June 22, 2022

Funky disco orgasm dinner

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It's that day of the year again, and I needed to choose a friend's restaurant for my birthday dinner. I actually haven't been back to MONO for quite a few months, so it seemed appropriate that Sankala and I pay Ricardo a long-overdue visit. He does, after all, deliver something unique in Hong Kong.

Ricardo is busy doing a special event tonight, but was kind enough to come back to the restaurant to greet me and serve up a couple of dishes before running off. Knowing that it's my birthday, he also arranged something a little special.

Venezuelan corn arepa / red crab / sweet peas - the arepa was nice and warm, filled with a mix of crab, avocado purée, and crunchy green peas. A little more acidic than expected. With some avocado leaf powder. A familiar dish that's become a nice way to start our meal.

June 17, 2022

Thirteen pieces for Friday

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It's been a while since the four of us had a chance to sit down at the same table. In fact, it's been about 16 months since I had seen a couple of these guys, and this time around we were belatedly marking a special occasion. NC Chung seems to like doing lunch at Sushi Ima (今鮨), so we're back there for a quick meal.

I don't eat sushi often, and I tend to pick very high end places where one sits at a counter in front of an itamae-san (板前さん). Been a while since I last sat at a table away from the counter, and I'm used to watching the pieces being made for me one by one. Yes, consider me jaded. Very jaded.

Potato salad

Chawanmushi (茶碗蒸し) - not bad.

Chicken grunt (伊佐木) - with a tiny dab of jelly, some laver (海苔), and perilla flower on top. Crunchy skin.

Striped jack (縞鯵) - thick cut and the edges delivered some crunch.

Splendid alfonsino (金目鯛) - it's always tasty when fatty fish gets torched and the fat gets melted, but I don't think it's something that a top edomae (江戸前) itamae would do.

Scallop (帆立貝) - with some shaving of yuzu (柚子) zest along with some rock salt.

Mackerel (鯖) - pretty fatty, a little stronger and more fishy than usual.

Horse mackerel (鯵) - with a dab of what was referred to in Cantonese as "三星漬". Pretty good lah.

Glass shrimp (白海老)

Japanese horsetail (太刀魚) - with a dab of yuzukosho (柚子胡椒).

Akagai (赤貝) - substitute for akami (赤身).

Rosy seabass (赤鯥) - from Kyusu. Substitute for medium-fatty tuna (中トロ). Always tasty.

Broadbanded thornyhead (喜知次) - always tasty, especially when torched.

Japanese green sea urchin (馬糞雲丹) - flavors slightly heavier than normal, and the color is darker.

Conger eel (穴子)

Finally a bowl of soup

It was fun catching up with old friends, and I must thank NC Chung not just for the treat but also to once again remind me how jaded I am when it comes to dining.

June 13, 2022

I bird-yee farewell

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After spending 20 years in Hong Kong, my old friend and her Rikachu are finally leaving. I guess it was always just a matter of time, and Hong Kong remains - just as it has been for decades - a transitory place for many. It may be a great place to make your living or fortune, and it certainly can be a great place to enjoy life, but ultimately it just isn't "home" for some. Nowadays the education of the kids has become a key consideration for many of my friends, and dictates the timing of their departures from Hong Kong.

For their farewell gathering, my friends chose Yardbird. Given how much Rikachu LOOOOOVES all things Japanese, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. We decided to order our food in multiple rounds, which I think is the way to go here. However, someone didn't follow my suggestion and started ordering the larger dishes first...

Sweet corn tempura, sea salt, pepper - always, always start with this. Honestly, I should have at least 2 of these babies every time. Hands down my favorite dish here.

June 11, 2022

Seafood for CC

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The Man in White T-shirt was organizing a seafood lunch at the Genuine Lamma Hilton Fishing Village Restaurant (漁村酒家) and very kindly invited us to come along. As it is the weekend, and seeing that she enjoyed her last outing so much, we decided to bring our CC Dogcow along, too. This time around, CC showed us that it wasn't her first rodeo by not trembling even once while on the boat.

The weather was a little unstable today, but we still sat at tables next to the water. Those plastic tarps would come in really handy...

Blanched shrimps (白灼蝦) - there were actually two kinds of shrimp, with whiskered velvet shrimp (赤米蝦) being one of them. These are CC's favorite... and she not only got to have whole shrimp but also some shrimp heads and shells.

June 10, 2022

Once a year

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It's been close to a year since I last came to Hansik Goo, and I figured we were long overdue for a visit. Foolishly, I had initially booked the private room without realizing that there would be a pretty high minimum charge. As there were only 6 of us tonight and the numbers didn't make sense, I asked the restaurant to seat us in the main dining room instead. I was, therefore, pleasantly surprised when the restaurant decided to seat us in the private room anyway without imposing the minimum charge.

While the tasting menu already offered a good range of dishes, I was greedy as usual... and ordered both of the optional add-ons.

Korean starters:

Clam juk (죽) with egg jjim and caviar - there was a layer of steamed egg at the bottom, and the porridge was made with clam stock as well as clams, along with some caviar and finely shredded laver.

June 8, 2022

The gateway to the 'hood

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I'm back at Neighborhood tonight for a collaborative dinner they are doing with Daimon Brewery (大門酒造). This would be my chance to taste through a good range of the offerings from this brewery, and naturally I wanted to come and support Fergie. It also gave me a rare opportunity to meet new friends as I was taken under the boss' wing, having failed to find anyone would was remotely interested in being in my company...

We started with a plate of small bites:

Grilled Spanish piparra peppers

Strolghino salami - this helped to make the sake taste rounder on the palate.

Aquitaine beef tartare / anchovy

June 7, 2022

Another offal lunch

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Two days after seeing my friend for dinner, the two of us are dining together again. He had been wanting to try out Testina so I agreed to join him for lunch today.

I still have no interest in taking a tasting menu when dishes are availale à la carte, so we agreed on a selection of dishes and would make both of us happy.

"Lingua tonnata:, veal tongue and tonnata sauce - this was very, very good. The very thinly-sliced tongue was so tender and tasty, and of course that tuna sauce was just so, soooo delicious and leaves one wanting so much more.

June 5, 2022

Heavy Sunday dinner

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A friend pinged me a couple of days ago and offered us seats at Chaat. He had booked a table some time ago to dine with his family, but they had decided to travel. Having not seen my friend much during the pandemic, and seeing that we always enjoy the food there, we decided to join our friends. What made the gathering even better was the presence of Sweetheart, who jumped at the chance to escape - even temporarily - the deluge of fried chicken coming out from The Great One's kitchen.

Not wanting to be forced to take the restaurant's tasting menu, I pinged PR8 and asked him to have the kitchen arrange something for us. As it turned out, we ended up having pretty much the same menu... but with quite a few thing added on top.

Papadum with mango chutney

June 1, 2022

7 princesses and the dwarf

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One of the biggest impacts that the pandemic has had on my dining habits is the drastic reduction in the number of meals I've had at formal Chinese restaurants. Outright bans on dinner service aside, the fact that we have been subjected to, at various times, restrictions of no more than 4 or even 2 persons dining together makes it tough to do a proper meal.

Now that we are once again able to dine together in groups of up to 8, and sit in a restaurant until 11:59 p.m., I have been increasing my visits to Chinese restaurants. We can now order more dishes thanks to larger groups. And I finally got to go back to Wing (永), thanks to a dinner originally rescheduled for January.

Drunken South African abalone (醉南非鮑魚) - very, very tender. The sauce was sweet with some spices, but no real heat.

May 31, 2022

Le French GourMay: a near-perfect three-star

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Thanks to the ban on dinner service, it has been more than 5 months since I last visited Sato-san at Ta Vie 旅 - one of my favorite restaurants in Hong Kong. I've been looking at their post on the new dishes, and as the date for my visit got closer, I found myself drooling a little bit more. Those dishes looked really, really good. In fact, the presentation looked downright stunning.

We still have their house-made butter...

...and their house-made ricotta.

Both of those condiments are meant to go with the signature nukazuke (糠漬け) bread. After 7 years I am still in love with this bread. Just so unique.

May 30, 2022

Two years on

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It's been 2 years since our beloved asshole left us, and for the third year in a row, we are having dinner at Nikushou. Compared to previous years, though, our dinner tonight turned out a little more fancy - and the conversation a little more jovial.

The restaurant has been suffering from a lack of cow cow chopstick rests, as many have been damaged over the years while others have been stolen by customers. I noticed that my cow cow was not only missing the nose ring but actually was missing both legs down one side of its body...

May 26, 2022

Second chances, pinot edition

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Thanks to the dinner ban as well as the Film Buff's travel plans, it has taken us more than 4 months to gather together for some wine. I haven't been back to Andō for quite some time, and figured I could get everyone there for a refresher. I was surprised to have encountered some resistance from the group, but in the end I'm glad that they decided to trust my judgement. I was also glad that stringent government restrictions had been lifted by now, so that the 6 of us could be seated together in the private room next to the kitchen.

I didn't say anything to Goldfinger about the group expecting a "Peter menu", but some of my friends tonight was certainly looking for something above and beyond what they themselves had experienced while dining here.

We started with a caviar tasting, featuring 3 different brands: Kaviari, Nomad, and Petrossian. Each was served in a different fashion. And OF COURSE Goldfinger made sure I had gold foil on each serving, and only for me. I AM special, after all...

May 24, 2022

Six months on

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It has been much, much too long since this foursome popped open a few bottles, mainly thanks to the 4½-month ban on dinner service. It was 6 months ago that we opened up a few nice bottles to wash down some white truffles, and this time around we decided to hit Xin Rong Ji (新榮記), a place I like very much. The Baller definitely has a better relationship with the restaurant than I do - since they don't know me from a hole in the wall - so I let him make the arrangements.

Although we had booked more than 3 weeks' in advance, the restaurant had already run out of their daily quota for roast Peking duck for tonight. I never understood why roast Peking duck is so popular in Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong that don't specialize in Pekinese cuisine, but I guess I really don't know much about Chinese food. As I said to my friend earlier... I'll live.

Bayberries (楊梅) - I love that we always start with some seasonal fruit, and tonight these bayberries were really, really nice.

We also had these almond cookies (杏仁餅), which are always really, really good here. Soft and crumbly, and certainly very tasty.

May 20, 2022

Dinner under the stars, doggie edition

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We've been meaning to arrange a doggie playdate for our CC Dogcow, but unfortunate it didn't happen last year... so we tried again when Winnie the Chew could join us and bring their little fur baby along. Once again we chose Mian (紅棉) as the location, as it's pretty nice to sit under that pink-and-white shower tree in the courtyard.

As one of us hasn't really tried the menu here, Sankala and I ordered some of the usual suspects to give the first-timer a taste.

Jade lettuce ∙ wasabi (日本鮮山葵玉玲瓏) - always nice to start with something refreshing with clean flavors, especially on an evening like this.

May 19, 2022

Spicy peanuts

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No dinner out means the Peanut Gang could not catch up at all in 2022. In fact, I haven't seen these guys together for about 11 months. After multiple rounds of delays - and the relaxing of social distancing measures - we finally sat down around the same table at Deng G (鄧記) tonight.

The service staff couldn't find our booking, but we managed to grab a table regardless. Knowing that one of us was going to be very late, the rest of the gang began ordering up small dishes in multiple rounds while waiting for big bro to arrive.

Mouth watering chicken (鄧記口水雞)

May 15, 2022

Sunday night sticks

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This was the second of two bookings I made more than 5 months ago, when it took me 88 calls to get through to Hidden (秀殿) to get a coveted booking. It has, like the other booking, been postponed due to government restrictions on dining. But at least by now, the government has relaxed social distancing measures and we are now able to enjoy dinner service out. We decided to invite Mr and Mrs Cane to join us, as it's been some time since we last saw them. And once again we were joined by their son, whose company we enjoy very much.

The great thing about this place is that everyone can order up whatever they want, without being forced to have items that other people ordered. And one can control the amount of intake to one's liking.

Miso cucumber (もろきゅう) - nice to start off with something so refreshing, before we get into all that deep-fried sinfulness.

May 13, 2022

Rare Italian import

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NC Chung and I hadn't seen each other in a while, and he suggested that we catch up over lunch. I'm ever so glad that he's been able to enjoy dining out a little more over the last couple of years, and the caliber of restaurants we go to nowadays is definitely much higher than when I first got to know him. This time he chose to book us into Testina. I have, of course, long heard about this import from Italy... and have been looking forward to tasting the specialty ingredient - trippa.

I relished the opportunity to order à la carte, as I wanted to try only those dishes I fancied - unlike this meal with the Kitchen Nazi. With an easygoing dining companion, I could order all those things that a picky eater would pooh-pooh... and I love coming to these "nose-to-tail" restaurants!

I also love that they serve Nordaq filtered water, which reduces the carbon footprint of the restaurant.

Chicken liver parfait, saba and panettone - in retrospect, this was a dish I shouldn't have ordered. I love any kind of liver mousse but it's not something I absolutely needed to have here. I loved spreading it on toasted panettone but, inevitably, there was more parfait than bread... so I ended up grabbing a slice of sourdough to finish the job. This helped fill me up a little quicker than I had wanted.

May 6, 2022

Dinner under the stars, pink and white shower edition

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A friend is back in town for the first time since the pandemic started, so Sankala arranged to catch up with her over dinner. Since she very much wanted to meet our CC dogcow, Mian (紅棉) seemed like a good place for this meal. It's one of the few places we know where the food is decent while being pet-friendly.

As it turned out, the weather tonight was perfect for relaxing outdoors for a few hours. We enjoyed a cool breeze the whole time, and the giant pink and white shower tree (節果決明樹) in the courtyard of the Murray Hotel - classified as an Old and Valuation Tree by the government - was in full bloom. Throughout the course of the evening, a few petals or leaves would fall from the tree and land around us.

May 1, 2022

The bay in the drifting mountain

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For a long time now, we've been hearing Mrs Birdiegolf rave about the seafood in Lau Fau Shan (流浮山), but it seemed a long way to go just for a casual meal. Then she introduced her go-to restaurant to RAW Yeah, who also became a fan of Hoi Wan Restaurant (海灣餐廳). During our dinner last week, Sankala and I complained that we had never been to this purveyor of fine seafood, so RAW Yeah kindly agreed to arrange a meal for us.

The place really is far from where we live. Even on a rainy Sunday night with no traffic it took us about 45 minutes to get there. After walking down the narrow Main Street lined with restaurants and shops selling local goodies, we eventually would up at our destination. After we were seated, RAW Yeah and a few others went to pick out the seafood.

Blanched greasyback shrimp (白灼海麻蝦) - these were mostly small the very tender, just the way they should be.

April 29, 2022

The Kitchen Nazi and the Lonely Gourmet

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Sankala was doing a girls' night at home, and I figured I'd get out of their way and dine out by myself. Rather than trying to book myself a table of one at some fancy shmancy place, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity for me to play out the part of Norm sitting across from Sam, since Neighborhood has always felt like that kind of place for some of us. I arrived at the restaurant - now with new counter and table tops along with new chairs - to the sight of a lone table setting at the bar. That's where I'd be spending the next three hours.

Little did I know that I would end up spending the night sitting across from the Kitchen Nazi. I had specifically told Shirley that I didn't want the Man in White T-shirt to do his usual thing and send me his specials. There were specific dishes that I wanted to order, some of which he never sends out anymore. And I wanted to make sure that the food wouldn't clash with the bottle of wine that I was bringing. But... no. I was not allowed to order one single dish of my own choosing. The Kitchen Nazi knows best.

Deep-fried Hokkaido wild spring garlic / escargot / caviar - this was off-menu, and I watched the Kitchen Nazi prepare it in front of me without knowing that this was for me. After all, there were 6 of these and just one of me. As I watched him carefully spoon the N25 caviar on top, I began to suspect that this may, in fact, be my first dish. The suspicion was confirmed when he yelled out into the kitchen asking where they had put the pack of gold foil.

April 26, 2022

Even better than the last time

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Nearly 4 weeks after I was last here, I'm back at Godenya (ごでんや) for another fix. We're nearing the end of the season for sansho flowers, and I had long ago booked myself another dinner to try to maximize my intake.

I wasn't surprised that some of the dishes tonight were very similar to the ones I had on my last visit, and I didn't mind at all. These were all tasty, seasonal ingredients... and I'd be happy to gobble down as much as I could. Well... all except one ingredient.

Sakura-trout, akagai-clam, sansho-leaf, bracken (桜鱒   赤貝  山椒の葉  蕨) - I absolutely love the sight of this dish. I am always taken aback every time I see this. This ball of green is just so pretty, decorated with sansho leaves (木の芽), eagle fern, and for today - some precious sansho flowers (花山椒).

April 21, 2022

Same same, but different

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Tonight Hong Kong goes back out for dinner after 3½ months. We weren't initially in a rush to go and dine out when we knew many people would be out and about, but during our lunch at Nikushou on Monday, we were told that a shipment of sansho flowers (花山椒) was on its way, and there were still tables available for tonight. So we quickly rounded up the Birdiegolfs for a hot pot dinner.

But just like 3 days ago, I showed up early at the restaurant to pick up a takeout order. Winnie the Chew is quarantining in another hotel nearby, so I offered to deliver some delicious food that they wouldn't be able to get from either their hotel or a food delivery service. Because I pre-ordered the day before, they got to have mackerel bozushi (鯖棒鮨) in addition to the wagyu katsu sando, eel kappayaki (鰻蒲焼き), firefly squid with spring vegetables, and green salad. More satisfied customers for FoodPeechi.

Since we've already been here this week and tasted the "regular" menu, RAW Yeah made our dishes tonight had slightly different ingredients.

Spring mountain vegetables and seafood with mustard vinegar miso (桜鱒 春山菜 黄身酢味噌) - the boss switched to cherry salmon (桜鱒) for us since we had the firefly squid earlier. This was lightly torched for that smoky flavor. We didn't get the bamboo shoots tonight, but we still had French white asparagus, canola flower, and a block of jelly made with hyuganatsu (日向夏).

April 18, 2022

A simple misunderstanding

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Thanks to the ban on dine-in dinner service that's been in place for more than 3 months, there are a number of places in town I haven't paid a visit to since the start of the year. I figured we should show some love to Nikushou, so we booked ourselves seats for lunch today.

Then I found out Fat Donkey was quarantining at a hotel just around the block, so I managed to get RAW Yeah to pack up a few of their wagyu katsu sando, a green salad, and an order of beef curry rice. I got to the restaurant about half an hour before lunch, picked up the goodie bag, and walked to the hotel and dropped off lunch for my friend.

I had asked the boss before arriving about items that were seasonal and special, and he rattled off a couple of things. It would seem that my Japanese was a little rusty since I ended up confusing one thing for another...

Spring mountain vegetables and seafood with mustard vinegar miso (蛍烏賊  春山菜  黄身酢味噌) - a great way to start! Looooove firefly squid, and of course the collection of chilled vegetables including French white asparagus, Taiwanese bamboo shoots, canola flower, and spikenard (独活) were very refreshing.

April 17, 2022

A stroll around Sham Shui Po

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Not having traveled for more than 2 years and living with this pandemic means I haven't really gone on a food crawl during this time. Truth be told, it's also not something that I wanted to do when we're all still practicing social distancing and wearing masks outside. When a friend offered to take us around the neighborhood of Sham Shui Po (深水埗), Sankala and I happily took him up on the offer.

I did a little research based on the recommendations of Councillor Hung, and sent along a short list of places I'd like to hit today. My friend also reminded us that the area is now dotted with hipster cafés, so perhaps that would be one of our stops.

Our first stop of the day was Tomato C Hing (蕃茄師兄) - a place offering beef noodle soup with a tomato base. I'm not usually a fan of these, but I figured I'd go along since it was Sankala's request.

Real Gentleman (犇犇有禮) - this came with a trio of beef cuts from "local" steer (騸牯牛), which included beef cheek, boneless short rib (坑腩), and skirt steak (崩沙腩). There was a lot of beef, and these were all pretty thick cuts. This became a problem with the chunks of short rib, as it became a little difficult to chew thanks to the muscle fibers, even though the cuts were tender enough. The tomato broth was a real surprise, as the use of fresh tomatoes made the broth on the light side, while there was definitely enough savory and umami flavors to balance the sweetness and acidity. There was a choice of noodles, with an option to forgo carbs and have veg instead. I chose Shanghai-style noodles, but didn't finish the noodles in order to save room for the next stops.

April 16, 2022

Another no picture day

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Some 2 months after the opening of Sushi Fujimoto (鮨ふじもと), and having watch some friends hit the place a handful of times, it was finally time for me to check it out. LCKitty needed a place to celebrate a birthday, and I thought I would give her a hand by getting us seats in front of Fujimoto-san for this special day.

The restaurant had made it very clear in advance that there would be no pictures allowed during the meal, with the exception of the 3 pieces of tuna nigiri (握り). Well... as Fujimoto-san knows very well, I don't eat bluefin tuna. So that means I wouldn't be taking any pictures during my lunch, then... I have a history with restaurants which don't allow picture-taking, and I've never been back to any of them after my first visit. Let's see if this will be the exception.

April 9, 2022

Life is better without bluefin

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As is standard practice among customers of Sushi Saito (鮨 さいとう), we book our next meals while dining here. So it was that this particular reservation was made while we enjoyed our Christmas lunch here, and the next available Saturday lunch would come 3½ months later.

Since I was just here 2 weeks ago, it wasn't suprising that many of the items today were the same as last time. No complaints, though...

Hokkai shrimp and glass shrimp (縞海老 白海老) - with oboro (朧) and perilla flowers, but the pickled cucumber today was nice and refreshing.

April 3, 2022

Scratching that chicken Manchurian itch

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A few weeks ago I happened to catch a show on cable TV called Slumfood Millionaire, and this particular episode focused on the Dharavi area of Mumbai. As I watched cooks preparing Indian Chinese dishes - including ones featuring the famous Manchurian and Schezwan sauces - I couldn't help but salivate. Having had a first taste of "Chindian" dishes thanks to her, I immediately messaged The Bombay East Indian Girl to tell her. She very kindly let me know that she would be happy to prepare something for me, as long as I didn't mind trekking over to her place.

Well... she is talking to someone who have planned many, many trips that revolved around restaurant meals - sometimes flying halfway around the world for a single reservation. So traveling for an hour on the train is nothing. I hesitated to impose on her, but eventually my curiosity got the best of me... and I invited myself over for lunch today.

I had ask our hostess for some Indo-Chinese food but did not specify anything in particular. She knows that, like her husband, I'm limited in my ability to handle the heat. So she dialed it down for me today. Meanwhile, Hairy Legs found out about my visit and managed to convince our hostess to serve up his favorite dish for us...

Masala dosa - I wasn't expecting to start with this, but of course I was only too happy to have dosa. The Schezwan chutney in the middle turned out OK for me, which meant it didn't have the kick that Sankala would have enjoyed.

April 2, 2022

No zebra for me, again

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I enjoyed my first meal at Estro, which was back during the restaurant's soft-opening period. The place got popular real quick, and the public scrambled to secure one of the coveted tables. I quickly realized that a return visit would require advanced planning, and I was a little lazy... Then we got hit with the dinner ban.

So Mr. Zebra became the latest chef to complain that I don't love him and never goes to see him. Well... I had made a booking for dinner for March, but of course it was cancelled thanks to the Hong Kong government. I dutifully rescheduled it as a lunch, so here we are.

Zucchini salad, basil, lemon zest - the zucchini noodles were very refreshing, and the lovely olive oil made for very clean flavors.

March 31, 2022

Saying sayonara with flowers

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Every year around this time, I try to book myself 2 or 3 meals at Godenya (ごでんや) to make sure I get to taste a couple of my favorite seasonal ingredients. Not only is spring the season for firefly squid (蛍烏賊), but there are tiny little flowers whose season only lasts a few short weeks. Timing the reservation - which is usually made months in advance - wrong by a few days would mean missing out on that incredible fragrance. As I would find out from Goshima-san, the all-important shipment only came in hours before we arrived, and The Great One actually missed out on tasting it a few days ago by mere hours.

Today Sankala and I are bidding farewell to a few friends who are leaving town for a while. After months of social distancing, dining bans, and travel restrictions, more and more of my friends have decided to escape so that they can roam around the rest of the world. DaRC will fly off to Silicon Valley for some work before doing some traveling, and Fat Donkey will visit family Down Under. This would be the last chance for us to meet up for the next 3 months at least... so I was pretty happy that we could come here for a nice meal.

Sakura-trout, torigai, sansho-leaf, bracken (桜鱒  鳥貝  山椒の葉  蕨) - the cherry salmon from Aomori Prefecture (青森県) was slow-cooked and smoked, and came with tender cockle (鳥貝) from Osaka (大阪), along with a miso made with sansho (山椒), topped with sansho leaves (木の芽), sansho flowers (花山椒), and fern. Love the fragrance of the sansho, which was of course why we are here!


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