January 20, 2010

Another loud and drunken birthday

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I seem to belong to a few groups of friends who get loud and rowdy as we drink.  Tonight we helped a friend celebrate his birthday at Matsubishi (松菱) in front of a teppanyaki (鉄板焼) hotplate.  It's a good thing that we took a private room as usual, because we were definitely very, very loud...

We kicked off the evening with a big bottle of Kukurihime (菊理姫) from Kikuhime (菊姫), and the evening kinda just went downhill from there...  There was the usual assortment of premium ingredients.  We started with an appetizer of mini conch and a salad, and the chef came in to prepare the food.

First on the plate were two big spiny lobsters (伊勢海老), freshly fished out of the tank.  The chef placed them on the hotplate and kept them covered.  I could see the lobsters struggling as it felt the searing heat cooking it.  The lobsters continued to twitch in their slow death.  I thought about the discussions I had with my chef friends regarding the best way to kill your food, and cooking something alive was definitely not it.  A struggling lobster dying slowly would be stressed out in the process, and the flesh would not have the same tenderness as another lobster that died an instantaneous death.  But I guess I wasn't gonna tell this chef that he was doing it all wrong... afterall, teppanyaki cooking is pretty formulaic.  In the end, the flesh was reasonably tender but some of the pieces were a little overcooked.

Next came two large abalones (アワビ), which were still alive and moving.  Needless to say they also died slow deaths, as I watched them writhe in their shells in reaction to the heat. These were lightly cooked, cut into thin slices, then stir-fried with spices and seasoning. 

The large oysters were pan-fried with a good helping of diced garlic.  But these were also a little overcooked and charred on the side.

Pan-fried foie gras was OK, although for some reason it had a heavier-than-usual "liver" flavor.  Yes, I know foie gras is actually liver, but good pan-fried versions usually don't taste like liver.  This one tasted a little more like the way Chinese people tend to overcook pig's liver...

The tofu was pretty soft and creamy.  The thin slices of beef tongue (牛タン) were excellent, although I only had one little slice...

The usual servings of beef came, first up were thin slices of beef wrapped around fried garlic and spring onions. Looove the tasty filling with all that garlic and spring onions. The fatty beef plus the filling was pretty awesome. The sirloin which followed was also very yummy with fried garlic slices.

I brought a bottle of 2001 Bond Matriarch, which I had also opened on my last visit here to celebrate another birthday.  It drank very well, showing some classic Cab notes while simultaneously displaying its distinctive Californian character - I detected toffee and caramel in the sweet nose.

We had lobster head soup which was very nicely done as usual, with tofu, leeks and the remaining lobster meat giving the soup its sweet taste.  My stomach was topped up by the fried rice which had an extra egg on top.  I decided to do the smart thing and pass on ice cream.  I don't need to extra calories...
Maybe it's an off-day for the chef, but the cooking here definitely slipped today as a number of items were obviously overcooked.  Or maybe the chef was just distracted by this loud and obnoxious crowd...


Sher.eats said...

3 possible reasons:

the foie was not fresh
low grade foie with plenty of veins
freezer burn

Peech said...

There were definitely veins, and freezer burn as teppanyaki places keep their foie frozen. Oh well...


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