March 16, 2023

Everything everywhere all in my tummy day 6: single-minded evening

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I'm finally meeting up with The Dining Austrian tonight, after not having seen him since our last meal together in Singapore in November 2019. He has been holed up based in Japan since the pandemic started, and now has impeccable connections with many of the best restaurants in the country.

The idea for tonight was to dine in Kagurazaka (神楽坂) so that we could be within walking distance of my favorite after-dinner spot. This is an area where the Ishikawa (石かわ) group of restaurants dominate, so we ended up at Guchokuni (愚直に), which opened during the pandemic but nevertheless have managed to earn themselves a little macaron.

Somewhere along the line we went from being a group of 6 to taking over the enter counter with the 9 of us. This would turn out to be a double-edged sword, but... c'est la vie!

Glutinous rice with ice fish and scrambled eggs (餅米 白魚の玉子とじ) - the ice fish (白魚) come from Mie Prefecture (三重県) and I LOVE THEM! Having the runny, scrambled egg (玉子とじ) on top and served up with rice was a perfect combo, but why are we getting glutinous rice for our first course? A nice bit of sansho leaves (木の芽) ups the aromatics.

Izumofuji Junmai Ginjo Spring Red Label Shiboritate Unfiltered Unpasteurized (出雲富士  純米吟醸  しぼりたて  無濾過生原酒), from isshobin - seimaibuai of 50%. Nice and smooth on the palate, more on the sweet side.

Shinjo of Japanese snow crab (松葉蟹の真薯) - yes, the little "fishball" made of sweet Japanese snow crab was delicious, but one must not overlook the dashi (出汁) it was swimming in.

The raw fish course (お造り) tonight included red seabream (真鯛) and Spanish mackerel (鰆) from Oita (大分) along with an onion sauce. The seabream was very, very good, with a texture that was so spring and wonderfully bouncy yet soft at the same time. The skin of the Spanish mackerel was crispy and smoky after having been chargrilled.

Crispy bamboo shoot (筍) - from Kagoshima (鹿児島). Loved this with the fukimiso (蕗味噌).

Charcoal-grilled cherry salmon (炭火焼き桜鱒) - from Aomori Prefecture (青森県). The grilling process filled the entire room with smoke. The skin was very crispy and tasty. Served with grated radish that has been seasoned with preserved plum (梅干の大根おろし).

Kokuryu Haru Shibori (黒龍  春しぼり), from isshobin - seimaibuai of 55%. Sweetish on the palate, while the nose has more fermented rice notes.

Pen shell with ark shell and firefly squid (平貝 赤貝 螢烏賊 黄身酢餡) - the pen shell (平貝) from Aichi Prefecture (愛知県) was, as expected, pretty firm in terms of texture and not quite as soft as a scallop.

We've also got a yolk vinegar at the bottom and what looked like a ponzu (ポン酢) jelly. Good hit of acidity to go with the seafood.

Soba with broad bean and Japanese angelica shoots tempura (蕎麦 蚕豆とタラの芽の天ぷら) - the soba comes from Nagano Prefecture (長野県). The sauce was made with sesame seeds and miso.

Juyondai Tatsunootoshigo Daigokjo Nama Junmai Daiginjo (十四代 龍の落とし子 大極上生 純米大吟醸), from isshobin - seimaibuai of 35%. Richer on the palate, more viscous, a little more fermented and savory, but still sweet on the palate.

Clam with turnip and wasabi greens (蛤 蕪 春野菜のお椀) - with hosta (ウルイ), beach silvertop (浜防風), wasabi greens (花山葵) along with a very, very soft piece of turnip.

Clay pot rice with beef and bamboo shoots (和牛と筍の釜飯) - the rice tonight would be made with sliced beef from Kumamoto (熊本) along with slices of bamboo shoots.

This was really, really tasty. Loved the tender beef. I would have taken the leftover onigiri (おにぎり) back had I had room for it.

Aizu Chujo Tokubetsu Junmai Usunigori (会津中将  特別純米  うすにごり), from isshobin - seimaibuai of 55%. A bit drier mid-palate and sweet on the finish.

Soup and pickles

Strawberries, strawberry ice cream, and red beans (苺アイスクリーム 苺ソースと小豆添え) - made with Shinano Berry (しなのベリー) from Nagano (長野). Pretty nice.

A very enjoyable dinner and I think everyone had fun. We kept it civilized on the alcohol front because we are going to my favorite place in Tokyo, just a few minutes' walk away.

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