August 24, 2013

Comfort kaiseki

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I haven't seen the Tiggers for over a month, and I finally got a chance to see them today.  As I had already been naughty last night, and was about to break my diet again tonight, I reluctantly turned down Tigger's invitation to lunch at 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana.  Looking back I kinda regret turning them down, because I would have been there for my godson's first Michelin 3-star meal…

Dinner time rolled around and we made our way back to Tenku RyuGin (天空龍吟).  This place has fast become the Tiggers' favorite Japanese restaurant, and who can blame them when they were blown away by things like the deep-fried sakura shrimp over rice on their first visit?!

It's now late summer, so the menu has changed again to take advantage of the seasonal ingredients.  The staff brought out some corn and soy beans to show us, so I guess we'll be having some of those tonight…

"Kegani" crab with summer vegetables seasoned with wasabi and sudachi ("北海道毛蟹" と "夏野菜" のお浸し すだちと山葵の香りで) - in addition to the leg of the Japanese horsehair crab, there was also a lump of shredded crab meat that had been mixed with what tasted like tomalley (蟹味噌).  Also in the bowl were shredded cucumber, eggplant, baby corn, scallion sprouts (芽ねぎ), seaweed (のり) flavored with some wasabi (山葵).

"Sweet corn" steamed "a la minute" on corn egg custard with "Kobashira" clam (蒸したてろうもろこし "小柱" と "とうもろこしの茶碗蒸し" と共に) - Tigger declared that he "can eat this all day", and I understood what he meant.  This was simple comfort food made with deliciously fresh ingredients.  The corn from Nagano  (長野県) was really crunchy and incredibly sweet, the abductor muscles of the clams were pretty sweet themselves.  There were some really milky tofu skin (湯葉) along with the sweet corn and egg custard.  Add some finely chopped scallions on top and you've got an incredibly yummy bowl.

Simmered "Ezo" abalone with "Kombu" puree sauce ("煮蝦夷鮑" 利尻昆布のソース) - the delicious abalone was simmered with some kelp from Rishiri Island.  The sauce on the side was made with kelp and egg yolk.

It was really tender and yummy, and I think part of that was due to the knife skills which scored the abalone.

Charcoal grilled "Kinki" in premium "Ichiban Dashi" soup (引き立て一番出汁への想い 炭火焼 きんきのお椀) - I looove broadbanded thornyhead/kinki (喜知次) as it's one of the most succulent and tender fish from Japan.  Tonight they grilled it with binchotan (備長炭) and I definitely got a whiff of the charcoal nose. Love the Japanese leeks and the piece of winter melon.  Of course the 一番出汁 was really yummy.

Assortment of sashimi (本日のお造り盛合せ) - the selection of three tonight were:
Olive flounder (平目)

Bonito (鰹) - this was totally delicious.  Very tender and tasty.  I'm wondering how the chef managed to age it perfectly…

Octopus (鮹) - I've never had octopus this way… sliced, scored and then blanched in a shabu shabu (しゃぶしゃぶ)… with sauce made with ground radish that was both spicy and sour.  Very nice.

"Wagyu" beef and "Uni" sea urchin on simmered "Aka" eggplant ("とろける赤なす" "和牛サーロイン" "極上生うに" お添えて) - interesting combination, although I must confess that I chose not to have the two main ingredients together in the same mouthful.  The sea urchin from Hokkaido was very tasty, and worked really well with the grated radish.  The wagyu sirloin was as good as it gets, and the eggplant (apparently from Kyoto) was pretty yummy.

Charcoal grilled large eel ("大鰻" の炭火焼) - these Taiwanese eels were pretty big!  Nice and crispy, with just the right amount of sauce.  The sansho (山椒) powder was totally awesome!  Only top quality sansho gives you that numbing sensation on your tongue together with the refreshing citrus lime fragrance.

"Soy Beans" Edamame rice with scallop, Okara and miso soup with tofu ("大豆をめぐり"枝豆と帆立の御飯、おから、豆腐の味噌汁) - another simple and comforting dish, although I thought the rice was a tad overcooked and wet.

I never knew that soy pulp was something that was taken as food by the Japanese, but I thought what was served tonight was pretty tasty.

Of course we can't forget that miso soup and tofu are also made from soy beans...
RyuGin Specialty -196°C "Candy Peach" and +99°C "Peach Jam" (-196°Cの桃飴 +99°Cの飴炊き桃) - oh this was REALLY good… actually better than the strawberry version and possibly the apple version I had in Tokyo.

The peach jam was soooo sweet and packed full of… peachy flavors.  Love it!

"KYOHO" Grapes with Fragrant Jelly and Light Mousse of Almond Milk (長野県産巨峰のジュレとエアーイン杏仁豆腐) - the last dessert is sometimes anticlimactic here… Yes, the grapes were very tasty, but the jelly was a little too subtle.  The almond jelly/mousse was also a little too subtle.

2006 Kongsgaard VioRus - no surprise that there were no floral notes left, as the wine has gone through aging.  Very ripe, kinda alcoholic, with a pretty short finish… other than the alcohol.  Toasty nose and a little sweet.  Meh.

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