Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Back in Japan (September 2015)...Dinner at Sudachi

Donabe ikura gohan

On a Saturday night, I got together with girlfriends from high school. We met at a place called, Sudachi, which is also situated near the school we went.

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This is a small hidden Japanese restaurant, located in the basement of a small building in Minami-Aoyama district in Tokyo. They serve modern Japanese dishes there.

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The starters...Broiled goma tofu (sesame jelly), crab meat tossed in tofu sauce, tonburi, chrysanthemum, eggplant, uni, and persimmon. Fig wrapped in beef carpaccio, gelee of tosazu sauce.

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Shiratama mocha ball, filled with turtle meat, with Yukiguni mattock and tsuyu ginger in a dashi broth.
Nigiri sushi medley.
Foie gras fran, in mushroom duccel soup.
Grilled matsutake mushrooms and beltfish, sudachi citrus & grated daikon.
Beef and burdock nabe, fried taro, sansho pepper.

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Gyokuro green tea shot, and purple yam sake!

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Time for donabe rice! It was inure rice. So wonderful.

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Dessert with yogurt sake, followed by matcha.

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So happy to be their friend for many years!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Back in Japan (September 2015)...Home dinner

Grilled anago (sea eel) rice in donabe

When I come back to Japan, I always look forward to dinner at Tomoko's (my sister). She is a wonderful cook. She also introduces me to unique and delicious foods she finds from gourmet shops.

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I love Taleggio (washed cheese from Italy), but I never tried Taleggio which was washed with daiginjo sake from Akita, Japan! This unique cheese was washed three times with very rich daiginjo which was made with about three times as much as koji normally used for making sake and aged. The aroma and flavor showed such nice combination of Taleggio and sake, and the level of its umami was so great. This is truly a perfect cheese to pair with daiginjo sake! Along with the cheese, we enjoyed Balik smoked salmon by Prunier, a gourmet caviar and smokehouse shop from Switzerland.

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We also got very nice braised octopus from Akashi, Hyogo. Then, Tomoko sautéed miso-marinated foie gras, and I made a rice dish with double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san". I made chirashi sushi, topped with grilled and sliced anago (sea eel), ginger, and mitsuba herbs. Everybody loved the dish!

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With wonderful wine and sake, we are always happy donabe family! Oh, Urakasumi "Hiyaoroshi" sake was so smooth. "Hiyaoroshi" sake is a very seasonal style sake which is released only in the fall. Normally after the first heating of brewed sake in the spring, it's aged over summer and heated again right before the sake is ready to bottle and distributed. Because "Hiyaoroshi" is released without the second heating for stabilizing the quality of the sake, it carries the very natural and "live" flavors as a result of the aging in the past months.

Happy donabe life.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Back in Japan (September 2015)...Regular spots

These are some of the casual dishes from the places I go every time I'm back home.

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Good handmade soba joints are everywhere. At this place, they have a lot of small dishes, so I started with the first of the season ankimo (monkfish liver). Soba was cold soba with walnuts dipping sauce. I can live with soba every day.

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At a different place on another day, I had "yamakake soba" (grated mountain yam and raw quail egg over hot soba). Soothing.

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Daily lunch set at this place always impresses me. Eight small seasonal dishes, served with miso soup and donabe rice.

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At this local sushi bar in Urawa, we always keep eating and drinking until we can't eat anymore. So fun.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Back in Japan (September 2015)...Elegant lunch at Trattoria Bicolore

A day after the outrageous rainstorm was much calmer. It still rained on and off, but everything seemed to be back to normal in Tokyo.

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Tomoko (my sister) and I went to Yokohama to have lunch at Trattoria Bicolore. The owner/ chef of this restaurant, Mamoru Sato, is a prominent chef of Italian cuisine in Japan. He has an extensive experiences in both Japan and Italy over more than two decades. He opened this restaurant a few years ago with his wife, who happens to be my sister's close friend from high school!

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The chef put together a special tasting course for us. After a glass of Prosecco, there was an amuse of Parmigiano semifreddo with green tomato jam, served with beet soup with orange oil. Then, with 2014 Maltese, Grecanico (Sicily), a dish of local Sajima octopus with finger lime, marinated kohada fish, red okra, eggplant, and sun-dried tomato. The slightly salty nuance of the wine paired well with the dish.

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Mirai sweet corn puree and kernels were topped with burrata, black truffles, and 16-month aged prosciutto. Then, Ayu (sweet fish) with tailgating made with honkuzu (Japanese arrowroot)and tade plant, and consomme gelee of au bone and organs, topped with watercress and red tape plant. 2011 Zidarich Malvasia (Friuli - I visited the producer a few years ago!) was great with both dishes.

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Agnolotti of veal and early porcini from Italy, with 2010 La Girbaldina, Barbera d'Asti, Superiore, Vignette della val Sarmassa. So lovely. Second was roasted Challans duck, makomodake mushrooms, yosakoi potato, burdock root, topped and fig compote. I love how the chef uses Japanese ingredients in his dishes.

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Before the dessert, we requested a "shime" (finishing savory course...very Japanese way) risotto course, and he did! He made risotto of homemade lemon salsiccia and Kyoto's manganji sweet pepper. It was paired with 2013 Terre di Leone, Valpolicella Classico, "Il Re Pazzo". I was so satisfied!

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Our sommelier brought a bottle of their homemade limoncello as a digestivo. The bottle was frozen outside and the liquid was slowly poured into a shot glass. It was beautiful. We also enjoyed a dessert of blanca mange, pineapple, cha seed, basil seed, basil sorbet and micro basil.

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Wonderful meal! Chef Sato recently co-authored a potato cookbook, so he autographed copies for us. Such a lovely time!