June 20, 2015

The rock from Ginza

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It's the start of birthday season, and Hello Kitty was nice enough to take me out for dinner.  I was free to choose where I wanted to go, and (perhaps) surprisingly chose to have sushi.  I rarely choose to have sushi in Hong Kong, and I can count the number of visits per year on one hand.  However, Ginza Iwa (銀座いわ) have managed to get themselves a little macaron, and that piqued my interest.  I took the opportunity to check out this local branch of a starred sushiya from Tokyo.

I looked at our choice of three menus, and decided that I would be happy enough with the cheapest set Miyabi.  It was, after all, my first time here... and I found it hard to justify paying USD 300 to 400 for sushi in Hong Kong when I paid less for Sukiyabashi Jiro (すきやばし 次郎)...

So we were served a series of 5 otsumami (おつまみ):

Chicken grunt (伊佐木)

Striped jack (縞鰺) - texture seems softer than usual.

Oyster (牡蠣) - from Shimane Prefecture (島根県).  Served simply with lemon juice, which neutralized the briny flavors.

Fan shell (平貝) - grilled and wrapped in seaweed (のり).  Coated with some sauce that was a little spicy.

Some pickles to cleanse our palate, in addition to the pile of pickled ginger...

I asked our chef what this was, since no one bothered to tell us when this was laid down in front of us.  The answer I got seemed to be "tatsuyo (たつよう)", but with my dysfunctional hearing tonight I wasn't sure if I heard correctly... and it turns out I didn't.  I later learned from my friend Gary that this was, in fact, Japanese hairtail (大刀魚). The grilled fish had a soft, velvety texture that was very pleasant.

Then came our 8 pieces of nigiri (握り鮨):

Golden alfonsino (金目鯛) - beautiful.

Oval squid (障泥烏賊) - shredded to show the chef's knife skills, with some chiffonade of perilla (紫蘇) leaves between the neta (ねた) and shari (しゃり), topped with a dab of minced ginger.

Gizzard shad (小鰭) - very nice acidity from the marinade.

Japanese horse mackerel (鯵) - again with the chiffonade of perilla (紫蘇) leaves between the neta (ねた) and shari (しゃり), topped with a dab of minced chives called asatsuki (浅葱).

Red clam (赤貝) - this was OK.

Cockle shell (鳥貝) - pretty soft and tender, and not crunchy at all.  Later we realized that our portion is only half the size of those who ordered omakase...

Sardine (鰯) - so fatty and delicious.  With chiffonade of perilla (紫蘇) leaves between the neta (ねた) and shari (しゃり), topped with a dab of minced asatsuki (浅葱) and ginger.

Purple sea urchin (紫雲丹) - in a 軍艦巻き.

The お椀 was simply a bowl of miso soup, with nori (のり) seaweed.

Finally, a slice of ultra-ripe musk melon (マスクメロン) from Shizuoka Prefecture (静岡県).  Just dripping with juice...

A pretty good meal overall.  Although I didn't ask the chef, I wondered if they aged their seafood, as the textures on some of them seemed more tender.

But was it worthy of a macaron?  I'm not sure.  First of all, I usually ask for omakase (お任せ) at a sushiya but chose not to do so tonight.  Our neighbors who chose the full spread definitely had a few very interesting items which I would have liked to have tried, but perhaps not at the price I would have had to pay.  I would say there were no fails or disappointments, perhaps with the exception of the two clams, which were served to us without the traditional "slap" that causes the reflex curling of the muscles.  This was done for the cockle shell served to our neighbors, but not for us.

The other minor annoyance was that the chef seemed happy to serve food without announcing the identities of the dish to his customers.  Perhaps this was because the young-ish Japanese chef spoke limited Cantonese, but I did question him about each dish early on in Japanese, so he should have been aware that there would be no language barrier.  And it would have been obvious that I wanted to know every dish and every garnish.  So why, then, did he remain silent?

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