September 8, 2021

Four-month wait

Pin It

At one of our gatherings earlier this year, my high school friends and I were discussing Japanese eateries in town. As it turns out, most of them have never been to Hidden (秀殿), my favorite kushiage (串揚げ) joint in town. For many friends and I this has become somewhat of an institution over the last few years, and as its popularity has grown, it has become increasingly difficult to secure a booking. But for those with Japanese roots or connections, the food here is just a little piece of home.

There are five of us, and for a group this size, dinner was booked nearly 4 months ago. And yes, they have long ago run out of available seats for dinner for 2021. Likewise, one needs to get on a waiting list for lunch on the weekends. This has become the new reality in times of Covid.

While I waited for the gang to arrive, I ordered up one of the many fruit-flavored drinks here. For tonight, I started with some melon plum wine (メロン梅酒).

Initially the gang asked me to choose the food, and I picked out a number of them for round 1 - knowing we would be doing multiple rounds tonight. The others soon started to chime in with their own requests...

Sweet potato fries (フライドさつまいも) - I've always loved these sticks which are so crunchy on the outside, and which come with a sprinkle of salt and sesame seeds.  Unfortunately I don't think the others liked it as much as I do...

One bite cheese fried (一口チーズフライ) - this was pretty popular, or maybe it was because each of us only got one piece. There's just something about putting hot, melted cheese in your mouth...

Fried veggie fish cake (野菜のさつま揚げ) - another perennial favorite, and both the flavors and the texture were good.

Corn (とうもろこし) - not sure I've ever had battered and deep-fried corn here before, but this was very, very sweet. Sooooo delicious. Probably should have ordered up a second round.

Fried chicken wing (手羽唐揚げ) - always one of the best things to order here. That acidity in the sauce is always such a surprise for anyone tasting this for the first time, but it's what makes the dish. This was good enough for one of the first-timers to ask for an encore...

Abalone (鮑) - oh man... this was just really, really good. The abalone was so, so tender. I totally wasn't expecting that. The abalone liver sauce on top is, of course, de rigueur nowadays. Slurp.

Pike conger (はも) - good to have this again while it is in season. To the Japanese, eating pike conger just reminds them of Kyoto in the summer.

Japanese oyster and bacon roll (かきベーコン巻き) - this is not something I usually order, and I've forgotten how tasty this could be. Then again, what's not to love about a dish with bacon?!

Spring onion pork flank roll (豚バラねぎ巻) - oh, I have always loved this. While the others leapt at the other variation, I wanted both and actually preferred spring onion. So, so juicy.

Red pickled ginger pork flank roll (豚バラ紅しょうが巻) - understandably, the red pickled ginger is something that is just comforting for many Japanese, and the acidity is meant to cut through the grease of the fatty pork. But nah, it's spring onion for me.

Sand borer with Japanese parsley (きす三つ葉) - the others wanted the plain sillago, but I prefer the version with the fragrant herb.

Lotus root (れんこん) - I don't normally order this, but I got a very thick chunk of the root, and it was pretty damn satisfying to bite into this.

Conger eel (穴子) - at my friend's suggestion, we took both the pike conger and the conger eel. Very happy that we did.

Herring roe on kelp (子持ち昆布) - another one of my favorite items here. It's so satisfying to bite into this block, chew on it, and feel the individual eggs pop in the mouth.

Scallop salmon roe (ほたてタルタルいくら) - YASSSS! This is the signature dish of the restaurant. I made sure everyone got it, and proceeded to show them how it's done - WITH ONE BITE. It's the only way to get all the ingredients into the mouth in exactly the right proportion. And I love that little kick from horseradish in the tartar sauce that helps to clear the nostrils.

Matsutake (松茸) - another seasonal special. Very nice.

Special rich pudding (特製濃厚プリン) - and these days I would always want to finish a meal here with this dessert. Honestly, this is one of my favorite puddings in the world. I do love that they use vanilla seeds for this. And the caramel sauce is the shit.

So... before dinner started, I was thinking to myself that I could just take it easy. Just grab a few of my favorites and have a relaxing evening with friends over a few drinks. In the end, I probably ended up eating more than I usually do - although I didn't order up any carbs like some of the others. I was very, very happy... and I think my friends were, too. Too bad we will have to wait until 2022 for the next visit.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map