December 20, 2019

Pre-holiday FUK day 1: hidden upstairs

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We're off to Fukuoka for a few days before the Christmas holidays, and thanks to the need to transit through Taipei, we landed just one hour before dinner was to start.  Thankfully the immigration and baggage claim at Fukuoka airport was really efficient, and we managed to get to the restaurant right on time in spite of a little Friday night traffic.

But Sensui (千翠) doesn't have any obvious signage... which isn't uncommon for restaurants in Japan.  We saw a well-lit staircase leading upstairs, but there didn't seem to be anything indicating that it was the restaurant we were looking for - until Hello Kitty poked her head inside and saw the name of the restaurant in very small font on a small piece of wood on the side after checking for pictures of the restaurant exterior on Tabelog.

Once upstairs, we sat ourselves at the short end of the L-shaped counter with a mere 8 seats, which our group of 6 basically took over while ignoring the Japanese couple who had arrived earlier.

I didn't do any homework for this trip, and just let DaRC book all the restaurants.  I just follow lah... So I really didn't have much of an idea of what to expect for this meal.

We started with a trio of root vegetables tempura (天ぷら) - Jerusalem artichokes (菊芋), potatoes (馬鈴薯), and propagule (零余子).

Mackerel bozushi (鯖棒鮨) - mackerel was getting nice and fatty now.  There was enough marinade in the fish for salty flavors, but well-balanced by the vinegar in the rice.  I did find the rice slightly mushy, but damn, this thick cut was very satisfying.

The bowl (椀物) was a piece of round Shogoin daikon (聖護院大根) topped with some white tilefish (白甘鯛) skin.  The daikon was sweet at first but came with a hint of bitterness later.  Not surprisingly the fish skin delivered some lovely and smoky flavors.  The single strip of citrus peel added a touch of elegance to the mix.

The sashimi (お造り) started with a combination of longtooth grouper (アラ) from Goto Islands (五島列島) off Nagasaki as well as rosy seabass (赤睦).

Yellowtail (鰤) - from Ariake Sea (有明海).  I was surprised at the thin slices offered, but there was still some crunch on the thicker edge.  Aged for 1 day on the fishing boat and 3 days at the restaurant.

Horse mackerel (鯵) - from Shika Island (志賀島) north of Fukuoka.  I could taste the flavors after the salt treatment.

Spanish mackerel (鰆) - very soft in the middle with crunchy, charred skin.

Black skipjack tuna (ヤイトガツオ) - elegant and lovely flavors.

Sake steamed abalone (鮑酒蒸し) - the abalone from Shika Island (志賀島) was steamed for 3 hours.  Sliced very thinly.  The cooking really brought out the natural and intense flavors of the shellfish, which were very lovely.  Too bad there was a little sand...

Tongue sole (クツゾコ) - very tender as expected.  Flavors were just OK.  Apparently this type of sole is called... "sole" in Japanese - as in, the bottom of the shoe... because of the resemblance.

Japanese blue crab (渡蟹) - with some firm crab roe on top.  The spinach came with a little sesame sauce.

House cured mullet roe (唐墨) - I love mullet roe.  This was very wet, and very salty.

Conger eel tataki (穴子タタキ) - the taro (小芋) was cooked in the dashi (出汁) from the conger eel.

The rice came with some mushrooms, and one could taste the charcoal flavors in the rice.

Fish bone soup - with shredded burdock (牛蒡).  There was plenty of sansho (山椒) powder for that citrus fragrance as well as tongue-numbing.

Saga Honoka (さがほのか) strawberries - with wasanbon (和三盆).

We had a few sakes recommended by the house, based on Ro Ro's preference of having dry sake.

Hoken Junmaishu Super Dry (宝劔  純米酒  超辛口) - seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 60%.  Not as dry as expected initially.  Second sip was more dry and spicy.

Hanahato Tokubetsu Junmaishu Brewed with Rice Grown by Brewery Master (華鳩 杜氏自ら育てた米で醸した特別純米酒), 2019 - seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 60%.  Much more depth on the palate, more rounded and viscous on the palate, a little bitter.

Ouroku 80 Jikagumi (王祿 八〇 直汲み), 2018seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 80%.  Sweeter and richer at first.  Later turned very dry and spicy.

This was a pretty decent meal, although I was surprised by the lack of any meat on the menu... as it was all fish and seafood.  It was satisfying, but thankfully we weren't very stuffed.  Just enough for us to move on to our second round for the evening... some more sake!

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