April 17, 2023

Japan Michelin tour 2023 day 3: flaming tangerine

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After resting a little in our hotel room, we walked over to Warayaki Mikan (藁焼 みかん) to meet up with the boys for dinner. Vlad has been to the restaurant a few years ago when they were at their old location, and they are obviously good friends with Goh-san, judging by the place cards on the counter where they had reserved seats for us.

As Goh-san was still busy with tonight's service and wouldn't join us till halfway through dinner, we tried to negotiate upfront with the boss to let us pay for the meal. Unfortunately our offer was rebuffed, as we were told that Goh-san had already pre-paid for the dinner. This was, of course, a lie... but we were in no position to argue. The only thing we could do was to refrain from ordering expensive alcohol...

Onion soup (新玉ねぎすりながし) - sweet with bacon and brunoise of potato inside.

Grilled godofu (焼呉豆腐) - the godofu (呉豆腐) is a specialty of neighboring Saga Prefecture (佐賀県) made with kudzu (葛), which gives it a very interesting wobbly yet sticky texture. This was cooked on a ceramic hot plate, and the resulting heat turned the godofu almost into lava along with the sesame paste that was bubbling on the plate. Care is to be taken while eating this scalding dish. I did think, though, that the flavor of the sesame sauce was a little strange.

Sashimi (お造り) came with 4 different items, along with condiments like soy-marinated laver (海苔醤油) and mikan kosho (みかん胡椒).

Japanese pink sea urchin (赤雲丹) - from Kagoshima.

Barracuda (梭子魚)

Bigfin reef squid (アオリイカ) - scored perpendicularly on opposite sides.

Red seabream (鯛)

Medium fatty tuna (中トロ) - I should have given this to Vlad or somebody...

The signature dish here is the skipjack tuna / bonito which is grilled over a flame fed with straw - which lends the word warayaki (藁焼き) to the restaurant's name.

Grilled bonito (カツオ藁焼き) - served as a tataki (タタキ) and stayed raw in the center, with raw onions and green bell peppers. Very tasty, and love the smoky flavors.

Daily spring roll (今日の春巻) - stuffed with bamboo shoots as well as scallops, along with two types of miso - one made with sansho leaves (木の芽) and another made with butterbur (蕗). The bitter flavors of the latter were clearly evident.

Spicy amizuke (あみ漬青唐) - a combination of amizuke (あみ漬) - which is salted raw mysid shrimp (あみ) - and spicy green pepper (青唐辛子). So this tasted a little like yuzukosho (柚子胡椒) except it was made with shrimp.

Hakata-style game-ni (博多がめ煮肉) - with chicken wing, carrot, burdock, lotus root, and konjack (蒟蒻).

Marinated wasabi leaves (葉山葵) - marinated in soy sauce and served with katsuobushi (鰹節) shavings.

Grilled eel (鰻蒲焼き) - from Asakura (朝倉) in Fukuoka Prefecture.

Firefly squid (ホタルイカ串) - always awesome on a stick.

Mentaiko with pickles (明太子 漬物)

The presentation of the rice was done with some flair...

Nuka-simmered mackerel (鯖ぬか炊き) - the fish was simmered with some nuka (糠) so the flavors were a little heavier. Nice to have some bamboo shoot along with this.


Plum kombucha (梅昆布茶)

So we started with a bottle of wine Vlad picked out, then moved on to sake...

2018 Irenka Pinot Noir - eucalyptus on the nose. Light on the palate with more acidity.

Denshu Tokubetsu Junmai (田酒 特別純米) - seimaibuai of 55%. Kinda soft on the palate.

Zanshin Junmai Ginjo (残心 純米吟醸), R3BY - seimaibuai of 55%. Kinda sweet on the palate, even after the wasabi leaf.

Tanaka 65 (田中六十五) - seimaibuai of 65%. Pretty easy to drink.

Another delicious and fun meal, and I learned a little bit more about regional cuisine here. Many thanks to Goh-san for the treat, once again.

On the way back to the hotel, I decided to stop by 7-11 to look for something I wasn't able to find in either Family Mart or Lawson. Gari Gari Kun (ガリガリ君) has recently debuted a variant of their popular soda (ソーダ)-flavored popsicle. I was really curious about this new Rice soda (お米のソーダ) flavor, and as it turned out I really liked it. I could still taste the distinctive soda flavor, but it was tempered with the fragrant flavor of Japanese rice. I found the combination more alluring.

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