April 10, 2010

Cross harbor Japanese evening

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A Japanese friend of mine had been clamoring for some tonkatsu (豚カツ), and I finally got around to gathering the troops to check out Romankan Yokohama (浪漫館横浜), whose ownership includes one of my friends.  I had gone to check out the very delicious sandwich earlier this year, but I was eager to check out how they'd fare with a full cutlet.

We called over a waitress to take our order.  She informed us that there was no more pork fillet - they had sold out.  What??!!  Being one of the two main choices at any tonkatsu restaurant, how is it possible for them to run out before 8pm on a Saturday night?!  The waitress also seemed very eager to go back to her station to input the order into the system, as I kept having to call her back to the table so I could finish my order.  She kept running away... was I that repulsive?

We started with some deep-fried chicken cartilage (軟骨唐揚げ), which were OK.  I didn't have any of the cold tofu (冷奴) or the salad with plum dressing.

Being a lover of pork fat, it had never crossed my mind to order the fillet... I was always going to order the deluxe deep fried breaded pork loin set (極品旨みサクサクロースカツ御膳).  I started by grinding some sesame with mortar and pestle, which produced a nice fragrance and did provide a nice flavor.  The pork arrived and I was very, very happy.  I drizzled on some sauce - whose flavors were pretty intense and to my liking - and sprinkled on some ground sesame.  One bite and I was a happy boy...plenty of fat in the cutlet and the whole thing was just really succulent.  This was the reason for trekking across the harbor tonight!

I lifted up the lid to my rice bowl, and was immediately disappointed.  The rice looked a little mushy, and that was indeed the case.  You want the rice grains to be moist enough to stick together, but not to the point where the grains get so wet they get mushed in the process of being scooped into the bowl... Oh well.

I finished my yummy pork loin, and also had a piece of the deep fried breaded chicken cutlet in grated radish and vinegar.  The chicken was very juicy and tender, but basically tasteless without seasoning.  I guess with the radish you really need to dip it into the vinegar...

After dinner we went for a round of drinks at Sevva.  Not exactly the best weather, what with the wind and the fog... The girls decided they wanted to sit indoors, and we ordered a round of cocktails and a couple of desserts.

Some time ago I had also promised to introduce a couple of Japanese bars to my friend, so we headed to Causeway Bay for round two... Our first stop at Bar Seed was a short one, as they were full and couldn't accomodate the 5 of us.  Miyano-san was very nice and apologized profusely...

So we headed to the other side of Causeway Bay and ended up at Executive Bar.  I had heard about this place for some time, and wanted to meet its owner Ichiro-san.  We sat down at the bar and started to order our drinks one by one.

I took a shot of Ardbeg Blasda straight up in a white wine glass.  The word "blasda" in Gaelic means "sweet and delicious", and this was definitely a sweeter expression of the Ardbeg style.  They toned down the peatiness of the whisky to about a third of what it normally is, and the result is obvious.  You can definitely still smell the peat but it's much lighter now, with a hint of sweetness on the nose...a little caramel...and a finish that is also a little sweet.  Pretty interesting.

I switched gears and asked for a cocktail made from the Japanese fruits on display.  Ichiro-san recommended the small watermelon from Miyazaki (宮崎), and squeezed the juice out of a quarter of the fruit.  He added it to a shot of Absolut vodka on ice.  The watermelon juice was very, very sweet, and masked the alcohol of the vodka pretty well.  Nice and thirst-quenching.

My friends wanted to see Ichiro-san working the cocktail shakers, so we ordered two cocktails - shaken with a Cobbler Shaker and a Boston Shaker, respectively.  Ichiro-san's shaking skills truly have to be seen... I haven't been to many Japanese bars in my time, but his style is truly unique as far as I'm concerned.  The second cocktail was ordered just to see him in action again...

For my final drink I took a shot of Caol Ila 27 Year Old, again straight up.  I wanted to try some of the other Islay malts which aren't available elsewhere.  Very mature.  Pretty sweet with caramel, a little plum and a little peaty.  Spicy and long finish.

I think next time I'll take my whiskies on the rocks, just to witness Ichiro-san's ice-picking skills.  Whether you ask for a square or round cube of ice for your malt, his amazingly fast hands ensure that the ice would be sitting in the glass in no time.  I did have my camera with me, and I wish I'd asked him for permission to film him!  Maybe next time...

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