May 7, 2016

The first journey

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Ta Vie 旅 has been open for about a year, and the Tiggers still haven't had a chance to visit Sato-san at his new digs.  So I took the opportunity to check out some of the new seasonal dishes that have appeared on the menu since my last dinner there.  It's always good to come back and visit Sato-san and Takano-san.

It appears that the restaurant now has its own custom bottled still mineral water from Azumino (安曇野) in Nagano Prefecture (長野県) - where Sato-san comes from.

Sweet corn puffed mousse with aburi botan shrimp in shrimp consommé jelly - one of the signature dishes here that's been added back to the menu.  The Hokkaido corn was nice and sweet, with crunchy and starchy kernels embedded in a fluffy and ethereal mousse.  The botan shrimp (牡丹海老) in the center was still mostly raw after a light torching, and tasted very sweet against the strong and savory flavors of the consommé gelée.  Of course, when you combine everything together in one mouthful, the balanced achieved is just about perfect.

The house made butter comes out, so I knew the bread is coming...

Nukazuke (糠漬け) bread - as good as it's always been.  It may surprise many that Sato-san actually spent time as a boulanger and pâtissier.  Takano-san was surprised when I turned down the offer of a second roll...

We were presented with the ingredients from our next course,  with butterbur buds (蕗の薹) placed in whelk (海螺貝) shells.

Potato gnocchi tossed with "fuki" bud, simmered abalone and "tsubu" clam - there was a myriad of textures here... from the airy foam, to the soft gnocchi, to the tenderness of the simmered Ezo (蝦夷) abalone from Hokkaido, and the chewy whelk... to finally the crunchy young ostrich ferns.

I was expecting to taste bitterness from the butterbur buds, but instead of serving them whole as is usually done in Japanese cuisine, Sato-san has chosen to chop them into bits to sprinkle onto the gnocchi as flavoring.  This imparted a hint of the familiar flavors without letting the bitter flavors dominate the dish.  A stroke of genius.

"Rock" oyster with pork trotter cassoulet sauce - the rock oyster was cooked meunière and drizzled with the thick and rich cassoulet sauce.  I actually prefer my oysters to be smaller, so this was a little too much for me... The natural flavors of the oyster would have been a little overpowering for me, but thankfully it was countered by the sauce.

Caesar salad topped with hotaru squid, hotaru squid Caesar dressing - I loved this dish.  Sato-san put his stamp on the classic dish by replacing anchovies with Japanese firefly squid (螢烏賊) that happen to be in season.  On top of the Romaine lettuce were pepper chiffonade (糸唐辛子), shredded Japanese spikenard (独活), croûtons, and cheese.  The dressing on the side was made with the juices of the firefly squid.  Totally delish, and I'd love to have this salad any day.

Pan seared white asparagus and scallop with white sesame tuile - the Hokkaido scallops were perfectly seared to mi-cuit.  The asparagus came from Kagawa Prefecture (香川県).  The tuile was just so full of fragrance from the sesame it was beautiful.

Charcoal grilled wagyu tenderloin glazed with Arima pepper sauce - the beef from Hokkaido was first roasted before being sliced, then glazed with Arima sansho pepper (有馬山椒) sauce.  The pepper was a little interesting as it was a little tannic.  The Alpine leek (行者にんにく) on the side was really interesting because it tasted almost exactly like chive.

The tenderloin was very, very tender indeed... The red wine reduction used Japanese wine made with Muscat Baily A (マスカット・ベーリーA).

House made pasta with "aonori" sauce topped with premium uni - this was an extra course courtesy of Sato-san since he knows I'm a huge fan of this.  What could be better than having sweet sea urchin that's been suspended in seawater on top of pasta tossed with aonori (青海苔)? Not much.


A nice cup of cold ginger and lemongrass tea to cleanse the palate.

Almond ice cream with meringue, fresh strawberry, scent of sakura blossom, covered with fragile candy glass - I had this dessert on my last visit, but this time the strawberries used were Echigo Hime (越後姫).  The slight bitterness of the lemon cream made things a little more interesting.

Loquat compote with orange sabayon sauce, served with vanilla ice cream - the loquat (琵琶) compote and orange wedges were buried underneath the sabayon made with orange and the juice of loquat compote.

Fruit tomato compote - as usual I ordered the beautiful and fragrant herbal tea, so this was my petit four.  So delicious.

I didn't get a chance to fish out an appropriate bottle of white wine from my cellar, so I made do with an Aussie Shiraz...

2001 Penfolds RWT - decanted for an hour prior to serving.  Pretty metallic nose, a little smoky, with ripe fruit, jammy, and obvious vanilla oak.  Clearly this has softened up to drink nicely, although it still packs a punch.

I was pretty happy with dinner tonight, and being long-time fans of Sato-san, I hope the Tiggers liked it, too...  On our way out, Sato-san very kindly gave me two jars of their homemade jams... since he knows how much I like my jams.  Is there anything this amazing chef doesn't do?!  I look forward to getting my first taste very soon.


Michael L said...

Hi, thanks for the post.

You posted a picture of an RWT while you said it was a Dead Arm... Was it a slip of pen?

Peech said...

Oops. Thanks. That's what happens when you blog at 1am...


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