February 16, 2016

More fortune sushi

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Jay Essu was back in town on a whirlwind visit, and wanted to meet up for dinner with a few of us.  It's been a few years since the four of us all worked on the same floor, and I can't recall the last time that ILove Lubutin, Jay Essu, and I were all at the same table.  Tonight we would be sitting at the same counter at Sushi Fuku-suke (鮨 福助).

My only visit to this restaurant came almost 5 years ago, in the aftermath of the Tohoku Earthquake, when a bunch of us went to support their business and take a symbolic stand for Japanese businesses in Hong Kong.  They were in pretty bad shape then, but I'm glad they managed to stick around.

Our friend is a regular here and gets the VIP treatment, so we're all riding on her coattails tonight.  Omakase it was, naturally...

We started with some dried marinated blowfish (ふぐみりん 干し), which were a little more wet than I had expected.  There was also a little too much of it for a snack, but oh well...

Next up was water shield (蒓菜) in jelly, which always has an interesting, slippery texture.

Jellyfish (海月) - I was a little surprised to see jellyfish tentacles here, but I do love the crunchy texture.  Served with a little grated ginger and citrus juice.

Oyster (牡蠣) - this came from Hyogo Prefecture (兵庫県), and was a little more briny than I had expected.  Served with shavings of yuzu (柚子) rind.

The chef then brought out the plate for serving sushi, along with their selection of homemade pickles...

Roughscale sole (鮫鰈) - don't think I've ever had this particular type of sole before...

The wing of the サメガレイcame with a few drops of sudachi (酢橘) juice.

Wild red seabream (天然真鯛) - served with a piece of its own liver on top.  Yum.

Geoduck (海松貝) - naturally, very crunchy.  Seasoned with soy sauce and sudachi.

Barracuda (魳) - nicely scored.  Lightly torched to impart a smoky fragrance and heavier flavors.  Topped with a dab of yuzukosho (柚子胡椒).  Very nice.

Halfbeak (針魚) - with some spring onion sprouts (芽ねぎ) under the neta (ネタ) and a little ginger on top.

Japanese horse hair crab (毛蟹) - at the start of the meal, the chef put this baby on the table to show us...

... and now the crab was served to us, along with some tomalley (蟹味噌).  Pretty difficult not to like this...

Next came a little snack, featuring the leftover bits from the halfbeak we had earlier.  My friends got the deep-fried halfbeak bones, I had halfbeak skin wrapped around a stick and torched.

Pole-and-line caught horse mackerel (釣り鯵) - with a dab of minced ginger on top.  Very nice.

Glass shrimp (白海老) - with yuzu shavings.

Striped jack (縞鰺) - this was a little thick, and kinda crunchy in texture.

Yellowtail (鰤) - with a sprinkle of sesame on top.

Surf clam (北寄貝) - I saw the chef take out a few of these big, beautiful babies and open them up...

... and turn them into these...  Very yum.

Rosy seabass (赤鯥) - torched, served with spring onions and crispy scales.

The chef asked if we wanted to have something a little special... and of course we said "Yes"!  So he pulled out a Pacific herring (鰊) and began to fillet it, then used tweezers to meticulously pick out the bones.  You see, this isn't a fish that one normally sees being used for sushi.  Besides being a "cheap" fish, it's also waaaay too bony... so it's a pain in the ass to pick clean.  That's why the popular preparation is にしんそば - where the marinated and simmered fish (breaking down the bones) is served over a bowl of buckwheat noodles.

I gotta say that I enjoyed my very first piece of Pacific herring sushi.  It was a little crunchy in texture.

Gizzard shad (小鰭) - served with a piece of perilla leaf under the neta.  Interestingly this was surprisingly salty, almost like salted plum (梅).

Grilled scallop (帆立貝), wrapped in toasted seaweed.

Sea urchin (雲丹) - interestingly, the chef used a mix of sea urchin that comes in a box (which is how most of the sea urchin that sushiyas use come in) and sea urchin that is transported in salt water (塩水雲丹).

Finally, we have some seasonal Japanese fruits to finish off.  The musk melon (マスクメロン) from Shizuoka (静岡県) was, naturally, very ripe and very sweet.  The same could be said of the strawberry from Fukuoka (福岡県).  the apple from Aomori (青森県) was very, very good, too.

On my previous visit, we brought along only sake that came from the Tohoku region.  It was therefore appropriate that on my return visit, the bottle I brought also came from the same region affected by the disaster - Yamagata Prefecture (山形県) for this particular bottle - and released in the month of the disaster (March 2011).

Dewazakura Junmai Daiginjo Aiyama (出羽桜 純米大吟醸 愛山), released Jan 2011 - nose with fermented rice lees.  Deep and complex flavors, with a pretty dry and spicy finish.  Seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 45%.

When we got the bill at the end of the meal, it was clear that we had gotten a lot more food than we were paying for.  Many thanks to the chef for this kind and special treatment.

P.S. my friend informed the chef in advance about my preference to not have tuna.  The chef did ask me about the reason I don't take tuna, and after hearing my answer, told me that he didn't think most places in Hong Kong actually serve bluefin tuna.  While that is likely to be the case, I still choose not to avoid it on the odd chance that they do serve it.  Tonight, this chef was more than willing to accommodate my request.

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