April 22, 2023

Japan Michelin tour 2023 day 8: Selosse at Saito

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I'm back at Sushi Saito (鮨さいとう) a few weeks after my last visit. For my fourth visit here I have the privilege of coming to dinner for the first time, and thanks to the generosity of the Dining Austrian, I have the pleasure of bringing Cow and Chicken along. It was, after all, their 20th wedding anniversary just 2 days ago... and I was very glad to be able to treat them to a very special experience they normally wouldn't have access to.

Once again my friend had the entire counter, and our threesome were seated at one end of it while Mr. Big(time) was at the opposite end. That made for a trick conversation...

As usual we started with the otsumami (おつまみ) part of our meal:

Japanese glass shrimp (白海老) - no sea urchin like last time, but happy enough with the little shrimps on their own.

Red seabream eggs (鯛の子) - the sauce was sweet as always, and I drank it from the plate.

Firefly squid (螢烏賊) - smoky from the light grilling, and served with a dip.

Bonito (鰹) - so, soooo tender as it always is. Just beautiful.

Pen shell isobeyaki (平貝の磯辺焼き) - always love how much bite this provides.

Octopus (蛸) - so, so tender as always, and served with a little bit of yuzu (柚子) zest on top.

Grilled rosy seabass (焼き喉黒) - so nice and fatty as always, with some wasabi-flavored Japanese yam (山芋) in addition to the grated radish. The dish that almost brought tears rolling down on my first visit clearly gave a lot of happiness to Chicken, as this is his favorite fish. He enjoyed this so much that he declared he would be content if dinner "stopped right here."

The nigiri (握り) portion of our meal came next:

Red seabream (鯛) - very crunchy, actually. The first impression was soft, until you bite down with your teeth and hit the connective myosepta.

Cherry salmon (桜鱒) - marinated using kobujime (昆布締め) and the kombu flavors really came through. Soooo tender it was melting in my mouth.

Gizzard shad (小肌) - the flavors were a little medicinal tonight, which was surprising. Thick-cut neta but still had some spongy feel to it.

Marinated lean tuna (赤身漬け)

Medium fatty tuna (中トロ) - was there more vinegar in the shari to provide more acidity balance to the fat in the neta?

Fatty tuna (大トロ)

Squid (墨烏賊) - scored around 16 times, with a dab of minced ginger on top.

Japanese tiger prawn (車海老) - the more I chewed on this, the more I tasted the sweetness of the prawn. Wonderful.

Horse mackerel (鯵) - this was soooooo tender as I had come to expect, with some asatsuki (浅葱) and ginger on top.

Clam (蛤) - I always love this with the sauce and the fragrance of yuzu.

Japanese green sea urchin (馬糞雲丹) - from Nemuro (根室) in Hokkaido.

Conger eel (穴子)


Futomaki (太巻き) - always happy to have this with kanpyo (干瓢), conger eel, prawn, cucumber, and egg custard inside... but I had hoped I could get a taste of Saito-san's new inarizushi (稲荷寿司).

Tamagoyaki (卵焼き) - perfect way to end this. Cow and Chicken have never had tamagoyaki quite like this before.

Since this is a celebration of sorts, and Saito-san loves Champagne, I again carried a pretty nice bottle from Hong Kong - and again via Fukuoka - to share over our meal here. I also ordered a bottle from the restaurant's list to kick us off, while Mr. Big(time) kindly shared a glass from his bottle in exchange.

R. et L. Legras Cuvée Hommage - nice and floral nose, with a little hint of honey.

2014 Bollinger La Grande Année, dégorgée en mars 2023 - the nose was more open and showed more notes of brioche.

Knowing that Saito-san loves Champagne, I wasn't the least bit surprised to see a whole range of Selosse on the restaurant's wine list - including Exquise. But the bottle I carried with me had been disgorged quite a few years earlier so it has now developed further than the one in stock at the restaurant.

Jacques Selosse Exquise, dégorgée le 15 juin 2009 - lovely nose of marmalade. This was so soft, so elegant and beautiful. Some honey and brioche, toasty but elegant, not in-your-face kind. Later a little salted lemon, a hint of Chinese salted plums along with telltale minerals. I just love this wine!

I was so happy that I got to share this evening with my very kind friends, and very glad I didn't take "NO" for an snswer when they tried to politely decline my offer multiple times. Hopefully this is an experience they will remember for some time to come.

It comes as absolutely no surprise to anyone that the Dining Austrian was still thirsty. After all, I had strictly rationed his intake of Champagne - especially the Selosse. So we decided to take a walk over to Ararat, where some friends of friends were still having drinks after their dinner. I picked out a bottle of Champagne to continue the theme for tonight, since the restaurant had sold out of a couple of nice reds I had wanted to drink...

Ulysse Collin Les Pierrières, dégorgée en mars 2021 - very toasty, nice and fragrant nose. Good acidity with a slightly grippy palate.

This was now the fourth night in a row I'm out late drinking, and I told myself I would get home before 2 a.m. I bad farewell to my friends, and proceeded to walk back to the pad.

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