Sunday, September 10, 2017

Gin + Sushi

I count Kishoku in Causeway Bay as one of those few local sushi restaurants I go every now and then to satisfy my sushi crave. Recently they have been trying to do a few new things on their menu offering, including the one that I recently went which combined the omakase dinner menu with gin pairing – specifically the house-made infused gin with various flavors designed by mixologist Antonio Lai to serve with a different seafood dishes.

I was only here a few weeks ago for another dinner but this time, the menu has been completely changed, based on the seasonal ingredients available in late summer. We started with a few sashimi dishes, beginning with a platter of Meguro no zuke (marinated tuna) served in a small bowl and kegani (Japanese hairy crab) with a spicy miso sauce on the side. The rich flavor from both did contrast well with the light and refreshing cucumber-infused gin and tonic to kick-start our long evening of feast.

We continued with a few otsumami courses with rather strong flavor, with the exception of the tachiuo (hairtail), which was torched and served with a dab of grated daikon on top. The fish came into its prime season around this time, and the meat was firm, tender and had great taste on its own. Next to it was the kawahagi (filefish), cut into thick strips and served with the liver sauce and nori in a small bowl. That was followed by katsuo (bonito) served with the pickled onions and shisho flower – I really loved that combination of sweetness from the onions - caramelized and pickled - and the aromatic flower with the rich and fatty slices of katsuo. And that was appropriately matched with a shiso-infused gin.

There were two more courses plus a palate cleanser before we moved to our sushi. The slices of otoro (fatty tuna) wrapped with shiso and nori were always the crowd pleaser, but I actually liked the grilled aji (horse mackerel) more, with the perfectly crisped skin and the fatty meat seasoned with a light touch of sansho powder, good with a drizzle of lime juice. The palate cleanser of tomato slices and wine jelly served in a glass bowl was refreshing, though I thought more acidity would help.

Antonio passed us more glasses of gin and tonic while sushi courses were prepared. My favorites of the evening were the Shimaji (striped jack), Buri (wild yellowtail) and Kinmedai (golden-eye snapper). All were fatty fish by nature, with the Shimaji perhaps the mildest of the three. This time, grated karasumi (mullet roes) was brushed on top for the subtle umami taste. The buri sushi was served inside a glass dome filled with wooden smoke for the deep aroma which balanced well with the oily taste. The kinmedai was good as always, with the skin torched to release the fish oil and a charred flavor.

And that’s not the end of our meal. A couple courses were brought out which were loaded with delicious ingredients. First was the “triple uni attack” (okay the name I made it up), with the rice mixed with uni sauce topped with two different types of uni (sea urchin - Bafun and Shiro-uni both from Hokkaido) for the super creamy flavor. Then it’s their signature maki loaded with ingredients – salmon roes, chopped toro, uni and pieces of deep-fried onions - made by Chef Dragon behind the counter. It was in such generous size that I had a hard time holding it while eating by hand.

One more gin and tonic was served to go with our dessert, and this time, it’s earl grey gin with lemon zest. I felt like it’s a spiked iced lemon tea which was perfect to end our meal with, I reckon. Food and drink wise I think it’s a fun pairing and is definitely something different to try. I think they walked a fine line between tradition and modern style of presentation with excellent ingredients, and this evening was the perfect antidote to my recent sushi crave that has gone on for a couple of weeks already.

(Dinner was by invitation)

When? August 30 2017
Where? Kishoku, 5/F Zing!, 38 Yiu Wa Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

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