April 14, 2021

The hidden sushiya I never knew

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Last month I made two bookings at Godenya (ごでんや) in quick succession, once Goshima-san confirmed to me the approximate dates for the very short season for sansho flowers (花山椒).  This is why, 3 weeks after my last visit, I'm back in the private room with a few friends.

Sakura masu, hotaru-ika, warabi, kinome (桜鱒 蛍烏賊 わらび 木の芽) - I was so, soooo happy to have been served this. A variation of a dish I had last year, this showcases some of my favorite seasonal ingredients. What hasn't changed from last year was the presentation, which was pretty with lots of green from sansho leaves and sansho flowers. We've also got eagle fern (わらび) on top.

Underneath the green canopy we have some of my favorite firefly squid from Toyama Prefecture (富山県), cherry salmon from Aomori Prefecture (青森県), and some miso made with mashed sansho leaves. The squid was full of umami but also tasted pretty strong, and Hairy Legs didn't quite appreciate that. The fern was pretty crunchy.

Iseno Shiroki Junmai Nama Sparkling (伊勢の白酒 純米生活性), 2020-21 - served at 9°C. Seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 65%.  love the round, viscous mouth feel.  Sweet with lactic acid, fizzy.

Kegani, uni, broad bean (毛蟹 雲丹 空豆) - what's not to like when you've got Japanese horsehair crab meat AND sea urchin from Hokkaido together?! The dashi (出汁) jelly added more savory notes and a hint of smokiness, while the perilla flowers provided some aromatics.

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%.  Fragrant with tropical fruit notes, a little more alcohol in the nose.  Some fermentation notes, with a pretty long and dry finish.

Nodokuro, rice, beans, aralia sprout (喉黒 米 うすい豆 タラの芽) - a while ago I vented on social media and berated some writer for pulling crab out of her ass while publishing a list of "the best sushi bars to visit in Hong Kong". Specifically, I pointed out that she couldn't have actually visited all the establishments she profiled, because her piece described "a framed view of Victoria Harbour" at Sushi Saito (鮨  さいとう) and even included Godenya as a "sushi bar".

Well, I shall eat my words tonight. Because what was placed in front of me consisted of a ball of rice (admittedly with some Usui peas mixed in) topped with a slice of lightly-torched rosy seabass (喉黒) from Nagasaki Prefecture (長崎県). A piece of fish on top of a not-so-small ball of rice... well, that's gotta be sushi, right?! I decided to shove it into my mouth in one bite despite its size, then proceeded to shove the Japanese angelica shoots (タラの芽) in, too. Quite a mouthful.

But a glorious mouthful it was. The torched fish - with some of the fat liquefied - was beautiful and slightly smoky. The rice was rather al dente, made more interesting by the crunch of the peas. And the aromatic fragrances came from both the perilla leaves on top as well as the Japanese angelica shoots.

Azumaichi Junmai Ginjo Nama Usunigori (東一  純米吟醸  生  うすにごり), 2020-21 - served at 13°C. Seimaibuai of 49%.  Sweet on the attack but dry mid-palate.

Tai shirako Shiroebi, white asparagus, sakura shrimp (鯛白子 白海老 ホワイトアスパラ 桜海老) - as always, I am grateful to Goshima-san for accommodating my preference not to eat fish cum. Tonight some of us had fluffy shrimp balls (真薯) made with Japanese glass shrimp (白海老). The sauce that was drizzled over the shrimp balls and white asparagus was made with sakura shrimp (桜海老) from Shizuoka Prefecture (靜岡県). Gotta say that the sauce was absolutely killer... but then again, I just love sakura shrimp.

Kaiun Unfiltered Junmai Nama (開運 無濾過純米 生), 2020-21 - served at 15°C. Seimaibuai of 55%.  Pretty fruity with higher acidity.

Tachiuo, masha-soba, udo, sansyo flower (太刀魚 蕎麦掻 独活 花山椒) - the slice of cutlass fish (太刀魚) from Kanagawa Prefecture (神奈川県) was steamed with sake, and the texture was extremely succulent. The flavors from the oil were just beautiful and pure. The broth looked clear but was full of flavors, including the fragrance of sansho leaves.

But I wasn't really a fan of the clumps of sobagaki (蕎麦掻き). Didn't like the mushy texture.

Komagura Tokubestsu Junmai 60 (独楽蔵  特別純米 60), 2017-18 - served at 44°C. Seimaibuai of 60%.  More fermented and savory notes.

Awabi, awabi liver, morel, pine nut, rice (鮑 鮑肝 モレル 松の実 米) - can't complain when I'm having this dish again, although I didn't ask for 3 servings. The combination of all the ingredients just work so well together, and I eagerly lapped it all up. Of the dishes that Hairy Legs managed to try tonight - and he missed a couple due to his late arrival - this was his favorite.

By the way, I learned tonight that he doesn't like abalone. This came as a surprise to me, considering that one of his signature dishes - in my mind, at least - is the abalone carbonara which opened my eyes back in 2015.

Harunotsuki Junmai Ginjo Nigori Nama (春の月  純米吟醸  にごり生), 2020-21 - served at 10°C. Seimaibuai of 60%.  Sweet on the attack but dry on the palate.

Menuke fish, fish roe, seaweed, onion, nabana, ostrich fern (サンコウメヌケ 鯛子 海苔 新玉葱 京菜花 こごみ) - the coral rockfish (珊瑚目抜) from Kanagawa Prefecture came served with a few more ingredients tonight, such as sea bream roe, seaweed, and onion rings. A better version than the one from my last visit.

Togo Kimoto Junmai Daiginjo (東郷  生酛  純米大吟醸), 2009-10 - served at 46°C. Seimaibuai of 40%.  Fermented notes, both dry and sweet on the palate.

Sakura shrimp, udon (桜海老 うどん) - SO, SO HAPPY. So simple, and so satisfying. No, I didn't ask Goshima-san for 3 bowls of this, either...

Strawberry, ice, sake (苺 アイス 酒) - yum. Love the strawberries in the crème brûlée.

2016 Afruge No. 1 - seimaibuai of 65%.

Really happy to have returned for the second dose of sansho flowers, and happy to have gotten Hairy Legs to join us.

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