August 7, 2023

The fishy farewell

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Bear and Mama Bear are nearing the end of their stay in Hong Kong, and I wanted to take Mama Bear out for another nice meal before she returns to their culinary wasteland. As Japanese is one of the cuisines she misses most while in her normal habitat, I decided to introduce them to Godenya (ごでんや). Mama Bear hasn't been around much since the restaurant opened, so it's not surprising that they've never had the chance to taste the delicious creations coming out of the kitchen.

I'm also happy that I got to have dinner with Bear tonight. While he's now old enough for us to try to introduce him to finer cuisines, he hasn't been included in our previous outings together, so I was curious how he would take it. Would he be able to sit through a dinner that lasts more than 2 hours?

There were some concerns raised a few weeks ago about the source of the ingredients, as some brouhaha is currently brewing regarding TEPCO releasing treated water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. However, as this has yet to occur, I was able to assuage any fears regarding potential radiation. I will assume, though, that things will change once TEPCO follows through and import bans from certain prefectures are instituted by the government in Hong Kong.

Kegani, ishikage-clam, peach, green-yuzu (毛蟹  いしかげ貝  桃  青柚) - the Japanese horsehair crab from Hokkaido came with some big chunks of chewy, springy Bering Sea cockles (石影貝 a.k.a. 石垣貝).

All of that was topped with a peach sauce, which also came with the fragrance of green yuzu (柚子) zest. Very sweet and refreshing.

Iseno Shiroki Junmai Nama Sparkling (伊勢の白酒 純米生活性), 2022-23 - served at 10°C. Seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 65%. Smell like fermented rice lees with their fruity acidity. Definitely some fermentation here and love how it perks up the palate.

Shiro-ebi, edamame, corn, water shield, caviar (白海老  枝豆  とうもろこし  蓴菜  キャビア) - the square block of corn tofu came slightly charred, then topped with some raw Japanese glass shrimp (白海老) from Toyama Prefecture (富山県) as well as some caviar. The edamame soup was cool and refreshing, although I could understand why some wouldn't care for the slightly grainy texture. A few bits of watershield (蓴菜) with their slippery mucilage is always fun.

Fukuiwai Junmai Ginjo Summer (福祝 純米吟醸  夏の純吟), 2022-23 - served at served at 12°C. Seimaibuai of 40%. Some roundness on the palate. A little bit sweet at first, but medium-dry in the middle, with a dry finish that brings some bitterness.

Uni, konbu, congee, lime leaf (雲丹  昆布  粥  ライムリーフ) - it always makes people happier when they see the sea urchin shell as the serving vessel, and tonight the sea urchin came from Miyagi Prefecture (宮城県).

The shell actually was the perfect bowl for our congee, which was flavored with kombu sauce as well as some lime leaves. Garnished with chips made of Rausu (羅臼) kombu on top. This was very delicious, with umami (旨味) from the kombu as well as plenty of flavors. The lime leaves also helped to add some lovely fragrance to the mix.

Kozaemon Junmai Daiginjo (小左衛門 純米大吟醸), 2022-23 - served at 12°C. Seimaibuai of 40%. A little bit on the dry side, lean but with slight roundness on the palate. A little savory, too.

Ayu, zucchini, myoga ginger, water pepper, seaweed (鮎  ズッキーニ  茗荷  蓼  青海苔) - 'tis the season for sweetfish (鮎) and they have chosen to serve it up grilled. What was different tonight was that in addition to the bones, the head of the fish had also been removed and deep-fried as "chips". They were so, so tasty! Garnished with some zucchini as well as deep-fried myoga (茗荷) and water pepper (柳蓼) leaves.

The flesh of the fish from Aichi Prefecture (愛知県) was soft and kinda moist, with a slight bitterness coming from the sauce made with the fish liver, but it was pretty mild so I thought that was just right.

Okunoto no Shiragiku Tokubetsu Junmai Sonomanma (奥能登の白菊 特別純米無濾過生原酒 そのまんま), R5BY - served at 20°C. Seimaibuai of 55%.

Kuruma-ebi, figs, Manganji-pepper (車海老  無花果  万願寺唐辛子) - the Japanese tiger prawn from Kagoshima Prefecture (鹿児島県) was lightly-battered and deep-fried along with Manganji pepper (万願寺唐辛子) from Kyoto and figs. Served up with a sauce made of shrimp tomalley and seasame, which didn't taste too strongly of sesame.

Niida Natural Kimoto Natsuyuki Nama (仁井田 自然酒 生酛なつゆき生), 2022-23 - served at 11°C. Seimaibuai of 80%. Some fermented fruity notes here, but not very strong.

Nodokuro, Kamo-eggplant, girolle mushroom, rice (喉黒  賀茂茄子  ジロール  米) - I love rosy seabass (喉黒) and this one from Nagasaki Prefecture (長崎県) was so tender and so tasty from the fat and the charring, and of course the sauce on top made with the charred skin of Kamo eggplant (賀茂茄子) from Kyoto was also really delicious. Inside the risotto we've got half-liquefied chunks of eggplant, girolles, and pine nuts. So, sooo good. Could have used a second serving.

Hagi no Tsuru Junmai Ginjo Omachi Nama (萩の鶴  純米吟醸  雄町 生), R4BY - served at 14°C. Seimaibuai of 50%. A little acidity here, with some fruity notes.

Kinki-fish, winter melon, ginko, saltwort, sansyo (吉次  冬瓜  銀杏  おかひじき  実山椒) - the broadbanded thornyhead (喜知次) from Hokkaido is another perennial favorite, and the smell of the fish being grilled drifted over from the kitchen even before the dish came. Loooove the charring and the melted fat, and the fish was just incredibly succulent. Garnished with a little saltwort (おかひじき) and a tiny baby cucumber. The delicious and satisfying broth of the fish was seasoned with some sansho (山椒), which gave a little bit of tingling, numbing feeling. We also had chunks of winter melon and ginkgo nuts.

Tanaka Nojyou Junmai 70% (田中農場 七割), H28BY - served at 48°C. Seimaibuai of 70%. The flavors were very fermented here, definitely savory, and very nice when served warm.

Somen noodles, hamaguri-clam (煮麺  蛤) - the clams from Chiba Prefecture (千葉県) were SO BIG! As Luke Skywalker used to say: "LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT THING!"

I love somen (素麺), and the clam broth was deliciously sweet.

Almond ice cream, melon, warabi-mochi, matcha (アーモンドアイス  メロン  わらび餅  抹茶  日本酒) - dessert tonight was a little more complicated than usual, with warabi mochi (わらび餅) and melon next to the almond ice cream with bits of almond inside. Then we've got a mix of nigori sake (にごり酒) with matcha powder poured on top.

Niida Natural Kimoto Nigori (仁井田 自然酒 生酛にごり), 2020-23

This was a really delicious meal, and I thought some of the dishes delivered at a higher level tonight. I think Babu and Mama Bear were pretty happy with their meal, and even Bear dutifully ate almost everything and sat through dinner with us. This is the last time I'll see them for a while, and I hope I'll get to visit them soon.

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