December 22, 2022

Drifting back to happiness

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Nearly three years of government restrictions on social gatherings and dining arrangements have resulted in some changes in my dining habits, and I no longer frequent certain establishments as often as I used to. This year we didn't have any family obligations for winter solstice, and I felt a sudden urge to go and revisit somewhere casual, but more importantly, somewhere I haven't been in quite some time. When the first idea didn't pan out due to the short notice, Four Sheets and I suddenly remembered Ronin. I had, on occasion, thought about returning there... but somehow just never got around to it.

Well, I'm glad I was able to grab seats with very short notice. It felt instantly familiar once I pulled the sliding door aside at the non-descript entrance.

Pickled mustard greens with shio kombu (塩昆布).

Geay oyster, tomato amazu, shiso - the oyster was on the briny side, with a bit of creaminess. Good to have the fruity acidity and the fragrant perilla oil in the mix.

Ankimo monkfish liver, spicy daikon - honestly, the monkfish liver was bland, and offered up just a tad of smokiness from the charring on top of the fattiness. Badly needed the spicy grated radish (もみじおろし).

Aka isaki red grunt fish, garlic soy - topped with deep-fried garlic and diced spring onions. Slightly smoky from the light charring on top. Very nice.

Flower crab, mitsuba, uni, sudachi - OF COURSE we had to order this. One simply cannot come to Ronin without having this signature dish. Full of sweetness from the sea urchin as well as the crab, along with a little refreshing acidity and just a hint of crunchiness thanks to the Japanese parsley (三つ葉).

Shrimp roll, yuba, shrimp tare - the tofu skin (湯葉) outside was crispy and a little charred, while the the whole thing was very bouncy and very juicy inside. Flavors were pretty nice with the tare (タレ).

Pork belly, myoga, pickled ginger - I felt these were a little too charred, although the pickled ginger wrapped inside brought the acidity to help balance out the fat of the pork.

King oyster mushroom, Kyoto shichimi - gotta say I liked how the mushroom was sliced and skewered here. Nice texture, good kick from the kuroshichimi (黒七味) from Kyoto.

Flagrant Hot wings, shio kombu, pickled daikon, rice - I didn't know whether I could take the heat of the Flagrant Hot Sauce, but I figured Four Sheets would be game to try.

So we've got rice, shio kombu, and pickled radish stuffed inside. But DAMN! That sauce was so hot not only my tongue went numb, but my lips got swollen as a reaction!

Udon, clams, garlic leek - still loving the bite of the noodle, and the salt and umami in the noodle continues to please, while there was good acidity in the sauce to work with everything.

Sweet potato donut, black sugar, kinako - this was really interesting... crispy on the outside while the center was sticky and chewy like it was made with glutinous rice.

It felt really good to be back here, enjoying the kitchen's distinctive take on Japanese cuisine and flavors. Not sure why it's taken me so long to come back, but it won't be another 44 months before I'm back here again.

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