July 16, 2009

Japanese tapas and sake

Pin It

Tonight I met up with a couple of old friends from finance for dinner. I haven't seen some of these guys for months, so it was a good chance for us to catch up. Happily we ended up at my favorite izakaya Irori (いろり). Even better was the fact that I didn't do the ordering, which allows me to sample dishes other than the ones I habitually get...

I brought along a bottle of Kokuryu Daiginjo Shizuku (黒龍大吟醸しずく) that I'd been saving for a few years. Yes, it's the same expression as the popular Japanese wine comic Les Gouttes de Dieu (Kami no Shizuku 神の雫), since the sake is collected not from pressing the sacks of rice, but letting it drip naturally from the hanging sacks. In winemaking terms it's equivalent of using only free-run juice. My expectation were high as this was a Kokuryu limited edition bottling, with a seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 35%. It was very smooth on the palate, a little sweet even, with a finish that suddenly turns dry and spicy. The nose was pleasant but not particularly complex. Maybe I had cellared this for too long?

For food there were the usual chain of small dishes. I do see izakaya dining as the Japanese equivalent of going to a tapas bar, as both involve ordering a series of small dishes to go with the alcohol that's being consumed.

We started with some very yummy firefly squid (蛍烏賊), which in its raw state can be a bit fishy. But I just love the taste, and the ink is still inside the squid.

Next we had some seared fatty tuna (炙りトロ), which came in reasonably big chunks and was served with spring onions, spicy grated radish and ponzu.

Japanese oysters arrived and I enjoyed the creaminess mixed with the same condiments as above.

I don't normally order grated yam and spicy cod fish roe (とろろ明太子), but it's a healthy dish that is great for the summer. The yamaimo (山芋) paste tonight was particularly viscous, and took a bit of effort to mix with the mentaiko. Very yummy and great for those of us with high cholesterol.

Next came two types of raw fish - hirame (鮃) and aji tataki (鯵たたき). Both were excellent and enjoyed with lots of spring onions and ponzu.

Clams in sake-flavored broth was nice, and the taste of sweet sake was evident. I really liked the big Japanese leeks.

Deep-fried chicken cartilage (軟骨唐揚げ) - there is just no substitute for my favorite izakaya dish...

Flamed broiled beef (牛肉たたき) - this came with an interesting sauce and a pile of raw onions. Yum...

Steamed kinki (喜知次) - this was very interesting as it looked like a Cantonese steamed fish, except that the soy sauce was darker and the pile of spring onions is missing. But the fish was very, very good.

We finished with a stick of yakitori (焼き鳥) and some Sapporo draft beer.

It was a very relaxing evening with friends, and the good food (not to mention alcohol) really took my mind off of some stuff for a few hours. Oh, and thank you Mr. Lau for being the last to arrive... Very generous of you to foot the bill for us.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map