December 4, 2018

Japan 2018 day 4: demoted but no less delicious

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We're having kaiseki (会席料理) dinners two night in a row, and tonight in Tokyo I chose Ginza Kojyu (銀座 小十) - which held the coveted 3-star status from Michelin from 2008 to 2014.  We were lucky to get counter seats for the late seating, so we had a little more interaction with Chef Okuda Toru (奥田透).

No menu here as everything was seasonal.

Marinated tilefish, salmon roe, and shiitake (先付: 甘鯛昆布締め  イクラ  椎茸) - the tilefish (甘鯛) has been marinated by wrapping it with kelp to impart a little more flavor.  This was placed on top of slices of pretty big shiitake (椎茸), then we've got some salmon roe as well as tonburi (とんぶり) on top.  I was surprised to find crunchy bits of celtuce in my bowl, which the Japanese call ちしゃとう.

Female snow crab (先付: せいこ蟹) - a seasonal delicacy that is being served across high-end kaiseki restaurants.  I've only ever had the version they serve at Kaiseki Den by Saotome, which comes chilled with gelée on top.  Tonight I would get to have a warm version, covered by a layer of the eggs from the female snow crab.

Digging inside the shell, we have the familiar mix of snow crab meat, tomalley (蟹味噌), ovaries (内子), and of course the eggs (外子).  This was absolutely delicious.  I was so, sooooo happy... as were the ladies.

Japanese tiger prawn dumpling with abalone mushrooms (椀物: 車海老真薯  鮑茸) - for the お椀, we have a nice prawn dumpling in the light and delicate broth, along with abalone mushrooms, a tiny little turnip, and some shredded Japanese spikenard (独活) stem that was pretty crunchy.  I loved the cubes of yuzu (柚子) rind.

The flavors of the dumpling were a little more eggy than I had expected.

Red seabream (真鯛) - wild from Awaji Island (淡路島).  Got a nice bite.

Fatty tuna and sea urchin (大トロ  雲丹) - the fatty tuna belly was actually smoked, while the sea urchin from Hamanaka (浜中町) came with some fleur de sel on top.  We were instructed to mix them up before enjoying.  And enjoy we did.  Loved the smoky flavors of the tuna.

Steamed abalone and lotus root (蒸物: 鮑  蓮根) - the abalone came from Awaji Island (淡路島), and curiously tastes kinda like clams tonight... perhaps because it was undercooked and still kinda crunchy.  Served with crunchy lotus roots and drizzled with abalone liver sauce.

We were sitting nearest to the charcoal grill, so we got to watch some grilling action as we ate...

Grilled broadbanded thornyhead (焼物: 喜知次) - succulent and delicious, of course.  Served with grated radish (大根おろし) and nukazuke (糠漬け) vegetables.

Simmered vegetables (炊合: 蕪 海老芋 三つ葉) - we've got turnip (蕪), shrimp taro (海老芋) from Kyoto, shredded carrots, and mitsuba (三つ葉).  The shrimp taro is as smooth and silky as I remembered, and the mitsuba brought its very distinctive flavors to the dish.

Beef shabu shabu (強肴: 牛しゃぶしゃぶ) - the source of this Tajima beef (但馬牛) was Ohta Farm (太田牧場) in Kobe, so this beef is referred to as Ohta beef (太田牛).

The slices of beef were thicker than I expected, and they were dunked into the pot of boiling stock - made with soy sauce and wild mushrooms which had just arrived from Hokkaido today.

These were delicious, served with a tiny dab of wasabi.

Mackerel bozushi (食事: 鯖の棒鮨) - DAYAM!  This thing was MASSIVE!  And the mackerel was so fatty and crunchy!  I absolutely loved this!  So, soooo happy!

Crab soba (凌ぎ: ズワイ蟹 生姜麺) - the soba was made with ginger, and came with some tofu skin (湯葉), snow crab (ズワイ蟹), and crab tomalley.  The ginger flavors in the noodles were meant to match the flavors of the crab.

Le Lectier with herb gelée (水物: ル・レクチェとハーブジュレ) - the Le Lectier pear from Niigata Prefecture (新潟県) was very delicious, and came topped with some herb gelée garnished with pomegranate seeds.

Houjicha pudding (菓子: ほうじ茶プリン) - O-M-G.  I love プリン, and I love houjicha (ほうじ茶).  So what's not to like about this?  Especially when it was sooo soft and smooth it also tasted like it had been liquefied.

Sake is once again served per go (合), but I decided to take things easy tonight and not order so much...

Kokuryu Junmai Ginjo (黒龍  純米吟醸), 30BY - with a seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 55%.  Very smooth, very light and easy on the palate, with fermented rice flavors.

Isojiman Junmai Daiginjo Blue Bottle Tsuneda (磯自慢 純米大吟醸  ブルーボトル 常田), 30BY - seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 40%.  Much cleaner and smoother than the Kokuryu.  Sooo smooth and sweet on the attack, as well as in the middle, but a little dry on the finish.  Some nice depth of flavors here.

This was a wonderful dinner.  Other than the abalone, which I found slightly less satisfying, every single course was delicious.  Good, seasonal ingredients showing off their flavors, and great execution.  Can't really ask for much more, can I?

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