August 26, 2023

Supporting Japanese restaurants day 1: eat more sashimi

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Shortly after the Tohoku earthquake which led to the disaster at Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Plant in March 2011, I met up with friends over dinner at a couple of Japanese restaurants in town. The locals in Hong Kong were in a panic about Japanese produce and Japanese food in general, and Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong were suffering from a lack of business. There were times when mine was the only table in the restaurant, and it was difficult to look at the faces of the chefs and the staff. This was the reason I wanted to issue a call to action at the time, and I made sure to bring out sake from the Tohoku region.

Well... now that the Japanese government has decided to release diluted waste water from the nuclear plant after consultation with the IAEA, and the Hong Kong government has, predictably, taken the knee-jerk and braindead reaction of banning the import of seafood from 10 Japanese prefectures. This was, of course, simply a case of bureaucrats blindly following their masters up north - who had for years banned the import of all produce from the same 10 prefectures. By the way, has anyone told these smartypants that 4 of those prefectures - Gunma (群馬), Nagano (長野), Saitama (埼玉), and Tochigi (栃木) - are landlocked and there's no such thing as "seafood" from there? And have they looked at a map of Japan and realized that Niigata (新潟) borders the Sea of Japan, which is ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE of Fukushima?!

Of course, since the masters up north have now chosen to ban seafood imports from all of Japan, regardless of area of origin, suddenly the guys in Hong Kong look like the more rational ones... SMH.

Anyway, just as braindead housewives in Hong Kong rush to empty supermarket shelves of salt so they can consume enough to turn themselves into Jinhua ham or salted fish, I have decided that it was time again to show my support for Japanese restaurants in town. After all, who's afraid of a little tritium?!

We tried to be smart about it this time and pick out independent restaurants which may not have the resources to weather the storm, and this led us to a place in our neighborhood we have never visited before.

Kiri Japanese Restaurant (桐•割烹) appears to have opened less than 2 months ago, and occupies one of the top floors of a new building. At lunch today we got a great view of neighboring Victoria Park and Victoria Harbour. Meanwhile, we figured it was time for me to order up some sashimi and sushi.

Fried horse mackerel (稚あじの唐揚げ) - I love baby horse mackerel when they're deep-fried. So crunchy and tasty!

Sashimi platter (刺身盛り合わせ) - 6 types of raw seafood, including botan shrimp (牡丹海老), yellowtail (ハマチ), scallop, octopus... etc.

Fried vegetables (野菜炒め) - veg is always a good idea.

Sushi platter (旬寿司盛り合わせ) - 10 pieces of sushi, with salmon roe, egg, and medium fatty tuna (中トロ) - which I ate because I didn't think it was bluefin.

Lunch was a little on the light side today, but I think we did OK to support this new restaurant. Maybe we could come back again and try some of the other dishes.

Dinner time rolled around, and we decided to return to one of Foursheets' favorite restaurants. Ishiyama (石山) has been around for more than 2 decades, and these days it's our go-to izakaya (居酒屋). Food is not fancy but very solid, and the pricing is very reasonable. I was glad to see that the restaurant was pretty full tonight, and we see some diners who are obviously regulars.

Once again, we decided to order more sashimi and sushi than usual, along with some of our favorite dishes.

Koya tofu (高野豆腐) - one of Foursheets' must-order dishes.

Beer-marinated radish (大根のビール漬け) - another of Foursheets' favorites. She loves it so much that she makes this at home. Love the crunch of the radish.

Horse mackerel sashimi (あじ刺身)

Striped jack carpaccio (しまあじうす造り) - nice to have this done in thin slices and dipped in ponzu (ポン酢).

Tuna and spring onion roll (ねぎとろ巻) - not something I normally order, but I wanted to add more high-value items. Not bad.

Fried scallops with shiso (貝柱しそ揚げ) - love it when the scallops are wrapped in perilla leaves and deep-fried. Very sweet.

Tempura udon (天ぷらうどん)

Corn tempura (とうもころし天ぷら) - yet another favorite of ours. Sweet corn is always good, and deep-frying with batter makes it even better.

Sea urchin and shiso tempura (雲丹しそ天ぷら) - one of the high-value items we wanted to order so that we could have a bigger check. You can't go wrong with this.

Sea urchin is still delicious when it is barely cooked.

Kakiage (かき揚げ) - always happy to have more veg... and deep-fried always tastes better!

I did bring along a bottle of sake, although this time around it wasn't from Tohoku...

Kurahikari Tobintori Tokubetsu Junmai Soujyu (倉光 斗瓶採り 特別純米酒 双樹), R3BY - seimaibuai of 60%. Very fermented flavor profile on the palate, definitely dry and spicy. With additional chilling this showed a little sweetness on the finish after dry and spicy notes.

We probably ordered a little too much food and could have done without the udon. Pretty satisfied as always, and happy to have given these nice people some business. From what we saw tonight, I wasn't sure they really needed our help, though...

P.S. Apparently the restaurant is dog friendly! We saw a group of customers bring a small lap dog to their table at the back, and the doggo was very well-behaved. I wonder if CC would actually sit still enough for us to bring her...


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