November 14, 2017

Sushi Tuesday

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It's been another few months since I last attended a gathering with a group of old friends, and tonight we celebrate (belatedly) a couple of birthdays.  It's been quite some time since I last had decent sushi in town, so I was pretty happy when I found out that dinner would be at Sushi Sase Hanare (鮨  佐瀬  はなれ) - the new(ish) joint with Sase-san aimed at nabbing some macarons.

We started with the hassun (八寸):
Mousse with Napa cabbage head - the tofu was surprisingly milky in flavor.

Arrowhead (慈姑)

Mizuna and burdock (水菜  牛蒡) - with sesame sauce.

Ginkgo nuts (銀杏)

Ise lobster (伊勢海老) - the chef stuck a knife between the thorax and the tail of the live lobster and proceeded to separate the tail.  Obviously very fresh with great bite.

Longtooth grouper (九絵) - classified as "Vulnerable" under IUCN Red List v3.1.

Mullet roe (カラスミ) - very tasty.  Somewhat thick-cut and stuck to the teeth a little.  Classically served with a slice of radish.

Horse mackerel (鯵) - very, very soft and tender... with a dab of ginger on top.

Bonito (鰹) - this was DAMN GOOD.  Incredibly tender and flavorful, with crispy skin delivering nice, smoky flavors.  Really nice with the soy sauce, oil, and chopped spring onions.

3-year old chum salmon (白鮭) - Sase-san gets these immature keiji (鮭児) which are caught when they are at 3 years of age - before they are old enough to spawn.  The annual catch is about 10,000 and comes from the waters around Shiretoko Peninsula (知床半島) - a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Needless to say, this was very, very young and tender...

Crab tomalley (蟹味噌) - flavors were not very strong here... with cucumber and sesame.

Yellowtail (鰤) - interestingly done as a roll (巻き), with the fish wrapped around the rice instead of the other way around.  Very tasty, especially the very toasty nori (のり) seaweed.

Grilled king crab legs (鱈場蟹) - as is the practice at many Japanese restaurants, the chef chopped the legs off the crab while it was still alive and moving.  Earlier this year my friend Gaggan posted a video of this while he dined in Japan, and received a ton of backlash for "being cruel"... when he was just the diner and not the one preparing the crab.

In any case, this was tasty.

Abalone (鮑) - placed on a little ball of rice sitting in a puddle of sauce, with some liver sauce and wasabi on the abalone.  Yum.

Monkfish liver (鮟肝) - really melted in my mouth.  Sooooo good!

Since this was omakase (お任せ) and no one asked me about my dietary restrictions, I passed on two items and had my friends take my portions - grilled shirako (白子) because I don't swallow fish cum, and also fatty tuna (トロ) for environmental reasons.

On to the sushi part of dinner...

Needlefish (細魚) - interestingly came with a little acidity, and a little bit of asatsuki (浅葱). Yum.

Tiger prawn (車海老)

Mackerel (鯖) - slurp.

Sea urchin (雲丹)

Founder wings (縁側) - lightly torched to melt the fat.  INHALED.

Surf clam (北寄貝) - torched to give off a little smoky flavor.

Broadbanded thornyhead (喜知次) - lightly torched.

Clams (蛤)

Eel (鰻) - very nice, and not completely drenched in sauce for once.

Egg (卵) - not used to having this with rice...

Our organizer arranged the usual... a mille-crepes cake from Lady M.  This time it was salted caramel, and I gotta say that it was pretty good.

Our organizer - and birthday boy - very kindly shared two isshobins with us...

Inemankai Red Rice Sake (伊根満開 赤米酒), from isshobin (一升瓶) - surprisingly a little tart and bitter, given that this has a Nihonshudo (日本酒度) of -18.  Very rounded and smooth on the palate.  It was, obviously, a little sweeter than your average sake, which is why it is popular with the ladies and even the female winemaker suggests that it be served on the rocks or mixed with soda water.

Tengumai Yukanpaku (天狗舞 有歓伯), from isshobin - seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 35%. Sweet on the attack but slightly drier later, with very strong, fermented flavors.  Later on this became much drier on the palate.

Very, very good meal tonight.  I really should come and visit Sase-san more often...

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