Saturday, April 20, 2013

Hashimoto Restaurant: a Kaiseki Extravaganza.

This meal was selected by special arrangement with myself and chef Masaki Hashimoto, and is not the standard kaiseki meal provided by the restaurant. This meal is the epitome of kaiseki cuisine, made available to a patron, long knowledgeable, to the chef. This meal is a selection of the most exceptional ingredients of the moment, mostly imported, fresh from Japan. 

Junmai-Daiginjo Kin-no-jo (Okunomatsu Sake Brewery). A very special and rare sake with a refined texture and gentle aroma.

Char-broiled icefish (shira-uo) with mountain potato (yama-imo), rapeseed (nano-hana) and red turnip (aka-kubu) with wakame sauce; Japanese white rice topped with rice crackers; saikyo miso soup with millet gluten (awafu) topped with hot mustard (karashi).

Spear squid (yari-ika) had a sweet flavour and was accompanied with yuzu vinegar and shiso.

Red tile fish (amadai) on kombu, accompanied by freshly grated wasabi and topped with deep fried scales of the fish. So delicate and remarkably fresh .The added subtle crunch of the fried scales was a delicate contrast.

Shabu shabu of wild Japanese red sea bream (madai) with kombu, tofu, freshly grated daikon; sashimi; soy sauce and ponzu sauces.

Abalone (awabe) accompanied by its liver, wakame and sudache citrus soy sauce.

Blue fin tuna (hon maguro, chutoro and toro), fresh, not frozen accompanied by teryaki flavoured tuna balls and Japanese green tea flavoured soy sauce (megi).

Sudachi citrus in kuzu starch soup with Japanese tiger prawn (kuruma-ebi), butterbur (fuki) and thinly sliced daikon radish.

Stewed octopus (iidako) with taro potato (sato-imo) with octopus egg gelatin cooked for 2 hours; steamed lilly bulb (yurine) with sour plum sauce; Japanese greens (mizuna) and yuzu.

Grilled shin of bamboo shoot (takenoko) baked with miso and Japanese pepper leaf (kinome) and grilled fava beans (sora-mame).

At this stage of our meal we opened a bottle of Junmai-Daiginjo Sparkling Sake (Okunomatsu Sake Brewery). I have never had the opportunity of enjoying a sparkling sake and the delicate fruit and effervescence were a lovely complement to the following dishes.

A triumphant presentation/tasting of 2 kinds of AAAAA grade wagyu beef, Gunma wagyu and Kagoshima wagyu, accompanied by premium matcha tea sea salt. The Japanese bincho charcoal was there for quickly warming the meat.

Broiled fresh water eel (unagi) with rice cooked with bamboo shoot (takenoko) and Japanese pepper (arima-zansho), accompanied by pickled cucumber, deep fried daikon, cooked burdock and butterbar leaf (fuki) marinated with sour plum sauce.

Sake lees jelly made with agar agar (kanten), sweet red bean and gold leaf and coffee jelly with cream and green plum.

After our meal, we adjourned to a small, quiet room, covered with tatami mattes, for a tea ceremony, a lovely conclusion to an extraordinary Japanese cultural experience.
The small bowl above had our tea ceremony snack.

Another snack, a crispy red "collar", made with adzuki beans surrounded 2 sweet wafer cookies made with daikon.

The tea ceremony.

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