April 23, 2018

The last flowers of spring

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Since I bailed on dinner with Birdiegolf a week ago, I decided to make it up to them by meeting up this week.  I had seen Godenya (ごでんや) post about their seasonal ingredients, and I figured we needed to get ourselves there STAT.  Thankfully they're no longer booked out a month or more ahead, so I was able to get us seats with two weeks' notice.

The four of us were the only ones in the main dining room, so we had Goshima-san's (almost) undivided attention.  This time around, in addition to the English as well as the Japanese menu, the restaurant now has provided a third piece of washi (和紙) - with a list of ingredients and sakes showing their origins superimposed on a map of Japan.

Cockle clam, sakura salmon, sakura leaf (鳥貝  桜鱒  桜葉) - our starter was marinated in cherry leaves to impart some of the flavors.  The cockle from Mie Prefecture (三重県) was very, very soft.  The cherry salmon from Aomori Prefecture (青森県) was very flavorful, with a hint of the cherry leaves.

Odayaka Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Unpasteurized (穏 純米吟醸  うすじごり 生), 2017 - seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 60%.  Served at 11°C. Very much like Shanghainese fermented rice (酒釀), slightly hot and alcoholic, and very fruity.

Blue crab, ark shell, mango, sansyo flower (渡蟹  赤貝  マンゴー  花山椒) - BABY, THIS IS WHAT YOU CAME FOR... I heard there was "drunken crab" here, and got very curious.  Would it be like Shanghainese drunken crab (醉蟹)?  The Japanese blue crab from Miyagi Prefecture (宮城県) was marinated for 4 days in a mixture of young sake and aged sake (古酒) - the latter because it has similar oxidative aromatics and flavors as Chinese yellow wine like Shaoxing wine (紹興酒).

Served together with orange-colored crab tomalley (蟹味噌) that we mistook for sea urchin.  The sweet chunks of local mango worked well to temper the alcohol as well as bringing some tropical, fruity fragrance.  Of course, the highlight of the dish had to be the sansho flowers (花山椒), which are only around for a couple of weeks each year... and we're in the last few days of the season.

You've got a great combination of textures - from the crunchy Yamaguchi Prefecture (山口県) ark shell with bite, to the mango, then on to the raw blue crab, and finally the creamy tomalley.  A real beautiful dish both in terms of the symphony of fragrances and flavors, as well as the combination of textures and mouthfeel.

Ryu Bizen Omachi Junmai Nama (隆 備前雄町 純米 生), 2017 - seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 60%.  Sake meter value (日本酒度) of +7. Served at 14°C. Dry on the palate, and gradually builds up to a long and strong finish.

Young ayu, firefly squid, lily, chawanmushi (稚鮎  蛍烏賊  百合根  卵  出汁) - YASSS!!! More of my favorite seasonal ingredients!  We've got a delicious young sweetfish (稚鮎) from Shiga Prefecture (滋賀県), along with two firefly squid from Toyama Prefecture (富山県) - the latter of which was full of yummy goodness.  We've got some lily bulb buried in the steamed egg custard, but the beauty lay in the sansho leaves (木の芽) used to lend their citrus and peppery fragrance.

Suginishiki Natural Kimoto Junmai (杉錦  自然醸造  生酛純米), 2016 - Sake meter value (日本酒度) of -11. Served at 18°C. In addition to the sweetness we also have surprisingly high acidity together.  More rounded on the palate, and very aromatic.

Scampi, salted sea cucumber guts, canola flower, rice vermicelli (赤座海老  このわた  菜の花  ビーフン) - this was a nice surprise.  I didn't expect to see thin rice vermicelli (米粉) that one finds on southern Chinese menus.  Mixed in with the noodles was the salted guts, and some lightly-grilled Japanese lobster from Sagami Bay (相模湾) off Miura (三浦).  The Japanese lobster was cooked mi-cuit, with some lovely smoky flavors.  Garnished with some canola flowers, red perilla leaves, and perilla flowers (穂紫蘇).  Somewhat surprised that the flavors weren't heavier.

Kaiun Junmai Unfiltered Unpasteurized (開運 無濾過純米 生), 2017seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 55%. Served at 13°C.  Sweet on the attack, then spicy and dry in the middle.  Very rounded on the palate, with some fermented rice in the nose.

Hard clam, shirogai, uni, seaweed, parsley, bamboo shoot (蛤  白貝  雲丹  パセリ) - WOW!  This was not your average steamed clams, and was damn delicious!  On the clam shells we have clams from Chiba Prefecture (千葉県), great northern tellin (白貝) from Hokkaido (北海道), and purple sea urchin (紫雲丹) from Miyagi Prefecture (宮城県) all mixed together and enveloped in a mash made of finely diced parsley and shallots.  Steamed together with clam juice and sake.  Really loved the fragrance left in the mouth by parsley and shallots.

Abe Kameji Junmai Daiginjo Unpasteurized (阿部亀治  純米大吟醸 生), 2016seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 40%. Sake meter value (日本酒度) of +5. Served at 43°C.  Warm and comforting, with some acidity.

Abarone, liver, butterbur scape, morel mushrooms, rice (鮑  鮑肝  蕗の薹  モレルマッシュルーム  米) - a perennial favorite of mine.  The abalone from Miyagi Prefecture (宮城県), as usual, was served atop a bed of mushroom risotto - and included some pine nuts for extra fragrance and texture.  The abalone liver sauce was as delicious as ever, but tonight the kitchen also added the wonderful fragrance - along with a hint of bitterness - of the butterbur buds (蕗の薹).  Yet another way to remind us that spring is here.

Tamagawa Gohyakumangoku Yamahai Junmai Unfiltered Unpasteurized (玉川 五百万石  山廃純米  無濾過  生), 27BY -  seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 66%.  Served at 17°C.  Aged for 1 year at room temperature at the brewery, then aged a further 2 years by Goshima-san.  Nose was a little oxidized like Chinese yellow wine, showing savory notes like soy sauce.  On the palate almost some coffee notes.

Kinme-tai, tai shirako, ostrich fern (金目鯛  鯛白子  こごめ) - Hello Kitty and I immediately noticed the presence of fish cum on the menu, and I asked for mine to be removed from the dish.  The splendid alfonsino from Chiba Prefecture (千葉県) was char-grilled and had a nice, smoky fragrance along with a hint of Sichuan peppercorn (花椒).  Besides the tender, delicious fish and the seasonal fern, what really made the dish for me was the broth.  It's got some umami from the nori (海苔), and the combination of soy sauce, sake, and mirin (味醂) gave it a nice acidic touch that wakes up the palate very nicely.

Taketsuru Junmai Hattan (竹鶴  純米  八反), 26BY - seimaibuai 65%. Served at 47°C.  Showing a darker color.  Very dry on the palate, oxidized and savory.

Sakura shrimp ochazuke (桜海老  茶漬け) - interesting that the ochazuke (お茶漬け) actually wasn't made with green tea, but with dashi.  I was wondering why the sakura shrimp (桜海老) was so, so incredibly full of flavor... when Goshima-san told me that they had been deep-fried in oil which had previously been used to fry the heads of those Japanese lobsters.  No wonder the shellfish flavors were so intense...

Almond, ice, strawberry (アーモンドアイス  苺) - there were nice and toasty bits of almonds in the ice cream. The ice cream itself wasn't very sweet, and when combined with a "sorbet" made with the unfiltered sake - bringing some acidity, fermented flavors, as well as some bitterness from the alcohol - along with strawberry granité, this made for a refreshing and well-balanced end to our meal. 

The sorbet was made with Chiebijin Love Pink Junmai Unfiltered (ちえびじん  桃色にごり  純米原酒), which was brewed with red yeast and has a sake meter value (日本酒度) of -20.

I was very happy with the meal tonight.  Lots of seasonal ingredients available for only a short time, and I was glad to be able to taste them.    I really should come here a little more often...

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