April 19, 2023

Japan Michelin tour 2023 day 5: hanging with Vlad

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Foursheets left early this morning on a business trip, so I'm hanging out on my own today. Once again I'm having breakfast in my hotel room, trying out the two packs of Amaou (あまおう) strawberries I bought outside a Lawson in Kokura (小倉) yesterday. They were fairly cheap and, therefore, not so great in terms of quality. Oh well.

Since the boss of Hakata Daruma (博多だるま) came to dinner last night, Vlad and I decided to go try out their ramen. It's only a short walk from my hotel, and we were there on a weekday so the wait was pretty short - only 10 minutes or so.

Chashu noodles (チャーシューメン) - I went for the simple option. The broth is on the heavy side, with plenty of oil, foamy on top, and kinda salty in comparison with others I've tried. And yes, it's got that heavy, porky smell that Foursheets would call "stinky feet".

The thick cut chashu (チャーシュー) is best dunked into the hot soup for a while before enjoying, as that would warm up the strip of fat and cause it to melt a little. This makes the fat more delicious and satisfying. The noodles themselves carry a light alkaline flavor, but not too bad.

Gyoza (餃子) - these were kinda sweet and delicious. I'd be happy to eat more of them.

Vlad was apparently recognized by the staff of the restaurant - or was the boss actually around but we didn't see him? Anyway, we were each given a box of their ramen to take home. I was very grateful for that.

Having satisfied our hunger, we walked across the street to Naturevin (ナチュラルヴァン), a café and dining bar whose menu showed pictures of bongwater that intrigued Vlad. My original plan was to order a dessert along with a bottle of wine, but in the end I didn't bother. Vlad found the rare bottle a little expensive so he settled for something else he found interesting.

2006 Dario Prinčič Cabernet Sauvignon - decanted and served. Really sweet and jammy on the nose, a little metallic. Very raisin-like, very oaky, lots of vanilla. Lighter on the body but still got some tannins.

I strolled over to Yanagibashi Rengo Market (柳橋連合市場) to do some shopping for mom. It was mid-afternoon by now and some of the shops have closed for the day, but I still managed to pick up some nice Donko shiitake (どんこ椎茸) at the shop where I bought some 4 years ago. I also asked around about dried sea cucumbers, but I was told by some shopkeepers that they haven't seen those around. That fits with what Goh-san had told me.

Foursheets came back from her day trip and we headed out to dinner at a kaiseki (懐石) restaurant which earned themselves 2 macarons a few years ago. More details here.

The Gaggan boys finished service on the second night of the GohGan pop-up, and I had arranged to take them out for sake at my favorite izakaya (居酒屋) in town. Much like the way I visit Tamanegiya (酒たまねぎや) on every single trip to Tokyo, I also visit Shuhou (酒峰) each time I'm in Fukuoka.


Ryujin Nakatori Junmai Daiginjo Yamadanishiki 35% (龍神 中取り 純米大吟醸 山田錦35%) - drinking very well, medium-dry, very elegant.

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%.

Azumaichi Junmai Daiginjo 100th Anniversary (東一 純米大吟醸 百周年記念酒), from isshobin - seimaibuai of 35%. Fairly light and elegant, a little muted on the nose as last time. A different Azumaichi from the usual.

Tabaru-san was kind enough to stay open till around 1 a.m. for us, and we did not wish to keep him and his wife from enjoying some Burgundy with his friends at another bar, so we cleared out of there and went to our next appointment...

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