June 2, 2018

8,000-calorie day: cow on a cloud

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The people who have managed to successfully import a number of premium Japanese restaurant concepts into Hong Kong in the last few years have notched another one on their belt.  Yakiniku Jumbo (焼肉 ジャンボ) soft-opened last week in Hong Kong, just downstairs from my office.  Chef owner Nanbara Norimitsu (南原範充) is in Hong Kong for a few days as part of the opening, and we were lucky to have a lunch arranged where he cooked a number of special dishes for us.

The restaurant doesn't start lunch service until Monday, so we were the only customers in the house.  The local partner was on hand, and we got a tour of the space.  We were then seated in the main private room and introduced to Nanbara-san.  I was surprised to see Koya-san, who is apparently local chef in charge.  He was the chef for La Bombance Hong Kong, but he left his post some time ago.  I now know that he had been training with Nanbara-san in Japan for this position...

We got a glimpse of some of the ingredients we would be tasting...

Assortment of kimchi (キムチ三種) - The Man in White T-shirt opened the beautiful lid of his box, and immediately remarked that it contained "my favorite".  Sure enough, there's plenty of gold foil inside...

Tairagai (平貝) - the pen shell came with some caviar on top - Imperial from Sologne sourced from La Maison Nordique - the same as Robuchon.  The sea urchin came with creamy and tender tofu skin (湯葉) underneath.  We also have edamame (枝豆) and cape gooseberry (ほうずきトマト) on the side.

Wagyu beef nigiri, served with shin ro-su (黒毛和牛握り) - don't these thin slices look beautiful with their marbling?

After grilling, they were wrapped around a ball of shari (シャリ) made of brown rice (玄米).  This was one delicious nigiri (握り)!  Any time you've got liquefied fat dripping onto and getting absorbed by rice, that's a formula for surefire yumminess.

Mystery meat - we were also served a cut of meat which, to our surprise, nobody knew where it had come from.  What we do know was that, whichever part of the cow it had come from, it was lovingly cooked over the grill for almost 20 minutes.

The texture was so interesting... really soft and buttery in the center, yet still crunchy on the exterior.  This was an eye-opener for me, and a real treat.

Salt came in very beautiful small vessels...

Maki kalbi (巻きカルビ) - yes, more marbled beef, PLEASE!

Dipped in a light vinegar sauce.

Zabuton sashimi, sea urchin (ザブトン、生うに) - the chuck flap came with a sweet marinade but was served raw, together with sea urchin from Hokkaido (北海道), as well as some spring onion sprouts (芽ねぎ). The chuck flap was soooo soft and buttery, and the sea urchin seemed especially sweet. Everything just melted in the mouth... simply decadent!

Noharayaki (野原焼) - a specialty of Yakiniku Jumbo, and reportedly created at the request of a regular customer who wanted a dish that went down well with rice.

The egg came already separated, with the intact yolk accompanied by egg white that had already been whipped up.  We were supposed to break the yolk and mix it together with the egg white...

Finally, the thin slice of sirloin was rolled up and placed in our bowl, and I turned it over a few times to coat the egg over the beef.

This was AMAZING.  Hello Kitty called this "cow on a cloud", thanks to the fluffy egg white.  It had a good amount of charring, and I'll freely admit that when I burped shortly after I wolfed this down, I could still smell the charring on the beef...

Watercress salad (クレソンサラダ) - not bad at all for a salad, with some pine nuts for added fragrance.

Rump (ランプ) - oh yes... this is always a tasty cut of beef.

And certainly tasted wonderful.

Shin shin (シンシン) - these slices came from the knuckle of the hind legs.

Again, simply beautiful and melted in the mouth.

Chateaubriand (シャトーブリアン) - this cut is almost a beautiful sight to behold...

Nanbara-san lovingly grilled these two thick cuts over the fire, resting them for a few minutes before finishing them back on the grill. The total process took more than 20 minutes.

These cubes were so soft and tender they felt like cotton balls in my mouth...   Taken with salt and wasabi.

Wagyu beef rice with truffle (うしご飯、トリュフ) - finally, we have the rice in the pot, covered with a layer of beef and some spring onion shoots. 

After Nanbara-san mixed the rice and beef together, Koya-san shaved some summer truffle on top of the rice in the bowl.  We had been advised to keep the leftover egg mixture from Noharayaki, and that became the extra sauce we poured into our bowls...  What's not to like when you've got all this in the bowl???!!!

Yes, I just had to take a picture of the miso soup...

Peach sherbet, melon, cherry (メロン、さくらんぼ、ももシャーベット) - the sorbet was OK, but the cherries were so ripe that they seemed almost liquid inside.  Needless to say, the melon was very ripe and sweet... and almost liquid-like near the center.

Chef DaRC kindly brought a bottle to share. Meanwhile, my Californians were locked in my office upstairs...

2006 El Desafio de Jonata - pretty ripe and sweet on the palate.

This was an incredible lunch.  Every single cut of beef was beautiful, including our "mystery meat".  Many thanks to Nanbara-san and his team, as well as the powers that be for the special arrangement.  And thanks to The Man in White T-shirt for making sure that I eat two yakiniku meals today...

Only four hours till my yakiniku dinner!

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