July 7, 2010

Nada, man...

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After a multi-year absence, I finally set foot inside Nadaman (なだ万) tonight for dinner with a couple of friends.  I never found the visits I made all those years ago very exciting, and consequently the restaurant just never showed up on my mental list of Japanese venues.  Tonight I had an agenda - I had been given a Island Shangri-La Gourmet Card at the beginning of the year, but somehow never found an occasion to use it.  I was determined to break in the card, and thought it'd be a good excuse to give Nadaman another try.

I brought a bottle of the 2004 Kistler Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard, since we were more likely to be having seafood.  It drank pretty much as I expected, with lots of toasty oak and popcorn on the nose.  Pretty heavily smoked, with some pipi de chat (surprisingly not unpleasant) and some sweet butter.  You could smell the ripeness in the nose, but the wine was actually tilted to the acidic side on the palate, with a hot finish.

It's been a while since I had a kaiseki meal, and I was kinda thinking about it, but as usual my friends threw the ball in my court and left me with the task of ordering.  I took it as a sign that they didn't want any set meals... oh well.  I decided to order the food in two separate rounds, treating the place like an izakaya

Deep-fried sliced crispy lotus root (蓮根煎餅) - this was a pretty nice way to start the evening, especially with a drink in hand.

Deep-fried sweet corn cake (玉蜀黍かき揚げ) - the corn was pretty sweet, and I always love any sort of corn frittata.  But one of my friends protested about the abundance of fried foods, as it was likely to put pimples on her face...

Sweet corn bean curd (玉蜀黍豆腐) - I could kinda taste the corn flour, but overall this was not a great dish.

Grilled goose liver sushi (フォアグラ寿司) - not exactly the same as the ones from San San Trois, but the piece of foie was pan-fried to a crisp and tasted pretty good.  Would have been better if the slice was a little thicker so that more moisture was retained.

Grilled salmon belly (鮭ハラスパリパリ焼) - not really what I expected, but turned out to be pretty yummy anyway.  There was definitely plenty of fat here to make these slices soft and succulent.

My other friend doesn't eat raw fish during the summer, so we avoided the usual sushi and sashimi, and had some California roll and soft shell crab roll (ソフトシェルクラブ巻) instead.  Both were pretty standard and nothing to write home about.

Simmered seasonal vegetable (野菜炊合せ) - I ordered this to balance out the deep-fried and grilled dishes, but the reality is that the Japanese can get pretty boring when it comes to veggies - and this was a prime example.

Broiled eel with soya sauce (鰻白焼) - pretty nicely done, with that caramelized outer surface.  Went perfectly with the grated mash (おろし).

Rice casserole with horse hair crab meat (毛蟹釜炊き) - honestly, this was a little disappointing.  Maybe my expectations were too high, after having had some really wonderful claypot rice at Wagyu Kaiseki Den.  The fragrance was OK, and I even thought I smelled a bit of uni (雲丹).  But it just wasn't that special...

Deep-fried japanese pork cutlet (黒豚とんかつ) - I was a little miffed that I had to chase up this final dish, as it arrived after the rice.  This should never have happened at a restaurant of this caliber, and reflects poorly on the kitchen.  Having said that, I really enjoyed the pork.  It was very well-executed, and the pork was extremely juicy and succulent on the inside.  My first piece was completely lean, and I was a little disappointed at the bland flavor of the meat.  My second piece did have that familiar strip of fat on the edge, and tasted much better.

I wanted something to finish the meal, but very few desserts looked appealing... so I took the seasonal fruits with Cointreau jelly served in grapefruit (グレープフルーツ釜コアントローゼリー).  This turned out to be a good choice, as the ice cold mix of fruit and the Cointreau jelly felt really refreshing at the end of a heavy meal. 

Honestly, the meal was nothing special.  There wasn't anything that was poorly done, but then again I didn't find anything to be exciting, either, since the regular menu is really uninspiring.  For the money that was paid for this meal, I could have done much better at any of my regular izakayas in town. 

The final insult - I didn't save as much money with my Gourmet Card as I expected, but I guess that's to be expected to many of these "discount cards".  I had ordered many of the dishes from the seasonal menu, only to be told at the end of the meal that anything offered "on promotion" was not entitled to the discount.  WTF?!  The booklet I received with the card stated that the card "may not be used in conjunction with other special offers", and the term "優惠" was used in Chinese.  I don't know about others, but I don't consider anything on the seasonal menu to be "special offer/discount"...  Anybody with half a brain knows that one should order the seasonal specialties at top restaurants since they are the freshest ingredients which are at their best.  At a place like Nadaman, the seasonal menu can contain up to 1/3 or 1/4 of the entire offering!  If I only order from the regular menu, I'd be reduced to having tempura, udon or California rolls... and for that I don't need to come to the Shangri-La...

I guess it'll take me another 10 years before my next visit...

1 comment:

johannes said...

Kowloon Shang's NADAMAN has a new young chef from Tokyo.
He did some pretty interesting things.
Edamame tempura, grilled aji with a herb sauce, stewed figs...

Might not be on the menu, but go there and ask for SPECIAL creative stuff.


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