October 31, 2019

Deep-fried birthday

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Mr and Mrs Birdiegolf wanted to get together for a belated celebration of Hello Kitty’s birthday, and much to my surprise, the birthday girl chose to have tempura… and requested that we revisit Tenkai (天海).

This being Halloween, and seeing that the group of protestors have decided to descend upon Lan Kwai Fong (蘭桂坊) and Soho to disrupt Halloween, we were grateful to be dining to the west of the action. However, this meant that we were delayed in our arrival, and Hello Kitty was stuck in traffic. The end result of it all was that Nagasawa-san had his resting bitch face on the whole evening…

We were introduced to the three types of salt in front of us, each from a different area and with different flavor profile. These were Heda salt (戸田塩) from Izu City (伊豆市) in Shizuoka Prefecture (静岡県); wasabi salt from Shizuoka City, and seaweed salt (藻塩) from Kure City (呉市) in Hiroshima Prefecture (広島県).

Our starter (小鉢) was a small bowl of Kagoshima (鹿児島) A4 wagyu with some mushrooms and vegetables.

The tempura portion started with a prawn head. This is always good.

Live kuruma prawn “kuruma ebi” (活車海老) – taken with Heda salt.

Sea bream (甘鯛) – the tilefish was pretty nice, and was taken with the seaweed salt.  Of course we had the crispy scales...

Crab (蟹棒肉) – the leg seems to have come from Japanese snow crab (ズワイガニ).  Flavors were intense and delicious.  Taken with either wasabi salt or the grated radish (おろし).

Sillago “kisu” (鱚) - always a must in any tempura course.

Abalone (蝦夷アワビ) - very tender and bouncy.  Served with abalone liver and taken with wasabi salt.

Soup (吸物) - with thin udon and the lovely fragrance of yuzu zest.

Sesami tofu, sea urchin (胡麻豆腐と生雲丹の揚げ出し) – no idea what “sesami” is… but this was OK.

Willow fish (ししゃもの姿揚げ) - I've eaten plenty of smelt since I was a teenager growing up in Japan, and it used to be one of my favorite things to eat.   This has got to be the prettiest presentation I've ever come across...

“Honguro” Japanese mushroom ‘shimeji” (大黒本シメジ) - these Daikokuhon shimeji (大黒本シメジ) were nothing like the shimeji I usually see in the supermarket...  These were HUGE!

“Anna imo” Japanese potato (安納芋) - supposed to have high sugar content, and not surprisingly this was kinda dry.

Cherry prawn (桜海老のかき揚げ) - the batter sucked up a lot of oil, and one could taste the heavy flavors from the oil that has been used to fry a lot of ingredients.

Eel tendon with pickles (うなぎの天丼) – no, eels didn’t suddenly grow tendons… the “tendon” here refers to the simple dish of serving tempura over rice.  OK la...

Our dessert was a jelly with fruits.  I ended up having 3 portions since, well, the ladies weren't gonna have it.

Mrs. Birdiegolf brought a very nice bottle of sake for the evening...

Juyondai Shichitare Nijikkan Junmai Daiginjo (十四代 七垂二十貫 純米大吟醸), 29BY, from isshobin - seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 40%.  Nice and smooth, soft and sweet, a bit dry and spicy on the back, more spicy than expected.  A really well-made sake with lots of depth and length.

Things were getting a little chaotic nearby as the evening went on, and we were lucky that we ended up escaping towards the western side of the city. Many thanks for our hosts for the treat.

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