March 19, 2022

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On December 1st last year, I tried to book seats at a restaurant that has become surprisingly popular and difficult to book. My previous bookings - sometimes done while dining at the restaurant - had come after a 4- or 5-month wait. Then the restaurant announced that they would take all bookings via telephone and open up on that specific day, and everyone would just have to call and try their luck.

On that day, I finally got through to Hidden (秀殿) after making 88 calls within the first hour. I didn't know how many bookings I was allowed to make, but I didn't want to be an asshole to booking 5 dates myself, so I asked for just two. I later found out that Sankala had tried more than 100 times and never managed to get through.

Both bookings would end up being rescheduled, as a few days before the first date the Hong Kong government announced what was then a temporary ban on dinner service. This booking was changed to a dinner which would have been on My Favorite Cousin's birthday, but of course dinner was still banned when that rolled around... When it came time to reschedule my second booking, I decided to play it safe and book it as a lunch. That was the right call.

We had chosen an omakase (お任せ) menu in advance, and I wondered what Suzuki-san would be serving up. There are usually some seasonal and special items included in these sets...

Cold chawanmushi (冷製茶碗蒸し) - topped with a firefly squid and some salmon roe. The firefly squid was very, very tasty, and we've also got some dashi (出汁). A little surprised that the dashi was not infused into the steamed egg, which meant that the egg was a little bland.

Prawn (えび) - always nice to get the heads, and much to my surprise Sankala actually ate and enjoyed the head. Probably the first time I've seen her willing eat a deep-fried prawn head since that dinner at Baan Ice (ร้านบ้านไอซ์) in Bangkok.

Japanese angelica shoots (タラの芽) - nice and seasonal, with a bitter taste.

Baby sweetfish (稚鮎) - always happy to have these fishies. Ended up with Sankala's portion, too.

Siberian onion (行者葫) - never had these before, and I gotta say this was really, really delicious. The green tip was especially flavorful.

Amela tomato (アメーラトマト) - served chilled with the skin removed, some dashi and minced ginger on top.

Wagyu filet (和牛ヒレ)

Broad bean (空豆)

Fried chicken wing (手羽唐揚げ) - when we found out that this wasn't included as part of our set, everyone wanted one.

Rosy seabass (赤睦) - did not expect to have this deep-fried on a stick, but hey... you can't go wrong with this fish no matter how it's served.

Mozzarella (モッツァレッラ) - very stringy and stretches well when hot.

Firefly squid (蛍烏賊) - this ain't your average fried calamari (イカフライ)... but three firefly squids fried on a stick. So, so, sooooo happy.

Herring roe on kelp (子持ち昆布) - another one of my favorites. I love, love the feel of those springy spheres of herring roe between my teeth. Tasty and lots of fun to eat. Not surprisingly, I also had someone's unwanted portion.

Scallop salmon roe (ほたてタルタルいくら) - YASSSS!!!! The signature dish. Everyone else was being a wimp with their multiple, dainty bites of this. Don't they understand that something like this has to be eaten in one single mouthful?!

Pearl onions (ペコロス)

Mentaiko udon (明太子うどん) - for some reason I thought we were getting a dry version like the creamy mentaiko pasta, but I was happy enough with the soupy version.

Special rich pudding (特製濃厚プリン) - always, always, always end with this pudding at the end of the meal. Simply one of the best in town.

Dewazakura AWA Sake (出羽桜 AWA Sake), H31BY - sweet nose of fermented rice, lots of banana.

Juyondai Tokubetsu Honjozo Honmaru Kakushin (十四代 特別本醸造 角新 本丸), R3BY, from isshobin - seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 55%. very sweet but clean and fresh. Melon and banana notes.

Juyondai Nakatori Sekibanomachi Junmai Ginjo (十四代 中取り 赤磐雄町 純米吟醸), R2BY, from isshobin - made with 80% Omachi (雄町) rice from Sekiban (赤磐) and a seimaibuai of 50%. Lots of glutinous rice notes, and while still very sweet, this was much richer with more depth on the palate.

Yamanokotobuki Furufuru (山の寿 フルフル), from isshobin - made with Alphonso and Irwin mangoes.

Milk Tappuri Ichigo No Umeshu (ミルクたっぷりいちごの梅酒) - WOW! Even though this was meant to resemble strawberry milk, the flavors of strawberries were actually much more intense than I expected. Super like!

Mellow Mellow Melon Umeshu, from isshobin

A very, very happy meal. Well worth the 4½-month wait. I wish dinner service was back on and I'd be able to come more often, but we'll see what happens.

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