November 22, 2011

Fish is a way of life

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It's been a while since I met up with Big Mac, and when I found out a couple of days ago that I'd have a free evening tonight, I decided to ping him and see if he's available for dinner.  I was sure glad he said yes!  Unfortunately, he left it up to me to choose the venue, whereas I would normally have appreciated for others to suggest new and interesting places for me.

I thought this would be a good chance for me to check out Gyodoike (魚道生), a Japanese restaurant that came highly recommended by the Ox.  I never found the right opportunity to try this place, but I was pretty sure Big Mac would appreciate it.

We asked for omakase, and wanted to get a couple of hot dishes.  What followed was a feast that left both of us stuffed but smiling all the way...

As a start we were offered some sea grapes (海ぶどう) along with pickled ginger and radish pickled with perilla leaves (紫蘇) and yuzu (柚子).  The radish was particularly yummy.

Cod milt (鱈白子) - definitely one of my least favorite things to eat, although many of my friends consider this a delicacy.  At least the chef had lightly poached it so it wasn't actually raw semen...

Yellowtail (鰤) - this is definitely the season to have it, but the chef chose to serve it slightly torched, so I didn't really get the chewy/crunchy texture.  Pretty good, still.

Then came an "appetizer platter" with a few different items:

Some sort of white fish (白身魚) marinated in plum vinegar and shredded perilla leaves (紫蘇).  This was OK.

Lightly (grilled?) cuttlefish (イカ) - rather forgettable.

Half a mussel, and a thin slice of smoked duck.  Not really getting this part...

Abalone (鮑)

Splendid alfonsino (金目鯛) - lightly torched.

Whelk (つぶ貝) - nice and crunchy.

Round-snout nase (鯃) - apparently abundant in the waters of Danshui River (淡水河).  Taken with both a smidgen of wasabi and a sprinkle of yuzu rind.

Red seabream (真鯛) - dipped in apple ponzu (ポン酢).

Fatty tuna belly (中トロ) - unfortunately I forgot to tell the chef that I didn't want tuna, so this was prepared and served while we were chatting.  I decided that I should probably try it here once... VERY, very good.  Almost melted in my mouth.  Served with a "marinade" of wasabi and soy sauce.

Bonito (鰹) - with a marinade of soy, red peppercorns, ginger...etc and served with some shredded myoga ginger (茗荷), which isn't grown in Taiwan.

Scallop (帆立貝) - scored and lightly torched on the outside.

Rock fish (紅喉魚) - very nice.  There's just a touch of salt on the skin and around the fins.  Flesh was moist, perfect with a just a rub of lime.

Salmon roe (イクラ) - very, very fresh and delicious.  So fresh that the exterior membranes were still firm and required a little extra force to break open, after which the contents simply burst into the mouth.  The shavings of yuzu rind was a really nice way of adding a different twist to the flavors.

Black flounder (黒鰈) - filleted and deep-fried.  I thought the batter was a little thick on some parts, which meant I was tasting mostly dough and not the fish.  The bones were also deep-fried, and they were very yummy.

The beef was pretty nicely done, with two small chunks that wasn't too heavy.  Garnished with a burdock (牛蒡) mash, miso and some mushrooms.

Before moving on to the sushi section, the chef served us some pickled wasabi (山葵) stems to cleanse our palates.  Very interesting... I could definitely taste some of the earthy, green flavors.

Squid (イカ) - the chef told us that he scored it 60 times before serving...

Glass shrimp (白海老) - from Toyama Prefecture (富山県). Lovely.

Young gizzard shard (小鰭) - a very lovely fish.  The chef here again showed off his knife work, which is quite different from what I saw at Sushi Kanesaka (鮨かねさか) in Tokyo last year.  Taken with a sprinkle of yuzu rind.

Yellow porgy (黄鯛) - very yummy.

Sea urchin (雲丹) - wow!  Just really fresh, sweet and tasty!  Melted in my mouth.

Conger eel (穴子) - just about the best piece of conger eel I can remember... Absolutely just melted in my mouth like I was eating cotton candy.  With rock salt and yuzu rind on top.  I'll take 3 more of these, please...

Mackerel (鯖) - with a thin piece of kelp (昆布) pickled in vinegar.  Pretty yummy, too...

I was pretty happy at this point, but Big Mac insisted that we each get a small bowl of sushi rice, which he said was really the signature dish here.  So I had the diced sushi over rice (バラちらし鮨), which looked extremely pretty.  It was also very, very delicious, with salmon roe, scallop, shrimp, tuna belly, tuna back (赤身), egg, seaweed (のり), cucumber, sweetened ginger mash...  The bowl was empty in no time.

Tomato with tomato jelly and shiso - nice and refreshing.

Dassai Junmai Daiginjo 50 (獺祭 純米大吟醸 50) - seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 50%.  Didn't pay much attention to this tonight, but noticed it was a little on the dry side.

A fantastic dinner, but the chirashi at the end put me over the edge...  It's been a few weeks (since France, anyway) since I last carried my stomach out of the restaurant, but it was worth it.


johannes said...

Your Taipei Japanese dinners are killing me.

I've heard that the level of Japanese is excellent in Taipei but I have yet to try any. O___o
...I go almost once a year but I always end up eating Taiwanese & street food...

Peech said...

Your Highness, I haven't felt the need to get sushi in Hong Kong because it's so much better in Taipei!

johannes said...

hmmm... is it because Taipei's closer to Japan & get better fish..?

& are they usually Taiwanese chefs or Japanese?

I'm sure Taiwanese chefs are very dedicated to their 'craft." I had the BEST okonomiyaki in Taitung made by a young Taiwanese couple. Even ppl from Osaka said their okonomiyaki were good. Whaaaat~~~?


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