Where some chefs see trash, Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly saw a signature dish: a salmon fish head, marinated in miso, maple syrup and garlic. At the NYC spot Chez Sardine, the dish represents the restaurant’s guiding principle—a Japanese izakaya infused with a trippy, gonzo spirit. “We sell more than a dozen a night,” says Brunet-Benkritly, adding that most diners need some help figuring out where the best bits of meat are. Here, his guide to getting the most out of each head.
For advanced eaters only. The eyeball resembles a soggy blob of fat—with a dark chewy pupil at the center. “It’s not my thing,” he says.
“Not as big as the steak-like cheeks on cod, but still a nice, firm section of meat. Our salmon are all from very cold water, so they are nice and fatty.”
An underrated section, the jowl becomes crispy and chewy, “like fish jerky.”
Collar & Neck
A good area for the squeamish diner—there’s a lot of meat here, and it doesn’t take too much excavating to retrieve it. “You’ll see grilled fish collar at a lot of Japanese restaurants.”
“I like to start here: Just tear away the fin and eat it like an artichoke—you can scrape off the salty-sweet marinade with your teeth.”