December 28, 2017

AC x2

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It's almost the end of the year, and I had originally not planned any big meals after going through a quiet Christmas.  But The AC is coming through town again, and after meeting up with him exactly a year ago, I realized that he's not some crazy axe murderer and that I could join him for lunch - especially when it's at one of my favorite restaurants in town.

I didn't want to let Sato-san or Takano-san know that I was joining for lunch... I had wanted it to be a surprise.  But when I showed up at the entrance to Ta Vie 旅 with my camera in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other, Takano-san didn't seem surprised to see me.

We decided to take the 5-course short tasting menu, but Sato-san was kind enough to send us two extra courses.  I guess it's the holiday season, and we sure needed the extra calories...

"Crab house sandwich" : zuwai crab salad with crispy buckwheat crêpe - between layers of galettes made of blé noir is a combination of Japanese snow crab (ズワイ蟹) meat, avocado, and thin slices of cherry radish.  This was pretty delicious, and there was a small amount of sauce made with crab tomalley (蟹味噌) on the side.

Homemade nukazuke (糠漬け) bread - served with homemade butter.

Warm salad of Hokkaido mussels with artichokes - while the other boys enjoyed munching on Sato-san's complimentary fish cum, I was presented with this nice dish of mussels.  The "mussel shells" were actually made with potato chips.  The tomato-based sauce at the bottom of the bowl delivered a surprising twist to the flavor profile of the dish.

House made pasta with "aonori" sauce topped with premium uni - one of my all-time favorite dishes.  I just cannot get enough of the combination of umami from the seaweed and the sweetness from sea urchin that has been shipped in sea water.

"Civet" braised abalone with abalone shell - this was always another delicious signature dish.  The scored abalone is incredibly tender, and served with shiitake mushrooms, pearl onions, and an abalone liver sauce - all underneath a puff pastry made to resemble an abalone shell.

Wagyu "minute" steak with burnt onion and onsen egg, Japanese whisky sauce - very thankful that Sato-san gave us a few shavings of black truffle on top of the beef.  There's a wonderful onsen egg (温泉卵) with runny yolk, along with onions and cubes of potatoes.  I especially love the sauce made with mirin (味醂) and peaty Japanese whisky.

"Les Feuilles Mortes": fresh chestnuts Mont-Blanc with Pu'er tea ice cream - this has always been a good dessert here, as it is the season for Mont-Blanc.  This one isn't very sweet, which enables the chestnut flavors to shine.  I love the "fallen leaves" on top.

Baba au rhum - this is the extra dessert from Sato-san.  The brioche at the bottom has been soaked in rum and mirin, then topped with a layer of Japanese persimmon.  The quenelle of vanilla ice cream was encrusted with freeze-dried wolfberries as well as rum-soaked raisins, then sprinkled with shaved salted egg yolk.  Yum.

Chocolate and kaffir lime pudding - because I had chosen coffee for my drink, the mignardises for me would be this delicious chocolate pudding flavored with the wonderful fragrance of kaffir lime.  Slurp.

I don't usually drink at lunch, but seeing that it is the second to last working day of the year, I decided to bring along a bottle.

2003 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge - initially the nose seemed over-ripe, but with aeration the acidity and minerality developed further.  The nose was still pretty sweet like marzipan, with orange marmalade notes.  Perhaps this wine has peaked.

A very good lunch to close out the fine dining calendar for the year, and thankful that The AC very kindly allowed me to join him. Of course, I am always thankful for the kindness and generosity of Sato-san and Takano-san, and for their excellent service.  I will need to see more of them next year...

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