August 22, 2014

Japanese collage

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A friend was kind enough to invite me for dinner tonight, and was even kind enough to choose a restaurant with "light" fare to accommodate the fact that I had a big lunch today.  Japanese was the order of the day, and they decided on Shin Shu (信州) in K-Town.  This is a couple of doors down from Bistronomique (which, incidentally, my friend David is no longer involved with), and happens to be run by the same people.

I recalled reading the review from Susan in the paper, and remembering that she liked the food.  So I felt pretty safe about trying out this new place.  Yes, the decor was pretty bare.  In fact it looks like your average neighborhood Japanese joint, not some place that serves up premium ingredients.  But hey, as long as the food is good, I ain't gonna complain much...

Susan had mentioned that the omakase was satisfying at a reasonable price, so naturally we followed suit.  We need rearrange the serving order a little bit in order to match the alcohol we brought.

Edamame (枝豆) - pretty standard for many Japanese restaurants to serve this first...

Onsen egg with sea urchin and salmon roe (温泉卵、雲丹、イクラ) - pretty nice, but the surprise was the little sansho leaf (木の芽) which gave the whole thing the slightest of kicks and made it much more interesting.

Sashimi selection - a good mix consisting of olive flounder (鮃) roll with a dab of sea urchin (雲丹), young yellowtail (ハマチ), half of a very thick scallop (帆立貝) that was nice and sweet, and a botan shrimp (牡丹海老) that was pretty nice.  As is customary, I gave away my two slices of medium fatty tuna (中トロ).  Nice to see that they served this with some myoga (茗荷).

This simple, clear soup came with a couple of rolls of fried tofu skin (油揚げ), shiitake (椎茸) mushroom, and a single shrimp ball (海老団子).  A couple of pieces of green yuzu (柚子) skin provided it with incredible fragrance.

Grilled sweetfish (鮎塩焼き) - this is the season for sweetfish, and grilling is the classic way to enjoy it.

Tempura (天ぷら) - this was the first time that I've had abalone (鮑) tempura, and it was pretty interesting.  Because I ate it whole, while the abalone wasn't really chewy, the thickness and the size of it meant that it took some work.  The shishito peppers (獅子唐辛子) were pretty nice.

Sushi platter - I actually forgot to take a picture of the platter... which hasn't happened in a long, long time.  There was mackerel (鯖) with a thin slice of marinated kelp (昆布), great amberjack (間八) with a little yuzu (柚子), scallop (帆立貝) with a dab of black truffle sauce, sea urchin (雲丹), and torched salmon (炙り鮭) wrapped in lettuce with some sesame sauce (胡麻タレ).  All pretty yummy.

Wagyu tataki (和牛たたき) - finally, the dish that should have been served much earlier.  Thin slices of Kagoshima (鹿児島) beef, ever-so-slighly seared.  Very, very tender and well-marbled.

The peach sorbet wasn't bad at all.

I thought the food was pretty good overall.  We got a bit of everything - from sashimi, sushi, tempura, grilled fish to beef.  No fails.  In fact most of the food was well-executed.  I thought I might have wanted a little more of the specials, especially after seeing boxes of fresh matsutake (松茸) mushrooms lying around... but I was perfectly fine with the amount of food we got.

Of course with this bunch there would be plenty of wine...

1999 Leflaive Bâtard-Montrachet - a little toast, a little oxidized but drank perfectly fine.  Medium acidity here.  Clashed badly with the scallop sashimi and soy sauce.

Egly-Ouriet Brut Tradition Grand Cru, degorgée Janvier 2013 - pretty ripe on the palate, with notes of marmalade.  Always delicious to drink this wine.

2013 Hakurakusei Zankyo "Super 8" (伯楽星 残響 "Super 8"), bottle 127/365 - one of my favorite sakes in the world.  The blend of Yamada Nishiki (山田錦) and Omachi (雄町) rice is milled down to a mere 8% of its original size, taking seimaibuai (精米歩合) to the very extreme.  Initially there was tons of banana, ripe and sweet musk melon and other tropical fruits.  Very sweet on the palate and extremely smooth and rounded.  As it warmed up a little, the palate got slightly drier.  What a beautiful sake!

1970 Angelus - ripe on the nose, a little smoky, a little green pepper and woody.

1996 Dom Pérignon - from some of the very first batches to arrive in Hong Kong.  A very, very well-made Champagne, with incredible balance between the acidity and ripeness.

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