March 24, 2021

Flowers in springtime

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I was very, very excited about dinner tonight.  The little sansho flowers (花山椒) are back in season for a short few weeks, and Goshima-san at Godenya (ごでんや) started bringing them in a few days ago.  I was ever so happy that I snagged a coveted reservation during this period.

Hairy crab, broad bean, fish broth tofu, shiso flower (毛蟹  空豆  煮凝り  花穂) - the Japanese hairy crab (毛蟹) from Hokkaido came with some broad beans, fish broth jelly made with local fish as well as coral rockfish that was kinda smoky, and aromatic garnishes like shiso flowers and curry leaves. A very nice way to start dinner.

Iseno Shiroki Junmai Nama Sparkling (伊勢の白酒 純米生活性), 2020-21 - served at 10°C.  Seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 65%. Very fruity as expected, with a little pear.

Hotaru-ika, ark shell, wasabi-leaf, spikenard, Hyuganatu citrus (蛍烏賊  赤貝  葉山葵  独活  日向夏) - unfortunately I had to duck out for a work conference call, and when I got back more than 20 minutes later, this no longer looked as pretty as it was intended to be. Still tasted very nice, of course, as we've got the seasonal firefly squids from Toyama Prefecture I love so much. The sauce was pretty interesting because it seemed thickened with egg yolk but at the same time very citrusy thanks to the Hyuganatsu (日向夏). The Japanese spikenard (独活) provided some crunch.

Hanaabi Junmai Daiginjo Unfiltered Nama (花陽浴  純米大吟醸  瓶囲無濾過生原酒), 2020-21 - served at 11°C.  Seimaibuai of 40%. Nice and fragrant, with a little fermented rice along with banana notes.

Blue crab, scampi, bamboo shoots, sansyo-flower (渡蟹  赤座海老  筍  花山椒) - the first dish with those precious sansho flowers. It's a dish I've had before, but tonight this was a little too heavy and punchy in terms of flavors. The marinade used for the drunken blue swimmer crabs from Aichi Prefecture and the Japanese lobster (藜海老) from Kanagawa Prefecture was just too salty for me. In the past the dish always came with ingredients like mango or grated Japanese yam (長芋), where the sweetness of these ingredients managed to balance out the salt. Unfortuntely tonight the sweetness was completely absent, and instead we had slices of bamboo shoots marinated in what I thought to be soy sauce. The little flowers were the saving grace that made the dish a little more palatable...

Kaiun Junmai Unfiltered Junmai Nama (開運 無濾過純米 生), 2020-21 - served at 15°C. Seimaibuai of 55%. Light and fruity. Sweeter on the palate with a long finish.

Rosy seabass, sticky rice, aralia sprout, butterbur (喉黒  糯米  タラの芽) - rosy seabass - this one from Nagasaki Prefecture - is always great when it's grilled just right to retain its succulent flavors, We have a pile of grainy glutinous rice paste underneath, with mactra clam adductor muscles (小柱) embedded inside. The Japanese angelica shoots (タラの芽) on the side reminds us that spring has arrived.

Sogen Junmai Unfiltered Nama (宗玄 純米大吟醸 無濾過生原酒), 2019-20 - served at 43°C.  Seimaibuai of 55%. The warm serving temperature brings out the fermented flavors as well as alcohol. Sweet on the attack with a dry finish.

Soba, shirauo, uni, hamaguri clam, butterbur flower stalk (蕎麦  白魚  雲丹  蛤  蕗の薹) - I loved this dish the last time I came, but this version was, perhaps, a little off balance. The ice fish (白魚) from Lake Shinji (宍道湖) in Shimane Prefecture was still unseasoned, but tonight we didn't get the salt from another ingredient. Rather, we had a little bit of creamy sea urchin, some chewy bits of clam, and shreds of butterbud bur (蕗の薹) for a little bitterness. The fragrance from sansho leaves (木の芽) were nice. Overall, though, the dish was a little too bland for me.

Kikuyoi Junmai Ginjo (喜久酔 純米吟醸), 2018-2019 - served at 13°C. Seimaibuai of 50%. Round on the palate. Sweet on the attack but dry mid-palate. Very nice.

Abalone, awabi liver, morel, pine nut, rice (鮑  鮑肝  モレル  松の実  米) - my perennial favorite. Love, love, love the sliced abalone from Iwate Prefecture with abalone liver sauce. Tonight we've also got morels in addition to the zucchini and toasted pine nuts. Plenty of red shiso leaves on top for aromatics. One of these days I will ask Goshima-san to serve me 3 portions of this... and I'd be happy to skip a few other dishes.

Nida Shizensyu Kimoto Hatsuyuki Nama (にいだしぜんしゅ 生酛 はつゆき 生)
, 2020-21
- served at 11°C.  Seimaibuai of 80%. Fizzy, fruity, and sweet. Refreshing with some lactic acid.

Menuke fish, onion, nabana, ostrich fern, sansyo-flower (サンコウメヌケ  新玉葱  京菜花  こごみ  花山椒) - the coral rockfish (珊瑚目抜) from Chiba Prefecture weighed about 3kg. Served with plenty of greens like sansho flowers, ostrich fern (こごみ), and rapeseed flowers.

Hikomago Junmai Ginjo (ひこ孫  純米吟醸), 2005-06 - served at 47°C.  Seimaibuai of 50%. Very soft on the palate, and a little more dry.

Sakura-ebi, udon (桜海老  うどん) - how satisfying to have a warm bowl of udon towards the end of the meal! Especially when it comes with plenty of deep-fried sakura shrimp (桜海老), whose fragrance traveled from the kitchen adjoining our private room. OK, maybe I'll ask Goshima-san to serve me 3 bowls of this - right after I finish 3 portions of the abalone risotto.

Strawberry, ice , sake (苺  アイス  酒) - I do love having crème brûlée at the end, and it's nicely balanced with the acidity from the strawberries along with the milk ice cream.

Nansen Premium Organic (南遷 プレミアムオーガニック) - a little bit of this was poured onto the crème brûlée.

Pretty happy to have come tonight, and very glad that Mr and Mrs Birdiegolf and Winnie the Chew could join us. Not everything worked as well tonight as I have become accustomed to on past visits, but I left dinner a happy camper nonetheless. Looking forward to my next visit in 3 weeks!

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