October 11, 2014

(not so) Happy sushi

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For the last few years, I found myself eating less and less sushi in Hong Kong.  Unlike many of my friends, I rarely develop a craving for it.  Since I can find good sushi in Taipei that is just as good or better - and at a significant discount to the prices in Hong Kong - I've kinda been getting my sushi fix there instead.

As a result, I no longer know where to get good sushi in Hong Kong.  Realizing that there's a gaping hole in the dining experiences documented here, I decided it was time for me to check out a few places in town.  A friend suggested that we do lunch at Kishoku (楽) - one of the places often mentioned when it comes to sushi, and a winner of the Top 10 Restaurant Award from WOM guide in the category of Japanese (Sushi).

I didn't want to have a real heavy lunch, so I opted for the deluxe sushi platter (寿司盛り合わせ).  I also specified - as usual - that I didn't want any cut of tuna.

The bowl of appetizer contained chopped mixed seafood - different cuts of fish and shellfish - in a sesame and horseradish sauce.  Not bad, but I was a little surprised by the kick from the horseradish.

The salad was about as expected.

Then came the first part of the platter:
Thread-sail filefish (皮剥) - served with a sauce made with steamed filefish liver.  Pretty good.

Halibut (鰈) - also served with its own liver, but this was fully cooked and now has a grainy texture... and also with heavier flavors.

Striped jack (縞鰺) - this was OK.

Yellowtail amberjack (平政) - with some grated radish in ponzu (ポン酢) on top.

Pacific saury (秋刀魚) - with minced ginger on top.  This was fatty and very soft. Very delicious.  I wonder how long this has been aged.

Scallop (帆立貝) - nice and thick, with a sprinkle of grated yuzu (柚子) zest that leaves a nice fragrance in the mouth.

The second batch arrived, and there was an immediate problem.  I had specifically asked not to have any tuna, but there it was - a piece of fatty tuna nigiri (トロ握り) and 6 pieces of scallion and fatty tuna roll (ネギトロ巻き).  I informed the staff once again of my preference, and they promised to replace the offending items with substitutes.

Sea urchin (雲丹) - from Canada.  Yes, it was very creamy.  Yes, there was a lot of it.  But why were there (judging from the picture) tiny pieces of the shell in my mouthful?!  In all my years of eating sea urchin, this has to be a first...

Seared mackerel (炙り鯖) - served with chiffonade of perilla (紫蘇) leaves and a thin layer of marinated kelp (昆布).  Well, I like all the individual ingredients, but I kinda wish they hadn't torched the mackerel... or maybe left it a little bit more raw.

Seared halibut wing (炙り縁側) - nice that the wing was folded back on itself over the rice... pretty yummy.  An acceptable substitute for the piece of fatty tuna (中トロ) I turned away.

Pickled radish roll (お新香巻き) - WTF?!  So... instead of my scallion and fatty tuna roll (ネギトロ巻き), this is what I get instead?!  Not exactly a good trade for me, no?!  I wasn't exactly expecting something of equal value, but you gotta admit this was a little far off the mark...  And why was there so much wasabi (山葵) used here that it cleared my sinuses?  Who the hell uses wasabi with pickles, anyway?!

Egg (卵) - my friend wasn't impressed that they used the plain, old-style egg for the lunch set - because they make the sponge cake-like version for dinner.  I guess since we're paying for a cheaper lunch set, we don't get the higher-quality version which takes more effort to make.

Steamed egg custard (茶碗蒸し) - with fish, crab leg, ginkgo nut, and a mushroom that was just really fragrant.

Miso soup - came with a single clam (蛤) which, unfortunately, had sand inside.  Yuck.  It seriously bothers me when restaurants can't take the time to let all their bivalves spit out the sand that's in their guts.  The saving grace here was also an interesting twist - they put strips of yuzu zest in the miso soup... which I don't remember ever having before.

Sea salt ice cream - this was OK, but the texture wasn't so creamy... and getting close to a sorbet.

Not exactly a happy meal.  The sand in the sea urchin killed it for me, and the sand in the clam didn't help either.  The nail in the coffin was the roll switch, which left me feeling more than a little cheated.

Not feeling quite satiated, we adjourned to the Coffee Academïcs next door for a cuppa.  I've kinda been getting into ice drip lately, so I ordered one up.

Ice drip Ethiopian Yirgacheffe - served in a tall wine glass, this was perfect for a wino like me!  The 8-hour extraction process meant very pronounced flavors that appeared to be very clean and pure.  The nose was clearly pretty smoky from the roasting process, which came through thanks to the wine glass.  A little fruity on the palate, with flavors of toasted nuts and then a sweet aftertaste.  Kinda medium-bodied.  For a coffee novice, I gotta say that I'm really like the Yirgacheffe...


Anonymous said...

Why no tuna? Please to explain.

Peech said...

In general, I asked not to be served tuna at restaurants where they might serve me blue-fin tuna. This is for environmental reasons as blue-fin stock is dwindling fast due to over-fishing.

I do make exceptions, such as when I visit places like Sukiyabashi Jiro, since it may appear disrespectful to the chef if I avoid tuna.

When I know the tuna isn't blue-fin, I'll happily eat it.


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