April 6, 2018

Hairy Ronin

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Tonight was meant to be a chance for Hairy Legs and I to catch up.  He had originally asked me to drop by Caprice for some cheese and wine, but a last minute change of plans saw the ladies join us at Ronin.  Hairy Legs has never been there, so even though Hello Kitty and I were just there 2 weeks ago, I figured we should just go along.  After all, I've never had a bad meal there.

Since we took the 8:30 seating tonight, both Matt and Elliot were in the house.  I had just seen Matt at the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants awards last week, and I'm guessing Hairy Legs and Matt at least got to shakes hands back then.

I didn't want to take the full tasting menu because it is just too much food, and I was afraid that many of the dishes may overlap with what I had two weeks ago.  So I picked out a few key dishes I wanted, and asked Matt to put together the rest for us.

Once again, we started with some kale flower, dashi, yuzu.

Senposhi oyster, red shiso vinegar, sudachi - the oysters are from Senposhi (仙鳳趾) in Hokkaido.  This was a little briny but also sweet.  The red shiso (紫蘇) vinegar granité delivered a good dose of acidity, and the shaved sudachi (酢橘) zest brought along beautiful citrus fragrance.

Kumamoto oyster, mozuku, apple, ginger vinegar - in comparison, this was surprisingly plain and flat - completely different from my experience two weeks ago.  None of the ingredients delivered much flavor.

Botan ebi spot prawn sashimi, sea salt, sudachi

Shima aji striped jack sashimi, wasabi, soy

Itoyori threadfin bream sashimi, garlic soy, spring onion - these were very tasty, and pretty smoky.

Tai sea bream sashimi, karasumi, yuzu - it's been a while since I last had this, and I looooove karasumi (カラスミ)...

Saba mackerel smoked sashimi, persimmon, vinegar - this is always good... with the sweetness from persimmon balancing the flavors of mackerel.

Flower crab, uni, mitsuba, sudachi - OK, SO I'M AN IDIOT.  Having just had this with Hello Kitty two weeks ago, I initially asked for just one serving of this for the four of us - thinking that Hello Kitty and I would just nibble.  I promptly got scolded by Hello Kitty, so I turned around and asked Matt for a second serving ASAP.  The ladies got to share one while Hairy Legs and I shared the second serving - and I let him take most of it.  It is no wonder that this most Instagrammable of dishes is also the crowd favorite.

Hamachi yellowtail sashimi, daikoku, watercress, yuzu kosho - haven't seen this dish before.. The young yellowtail was fine, but our focus was on the daikoku shimeji (大黒占地), which do look like ceps.  The seasoning and use of greens were also interesting.

Hotaru ika firefly squid, urui, karashi miso - YASS!  Firefly squid (蛍烏賊)!!!! They're in season now and I LOOOOOVE them.  They're perfect as-is without any seasoning, or without being cooked at all, as they pack a serious amount of flavors.  Here the kitchen has served them with diced young plantain lilies (ウルイ) as well as crispy rice puffs. YUM.

Ebisu snapper nanban, daikon, jalapeno, kumquat, vinegar - very interesting to have the Japanese soldierfish (恵比寿鯛) done as nanban (南蛮漬け), and loved the combination of acidity as well as a little spiciness.

KFC sawagani crab, yuzu, sesame - always very cute, aren't they? With a "Korean fried chicken" sauce.

Ruby snapper karaage, pickled jalapeno tosazu - totally did not expect the fish to be this size when I ordered it... Pretty nice, but getting kinda full by this point.

Kagoshima beef, negi, maitake, sukiyaki egg yolk - we didn't have this dish on my last visit, but I simply couldn't let Hairy Legs walk out of here without trying this.  The tender and thin slices of beef are always so satisfying, especially when served together with maitake (舞茸), shredded spring onions, deep-fried garlic, and raw egg yolk mixed in.  Oh and that sukiyaki (すき焼き) sauce...

Udon, wild shrimp, chorizo, tomato miso - our last act would be this udon.  This was my last dish from 2 weeks ago and I was already very stuffed by then.  Tonight I was in slightly better shape, so Hairy Legs and I managed to polish it off.  The flavors here were pretty heavy, but I think Hairy Legs appreciated and enjoyed it.

In terms of drinks... we started off with a cocktail before moving on to the two bottles of wine we brought...

2014 Arnaud Ente Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Referts - nice and toasty, buttery, beautiful.

1998 Artadi Grandes Añadas - sweet nose, a little vanilla, a little smoky.  Opened up nicely after 1½ hours.

We then moved on to some Suntory Hibiki 21, which I definitely didn't need... never mind two of them...

Anyway... Always fun to catch up with Hairy Legs.  Thinking next time we should do Yardbird together after Hairy Legs finishes service.  That would be the first time for both of us...

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