April 29, 2023

Little Michelin flowers of spring

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Three weeks after our last visit - with another trip to Japan in between - we are back at Godenya (ごでんや). I usually make sure I book at least 2 visits around this time of year, in order to catch the season for those tiny little sansho flowers. This time, though, we are lucky to be here just 3 days after the restaurant earned its very first Michelin star. So I brought along a gift that I felt would be appreciated by Goshima-san.

Tonight's menu looks remarkably like the one from a few weeks ago, but I didn't mind that at all. I loved the dishes from last time and wouldn't mind having them again and again...

Sakura-masu, ark shell, wasabi-stem, warabi, sansyo-leaf (桜鱒  赤貝  花山葵  蕨生  木の芽) - the flavors from the wasabi stems definitely stood out among the rest, and I do love how the dish has the combination of mashed sansho leaves (木の芽), fresh sansho leaves, and sansho flowers (花山椒).

Same same but different. The monkfish liver from last time has been replaced by cherry salmon (桜鱒) from Aomori Prefecture (青森県) and changes the texture. The presence of ark shells (赤貝) from Oita Prefecture (大分県) do add some crunch to it all.

Beau Michelle Snow Fantasy (ボー・ミッシェル スノーファンタジー うすにごり生原酒), 2022-23, served at 10°C - seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 60%. Nice and fizzya dn fruity with acidity. So easy to drink and makes me so happy.

Uni, hamaguri-clam, congee, sansyo-flower (雲丹 蛤  粥  花山椒) - this was always gonna make Mrs. Birdiegolf's eyes light up... the sight of sea urchin from Iwate Prefecture (岩手県) in its shell.

Besides the obvious, there was also a thick congee with some diced clams from Chiba Prefecture (千葉県) mixed in, and topped with those lovely little flowers I have been dreaming about.

Mansakunohana Super Limited Junmai Daiginjo (まんさくの花 超限定 純米大吟醸), 2021-22, served at 12°C - seimaibuai of 45%. A little more dry, still very fragrant with some notes of fermented rice lees.

Botan-shrimp, sakura-shrimp, asparagus, broad bean, saltwort, sea grapes (牡丹海老  桜海老  アスパラガス  空豆  おかひじき  海ぶどう) - I always love the contrast of textures here... we've got crunchy asparagus at the bottom, broad beans in the middle, along with sea grapes (海ぶど) on top that pop in the mouth. In the middle we have botan shrimp (牡丹海老) from Hokkaido which has been cooked mi-cuit at 40°C, along with a purée of sakura shrimp (桜海老) from Shizuoka Prefecture (静岡県). Gotta say... the purée mixed with oil was just packing a wallop! So, so beautiful!

Kikuyoi Junmai Ginjo Matsushitamai 40 (喜久酔 純米吟醸 松下米40), 2019-2020, served at 13°C - seimaibuai of 40%. Thicker on the palate, a little more on the dry side.

Hotaru-squid, tai-shirako, bamboo shoot, fukinotou (螢烏賊  鯛白子  大名筍  ふきのとう) - I am always grateful when I don't get any fish cum, and honestly, why is it even needed when there's plenty of firefly squid (螢烏賊) from Toyama Prefecture (富山県)?! I love this ingredient so, so much! The butterbur buds (蕗の薹) provided a little bitterness, which is then counterbalanced by the sweetness of bamboo shoots.

Sogen Junmai Ginjo Muroka Namagenshu (宗玄 純米吟醸 無濾過生原酒), 2021-22, served at 18°C - seimaibuai of 50/55%. Both nose and palate showing more fermented notes. Nice and fragrant in the mouth.

Kegani, tai-fish, hijiki seaweed, butterbur, sakura (毛蟹  真鯛  ひじき  ふき  桜) - almost the same at last time. We've got a ball with red seabream (真鯛) from Awajishima (淡路島) wrapped with a marinated cherry leaf. The dashi (出汁) made with katsuobushi (鰹節) from Kaneshichi Shoten (金七商店) in Makurazaki City (枕崎市) and Rausu kombu (羅臼昆布) was lovely with a little smokiness.

Wrapped inside the ball was Japanese horsehair crab (毛蟹) from Hokkaido along with hijiki (ひじき).

Tenon Mizumoto Junmai Ginjo (天穏 そやし水酛 純米吟醸), 2022-23, served at 44°C - seimaibuai of 60%. Really nice when served at this warm temperature, very fragrant in the mouth. Really fermented notes.

Abalone, abalone-liver, white asparagus, pine nut, rice (鮑  鮑肝  ホワイトアスパラガス  松の実  米) - the perennial favorite returns, with abalone from Miyagi Prefecture (宮城県).

Will I ever get tired of this risotto with abalone and abalone liver sauce, which has seasonal variations and included white asparagus in this particular edition? Not bloody likely!

Odayaka Kimoto Junmai Ginjo Nama Nigori (おだやか 生酛純米吟醸 生うすにごり), 2022-23, served at 11°C - seimaibuai of 60%. Definitely more on the dry side.

Kinki-fish, onion, Brussels sprouts, canola flower, kogomi, seaweed (吉次  新玉葱  芽キャベツ  菜花  こごみ  青海苔) - I also shall never tire of the dish featuring fatty, succulent broadbanded thornyhead (喜知次) that has been grilled to release the fat and impart smoky flavors. Love the sweetness from the onions, along with the big flavors from aonori (青海苔). I just love drinking the soup.

Jyuji Asahi Junmai Ginjo Genshu (十旭日 純米吟醸原酒), 2009-10, served at 47°C - seimaibuai of 55%. Very fermented and savory as always, especially when served warm.

Somen noodles (煮麺) - I shall be eternally grateful to my obliging wife for granting my wish to have more than 1 bowl of these noodles. Obviously, I can't ask Goshima-san for a third or even a second bowl, but she has concluded that my happiness from having her bowl of noodles would be far greater than what she can gain by consuming it. I'm absolutely certain she is right, because these sakura shrimp are JUST SO FUCKING AWESOME!

Earl Grey, brulee, ice cream, Miyazaki mango, wood cask 1992 (アールグレイ  ブリュレ  アイス  宮崎マンゴー  樽酒1992)

Yoshinosugi no Taruzake (吉野杉の樽酒), 1992 - seimaibuai of 60%.

Goshima-san very kindly poured me a small glass of this treasure:

Eikun Tezukuri Umeshu (英君  手作り  梅酒) - production year unknown but from around 35 years ago. This was really nice like Chinese salted plums and Shaoxing wine. Very savory, so fragrant, a little smoky with good acidity.

All of us were really, really happy with this meal, but that's not really a surprise to any of us. While meals here have always been full of tasty treats, I felt they have upped their game of late. Perhaps it is something that the Rubberman has also recognized, and have now finally given the restaurant the recognition it so richly deserves.

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