November 30, 2009

Yummy Michelin-starred beef

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We had another MNSC dinner tonight at the newly-minted 1-star Michelin Wagyu Kaiseki Den.  My friends were totally shocked that I had never heard of the place, let alone dined here, before the press release came out last Thursday.  Well, it's never too late to add a new restaurant to my list!

As usual the menu was pre-set and we had the following:

前付: tamago yaki (玉子焼き), grilled dried puffer fish (ふぐ味醂干し)- both have that smoky flavor from the grill, and for the egg it's a little heavier than what I'm used to.

前菜:Matsuba crab (松葉蟹), kikuna (菊菜), kika and persimmon mixed with seasame vinegar sauce - I must admit that I couldn't tell it was kikuna...thought it was just spinach (ほうれん草). No sign of the persimmon either, unless it was part of the sauce.  But the Matsuba crab was really nice and juicy.

寿司:Chef's recommendation sushi - 6 pieces which were done a little more creatively than the traditional nigiri.  Botan ebi (牡丹海老) with some mayo on top; scallop (帆立) with sea urchin (雲丹); egg; raw beef; fatty tuna (トロ) and seared tuna (炙りトロ).

煮物:stewed ox tongue with radish - this was just a perfect little piece of ox tongue...soooo tender yet still springy on the bite.  Fatty and succulent.  The radish was nice, and the soup was flavored with sanshio (山椒) to give it some kick.

強肴:wagyu tenderloin with foie gras in red wine teriyaki sauce - Wow! The classic combo with impeccable execution, topped with a single pepper (しし唐). The beef was fatty, juicy and tender, while the foie just melted on top of my tongue! The teriyaki sauce ain't bad, either.

We had an extra course of salad to cleanse our palate, consisting of arugula, spinach and beets.

主菜:charcoal grilled wagyu sirloin - this was some piece of delicious beef!  I must admit that it's been a while since I've gone out for some real tasty wagyu (the real Japanese stuff...not the Aussie or American imitation), and this definitely hit all the right buttons!  There was just enough charring on the outside for flavoring, while the juices (and fat) just oozed from the meat once you bite into it.

The wagyu sandwich was awesome.  A thin piece of wagyu and some tomatoes between two slices of white toast.  The marinated ripe tomato salsa was very, very delish, and the Japanese milky white toast (were these from Bo-Lo'Gne?) was so soft and silky...I hardly noticed the slice of wagyu inside!  Thank you, sir...may I have another?

Finally we had Matsuba crab and kinoko truffle rice (松葉蟹、木の子とトリュフ土鍋ご飯) in a claypot.  This was divine... As soon as the lid came off the claypot, the scent of black truffles filled the room.  I had no trouble taking down two servings of this, and then I asked for some of the rice there's nothing better than burnt rice with the flavors of truffles and mushrooms!  Oh, if only I had a bottom-less stomach!

甘味:dessert - this was some pumpkin purée with some fizzy cream on top, and a sprinkle of macha (抹茶) powder.

Our host arranged an amazing lineup of wines tonight - across St. Emilion.

We started with 1996 Salon, which was drinking much better than the bottle we had a few weeks ago.  Yeasty nose, not too acidic on the palate with a very nice finish.

1982 Figeac - nose was very alcoholic, with smoke, black truffle, mint and sweet grass notes.  A little bit of wet chalk after a while.  A very beautiful wine. 96 points.

1982 Canon - nose was more medicinal yet at the same time very sweet, with some smoke and a bit of sharp alcohol.  92 points.

1983 Cheval Blanc - very sweet nose with some smoky notes.  A pretty full-bodied wine, smooth on the palate but there were still lots of tannins.  95 points.

1983 Ausone - nose was very strange initially... Body was lighter compared to the Cheval, and it was definitely more acidic on the nose, with a bit of orange and sharp alcohol.  Pretty flat on the palate. 95 points.

1990 Figeac - smoky, sweet and grassy nose, with sharp alcohol, a hint of chalk and a bit of brett.  A little acidic on the palate.  95 points.

1990 Angelus - forest, pine needle, smoke and brett notes, with a bit of coffee grinds on top of a very ripe and sweet nose.  A beautiful wine!  98 points.

1986 Canon - a little bit of ripe fruit on the nose but acidic on the palate. 90 points.

This was a really enjoyable evening.  The wines were fantastic - often drinking above our expectations - and so was the food.  Now I've got another Japanese joint on my list...especially for the beef!  Looking forward to a return visit.


Anonymous said...

For the benefit of, I suspect, most of your readers who do actually have to worry about these things, would it be possible to give sort of indication of the cost of these meals that you write about so lovingly? These sort of restaurants are places I need to plan the budget for. I know the wines are from individuals' cellars (so the corkage fee would be good to know too).

By the way, I have been looking through my copy of your beloved WOM Guide, and for me the biggest problem is that on a scale of 1 to 10, the vast majority of restaurants are rated 6-8. In practice there are only 3 categories: Not Very Good at all (maybe 10% of listings 5 or less), Somewhere between OK and Good (85% of listings), and The Sort of Places where Peech eats (5% of listings).

And those top 5% aren't well differentiated on price - the top range is $600 per head including a drink, but I suspect that many (or indeed most) of the Peech-approved places cost over $1000 per head in including a drink.

There needs to be more accurate differentiation amongst the 85% rated 6-8 and more detail on the top-end 5%. The ratings are defined to be independent of price, but that's clearly not how they have been assigned.

Peech said...

I'm not going into a debate about the merits of the rating system used by WOM or any other guide. Ratings are always subjective, and in case of amateurs (myself included) not very "accurate" in terms of whether restaurants will score 5 or below on a scale of 10. In all honesty those types of places probably should close down quickly and don't deserve to survive.

The "top 5%" you mentioned are actually places that I blog about, not places where I eat/approve. I eat a lot of cheap meals at my local cha chaan teng, McDonald's...etc but nobody will be interested in reading a blog about my last Quarter Pounder...

I'm not in the habit of posting pricing, because in reality I don't pay for a number of my meals as some of my friends and I take turns treating, so often I don't see the bill. But it is fair to say that most of the Michelin-starred restaurants will run above $1,000 unless it is Chinese. Then you either go cheap (like I do) without the shark's fin/abalone, or really blow through the budget when those items are on the menu.


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