Ode: The Hamachi Collar at Acorn
It’s a dish I think about to this day — the way Eli and I would use forks and fingers to dig out every last bit of flavorful fish flesh, sitting at the bar, sipping our cocktails, checking in on each other. How he would flip the whole collar over and pry the bone up and say, “Oh yeah, get that.” And I’d scrape out the goods for us to share.
I would laugh to think that the part of the fish most people would throw away was a delicacy rife with caches of mild, yellowtail softness and funky, dark, oily depth. The meat on the edges all light and white and flaky, touched with citrus and salt — but underneath, if you knew how to get to it, the dank buttery secret, fishy as fuck, gray-tinged and melty.
I loved the crispy skin on the edges and the treasure hunt of scraping and scooping and picking at the bones for morsels of goodness. We’d savor the bitter sting of radish slices to cleanse our palates and the bartender would clear the plate approvingly, trading the carcass for packets of lemon-scented finger wipes.
Maybe we’d finish off our Across the Atlantics with shots of fernet, or gratefully accept a complementary dessert sent from the kitchen. Maybe we’d linger over another drink or get into it with industry peeps who’d settled in just as we were going to close out, turning happy hour into a long, easy evening in good company.
But we’d always over-tip, pay our respects to the line, get a hug from the manager on duty, and send our regards to Bryan before ducking out, pondering next moves.
Eli is working away in SF now. And Acorn is a memory. But I still have dreams of that hamachi collar.