February 25, 2022

A well-deserved treat

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We've just finished 7 weeks where the Hong Kong government has banned dining in service at dinner, which has managed to wreak havoc with our lives as well as our mental health.  Sankala has been going crazy over the daily decisions of what to cook for dinner, as we try our damndest to avoid getting food takeout or delivery to reduce container waste.  We do need a break once in a while, even if relief comes only during lunchtime.

I was much, much too optimistic about the pandemic situation in Hong Kong when I booked dinner at Sushi Shikon by Yoshitake (すし 志魂) for tonight.  I had expected the dining ban to be lifted by yesterday, and we would be able to dine out tonight. Of course, the situation has now spiralled out of control, and the goverment has announced that the dining ban would extend to April 20th - a minimum of 3½ months from the original start date. When the restaurant contacted me about rescheduling, Sankala made it pretty clear that she wanted to have a nice meal today, even if it's at an odd time. So we took a 2 p.m. seating at the main counter in front of Kaki-san.

Baby sea eel with bonito broth (ノレソレ) - Kaki-san joked that he wanted to serve us some udon (うどん), but these were, in fact, the fry of conger eels (穴子). Served in a bowl with dashi (出汁) and topped with minced ginger, myoga (茗荷), and diced spring onions.

These fry barely bad any bones in them, and with their texture I really could have mistaken them for noodles! So, sooo soft and delicious and utterly amazing. The warm dashi - along with ginger - helps to bring a sense of comfort and warmth to one's stomach... which makes this a perfect starter for this weather.

Olive flounder (平目), first serving - I remembered from my last visit that Kaki-san likes to serve flounder in thick cut, which delivers some chewiness on the bite while the fish remained tender and was only crunchy on the skin side. This was brushed with salt water and served with some marinated sea cucumber innards (海鼠腸) and a sprinkle of yuzu (柚子) zest.

Olive flounder (平目), second serving - again served as thick cut, still very, very tender. The flounder wing (縁側) was nice and crunchy.

Japanese style tender octopus (蛸) - our waitress made sure to let us know that the octopus had been massaged for more than an hour during preparation, and of course this, together with the braising, resulted in a big chunk of the tentacle that was just so, soooo tender and delicious. The marinade was a little smoky, perhaps due to the use of dashi.

Steamed abalone with abalone liver sauce (鮑) - one always has high expectations when it comes to a restaurant's signature dish, but one is never disappointed here. In addition to the big hunk of abalone, there is always a ball of shari (シャリ) to wipe up the extra liver sauce. That vinegar in the shari was definitely sharp and prominent.

OF COURSE I was gonna roll that big piece of abalone around in sauce to make sure I get it well covered... and yes, I ate it in one bite. It is the only way to respect the beauty of this product.

Monkfish liver (鮟肝) - this was the "extra" item available for the day, and we didn't even blink before saying YES. Monkfish liver can be wonderful when it's done well, and believe you me, what I put in my mouth today was nothing short of magical. It was so, sooooo smooth that I could have sworn I was eating terrine de foie gras d'oie. It just melted in my mouth. The yuzu zest added its wonderful citrus fragrance, and I really didn't have any reason to add any wasabi and detract from the purity of it all. I very, very much would have liked to tell Kaki-san that "THIS WAS FUCKING BEAUTIFUL!"

Kudzu starch noodles (葛素麺) - Sankala saw my eyes lit up at the sight of big chunks of cured mullet roe (唐墨), which was cured in-house. In the glass serving vessel we had strands of noodles made from kudzu (葛), which were both chewy and rather slimey. Topping the noodles we had grated mullet roe which were cured in 2020, chunks of roe cured in 2021, and some glass shrimp (白海老). Finally there was a little bit of Kaviari caviar (I'm assuming Kristal) and some perilla flowers. Loved the flavors from the cured mullet roe.

Grilled Japanese icefish with bamboo leaf (白魚笹焼き) - when these came out from the kitchen in the back, the fragrance of the leaves reminded me of otak-otak because of the grilled leaves.

Inside we had some icefish (白魚) which came in varying degrees of doneness, with the fishies on top being a little more raw. Once again we have some marinated sea urchin innards along with some salted skipjack tuna innards.

Then the nigiri (握り) portion of the meal begins:

Cuttlefish (墨烏賊) - very thick cut, and this time the cuttlefish was not sliced into 3 thin slices before being tenderized. The scoring on both sides did help to soften the texture and help liquefy the neta (ネタ), but some of the crunch was retained.

Olive flounder (平目) - substitute for medium fatty tuna (中トロ). Thick cut but very tender. Super like.

Golden eye snapper (金目鯛) - love the texture of the neta, tender but with just a little bit of crunch so the piece wasn't completely mushy. Could start to taste the wasabi a little.

Spanish mackerel (鰆) - this was very, very, very tender. That's a lot of flavor coming from this fatty fish. Fantastic! So delicious that Sankala decided to get a second piece.

Skipjack tuna (鰹) - substitute for fatty tuna (大トロ). This was pretty nice. A dab of asatsuki (浅葱) on top for additional flavors.

Scallop (帆立) - interesting color on the scallops. Were they ever so slightly torched around the edges? Even more interesting that it came with some tare (タレ) and yuzu zest on top.

Sea urchin (雲丹) - just as before, Kaki-san used two different types of sea urchin here: Japanese green sea urchin (馬糞雲丹) just on top of the shari and purple sea urchin (紫雲丹) at the top. What fine interplay between the acidity in the shari and the sweet and creamy sea urchin!

Tiger prawn (車海老) - the tiger prawn was, of course, very sweet with a wonderful, springy texture. Once again, the vinegar in the shari reminded me of black Chinkiang vinegar (鎮江醋).

Sea eel (穴子) - just gotta love the narazuke (奈良漬け) inside for the little extra crunch. Love this piece of bozushi (棒鮨)-style roll.

Castella egg (卵) - the texture was somewhere between カステラ and cheesecake.

I decided not to order any extra pieces, as the meal was satisfying enough.

Strawberry daifuku (いちご大福) - a nice surprise, and certainly a very elegant version.

Very, very happy with our meal today. We've been wanting to come back here after our very first visit last year, and now I kinda wonder why it's taken us so long...

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