March 11, 2017

Remembering 3/11

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It's been 6 years since that fateful day in Japan, and the memories of watching the horror unfold on live TV are still with me.  Six years on, there is still no solution to Fukushima, as recent robotic probes have all failed in their missions.  It' still the elephant in the room that the Japanese government and TEPCO don't like to talk about.

But I have not wavered in my support of Japan.  I still try to go to Japan when I can... although my visits have been annual and infrequent.  I still haven't made it to the Tohoku region myself, but one of these days I will make a trip to help H-man at his nascent winery in Yamagata Prefecture (山形県).  But one thing I do consciously is to try to support the people of the Tohoku region by buying their products, and sake is something easy for me to purchase, so in recent years I have steered myself towards sake breweries in the affected region.

After entertaining my mom last weekend, it was time to entertain Mary White.  We were trying to pick a Japanese restaurant somewhat convenient for her, and came up with Inagiku (稲ぎく) at the Royal Garden Hotel.  In all my years in Hong Kong, I've never managed to come to this restaurant.  In fact, I've probably only been to the newer sister outlet in IFC twice.  These jack-of-all-trades Japanese restaurants like Inagiku and Nadaman (なだ万) are, inevitably, master of none...

The three of us decided to order a few dishes to share.

Salted firefly squid (蛍烏賊沖漬け) - while it would have been nice to enjoy these fresh and "as is", they're not too bad when they're salted.  Very nice with some yuzu (柚子) rind.

Special assorted sashimi (上刺身盛り合わせ) - during the process of ordering, we checked with our waitress to see which sashimi and sushi set we should choose in order not to have tuna.  This was our waitress' recommendation.  Unfortunately there were still slices of tuna back (赤身) on the plate.  The waitress apologized for this misunderstanding, but we decided not to send the plate back since one of us don't share in this particular dietary restriction...

Special assorted sushi (上握り寿司) - no tuna here...

Grilled eggplant with miso (茄子田楽) - I've always loved the way Japanese grilled eggplants with some miso (味噌) on top.  This was pretty good, although I wish we had ended up with both halves of the eggplant.  The miso delivered savory yet sweet flavors, which were prominent without being overpowering.

Japanese beef sirloin (日本和牛サーロイン) - I didn't bother asking about the origin or the grade of the Japanese beef, but needless to say these cubes were pretty delicious.  Definitely marbled and fatty, and very satisfying to bite into them and feel the liquefied fat oozing out.  The deep-fried garlic chips were really awesome.

Ox tongue (牛タン) - this was pretty good, too.  Love the springy texture.  And more deep-fried garlic!

Grilled rice balls with salmon (焼き鮭おにぎり) - these were really, really good.  Dry and crispy exterior, and lots of delicious flavors from the salmon flakes and the perilla leaves chiffonade.

This looks just beautiful.
Deep-fried mixed vegetables and shrimp cake served on rice (かき揚げ丼) - I love かき揚げ... it's probably my favorite thing from a tempura (天ぷら) meal and I always have to wait till the very end for it.  Loved the variety of mixed vegetables tonight, including the mushrooms.

I always open a bottle of sake from the Tohoku region to mark the occasion, and this year I once again picked something from Dewazakura (出羽桜).  They make very high quality offerings, and I love the fact that some of their production is aged in the brewery for a long time.

Dewazakura Yukimanman, Aged 5 Years Below Freezing (出羽桜 雪漫々 五年氷点下熟成酒), released Dec 2016 - first sip was drier than expected, but mid-palate was very soft and smooth, with a spicy finish in the back.  Fragrant nose with a little tropical fruits.  Nice length with good depth of flavors.

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