July 4, 2013

The peachy summer dragon

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Twenty-nine days after my last visit, I find myself back at Tenku RyuGin (天空龍吟) for dinner with a friend.  It's been so long since I last saw him… our last meal together was more than 6 months ago!  He very kindly offered to treat me to dinner, so it was only right that I bring a decent bottle of wine in return.

As the restaurant only changes their menu twice a season, and it hadn't been that long since my last visit… it wasn't at all surprisingly that I'd be having the same dishes that I had last time…

Cold "somen" topped with "white shrimp" and "premium caviar", scent of "sudachi" - loved it the last time, and just as refreshing tonight.  Perfect start to the meal, with sweet, savory and acidic flavors coming together as well as soft and crunchy textures.

Deep fried "premium sea urchin" from Hokkaido wrapped with seaweed - still not a fan, but the Japanese green sea urchin (馬糞雲丹) from Hokkaido's Rishiri Island (利尻島), was pretty creamy…

The "red eggplant" (赤茄子) from Kyushu (九州) was just as delicious as last time, with just a touch of ginger mash.

Japanese sweet corn tofu - incredibly fragrant, pure and sweet.  A perfect match with our wine tonight.

Traditional kaiseki summer soup: seasoned "ichiban dashi" broth with a delicate shrimp dumpling - the flavors are so light and delicate here… and the use of winter melon (冬瓜) - julienned this time instead of a large, thin slice - is perfect for summer.  The water shield (蒓菜) is from Akita Prefecture (秋田県).

Tonight we have a selection of 3 sashimi.  Thankfully bluefin tuna's not on the menu tonight!
Lightly poached "hamo" with "ume" sauce - it's summer and that means pike eel season for high-end Japanese restaurants.  Poached with a dab of plum sauce is a classic preparation.  I gotta say that I was a little underwhelmed by this tonight...

"Bonito" with mustard soy sauce - the skin has been lightly torched.  OMG this was pretty good.

Simmered "octopus" with "yuzu - koshyou" - the octopus was very, very tender… and love the yuzu kosho (柚子胡椒).

Charcoal grilled "alfonsino" covered with "roasted rice" - loved this the last time, and got even better tonight!

Apparently this is the peak of the alfonsino (金目鯛) season, and my piece was sooooo fatty and oily!  Simply to die for!

Served with a little bit of green apple and ginger on the side, so that the acidity can help cut through the oil.

RyuGin interpretation of "katsudon": "wagyu beef cutlet" with "onsen tamago" and red onions - I would never, ever, ever complain about having this dish again so soon.  How could you not love this?!  Tender, succulent beef made into a katsudon (カツ丼)… with raw egg, onions and a sukiyaki (すき焼き) sauce to boot!  Nom nom nom...

Simmered whole "ezo" abalone with abalone reduction over shiitake mushroom rice - subtly fragrant rice and tender abalone.  Yum.

Abalone liver and pickled cucumber on the side…

…and a little red miso soup with tofu skin (湯葉).

Sencha (煎茶) was served to cleanse our palates.

RyuGin specialty: -196ºC "candy strawberry" and +99ºC "strawberry jam" - I still like these "hot and cold" desserts… and also nice because the acidity from the hot strawberry jam works well with the sweetness from the powdered filling.

Peach compot jelly - apparently this was inspired by the Bellini.  You've got Japanese white peach - currently at the peak of the season - with a layer of jelly on top and served on a bed of crushed ice.  Chilled Champagne sauce is then poured over the crushed ice around the peach.  Very ripe and sweet peach.  Icy and refreshing.  Fantastic way to finish the meal.


1999 Coche-Dury Meursault - drank about half an hour after opening.  Big, toasty nose, lots of grilled corn.  Good acidity on the palate.  Opened up further and eventually showed more elegance other than just the toasty punch.  Worked pretty nicely with the corn tofu…

Once again I was totally stuffed at the end of the meal.  Many thanks to my friend for the lovely treat, but I gotta limit my visits to once every 2 or 3 months...

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