August 26, 2010

Tokyo 2010 day 7: twinkle, twinkle, little (Michelin) stars

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Final day of the Michelin tour, and I'm back in Ginza yet again.  I've heard lots of about Sushi Kanesaka (鮨かねさか) so it was time to try a place other than Kyubey (久兵衛).

The place was pretty small, with space enough for 2 chefs serving less than 15 customers at two counters plus a small, private room.  They were less than half full today.  I'm making a conscious effort to cut back on the amount of food I take today, so I ordered the "middle" lunch set and don't go for omakase.

Righteye flounder (鰈) - this was actually very soft, without the slightly chewy bite typical of the fish.

Striped jack (嶋鯵) - just love those striations...

Tuna (マグロ)

Medium fatty tuna (中トロ)

Cuttlefish (イカ)

Tiger prawn (車海老) - interesting that this is cooked instead of raw/live.  Guess I'm too used to Kyubey...

Young gizzard shard (小鰭) - loooove this fish.  So tasty with the skin and the oil...

Horse mackerel (鯵) - one of my favorites and this was pretty tasty with a dab of seaweed on top.

Bonito (鰹) - really nice piece of bonito...

Clam (蛤) - very tasty thanks to the sweet sauce (たれ).

Salmon roe (イクラ)

Red miso soup with clams (蛤赤出汁)

Sea urchin (雲丹)

Sea eel (穴子) - very soft and moist...nicely done.

Egg (玉子) - a little more moist and mushy than what I'm used to... but I can definitely see the influence from Kyubey.

Tuna roll (鉄火巻) - pretty nice way to finish off.

I had fun chatting with the chef, who was wielding a wakizashi (脇差)-looking knife to cut the fish.  I remember seeing some sushi chefs using this type of blade, which is so much more beautiful of course.  I love Japanese swords and have always wanted my own.  The chef showed me his old knife, which progressively got shorter with the daily sharpening.

The quality here was undoubtedly high, and I really enjoyed my lunch.  I'll probably come back next time when I have more capacity...

I was late to dinner because I just couldn't find the place.  For the first time in Tokyo I found 2 adjacent buildings with identical addresses, and I was really confused.  I finally called the restaurant and told them I was lost, and the waitress came down to pick me up.

Yukimura (幸村) is one of 11 restaurants in Tokyo with the distinction of having 3 macarons from the tire people.  The restaurant is in a prime area, but it's upstairs in a building and there are no obvious signs outside to attract attention.  Everything about the restaurant is low-key.

I had known about the chef's objections to taking pictures, and I knew they had seen me carry my DSLR, so I asked for permission before proceeding.  While the response was "No", the chef agreed to let me take some pictures as long as I didn't take pictures of everything.  At a restaurant with no written menu, not having pictures of every dish makes the job of remembering them that much harder.

Sea urchin with lobster jelly (雲丹 伊勢海老出汁) - I asked the chef for permission to take 1 picture, and this was definitely worthy of that honor.  Fresh sea urchin, topped with jelly made from lobster.  While I expected the sea urchin to be fresh and sweet, the real surprise was the jelly - it actually had a slightly sweet aftertaste, especially after a bite of sea urchin.  The chef also put in some flying fish roe (とび子) to add some crunchy texture.

Hassun (八寸) :  abalone with taro stem (アワビ 芋茎); horse mackerel sushi (鯵すし) wrapped in kelp (昆布); edamame (枝豆); diced cucumber, jelly fish, tofu skin in sesame ponzu (ポン酢) - abalone was nice, and the taro stem made another appearance but slightly less crunchy today.  Kinda surprised that jelly fish was used but the use of sesame ponzu was nice.

Bottarga soba (カラスミそば) - this was wonderful.  I loooove bottarga and sometimes would make bottarga pasta at home, but this was clearly much better.  The shavings of bright orange bottarga on top of a pile of soba just looked awesome, and very tasty, too!  the plate was clean in no time.

The restaurant has no fixed wine list as the stock changes often, so I ask Yukimura-san for some sake recommendations.  I took 1 go (合) of Higan Daiginjo (鄙願 大吟醸).  The sake tasted very ripe, like Chinese fermented rice (酒釀).  It starts out sweet but becomes dry and alcoholic mid-palate, with a sharp and spicy finish.  Seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 50%.

Poached pike conger (鱧) with thin tofu skin (湯葉) and grilled matsutake mushroom (松茸) - very surprised that the chef actually invited me to take a picture of this... I guess he must be very proud of it.  The dipping sauce in the small dish was plum sauce a bit of wasabi, which the chef encouraged us to mix together.  Pretty interesting, I must say.  The conger was very nice, and the tofu skin was so thin and fine...  Matsutake is always nice, and I enjoyed chewing on it and feeling the bouncy texture.

Deep-fried sweetfish with grilled sweet potato and myoga ginger (鮎揚げ 薩摩芋焼 茗荷) - this was really good.  Instead of grilling the sweetfish, they were deep-fried and crispy on the outside.  I like the fish done this way.  The thick sauce that was poured over the dish was made with bonito, sake, and soy sauce.  A little acidic and very good.

Grilled pike conger (鱧焼) - this was grilled with charcoal in front of us, and seasoned by applying sauce during the grilling process.  Chopped young sansho leaves (木の芽) complete the dish.

A little cup with cold chawanmushi (冷やし茶碗蒸し) was served on the side, with plum sauce and water shield (純菜).  Love these slippery little things...

The green peppers (唐辛子) were fried in a claypot.  Not bad.

Okra with string beans in sesame wasabi paste was good.  I guess the chef likes using wasabi...

Poached Kamo eggplant with white miso (加茂茄子 白味噌) - the eggplant was very tasty, and the white miso was slightly sweet with a sticky texture, almost like ground Chinese yam (とろろ).  A spinkle of yuzu rind on top made it perfect.

Ginger rice (生姜ご飯) - nicely flavored with brunoise of young ginger.

Eel rice (鰻ご飯) - this wasn't part of my meal, but my neighbors asked the chef for a bowl of my ginger rice, and the chef decided to "refund" me with a bowl of my neighbor's rice.  Very, very good.

Dessert was a combination of ripe white peaches, golden kiwis and lemon ice.  Pretty satisfying.

I couldn't finish the pot of rice, so the chef kneaded them into rice balls (おにぎり) and wrapped them up in leaves like a giant 粽子.  A very nice touch!

I was due to meet some friends at a bar, so I walked from Azabu Juban (麻布十番) to S'more in Shiba (芝).  It's a small neighborhood bar where all the customers know each other - kinda like Cheers, but smaller.  Very nice and relaxed environment... and good way to spend a little time after dinner.

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