March 2, 2019

Tasty imports

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Having drastically cut down on the frequency of big meals since the start of 2019, I felt Hello Kitty and I were due for a night of fine dining.  I offered her a few suggestions, and I wasn't too surprised to see her pick HAKU.  She had expressed curiosity about Goldfinger's cuisine, having heard a mixed bag of opinions from friends.  Of course, that included my own, rather strongly-worded dissenting opinion more than a year ago.

We were seated in the only two open seats upon arrival, and I am grateful that Goldfinger has saved two of the best seats in the house for us.  I figured that the menu would be pretty interesting, and I decided to take the wine pairing for a change.  My only disappointment was that sommelier Wallace was off tonight...

Shirauo / yuzu - BOOM!  Right off the bat, we were treated to something really special.  It's been years since I last had live icefish (白魚), so this was a rare treat.  These were seasoned with yuzu (柚子), ponzu (ポン酢), and garnished with perilla flowers.

There are two ways to go about this: you either swallow them live - in which case they kinda wiggle as they travel down your esophagus; or you bite and chew on them - which means they die instantly.  For me, the latter is the way to go.  But these guys sure are lively, and the survival instincts are strong... so they kept trying to leap to freedom.

"Okonomiyaki" - miniature versions of the the classic, but the flavors were all there - katsuobushi (鰹節) shavings, cabbage, Japanese mayo, and that sauce!

Junmaiginjo Shikomi Hakuroubai (純米吟醸仕込 白老梅) - an umeshu (梅酒) made with junmai ginjo koshu (純米吟醸  古酒).  This was pretty nice and fragrant.  Savory with minerality on the palate in part due to the oxidation from aging, there was good depth on the palate.

Churros / akegarashi - these little savory sticks of dough were pretty tasty with that akegarashi (あけがらし) aioli.

Wagyu / chip - mini "sandwiches" made with wagyu tartare,  Japanese mustard, and egg mayo - which had lots of acidity and only a hint of spice.  This was placed between two thin potato wafers.

Garage Project Demus Favorem Amori - nose was very fruity, but fucking bitter on the palate.  Blegh!

Uni / lardo - now THIS was damn good!  The sauce at the bottom was made with sea urchin and Spanish olive oil, then we've got strips of lardo, tongues of sea urchin, olive oil caviar, and a little garnish of sansho leaves (木の芽) and yuzu zest.  At first glance this actually looked like shiokara (塩辛) made with squid.

The lardo has been cut into noodle-like strips, so this was kinda like eating sea urchin pasta.  But what a dish!  Both sea urchin and lardo have that creaminess, although one was on the sweet side and the other much more savory with umami.  It's a very, very interesting combo.  And the whole dish was made without seasoning other than the olive oil.

2015 Recrue des Sens Love and Pif - a little pungent, with some minerals.  More acidity and lean on the palate.  OK not to bad lah...

Lost Distillery Lossit - unmistakably Islay, with a peaty nose full of hospital disinfectant.

Lobster / caviar - this has become quite the Instagrammable dish here... At least this time I remembered that the croûtons were at the bottom, so I scooped them up along with the rest of the contents in the cup.

The chunks of lobster came in purée of cauliflower that had been cooked in konbu (昆布), with a little bit of sauce from the lobster head.  There was, of course, a dollop of Kaviari Kristal caviar that had been smoked in apple wood.

2017 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Josephshöfer Riesling Kabinett Feinherb - nose was a little pungent, with classic petrol notes.

Hotaru ika / egg - YEAH, BABY, YEAH!!!  I looooove firefly squid (蛍烏賊), and they came on a bed of steamed egg custard (茶碗蒸し) made with dashi (出汁) and squid broth, which was topped with a layer of dashi gel.  There were also sweet peas and a garnish of perilla flowers.

The beautiful squid had been steamed, but came with a smoky fragrance.  That egg custard made with dashi was really tasty.  Definitely my favorite dish tonight.

2016 Eric Bordelet Poiré Granit - soooo steely and mineral.  Floral, and totally smelled like a bucketful of European pears.  Beautiful.

Hanatomoe Mizumoto ✕ Mizumoto Unfiltered Unpasteurized (花巴 水酛 ✕水酛 無濾過生原酒), 30BY - seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 70%.  Nose was a little fermented, along with the lovely fragrance of banana and honey.  Nice acidity along with some sweetness, and definitely a little savory.  Such a complex little gem.

Amadai / eggplant - they do a good job of cooking the tilefish (甘鯛) by pouring hot oil repeatedly on top, which turns the scales crispy.  There was a quenelle of eggplant caviar on the side, and the sauce was a combination of miso and eggplant jus.

2017 Gut Oggau Winifred - a little pungent as expected, but OK.  Big and toasty nose. It's bongwater, after all... but not too bad.

We were shown a Galician pollo de Corral that had been cooked in a mold made of sake kasu (酒粕).

Chicken / morel / sake kasu - the breast tasted of a little rosemary, which wasn't great for me.  The sauce on the side was made with chicken bones.  This had to be my least favorite dish, as the top layer of the breast meat was a little on the dry side.  The bottom half was still reasonably tender, though.

The leg meat came with crispy skin, and garnished with morels as well as some sansho leaves (木の芽).  This was significantly better than the breast meat. 

2012 Heitlinger Odenheimer Königsbecher Spätburgunder Großes Gewächs - initially nose was very muted, although one could taste that it's clearly a pinot noir.  Some black fruits, and later on showed some forest notes.

Rice / abalone - this has become one of my favorite dishes here, and the arroz caldoso is pretty special thanks to the chorizo de la vera and the abalone liquid - and the abalone, of course.  I just love that kick I get from the chorizo... and there's a lot going on in this bowl, but they somehow just work so well together.  Tonight the rice was Yume Pirika (ゆめぴりか) from Hokkaido.

2004 Silvio Carta Vernaccia di Oristano Riserva - nice and oxidative nose, a little savory.  We were actually encouraged to pour a little bit of this into the caldoso.  Pretty interesting.

Strawberry / granita - fresh white strawberries and strawberries macerated in sake and spices, with Hokkaido milk ice cream, strawberry jam, crumble, and topped with a gel made from the maceration liquid.

Vincent Charlot Ratafia Cuvée N° 14 - a little herbal and almost minty.  Sweet on the palate, of course.

A deconstructed version of alfajores, and we were asked to spoon some of corn powder into our mouths after taking a drink of the dulce de leche and coconut foam.

Dulce de leche - the real alfajores.  So rich. So delicious.

Campbells Rutherglen Muscat - very sweet with some herbs.

Sweets - physalis and a wagashi (和菓子) made with azuki bean paste, puffed rice, and vanilla gel.

This was a really nice dinner, and probably the best meal I've had here to date.   I'm finding an increasing number of dishes featuring thoughtful combination of ingredients and flavors, as opposed to just throwing expensive ingredients together to impress.  Not a single speck of gold flake in sight.  Or maybe Goldfinger is still doing that, but just not giving those dishes to me...  In any case both Hello Kitty and I came away pretty happy.

It was a nice night out, so we decided to take a stroll along the harbor front to the new Avenue of the Stars so I could visit my old friend McDull...

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