January 2, 2014

Japanese new year feast

Pin It

Believe it or not, despite having spent a few years growing up in Japan and having eaten Japanese food for most of my life, I've never had the celebratory meals taken during the first few days of the year known as osechi ryori (御節料理).  It had never been a big deal to me, and I never remembered to make reservations at Japanese restaurants until it's too late.  This year, though, I decided that things were gonna be different.  I was determined to tick this off my to-do list.

I was too lazy to do research on which Japanese restaurants in town were offering decent osechi... I didn't ask my Japanese friends, nor did I bother to read this post...  It was New Year's Day, and I had just stepped into the apartment after flying back from Taipei... My knee-jerk reaction was to call up Nadaman (なだ万) and put myself on the waiting list for lunch the next day.

I arrived at the appointed time, and the friend I roped in for lunch had already decided she didn't want the special set, so she ordered some sushi instead.  I thought the new year kaiseki (初春懐石) was a little too elaborate for lunch - not to mention a little expensive - but since it was the reason why I was here in the first place... I went ahead and ordered it anyway.

Appetizers (祝肴) - as expected, this is the most elaborate part of the meal, with lots of little nibbles presented very nicely.  They were:

Rolled egg cake (伊達巻) - very pretty, and tastes good.
Sweetened black bean (黒豆松葉刺し) - always enjoyable.

Salmon and squid sushi (紅白手綱すし)

Boiled mustard flower with dried sea urchin, crab and vegetable cake (菜の花  系雲丹  蟹袱紗焼)

Fish cake (紅白蒲鉾)

Simmered abalone, herring roe (鮑柔らか煮  数の子) - interesting combination, with soft and tender abalone at the bottom while the herring roe is deliciously crunchy.

Prawn and egg yolk (海老黄身月冠) - this was the top half...

Herring rolled with kelp (鰊昆布巻) - I preferred the bottom half much more... with the umami coming from marinated kelp.  I'm also a big fan of Japanese marinated herring.

Sesame curd with sea urchin (胡麻豆腐  生雲丹  べっこう餡) - the sesame tofu was very tasty.

Picked radish and carrot, salmon roe, sea kelp (紅白なます  イクラ  結び昆布)

Soup: traditional clear soup with brown rice cake, chicken, mushroom, greens, carrot, yuzu-citron and gold leaf (御椀:雑煮椀  古代餅  鶏  亀甲椎茸  鶴菜  日の出人参  柚子  金箔) - this was so-so.  I didn't care for the rice cake, because it was a little too big, and a little too charred from grilling.  I didn't understand how a grilled rice cake could benefit from being soaked in a bowl of soup, which turned its crispy exterior soggy.  I left most of the rice cake in the bowl.

Sashimi: sea bream, tuna and striped jack (造里:祝い鯛  鮪  縞鰺  あしらい) - my friend was kind enough to take the tuna off my hands.  The traditional red and white color scheme is carried through to this course, too...

Sea bream (鯛)

Striped jack (縞鰺)

Simmerd dish: taro, pumpkin, carrot and chicken ball (多喜合:里芋  竹の子  梅人参  鶏つくね  青味)

Vinegar dish: crab meat, cucumber and sea weed in vinegar sauce (寿の物:ずわい蟹  打ち胡瓜  若布) 

Grilled dish: grilled giant yellowtail with teriyaki sauce, served with mashed sweet potato and chestnut, vinegared celery (家喜物:鰤照焼  栗金団  セロリ甘酢漬け  揚げ稲穂) - this was OK.  But the surprise came in the form of "poprice"... The rice on the stalk was done popcorn style, and even lightly seasoned.  Very nice!

I really liked this little bowl with a cooked chestnut surrounded encased in a pile of sweet potato mash.  Very, very sweet.  Very, very yummy.

Rice dish: steamed rice with red bean, soya bean soup and pickles (食事:紅白飯  赤出汁  香の物) - I ate a little each of the white steamed rice and the red glutinous rice, in keeping with the red and white theme.  I was already very full.

The miso soup (赤出汁) was OK.

Dessert: sweetened red bean soup with starch dumpling (デザート:白玉ぜんざい) - very classic.

There was a glass of sake that was poured at the beginning of the meal, without any announcement whatsoever.  I guess the sake must be pretty shit, then... if the staff didn't bother to tell me what it was.  Oh, and it was completely unremarkable.

To be honest, this was a pretty disappointing meal.  No, nothing failed badly, but then again very little was memorable - other than the poprice and sweet potato mash.  This wasn't exactly a cheap meal, and I would have been happier with about ⅔ of the amount of food at a lower price point.  Not exactly value for money.  Not surprisingly, my friend complained about the quality of her sushi... given that it's January 2nd and Tsukiji probably wasn't open yesterday...  Well, at least I've ticked this off my list and won't need to do it again... and certainly won't be doing it at Nadaman...

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map