The seared duck breast at Miyake is the kind of dish I could imagine eating with legendary film director Akira Kurosawa, at a smoky bar somewhere in Tokyo, over bottles of sake and glasses of Asahi. The duck has a slight edge, a thrilling darkness that’s not quite charred, and the taste of the dish itself reminds me of movies like “High and Low,” one of Kurosawa’s most brilliant films: surprising and contemplative, with a genius, imaginative pacing that creates a whole story. Such is the presence and power of the Kamo Aburi-Binchotan Grilled Duck Breast with Arima Sansho Balsamic Reduction and Truffle Oil ($16).

On the very edge of the plate, like a small swath of paint, is the yuzukosho, a salty, spicy condiment made from chili peppers, yuzu peel and salt, which is then fermented. Warning: It is addictive, and you will find yourself searching the city for a bottle, or begging friends to lug back cases for you from their trips to Japan.

As for the duck itself, it comes from Crescent Farm in Long Island, New York, and whether it’s that each flock of ducks is personally tended to three times a day, seven days a week or its time on the farm, or something else entirely, it is utterly succulent. Masa Miyake, the owner of the eponymous Miyake, sears it expertly on the grill and presents five or six layered slices topped with a few thinly sliced scallions. Take a bite and you are transported – lifted into a realm of higher aesthetics and a series of simple, intense thrills. This duck is serious, and it lingers, creating memory. It is cinematic – in both its presentation and its complex tastes that blend behind the scenes without interruption.

Seared duck breast at Miyake, 468 Fore St. in Portland.

The balsamic lends a touch of sweetness so subtle you can’t quite place it and peppercorns give it just a hint of gentle Sichuan-esque numbing. Run your fork and a piece of duck over the yuzukosho and the bite is complete, at once tender, warm, bracing, comforting and decadent – yet never rich. That’s part of what makes this duck so special. It’s light, only one dish among many from which you’d create a meal.

Many people go to Miyake expecting excellent nigiri and sashimi. They will most definitely get it. But the duck, the duck, the duck. That is the order that turns a first-rate night of Japanese food into myth or fairytale, where famous directors come back to life and your palate takes on new dimensions of beauty and intrigue and imagination and pleasure, so that going out for dinner is never quite the same. It’s so much better.

Miyake, 468 Fore St., Portland, 871-9170.

Anna Stoessinger lives in Maine with her husband, Keith, her son, Henry, and their dog, Bess. She is a writer who works in advertising.

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