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Soto New York


toniomi
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Bruni two-starred it.....

Can't complain too much about the review, it's more informative than most, except that he focuses entirely on the hot and cold plates and disparages their sushi. It's a sushi bar, right?

Various reports suggested that the composed dishes are the restaurant's strength, not the sushi, so Bruni seems to have gotten that part right. But as Grub Street pointed out, the place wound up with "the same catchall rating as Franny's."
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Various reports suggested that the composed dishes are the restaurant's strength, not the sushi, so Bruni seems to have gotten that part right. But as Grub Street pointed out, the place wound up with "the same catchall rating as Franny's."

Well, for all I know he read those reviews and didn't even both to try the sushi... the way the restaurant is being reviewed, why bother having a sushi bar at all? Besides here, I have yet to read about that type of meal or interaction with the chefs.

What's conflicting, or rather confusing, to me, is that on here, I hear that he is fanatical about ingredients, his rice, and talk of his omakase which includes plenty of sushi. If that were the case, why muddy them all up in composed dishes. This may be a personal preference, but sooner or later and certainly somewhere during the meal, I am going to want to eat well-crafted nigirizushi where the quality of the ingredients are front and center.

I wonder how much the menu changed from Atlanta to NY.

Well, I'm talking out my boxer shorts until I go try it myself, and it's on my shortlist, so we'll see..

Edited by raji (log)
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Oy Vey.

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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Raji,

I'm curious to hear your take on Soto's sushi. My guess is that you'll come away with a very different experience than the one you are guessing you might have.

Edited by ned (log)

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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Soto does sushi well, but his strength, as has already been pointed out, has always been in his creative specials. His menu is much more expensive and focused than it was in Atlanta. He tried to cater to a wide audience in Atlanta, but he does not have to do that in New York where there are more foodies and less seats to fill. Don't get the impression that his pieces are average because they are not. They are always at least good if not great. Soto will never serve you a mediocre piece of fish; he is way, way, way too much of a perfectionist to do that.

Bruni missed the boat if he thinks the langostine is the best hot special. His lobster dishes are his strongest dishes, in my opinion, starting with the broiled lobster/mango/portabella cake and the steamed lobster with uni mousse wrapped in lotus root. Hamachi tartare is also a hit with its roasted pine nuts, wasabi tobiko and soy foam. Terrific blend of textures in that dish, though I don't know if that's on his NY menu. I also love the broiled chilean sea bass marinated in citrus soy, but that's not the most difficult dish in the world.

Bruni also has a mistaken impression of Soto's personality. He got the temper part right; I have never been in a restaurant where a chef has lost his cool like Soto has on a couple of occasions. But Bruni failed entirely to mention that there was another side of Soto, the far more common side. He was liked by his followers here for more than just his sushi; he is a pretty funny guy and extremely nice. When he is not swamped, he engages everyone at the bar, which is why it is best to go late to grab a seat close to him, witness his incredible knife skills, and talk to a genuinely nice guy.

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two points:

1. "Bruni missed the boat if he thinks the langostine is the best hot special. His lobster dishes are his strongest dishes". Re-read what you wrote and re-think it. than re-read it again.

2. if Bruni didn't see the warm and engaging side than he didn't see it. not his fault. if he did see it and didn't write about it...he probably should have.

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Raji,

I'm curious to hear your take on Soto's sushi.  My guess is that you'll come away with a very different experience than the one you are guessing you might have.

I absolutely agree... and I'm trying to read the tea leaves from someone I've previously said does not get, and might never get, Japanese food...

What I'll try to do is get a seat in front of the chef, rap with him and see what he recommends rather than going in with some preconceived notion of what to order based on the reviews. But you guys, especially the atl customers, are awfully helpful!

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two points:

1.  "Bruni missed the boat if he thinks the langostine is the best hot special. His lobster dishes are his strongest dishes".  Re-read what you wrote and re-think it.  than re-read it again.

2.  if Bruni didn't see the warm and engaging side than he didn't see it.  not his fault.  if he did see it and didn't write about it...he probably should have.

I think it is clear that while langostine is a type of lobster, it is very different than a traditional American lobster. Did I really have to clarify that?

I doubt Bruni saw Soto lose his temper, but he still spent a small chunk of his article detailing what he had heard or read about. Seems unfair that he would talk about Soto's hot temper without mentioning how friendly he is. He either should have mentioned both or neither. Mentioning one or the other does not convey an accurate picture of what Soto is like.

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1. "Bruni's all wet. he said that the best dish was a langoustine dish. that's moronic. Soto's best dishes are his lobster dishes."

please, seriously. come off it. what hell is a langoustine dish but one of Soto's "lobster dishes". that criticism was beyond weak.

2. like everyone else, what I'd heard about Soto's personality was his famous occasional feats of temper. that's what's interesting, that's color. there's nothing interesting about the times when he's a nice guy. it's not like Bruni said Soto was a jerk (he didn't). your dispute is with journalism in general (and all of us as readers)...not Bruni.

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The difference between langostine and "lobster," as it is commonly used, is crystal clear, especially after I articulated which lobster dishes in particular stand out.

Bruni described Soto as a "cold fish." That's not just telling only part of the story, it's grossly and possibly willfully inaccurate for all the reasons I articulated above. He is many things, extremely short and hot-tempered being one of them, but cold fish? No.

Edited by Voodoo (log)
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Maybe Bruni should learn some Japanese....

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...5entry1449315

Neither of you are 100% wrong or right

"The Norway lobster, Nephrops norvegicus, (also called Dublin Bay prawn or langoustine), is a slim orange-pink lobster up to 24 cm long..."

Anyways, at a restaurant like this, it's much important to distinguish between raw and cooked vs. species...

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omg...this is becoming surreal...and completely absurd.

langoustines (of which there are multiple varieties...the most well known being the Venetian scampi, the Scottish langoustine and the New Zealand langoustine....there's an excellent article on wikipedia if you really want to get into it)...are a part of the lobster/prawn family.

Period.

ok, so some people in Atlanta think that Soto's best dishes were the ones using American or Nova Scotia lobster (wherever he was sourcing from). that's nice. langoustines are far easier to source in NY than Atlanta (heck, they weren't even regularly available in NY five years ago)...Soto comes to NY...and starts using langoustines regularly. and Bruni thinks that a langoustine dish (which may very well have been a "regular lobster" dish in the past...or its something Soto dreamt up when he came here) is the best thing on the menu. maybe it is, maybe it isn't. but to say that Bruni's all wet cause Soto does regular lobsters even better than he does langoustines (oh really? how would one know that?)...is beyond asinine. think about it: "Bruni's an idiot because he almost picked perfectly the dishes that I personally think are Soto's best...but he's really a moron cause he does that dish better with regular lobster than with langoustine...even though that's the one Bruni had. Bruni's a real moron because he didn't say "I bet that when Soto was using regular lobsters in Atlanta this dish was even better".....

in reality, substitute a langoustine into most lobster dishes, and they'll be even better.

2. how the hell does one know that Soto wasn't a "cold fish" when Bruni was around. people have disagreed with Bruni over many things...but no one here has called him a liar before...especially from 1500 miles away.

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seriously: "Bruni's review was all wrong because he was only 99% right about Soto's best dish...he picked the right sub-family of dishes...he just picked the wrong one within that sub-family". sheesh, we're not talking about rocket science calculations here. that's awfully tough.

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omg...this is becoming surreal...and completely absurd.

langoustines (of which there are multiple varieties...the most well known being the Venetian scampi, the Scottish langoustine and the New Zealand langoustine....there's an excellent article on wikipedia if you really want to get into it)...are a part of the lobster/prawn family.

Period.

ok, so some people in Atlanta think that Soto's best dishes were the ones using American or Nova Scotia lobster (wherever he was sourcing from).  that's nice.  langoustines are far easier to source in NY than Atlanta (heck, they weren't even regularly available in NY five years ago)...Soto comes to NY...and starts using langoustines regularly.  and Bruni thinks that a langoustine dish (which may very well have been a "regular lobster" dish in the past...or its something Soto dreamt up when he came here) is the best thing on the menu.  maybe it is, maybe it isn't.  but to say that Bruni's all wet cause Soto does regular lobsters even better than he does langoustines (oh really?  how would one know that?)...is beyond asinine.  think about it: "Bruni's an idiot because he almost picked perfectly the dishes that I personally think are Soto's best...but he's really a moron cause he does that dish better with regular lobster than with langoustine...even though that's the one Bruni had.  Bruni's a real moron because he didn't say "I bet that when Soto was using regular lobsters in Atlanta this dish was even better".....

in reality, substitute a langoustine into most lobster dishes, and they'll be even better.

2.  how the hell does one know that Soto wasn't a "cold fish" when Bruni was around.  people have disagreed with Bruni over many things...but no one here has called him a liar before...especially from 1500 miles away.

It is not necessary for you to speak in hypotheticals. Soto serves one langostine dish. He served it in Atlanta for at least 5 years, and he's been serving the same dish in New York. Soto serves at least three non-langostine lobster dishes. The langostine dish is buttery, rich and delicious, but displays no exceptional talent or complexity that I can discern. The lobster dishes are not only better, in my opinion, but showcase a far more intricate understanding of food with their interplay of flavors which the langostine is lacking. The first bite of the langostine tastes the same as the last bite because that's all there is. The lobster dishes all include other things, and whether it's mango, caviar, yuzu, uni, the combination enhances the dish in the way that the langostine never experiences. The funny part about this argument is that you don't even know that I'm wrong when I say he's wrong to point out the langostine as Soto's best from the kitchen. Go and see for yourself.

As for Bruni's comments on Soto's disposition, I do take issue with his characterization of Soto. But I've stated my case, and I have no reason to argue with you about it. That is, unless you are Frank Bruni.

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see...that's a fair and in-depth characterization of why you prefer those dishes.

it's also fair to say that you've experienced a different side of Soto's character than Bruni did...what's not fair is to say that Bruni failed to mention that side if Bruni didn't experience that side. he had 3-5 visits to Soto...I'm guessing you ate there far more often?

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  • 3 months later...

went on friday with a friend of mine. quick summary...

started with warm towels and some edamame. we had wine, though i don't remember what kind- my friend ordered it, and it went wonderfully with the fish.

our selections, most of which i've seen mentioned elsewhere:

the amazing/sublime, in some rough order

broiled lobster with mango, portabella

chyu toro tartare (fatty tuna w/avocado coulis, garnished w/caviar, chive, in sesame ponzu sauce)

salmon citrus (scottish salmon w/cilantro, scallion under sudachi citrus sauce)

broiled langoustine (under shitake sauce)

shima aji carpaccio (stripe jack w/truffle ginger sauce)

kampachi tartare (amber jack w/wasabi tobiko, pine nuts, soy foam)

the very solid:

tartare tuna roll (spicy w/asian pear, cucumber, avocado, sesame, pine nuts, scallion)

the "good if it were anywhere else, but disappointing in this context"

hamachi yuwan (marinated in sweet soy/sake, served under sansho pepper miso).(and we both are fans of the fish)

outstanding service, though it was kind of funny when we were shown the sapporo beer as if it were a wine...

and not that we ordered it, but the current sushi nigiri omakase is 8 pieces/48, 12 for 58.

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Last night marked yet another in a string of fabulous experiences at Soto. There was, sadly, no cod sperm (shirako) on the menu (kind of like fishy sweetbreads) but we did very much enjoy the recently dispatched blackfish (tautog?) and Maltese chutoro handroll. . . yikes. Also on the menu is a turtle consomme served in a little teapot with some braised turtle pieces. I passed on the sea cucumber intestine as I ate it on a previous visit. I want to go back tonight.

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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  • 4 months later...

We had a delicious meal at Soto Thursday evening. Prices were reasonable, would've ordered omakase if it was available. Uni is one of my guilty pleasures; however, it's an acquired taste. I'd happily return to Soto again just so that I can have the divine steamed lobster with uni mousse wrapped in lotus root.

We were a party of 2, arrived a little before 6pm for an early dinner. The day's menu was still in the process of being printed. The waitress recommended that we order 2 dishes from each side of the menu ("from sushi bar" and "from kitchen") to share as well as some sushi from the back.

After reading several reviews, we ordered most of our dishes from his creative specials. The steamed lobster with uni mousse and uni ika sugomori zukuri were outstanding - I am going back again for them, I wasn't impressed with the geoduck clam salad (seemed plain) or the chyu toro tar tare (the sesame ponzu sauce overwhelmed the tuna) as much. The sushi nigiri were good as well.

photos

The service was very attentive, we had 2 bottles of sake. The experience reminded me of WD-50 when we had to pour the broth out of the dobin pot for the dobin mushi soup (as if we were having tea) and then open the lid to reveal the shrimp and black fish. Another hands-on experience was the the mixing of the uni ika sugomori zukuri, breaking the quail egg and combining everything together.

I don't claim to be a foodie or know about the intricacies that go into preparing a plate; however I can say that did enjoy the exquisite and well-executed meal.

"On ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux." - Le Petit Prince

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  • 1 month later...

Soto has been described as an "unipalooza" and was rated by Frank Bruni as his 2nd best restaurant opening of the year in NYC for 2007 after only Momofuko Ssam Bar. While the uni is indeed wonderful and it is generously apportioned, Soto is much, much more than an unideminsional restaurant.

I had dinner at Soto with my son and a friend last week and we got to sample a delightful omekase that certainly featured uni in a number of creative dishes. While fantastic and even the finest composed uni dishes that I have ever eaten anywhere, there were plenty of other non-uni delights on our bowls and plates. We sat at the bar observing Chef Sotohiro Kosugi and his staff craft the cold dishes of our dinner. The hot dishes were prepared in a kitchen in the rear of the restaurant by Chef Kosugi's wife, Maho.

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Edamame

A relatively straightforward and simple offering, these edamame were far superior to others that I have had and a worthy opening for the meal that followed.

We went sake all the way starting with a refreshing, semi dry Jyunmai Ginjyo, Dassai -50-, from Yamaguchi for $22 for a 300ml bottle.

The opening course was a rich, meaty,

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Miso Soup with lobster and uni broth with lobster, ginger shoots and chive. This dish deftly incorporated the two ingredients Chef Kosugi is most well known for. I have never had a richer or more enjoyable miso soup.

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Goma Tofu, black & white sesame tofu served with wasabi soy sauce

This dish was subtle and beautiful, smoothly opening the palate for the dishes to come. The flavors were pure without being over the top.

The next dish, gallery_8158_6053_40554.jpgAiname with ponzu and momjioroshi was the first exquisite example of Chef Kosugi's brilliance with ingredients other than uni and lobster. The fish from Japan, otherwise known as "greenling fish" was pristine with enough to complement it from the momjioroshi (Japanese chili and radish grated together).

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Scallop, Fluke, Shiso Agedashi: deep fried shiso wrapped scallop and fluke served in dashi broth.

The flavors of each dish were building on those that came before. This was delicious with nice crisp textures added to the mix.

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Building our next dish.

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Chef Kosugi concentrating on a task

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Uni and Yuba: Japanese black soybean milk skin with sea urchin, served with shiitake broth

Simply outstanding. It is no wonder that Chef Kosugi has developed a reputation with uni.

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Shiro Ebi Tartare: seasonal white sweet shrimp with yuzu, shaved cured mullet roe, caviar, ikura, served with shiitake ginger broth.

Another example of Chef Kosugi's brilliance with ingredients other than uni and lobster, this featured an array of salty and mildly bitter sea eggs to balance the sweetness of the shrimp, the acid of the yuzu and the umami of the shiitake ginger broth. In fact, it would not be incorrect based upon my experience here to consider the shiitake as another ingredient mastered by Chef Kosugi and used in a multitude of ways. His shiitake broths are particularly noteworthy.

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Minute Steamed Tai: lightly steamed New Zealand wild snapper with ginger scallion oil

This delicate and delicious dish was perhaps my son's favorite of the evening.

By this time we moved on to our second sake, another Gyunmai Ginjyo, Tenryo -Haidhomare-, semi-dry from Gifu.

Chef Kosugi appears to have developed a number of signature dishes. This one,

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Uni Ika Sugomori Zukuri: Claifornia sea urchin wrapped in thinly sliced squid and shiso, served with quail egg and tosa soy reduction, is perhaps his most famous and justifiably so. It is an outstanding dish. beautiful, complex, harmonius and delicious.

Relatively simple,

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Braised Black Cod with Japanese Vegetables: fresh sable fish with Japanese bamboo shoots, turnip, fuki, was beautifully prepared with simple, direct and pure flavors.

Closer to classic American Japanese than Japanese from Japan,

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Chyu Toro Tartare: chopped fatty part of big eye tuna with avocado coulis, garnished with caviar, chive, served in a sesame ponzu sauce, nevertheless satisfied.

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Our third and final sake, a Jyunmai, Tenzan "Gensyu", a dry, rich wine from Saga, sister city to the one in which I live, followed. Each sake was delicious and distinctive. Unfortunately, I am not conversant enough in the language of sake to discourse on them more eloquently.

Another signature incorporating Chef's favorite ingredients,

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Steamed Lobster with Uni Mousse: layers of steamed main(sic) lobster and uni mousse in lotus wrap, garnished with smoked uni and caviar was brought for the three of us to share. A supremely well balanced dish, but somewhat awkward to share. Nevertheless it would have been too much for one person and probably too difficult to prepare correctly in more individualized portions for a tasting menu.

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Broiled Langoustine: lightly broiled New Zealand langoustine under shiitake sauce

While delicious, this was probably the only dish of the evening that disappointed me. I felt that the langoustine flavor (one of my favorite flavors) was somewhat overwhelmed by the shiitake sauce. I find langoustine to be at its best when relatively unadorned or adorned with such elements that expose and highlight its natural flavors.

By this time, we were getting preety full, so we declined the Karei Karaage: crispy deep fried whole Atlantic sole, served with ponzu sauce. We saw it brought out for other diners. It looked impressive, but we wanted to be able to enjoy some sushi.

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Madai Sea Bream from Japan is the one to the right of the photo.

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Chu Toro from Ecuador.

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Sakura Masu Pink Sea Trout from Tasmania.

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Botan Ebi Live Spotted Prawn from the US west coast.

The sushi was all pristine, delicious and a nice light finish to the main meal. The meal was completed with

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Genmai Tea - green tea with roasted rice crackers and

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Azuki and Macha Mochi.

Soto was a revelation, one of the finest meals I have had this year. The decor and ambiance are simple and unassuming. The artistry begins with the plate and ends on it. It is a prodigious level of artistry and skill that is presented there, however. Each plate is hand selected by the chef on annual trips to Japan. Chef Kosugi has a reputation in some circles of being "stern" and "prickly." I did not see that at all. His concentration was intense, but when he took moments to relax and reflect he was very pleasant. We had a chance to speak with him at the end of the meal. He could not have been more friendly and the meal really could not have been better.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Wow, nice shooting as always Doc, and such photogenic subjects!  I just love the composition of those plates.  That toro tartare in particular is incredible.

(and extra points for the term "unidimensional")

:laugh: Ha, I tried to sneak that one in! :wink:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Was this omakase offered on the menu or did you simply ask them to send out dishes?  If it was listed on the menu, how much is he charging?

We asked him to send out dishes. My friend selected the sakes. After T&T I spent a little more than $200pp.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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