Friday, December 9, 2016

Unusual Thanksgiving Dinner

We celebrated this year’s Thanksgiving at an unusual venue of a Japanese-style Izakaya. I have been to Okra in Sai Ying Pun headed by New Orleans chef Max when it first opened earlier this year and loved some of the dishes there, and over Thanksgiving they were doing a special menu for “Friends and Families” to celebrate “Thank Immigrants Day”, as he called it.

The restaurant normally serves a contemporary Japanese menu with a fusion touch every now and then, but the thanksgiving menu geared more towards Chef Max’s southern root. It’s listed as a 6-course meal but came more like a big platter with everything on, to be shared family style, except the soup and dessert which was served separately.

We started with the dashi pumpkin soup – didn’t get much of the dashi flavour and the soup was a touch too spicy, but I like everything pumpkin so it was fine to me. Soon after we finished, and the restaurant began to pack up to its full capacity, we were served the platter with everything. I first dug in for the Mentaiko Mac n Cheese, served like a thick slice of mille-feuille with the slightly spicy mentaiko spread in between lasagna sheets with a crusty, burnt top.

The turkey was said to be deep-fried. We were given a few slices of breast and thighs, served with stuffing on the side. While we didn’t get much of that deep-fried taste, the turkey meat was moist and tender. But the star of the evening was, believe it or not, the bread made of Suntory Premium Malt’s. It was sweet and has that distinct malty flavor, and soft like a pillow. It was excellent. When the dish first arrived I was worried that we may need a second dinner after looking at the amount of the food, but turned out the portion was good. In fact we were so full that we couldn’t even finish our dessert.

The dessert was decent too, with bread pudding by Cookie Boy. It’s everything you would have expected with a perfect bread pudding, with good flavour and texture. The restaurant always have a fun sake menu with some unusual bottles. This time I went for a simple Nama Genshu from Okayama Prefecture. The unpasteurized, undiluted sake was surprisingly clean with crisp favour and good acidity, with a hint of nuttiness.

A simple meal when we could spend time with friends and family and had a good time – that’s what thanksgiving dinner should be about. The meal was a bit unusual, but we loved it.

When? November 24 2016
Where? Okra, 110 Queen's Road West, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Mentaiko Mac n Cheese, Suntory Premium Malt Bread
Drinks? Gozenshu "Nine" Nama Genshu, Tsuji Honten, Okayama Prefecture

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