March 30, 2016

Tokyo sakura trip day 5: Little Bear

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We went back to Ginza for the last meal of the trip, which was perfect as it would be within walking distance of our hotel.  Koguma (小熊) doesn't have any macarons, therefore it's kinda off the radar screens of many overseas visitors.  But one of our friends' parents visited the restaurant earlier and delivered positive feedback, and the pics on the restaurant's website (they even have an English site!) looked tantalizing.  So I looked forward to a nice farewell lunch.

Sesami-tofu on sea urchin top (前付:胡麻豆腐 雲丹) - a good way to start.  The sesame tofu was rich and tasty.

Clear soup with tilefish (お椀:ぐじ 筍 うるい) - I loooove these dishes with clear broth made with dashi (出汁), because the flavors are so clean and elegant.  Besides the piece of lightly-grilled tilefish (甘鯛), there were fresh bamboo shoots, leeks, and young hosta shoots (うるい) which sprout in the Spring.

Aged sashimi: tilefish, 7 days (お造り:白川) - this was actually a type of tilefish called shirakawa (白川 or 白甘鯛).  Instead of soy sauce, this was dipped in saltwater flavored with konbu (昆布).  Also served with chiffonade of konbu and young red shiso (赤紫蘇) leaves.

Aged sashimi: young tuna, 7 days (お造り:めじ鮪) - lightly torched.  This was very interesting, and served with some fern.

Roasted Japanese no-horns beef, Chinese lantern plant, spring vegetable (強肴:無角和牛ローストビーフ) -  served with carrots which were grown while buried under the snow in Niigata Prefecture (新潟県); a type of rapeseed flower called のらぼう菜; tempura of butterbur bud (蕗の薹); and a cape gooseberry.

The beef comes from a breed of cattle called Mukakuwagyu (無角和牛), which literally means "hornless Japanese cows".  This is a type of breed that has gone out of fashion for the last 60 years or so, as people's preferences veered toward cattle with more marbling.  It's easy to see that the meat was pretty lean and without much fat.  Very nice "beefy" flavors.

Steamed coral-rockfish with parched rice (焚合せ:目拔け煎米蒸し) - the fish was topped with a layer of rice crispies, using rice from Shizuoka Prefecture milled down to the center the way sake rice is treated.  Absolutely loved this dish, as the crispy rice was slightly softened by the broth but still retained some crunch and the toasty flavors.  The spring onions on top were Kujonegi (九条葱) from Kyoto.

Boiled rice with soy sauce and baby sardines (お食事:ちりめんじゃこ御飯) - this was really, really delicious.  I loooove baby sardines and they happen to be in season.  The rice was steamed with some green sansho (山椒) peppercorns inside, which added a nice kick when you bit into one.  Garnished with chiffonade of perilla leaves, which added yet another type of fragrance.  I couldn't refuse a second bowl.

Fresh pickles (香物)

Miso soup (留碗) - interestingly the little cubes floating in the bowl weren't tofu, but sesame gluten (胡麻麩).

Persimmom ice cream (デザート:市田柿アイスクリーム) - actually made with dried Ichida persimmons.

Miso caramel (キャラメル) - not your typical salted caramel.  With little bits of soybeans inside.

We decided to order a couple of wines to go with lunch...

2014 Château Mercian Private Reserve Hokushin Chardonnay - very fragrant and floral, with notes of tropical fruits.  Still a little sharp.  Actually riper on the palate than expected.

2012 Hudelot-Noellat Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Charmes - a little smoky, with black fruits and a little minty.  Still young and a little sharp.

Lunch was very enjoyable, and I'm really glad we came to check this place out.  Maybe next time we'll come back for dinner.  Oh and I decided to buy a few boxes of their caramels, which come in 4 different flavors.  Yum1

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