August 6, 2016

Sushi and deep-fried sticks

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After a long bout with gastritis - and days of eating a lot of bread with water - I found myself craving for something a little more satisfying.  I've been thinking about sushi for a few weeks now, as it's been a while since I last had something decent.  Then there's the fact that it's been baby gizzard shad season, and I really love them.  The question comes down to picking out a place in Hong Kong that would have the right supplier for that.

I remembered that I had the pleasure of having it prepared by Masa-san at Rozan (鮨魯山) 3 years ago, so I figured that would be a logical place to try.  I called to make a reservation.  No answer.  OK, it's past 10 p.m.  I'll call the next day during the day.  Still no answer, at an hour where someone should be in the restaurant prepping for lunch.  Called during lunch service, and still the call went straight to a mobile phone number's voice mail.  After 4 or 5 attempts, I gave up.  I know that this restaurant isn't hard up on money, nor does it need to fill every seat, but seriously...  How do you even do business when nobody picks up the fucking phone?!

Fortunately, my friends know the manager in charge of Uncle Peter's restaurants, and they ended up making the reservation by contacting him.  I, too, was given the manager's business card once, but I don't know the guy well enough to call him on his mobile for a reservation.  Whatever the case, at least we got ourselves seats at the counter.

We placed our order and the staff asked us about any dietary restrictions.  Out of habit, Hello Kitty and I shake our heads... but we would later realize our mistake.  We were, after all, dining at a top-end sushi restaurant.

A trio of amuse bouches start us off:

Grilled eel (鰻) - with pickled cucumber and mozuku (海蘊) seaweed in ponzu (ポン酢).  A nice way to begin the meal, as the acidity in ponzu whets one's appetite.

Simmered octopus (蛸の柔らか煮) - very, very tender.  Love the fragrance and the light kick from sansho leaves (木の芽).

Marbled flounder (真子鰈) - these slices were pressed between slices of kelp (昆布締め) for a few minutes, although as usual, I found the additional marinated flavors to be too mild.

This was especially the case when one dabs a little bit of spicy grated radish on top... as the kick was just too overpowering.

Then the series of nigiri sushi (握ずし) started:

Swordtip squid (剣先烏賊) - also called 白烏賊 when it comes from the waters around Kyushu (九州).  Rather than the usual one piece of even being scored multiple times (such as this one in Gyodoike 魚道生 in Taipei), Masa-san completely diced the squid into little cubes.  Some of the chunks were very soft, but others were surprisingly crunchy and chewy.  Drizzled with a little sudachi (酢橘) juice, then sprinkled with some yuzu (柚子) rind, black (charcoal?) salt, and a dab of horseradish (山わさび).  Very nice.  Maybe my memory is failing, but I don't remember the shari having so much dark vinegar on my visit 3 years ago.  I think the acidity was definitely a little more pronounced today.

Rosy seabass (喉黒) - lightly torched, with a little dab of what seemed to be asatsuki (浅葱) on top.  Always delicious.

Golden alfonsino (金目鯛) - the thin slice was lightly torched, then served over some very soft tofu skin (湯葉).  The delicious sauce was made with alfonsino bones, so it's not surprise that it was particularly tasty with plenty of umami.

Raw shrimp (甘海老) - these were some pretty damn fat shrimps!  Dressed in dashi (出汁) made with the shrimp heads.  Slurp.

California cockle (蝦夷石影貝) - sometimes called 石垣貝.  I can certainly understand why it's also called 白鳥貝, as it looks like a bleached version.  This was tasty.

Oyster (牡蠣) - from Akeshi (明石).

Japanese horsehair crab (毛蟹) - with a dab of king crab roe on top.  This was really awesome.

At this point I realized my mistake.  Why did I say that I had no dietary restrictions, when I clearly do at high-end sushi restaurants?  If I am asked, I would certainly ask the chef not to serve me any form of tuna.  But I was a little late, as the first piece had already been sliced.

Lean tuna (赤身) - marinated in soy sauce for a few minutes, scored well and served with a dab of minced ginger on top.

Japanese hairtail (大刀魚) - scored and lightly torched.  Serve on a bed of Japanese corn purée, and garnished with edamame (枝豆), ladyfinger, and leeks.

Japanese yam (山芋) - pickled and wrapped simply in nori (海苔) seaweed.

Horse mackerel (鯵) - served with a paper-thin slice of kelp (昆布) and topped with a dab of yuzukosho (柚子胡椒).  Very yum.

Northern sea urchin (北紫雲丹) - I loved this when Masa-san served it to me 3 years ago.  Packed by Hadate Suisan (羽立水産) in Hokkaido.  Sooo creamy and sweet.

Abalone (鮑) - from Kyushu.  Simmered so that it was very, very tender.  Served with abalone liver sauce.

Baby gizzard shad (新子) - this is what I came for.  Unfortunately this was towards the end of "baby season", and these little guys have grown quite a bit... in fact they'd almost be 小肌 right now.  On my last visit 3 years ago, my sushi was covered with 6 of these little fishies.  Masa-san said that as recently as last week, he could still fit 5 of them onto one piece of sushi.  But tonight the pieces were so big that I got 4 halves... or 2 whole fish.  Still very tasty after marinating for 10 days between kelp, but I'm disappointed that I came a couple of weeks late.

Mackarel roll (鯖巻き) - this was my substitute for the usual fatty tuna roll.  With some shiso (紫蘇) and sesame seeds.  Pretty happy with this.

Conger eel (穴子) - simply grilled.  Pretty good.

Fish soup - this might look like an ordinary bowl of miso soup, but it was made with plenty of fish bones, and was very, very tasty.  I normally don't touch miso soup with the proverbial 10-foot pole,  but I guzzled this down in a few seconds.

Conger eel (穴子) with sauce - the muddy flavors were much more pronounced with this piece.

Egg - pretty good.

Dessert was a combination of mizu shingen mochi (水信玄餅), mango from Miyazaki Prefecture (宮崎県), and houjicha (焙じ茶) ice cream.

Hello Kitty and I opted out of Masa-san's signature fatty tuna sushi, with three thin slices on top of the rice.  However, I don't think we got a replacement piece...  That was a little disappointing.

We brought 2 bottles of sake with us tonight, which were very different in styles.

Kamoshibito Kuheiji Junmai Daiginjo Hinokishi (醸し人九平次 純米大吟醸 彼の岸) 2014, BY28 - with a seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 30%.  Dry on the palate, with some fermented rice flavors.  A little spicy on the finish.  Probably more of a food sake.

Juyondai Special (十四代 秘酒) - forgot to check the BY for this bottle, but assume it would be 28 as it was purchased this year.  Seihakudo (精白度) of 65%, which should translate to seimaibuai of 35%.  Much smoother and rounder on the palate, and more viscous.  Deeper flavors and richer on the palate.  Also slightly sweeter.

During dinner my friends were talking about going to Hidden Kitchen (秀殿) tomorrow, so I kinda flippantly suggested that we hit the place for supper after our dinner tonight.  Well... this is an example of how you get called on your bluff!  I was forced to call the restaurant and check for seat availability, and surprisingly at 10 p.m. on a Saturday night, they were able to accommodate the 4 of us.

So we cabbed over, found ourselves seated at the counter, and ordered up a few skewers.  And continued our drinking.

Chicken wings (手羽唐揚げ) - one should never leave this place without ordering these awesome chicken wings, and the sauce covering the crispy skin is the key.

Deep-fried fish cake (薩摩揚げ) - actually I think this was じゃこ天.  Not bad at all.

Deep-fried chicken cartilage (なんこつ唐揚げ) - not bad, but some of the pieces are really kinda tough.

Kelp with herring roe (子持ち昆布) - always one of my favorites.  Just love how the fish eggs deliver that crunchy and springy texture when I bite down into this!

Scallop with tartar and salmon roe (ほたてタルタルいくら) - simply one of the best items on the menu.  Just the breaded and deep-fried scallop by itself would be drool-worthy, but then you add the tartar sauce on top, and put a bunch of gloriously golden salmon roe that you can pop in the mouth...  Next time Imma order up two of these for myself!

I decided to order a couple of fruity girlie drinks here...

Fukucho Unshu Mikanshu (富久長 温州みかん酒) - this tasted like a very concentrated orange juice with a little bit of added alcohol.  Well... there's less than 7% alcohol here, which is sake-based.  Pretty nice on the rocks.

Okinawa Kokuto Umeshu (沖縄黒糖梅酒) - from Sakiyama Brewery (崎山酒造) using an awamori (泡盛) with 44% alcohol as the base, diluted down to about 14%.  This was expected to be sweet, but actually wasn't as sweet as I thought it would be.  Lots of depth in terms of flavors here, though.  A delicious drink on the rocks.

A very happy and satisfying evening.  Of course, I definitely didn't need the extra calories that I took in at Hidden Kitchen, but I'm glad that I was feeling stuffed to the brim at the end of the evening.

1 comment:

Alyssa said...

So much seafood. What a treat.


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