, Scott Macumber of Pangaea Bier Cafe, Dane Blom of Grange and Devon Pritchard of Camden Spit & Larder were slated to transform offal into delicious, attractive bites, only revealing what animal parts they used after the attendees swallowed. Past Offal Days featured lamb brain samosas, deep-fried duck testicles and pig rectum calamari.
“The chefs were always excited to participate because they got to make stuff they can’t normally make and be creative,” Enfield said. “The whole point of the event was to say, ‘hey, if you get some of the best chefs in town, they will make (offal) taste good.’”
So why did Enfield cancel? Well, Have An Offal Day only sold about 25 tickets at that time, and Enfield had to decide whether to make deposits on rental equipment. Enfield was only hoping for 100 or so curious attendees, but not everyone wants to pay $65 per ticket to eat sweetbreads and pickled gizzards.
Local hunter/gatherer extraordinaire Hank Shaw’s involvement and promotion helped buoy Have An Offal Day in the mid-2010s. But Enfield had to cancel the event in 2018 as well. She doesn’t plan to organize it again.
Of course, bringing off-cuts to the mainstream pays respect to the whole animal, from snout to tail, and opens up new flavor possibilities. My family, for instance, was skeptical about haggis, only to find it tastier than they anticipated.
“Events like this showcase what I think of as farm-to-fork, what that is to me,” said Localis chef/owner Chris Barnum-Dann, who had signed up to cook at Have An Offal Day. “It’s not marketing or a shtick. It’s going back to the butchers, makers and artisans who make those kinds of things, and being able to make communal food that’s really by that community.”
What I’m Eating
What Zin Khine and Sithu Tun have done at Hikari Sushi & Omakase is nothing less than amazing. The couple, who previously ran Mermaid Sushi for 15 years out of the Davis Food Co-op, have transformed a pint-sized former ice cream sandwich shop in downtown Davis into what might be the city’s best restaurant, even though it doesn’t have a kitchen.
Weekends are the real show, when omakase (chef’s choice) service is mandatory and runs $125 per person. But à la carte weeknight dinners stand out as well at 110 F St., Suite A, if you can grab one of the eight counter seats or find space at two tables.
Hikari (Japanese for “light”) prides itself on exquisite sourcing, from melt-in-your mouth Hokkaido uni ($16 for one nori wrap of the sea urchin) to real-deal Half Moon Bay Wasabi. That approach leads to a more limited menu than many sushi spots, particularly when supply chain issues act up, but also elevates simple dishes like the fishbowl ($10), a glowing little goblet of bright orange ikura (salmon roe) atop sushi rice.
Edomae-style nigiri ($15 for five pieces) packed generous capes of torched squid, salmon belly and hamachi over tightly-packed rice, and Hikari makes one of the best rainbow rolls ($16) you’ll find around here as well. Filled with lobster meat and avocado, it’s then topped with ikura, scallops, shrimp, anago (saltwater eel), tuna and greens. You can add a drizzle of spicy mayonnaise, but there’s little need.
Openings & Closings
Almighty Food Co. is the latest concept from Milestone Restaurant & Cocktail Bar owners Nick Dedier and Alexa Hazelton, replacing their Mom & Pop Chicken Shop in the El Dorado Hills Town Center last week (another Chicken Shop location opened in late 2021 in Cameron Park). It’s entirely gluten-free and currently open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.
New Glory Eatery & Taproom shut down Aug. 12 at 5540 Douglas Blvd., Suite 140 in Granite Bay. The Sacramento brewery’s 4-year-old restaurant in Quarry Pond Town Center had planned to stay open through the end of the month, but customers ran through their key ingredients earlier than expected.
Dave’s Hot Chicken is the latest fried chicken concept to open in Sacramento, debuting Aug. 5 at 3409 Arden Way. Originally started as a pop-up in a Hollywood parking lot in 2017, the rapidly-expanding chain now enjoys financial backing from celebrities such as actor Samuel L. Jackson, Boston Red Sox owner Tom Werner and former California First Lady Maria Shriver.