October 7, 2019

Bluefin for Kitty

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It's Hello Kitty's birthday, and much to my surprise, she asked to be taken to Sushi Saito (鮨 さいとう).  She hasn't been back in over a year, and I guess she kinda missed it...&nbOctopus (蛸)sp; It's been over a year since I was last here, so the reservation situation has changed a little.  Thankfully I still have some contacts at Global Link.

Given that I have a morning meeting tomorrow, I decided to take the first seating at dinner.  I chose to be seated in front of Koba-san tonight, as I was curious to see how things have changed with him.

As usual we started with a series of otsumami (おつまみ):

Octopus (蛸) - very, very tender, and the sweet marinade it was simmered in is always delicious.

Abalone (鮑) - also very tender.  Just love the texture.  That dollop of sauce made with the abalone's liver seemed a little bigger than I remembered from previous visits.  Very delish.

Mackerel bozushi (鯖の棒鮨) - always really, really happy when I see this... especially this early in the sequence.  I really, really love mackerel, and this was a great way to taste it.  That little bit of perilla leaves (紫蘇) between the rice and the fish was magic, and I do love that sprinkle of sesame seeds on top of the wafer-thin layer of marinated kombu (昆布).

Grilled tuna collar (カマトロ焼き) - OK... so I haven't been back here in a year, which was why they forgot about my dietary preference of "no bluefin tuna".  But I wasn't gonna raise a stink.  In reality, this was really, really tender... approaching that melt-in-your-mouth level.  Also beautifully marinated.

Pink sea urchin (赤雲丹) - from Hyogo Prefecture (兵庫県).  After an initial attack of creaminess, this turned pretty bitter.  Not what I was looking for.

Monkfish liver (鮟肝) - always delicious here.   Very thankful that we got to taste from two different lobes.  I've always had the urge to drink the delicious sweet and savory sauce, and I actually did earlier this year in Tokyo.  That fragrance from the green yuzu (柚子) zest shavings was just incredible.

Rosy seabass (喉黒) - pretty surprised at this new presentation... in a bowl of soup.  What remains the same is how deliciously tender and fluffy it was.

Then came the nigiri (握り) portion of the meal.

Splendid alfonsino (金目鯛) - as always, the first piece of nigiri brings with it a nice dose of acidity in the shari (シャリ), as well as the distinctive sensation of the temperature difference between the warm shari and the cold neta (ネタ).

Gizzard shad (小肌) - with the typical vinegar marinade, and still a little salty.

Since they had forgotten about my "no tuna" policy, of course we were served the same 3 pieces of tuna sushi like everyone else...

Lean tuna (あかみ) - shari came from a new batch so it was very warm, and the vinegar also seemed stronger.  The tuna itself was very, very tender.

Medium fatty tuna (中トロ) - needless to say, this was fatty and tender.

Fatty tuna (大トロ) - this came from the Shiogama (塩竃) area of Miyagi Prefecture (宮城県).

Bigfin reef squid (アオリイカ) - the beautiful scoring still made the squid tender, but the shari was kinda dry.

Sardine (鰯) - so beautiful and tender, with lovely, fatty flavors as well as what seemed to be sesame oil in the marinade.

Salmon roe (イクラ) - always happy when you've got yuzu zest shavings on top...

Japanese green sea urchin (馬糞雲丹) - from Hokkaido.  Very sweet.  Very creamy.  Just like ice cream.

Conger eel (穴子) - so tender.

Yes, I take pictures of my miso soup... You got a problem with that?

Chopped tuna and spring onion roll (ねぎトロ巻き) - with sesame seeds and strips of dried gourd (干瓢).

Egg (玉子焼き)


I didn't have a suitable bottle at home, so I ended up picking something off the winelist.

2013 Georges Vernay Condrieu Coteau de Vernon - initially served too cold, and showed lots of flint and minerals.  There were some aromatics but less floral than I had hoped.  There was roundness and ripeness here, but also kinda lean on the finish.

Given the current situation in Hong Kong, we were not in a light-hearted mood, but this was a nice enough dinner.

However, for the 6th time out of 6 visits, I was seated with someone I had the urge to bitchslap.  WHY IS THAT?!  I had already ranted about this after my last visit...

Tonight a couple walked in a few minutes late.  No matter.  They were obviously regulars since the manager already knew what they liked to drink.  The uncle came in with his iPad, earbuds attached.  He pretty much kept his eyes glued to the iPad during the entire meal, removing one earbud occasionally to say a few words to his wife.

I'm sure there are plenty of people in this town to whom a dinner which costs USD 400 is no different than one that costs USD 4.  I don't think I'll ever be one of them.  To me, the former will always be a special experience, not just dinner at a canteen.  I will always appreciate the effort that the chef and his/her team put into delivering the experience for me.  While I, too, am guilty of staring at my phone during my meal, a good portion of it is for the purpose of note-taking and ensuring I remember the dining experience.

Will I ever NOT run into these kinds of people here???

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