March 15, 2023

Everything everywhere all in my tummy day 5: the first experience

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Our mission this morning was, once again, shopping. We had discovered some time ago that there are shops in Japan which sell utensils designed for lefties, and there's a left-handed spatula in our kitchen which needs replacing. I had done some research and found a shop in Kappabashi Dougu Street (かっぱ橋道具街) which has a section for people like Foursheets.

I had long heard about Kappabashi but just never got around to check out the area, because buying kitchen utensils or professional equipment for restaurants somehow just wasn't a priority. So it was fun to come check out the different types of shops, including ones that sell those plastic fake food items that are in the display windows of so many restaurants across Japan.

It took some walking to get to Iida-ya (飯田屋), and the collection for lefties was smaller than I had expected. Nevertheless, we picked up a few useful items like spatulas, scissors, and mandolin slicers.

We didn't have too much time to stroll around for other curios, as we had a lunch appointment back at the Tokyo Station area. In fact, we didn't even have enough time to drop off the shopping haul back at the Shangri-la Tokyo before hitting SÉZANNE at the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi.

With the exception of one dessert (which he brought to another restaurant) and the sourdough served at Neighborhood, I had never tasted Daniel Calvert's food. The reason is well-known to Daniel and my friends, and now that he's moved to Japan and the borders have opened up, it was finally time to give him a try.

I had made the booking through a restaurant booking website, and only told one person that we were coming to the restaurant, so imagine my utter shock when we showed up at the door we were recognized by sight and greeted by name.

Daniel came over to greet us at our table, and I admitted to him that we had chosen the Menu du Jour because I was a cheapskate Foursheets had an afternoon meeting and we were tight on time. In any case, there is another dinner tonight and I definitely didn't need to be stuffed.

We were also greeted by Vivian Chen, whom we had recently come across at Estro in Hong Kong. Always nice to see a familiar face.

Daniel very kindly sent us a glass of Krug to start, and that's always a pretty good way to kick off!

Krug Grande Cuvée, 170ème Édition, ID 321050 - nice and toasty nose, refreshing lemon citrus. Light and very lively.

Gougère - with Comté emulsion and a thin wafer of lightly-toasted Comté.

Young turnips with sake-kasu - OK, so I kinda told Daniel that we didn't want a big lunch... but this was ridiculous. Us Chinese would say that this isn't even enough to fill the gaps between one's teeth (連塞牙縫都不夠)!

Jokes aside, the butter coating was quite nice, and the amount of caviar was just enough to deliver some flavors without being overkill.

"Botan ebi" from Hokkaido with celery - sandwiched between two thin wafers of crispy "brioche" is diced botan ebi (牡丹海老) with celery cream.

"Kristal" caviar with avocado and sudachi - below the disc of avocado topped with sudachi (酢橘) zest we have a layer of Kaviari Kristal caviar.

At the bottom we also have an avocado purée with dashi (出汁) gelée. I thought the dish worked pretty well after the combination of the salt from the caviar with acidity from the avocado purée, together with a hint of smokiness from the dashi.

Malted barley sourdough with Brittany butter - Daniel was famous in Hong Kong for his fantastic sourdough, and despite never having sat down to taste his food before, I have eaten many, many slices of that sourdough thanks to it being available at Neighborhood. I dare say that this was even better. The crust was harder and crunchier, and the crumb was certainly a lot less moist and sticky. So, so good.

Akkeshi oyster with Koshihikari rice and wild sorrel - the oyster from Akkeshi (厚岸) in Hokkaido sat on top of a bed of Koshihikari (コシヒカリ) rice mixed with purée of Romaine lettuce, with a gelée made of oyster water and some finger lime. The oyster itself wasn't too briny and still kinda creamy, and the acidity from the finger lime caviar worked well with the slightly savory oyster foam on top.

Vivian showed us the Bizen Shamo (美膳軍鶏).

Ariakeyama Farm's Bizen Shamo, poached in yellow wine - served with some edamame (枝豆) and turnip. This was nice and tender. Definitely tasted the vin jaune.

The stuffing between the skin and the meat was made with mushroom and tarragon. The skin was very nice and reminded me of Chinese drunken chicken, but with more crunch.

Crispy skin "kinki" from Abashiri, with saffron from Oita - served with potatoes glazed with butter, and a sauce made with fish bones and saffron.

This broadbanded thornyhead (喜知次) was obviously a very good product, I could taste the oil and the fat fully. In terms of execution this was more raw and jiggly, but the skin was very crunchy - more than other versions I have tasted.

Handcut tagliolini with "noresore" - OH YES! Having missed the opportunity to taste these little babies in Hong Kong, and thinking that I've missed the season here in Japan, I have finally found it! The noresore (ノレソレ)!

The baby conger eels were, naturally, very, very tender. The vongole sauce with parsley came with fairly high levels of acidity. I'm not sure that this was the best combination, though...

Shiranuka venison with spring mountain vegetables and blackcurrant sauce - garnished with some Japanese angelica shoots (タラの芽), blackcurrants, a blackcurrant sauce, and a few drops of juniper berry sauce. The execution was fine and the meat was still tender in the center.

There was a thin slice of venison sausage underneath the venison. This was far too thin, and with too much crust soaking up oil.

Fukinoto granité with "Tokyo Shirokabi" cheese - the green vegetal flavors of butterbud bur (蕗の薹) were pretty obvious, but thankfully not too bitter together with the cream made of Tokyo Shirokabi (東京白カビ) cheese - which was very savory and almost like Époisses.

Setoka orange from Ehime Prefecture with yuzu kosho - baked into the "meringue" are setoka mikan (せとか蜜柑), buntan (文旦), and blood orange, along with some yuzukosho (柚子胡椒) and garnished with some sansho leaves (木の芽). Nice balance between the sweetness and the acidity of the citrus fruits.


Crème brûlée ice cream topped with a caramel disc.

Madeleine with cassis jam

Houjicha macaron - with crunchy bits of rice in the ganache.

Vanilla macaron

Henri Giraud Fût de Chêne MV, en demi-bouteille, dégorgée le 26 septembre 2017 - much bigger on the palate, more marmalade, really showing a lot more depth. Leaves a wonderful fragrance in the mouth.

Very happy that after all these years, I finally got the chance to enjoy Daniel's cuisine. We also congratulated him on his recent nuptials, and may the two of them live happily ever after.

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