Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Revelations of Aged Sushis

The Gourmet Club peeps were loaded into separate taxis to an unknown location. Our hearts were gleaming with joy, our stomachs were empty and desperately hungry, ready to be fed....our palates were very ready for this special dinner....our mind were full of questions...and finally our hands were FULL. Wanna guess full of wat??? Bottles and bottles of wines and champagnes. Looking more like alcoholics than gourmet peeps, we hopped into the taxis for a short 10 minutes ride.

Once we were brought to the designated floor at this building, the only sign that stunned all of us in horror was the "NO PHOTO" logo outside its entrance. Everyone was so disappointed, pouted their lips and finally looked at Captain Chris then at Chef Takashi. Somehow these 2 have got the Might to solve this...and most of all to MAKE the restaurant let us bring our own wines.

Hmmm......guess we have crossed many barriers even before we laid our bums on the high chairs by the sushi counter.
>.<
 

It's a very intimate establishment with only a few seaters at the sushi counter. There were 12 of us and we made the one and only single waiting staff there to re-arrange our seats and prepare more table mats. I guess on a normal day, the ideal seating would be for 8 pax only.
JS put Monkey at the corner. Him and Papa Bear designated themselves at the corner of the table with lower chairs. According to Papa Bear, selection was based on height. If this selection is being applied to everyone I should have the highest chair, even higher than the one I'm seated coz I'm the tiniest in the group. When u r this tiny u can be chucked anywhere lar. >.<


see, Papa Bear said he's really tall and tried to scare tiny Monkey. He's definitely 6' 3"

Chef Takashi is a perfectionist and made the waiting staff re-arranged the tableware kekekekekeke. It must be quite stressful for the restaurant to cater to such a huge group :P

everything was so organic but the show piece was the long single piece of cypress wood table counter. Chef was so worried, he made sure everyone place their glasses of wines on coasters instead of directly onto his un-tainted un-treated cypress wood.

Mark was so relaxed amid the chaos of arranging and re-arranging and sat down to rest for a bit. Over on the other side of the room, there was another different type of chaos....JS and Dr. Epicurean were so bz opening wines and deciding which one to be breathed, which to be served at wat time etc. I guess for engineer and doctors, it's all about processes huh? For PR ppl like me...it's about feel :P pfffffttttttt

From where Mark was seated were all these beautiful bottles being displayed :))))))))) hehehehehe if we don't have enuff of wines and champagnes to consume, this will do for digestive :P

Appetizer was served quickly once everyone has settled down. The lower layer consisted of seaweed, grated mountain yam, loads of sea urchin with a tiny dollop of freshly grated wasabi root.

The zen-ness soon eludes the room. U know it's tasty when it's this quiet.


Thankfully we have 2 Japanese in this Gourmet Club - Chef Takashi and Papa Bear to do all the translation and explanation. 

Home made pickled was so pretty!!!! The radish has got a sweet tartness to it. Lurve it!!!

Then we have more small bites to tantalize our tastebuds. All of us await with patience for the STAR of the nite to arrive - all the aged sushis

Aged oyster was paired with aged fish liver

the Chef has got a fetish for aging everything....hahahaha...actually it's not a fetish but an ART. You would have thought the best sushi should be eaten fresh from freshly caught fishes the nite before? Somehow all of us thought so. To achieve the best flavour and the Umami intensity, chefs usually aged the meat in controlled condition.

No....that doesn't mean you simple buy a fresh fish and chuck it one side to be aged on its own. Chef sourced the best fish back to his restaurant, clean them and prepare them according to his preference and needs. It really depends, certain fish he may not even want it to have any contact with water/ice. Certain fish were kept whole, while some were cut with his sharp knives into desired sizes before being aged together with kelp. Finally these were kept in his chiller *not frozen* for a few days/week.


Chef's prized possession.
:)))))))))))



Chef was working in such grace and manner. It was such a joy to watch him skilfully picking up the rice, a dab of grated horseradish and finally the fish. The rice was again a secret. A guarded one, with this preferred grain from certain prefecture, the right amount of vinegar used, and finally the temperature of the rice is very important. But to me the most important is the density of the rice. It should not be densed and hard at all.....should just crumble in ur mouth. Hence you don't really eat sushis with your chopsticks but with YOUR HANDS!!!! just pick them up and pop them into ur mouth :))))))) super yummsss



2 different types of ika....aged and un-aged. Even the cuts were different, one with sauce and one without. The fresh ika was the one below with some sauce and radish. It was extremely creamie and sweet. Then next, we went for the aged ika....the texture was entire different...crunchy with an intense umami-ness.

Now many people actually asked wat is umami. I guess I've been talking about it for a few years. It's the 5th taste that human tongues can detect. Apart fr the basic Sweetness, Saltiness, Savouriness and Bitterness.....umaminess is the 5th one and I usually call it the MSG taste. :)))))

When u were enjoying your MSG, that's your Umaminess talking my dear :)) from your instant noodles to snacks to fresh tomatoes, to awesome aged cheese, mushrooms, bonito, shellfish, cured meat etc...the list is endless. I think the closest food item that everyone has at home with a lot of umami is soya sauce :))







No words could describe the kind of joy we had with all these aged fishes prepared with such finesse and meticulous care. The fish just danced in our mouth and as we sink our teeth on it, more flavours were released out of it.


So much of discussion and poor Chef Takashi, there's a lot of translation works for him :P



I was right.....not enuff to drink...and we had sake after that :P



What's JOY? this is joy
the Ebi Tower. Every part of the huge spawning prawns were used...the goodness from the head was in the middle, the entire prawn was rolled on top of the sushi rice...and finally its dark green ROE on top. Yes all from that one single prawn.


One Glorious pic before chomping it down - Chef Takashi and Captain Chris


Ready and GO!!!!!


my tower of joy - SEA URCHIN!!!!


Now is the season to enjoy both the yellow and orange sea urchin. I prefer the yellow one for its briny taste and floral nose.


cured trouts.....chef sliced them perfectly before running each slice individually into his homemade soy sauce and rest them like this on a plate. The extra sauce were just run down into the middle of the plate. I guess the idea is just to have a hint of taste and flavour of the sauce without over-powering the beautiful salmon



All of us were eyeing his 2 barrels of rice, one white and the other red. Red from the vinegar and the 2 small cups of homemade soy sauce.



More sushis followed suit....some were aged up to 9-12 days and the taste was really amazing. Each cut was so precise, it's almost like he has got a laser knife to measure each millimetre.


Happy People discussing about Happy Wines 


My pick would be the Chambertin and Chambolle-Musigny. However due to lack of glasswares most of it were not showing well. Nevermind...it was just our first nite in Hokkaido. We will do better next!!!


the clam was so HUGE!!! the soup was really soothing and full of flavour. Just a simple clam soup.


Despite the stomach screaming please-let-me-go we were still popping more sushis into our greedy mouth. LOL



they say the size of your fist is the size of ur stomach. hmmmmmmm....I must have 4 stomachs like a cow then pfffttttt bcoz my fist is so tiny.


to our surprise, Chef actually prepared local Hokkaido cheese, local aged sausages and local fruits and nuts to go with our wines. I didn't know the local cheeses were so so so amazing. Super Yums!!!

Couldn't find pics of the ladies and so here u go, the one and only one from my mobile phone. Hehehehehe. 

After this specially arranged dinner....are have now converted :))))
Aged Sushi you are definitely amazing.


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