March 9, 2024

Peachy fishies

Pin It

It's time to celebrate mom's birthday with her once again, and this year due to scheduling conflicts, I had to take her out to dinner on a day that is neither her birthday according to the lunar calendar nor the Gregorian calendar - which is unusual for us. Nevertheless I made the trip back home with Foursheets to spend time with the Parental Units, because all of these memories with them are precious to me.

During the last few months, mom hasn't been as excited about going out to fine dining establishments as she had been, and even though she had told us that there is no need to go somewhere nice, I decided to take her out for a sushi dinner. Knowing that she is likely to balk at the prices charged by the top places in town, I chose to book us seats at Sushi Momo (すし桃) in the Sheraton Grand Taipei - a collaboration between the hotel's Japanese ryotei (料亭) Momoyama (桃山) and Sushi Akira (あきら鮨), which holds one Michelin star. It can't command the high prices as it doesn't have the accolades, yet I felt there would be a certain minimum standard in terms of the cuisine given its pedigree.

One of the rituals for these celebrations with the Parental Units would be the opening of birth vintage wines. I'm not inclined to pop open a claret to go with sushi, which meant the only thing I have available is a bottle of very old Sauternes. How well would they pair? I had an inkling that the sweetness in the wine would work well with some of the neta (ネタ), while the acidity would integrate well with the vinegar in the shari (シャリ), but one never knows until one tries...

This is a 20-course meal, which made me a little worried whether mom could take it all in...

Chrysanthemum greens with sesame sauce (胡麻春菊) - there's something extra in the sauce on top of the typical Japanese sesame dressing... like a hint of Sichuan peppercorns (花椒).

Lobster (伊勢海老) - this came with a nice crunch. The wasabi was definitely not needed, and I think the salt was barely warranted.

Botan shrimp with caviar (牡丹海老 キャビア) - my substitute for fatty tuna (大トロ). With oscietra caviar and fleur de sel.

Japanese snow crab (松葉蟹) - mom loves crab so this was totally up her alley, and the portion wasn't too stingy by her standards. Served with some crab tomalley (蟹味噌) and perilla flowers on top. Trying this with the Yquem, I thought the two kinda worked well together. The wine ended up enhancing the taste of the tomalley, but not in a bad way.

Mackerel bozushi (鯖棒鮨) - this was a pretty big piece of bozushi! The acidity was on the high side, while I felt the shari was kinda on the soft side and slightly mushy. Not a good first impression.

Grilled broadbanded thornyhead (焼き喜知次) - this was nice. The seasoning was almost exactly right, but perhaps a smidgen over-seasoned.

Spanish mackerel tempura (鰆天ぷら) - my substitute for fish cum. This was pretty under-seasoned, and with the first bite I tasted almost no seasoning at all... just the greasy batter. I did get some salt with the second bite, and had to squeeze some lemon juice. Meh.

Now the sushi portion of our meal starts:

Sea urchin handroll (雲丹手巻き) - my substitute for fatty tuna (トロ). This actually worked very well with the Yquem.

Striped beakfish (石鯛) - good temperature on the shari and the vinegar was obvious, but perhaps still slightly on the soft side for me. Together with the Yquem it really brought out the saffron and honeydew melon from the wine. Fantastic!

Yellowtail (鰤) - good acidity in the shari came through.

Spear squid (槍烏賊) - I forgot to look at the chef preparing the neta to count how many times he scored the squid. Served with some grated sudachi (酢橘) zest on top, along with some juice and salt, of course.

Eel hand roll (鰻手巻き) - with perilla leaves. The skin on the bottom was very, very crunchy and satisfying.

Baby sea bream (春子鯛) - my substitute for medium fatty tuna (中トロ). The shari delivered a really high dose of acidity. Unfortunately this didn't work with Yquem, as the fish oil was too strong.

Gizzard shad (小鰭) - my substitute for fatty tuna (大トロ). Once again the fishy and oily flavors were boosted by the Yquem, and didn't really work.

Japanese glass shrimp (白海老) - my substitute for lean tuna (赤身). The sweetness from the little shrimps worked really, really well with Yquem.

Conger eel (穴子) – of course this paired seamlessly with Yquem, thanks to the sweet sauce lathered on top.

Japanese pink sea urchin (赤雲丹) - this was my subsitute piece, but when mom realized that she would be, once again, get less sea urchin than me, I knew I had to give this to her.

Trio combo - this is something so Taiwanese... and I first saw this in Sanka (山花) about 2 decades ago, where the chef called it "three-in-one (三合一)". This was chopped fatty tuna (トロ), Japanese pink sea urchin (赤雲丹), and a thin slice of torched fatty tuna on top. I honestly don't understand combos like this.

Egg (玉子焼き) - pretty decent.

Red miso soup

For our 20th course, we had fruits like black cherries and strawberries.

This would be the second time that mom gets to taste Yquem from her vintage, the last time being 11 years ago on her 70th birthday.

1943 Yquem, from Christie's Finest and Rarest Wines from the Cellar of Christen Sveass - level base neck. Opened around an hour before serving. The nose was really, really fragrant, and there was so much depth on the palate. Marmalade, honey, figs, saffron, honeydew melon, acetone. When it got a little too warm the wine became slightly bitter and astringent on the palate, but as after cooling in the ice bucket this changed. Yes, the wine is sweet and viscous, but that acidity remains after more than 80 years.

I really treasure being able to spend time with mom celebrating her upcoming birthday, and of course sharing another special bottle of wine with her. I'm also happy to report that, yes, Sauternes CAN pair well with sushi.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map