May 21, 2011

Hunks of Kyushu beef

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It's been a few months since I last went out to dinner with some friends, and not surprisingly we were back at Wagyu Kaiseki Den tonight.  It's good to go back after being away for a few months.  My friends are regulars and sometimes find the menu a little repetitive, but fortunately I don't have that problem.

先付:cheese tamago uni, steamed awabi, yuzu - the sea urchin was OK, as was the jelly made with fish stock, but I didn't are for the cheese tofu.  The slice of abalone was nice, especially with a light yuzu (柚子) touch from the sprinkles of rind.

椀物: ebi shinjo, okoze, shiraga negi, kosanchiku, kinome - the shrimp ball was OK, but the stonefish (虎魚) was a little too "fishy" for me.

造り: candlefish, scallop and lobster - there were 2 slices of toro, but since don't eat that no more I gave them to my friends instead.  The lobster was particularly nice.

強肴: wagyu sukiyaki - I do like sukiyaki, and the combination of the beef and soft-boiled egg (温泉玉子) worked pretty well.

組肴: lily bulb nanohana, wagyu caviar sushi, hamo-hanawasabi jelly, zuwai gani makomotake hasami age, soramame shinbiki age - the combination of pike conger (鱧) and jelly and greens was OK. The ball made from lily bulb mash has some truffle shavings on top for added fragrance.  Wagyu sushi was alright, as was the deep-fried broad bean.  The more interesting piece was the deep-fried water bamboo and crab combination.

旬菜: lobster, manganji, nasu, mizore-an - lobster was pretty decent, as was the eggplant.  The best part of the dish was the Manganji pepper (万願寺唐辛子), which spiced up the whole thing just a touch.

主菜: charcoal grilled wagyu - the pieces of Japanese sirloin were definitely very delicious, as it was very, very well-marbled.  Funny how I started to feel full immediately after having this...

We also had a serving of my favorite wagyu sandwich.  Looooove the ripe tomato salsa.  This time, though, I was more civilized and finished in two bites instead of one.

雲丹トリュフ土鍋ご飯: sea urchin truffle rice - very fragrant as usual, with shavings of summer truffle on top.  So yummy I had to have a second bowl, which I usually regret as it gets me too full...

We had some pineapple which was very sweet and delicious.  Interestingly this came from Taiwan by way of Japan...

Mango mousse - as I had this after the pineapple, it wasn't as sweet as the fruit.

2005 Didier Dagueneau Pur Sang - very typical of this wine as well as the varietal.  Minerals and flint, green apple, muscat, pipi de chat.  Crisp acidity.

At the end of the meal, my friend forked over a chunk of money and purchased a big hunk of sirloin from Saga Prefecture (佐賀県).  We were told that the beef arrived before the March earthquake, and I saw that the label on the vacuum pack showed 賞味期限 to be a week from now.  Having lived in Japan, I am used to seeing that term and it usually translates to "best before".  I know that beef can be aged under certain conditions, and would be able to last a few months once the package had been opened.  But the captain at the restaurant actually had the gall to tell my friend that 賞味期限 means one should age the beef and not consume it before such date.  I rolled my eyes at my friends when I heard this...what a blatant lie!  I can't believe he would say such a thing so he could sell my friend a USD 2,000 piece of beef.

Food has always been delicious at this Michelin-starred establishment, but I don't think I'll be buying any beef from these guys...

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