Sunday, March 4, 2018

Back to Nikushou

I made a return visit to Nikushou recently not long after my first just before Christmas. And this time another group of friends joined, and we again left the menu entirely to our friend Anthony who owns the place. We had a lot of seafood last time including a couple of seasonal crab dishes, but this time we focused on their out-of-this-world beef dishes.

With the platters of bite-sized otsumami and sashimi to start, we quickly moved to gyu-katsu, or deep-fried beef tenderloin, prepared using Tochigi Wagyu. I was impressed by the one we had last time, served with shaved black truffles, but Anthony managed to up his game with an improved version in terms of preparation, using a fattier cut and an even finer batter resulting in the more delicate crispy crust. That was mind-blowing and literally melt-in-my-mouth tender.

Ebi-imo, or small yam, is one of the heirloom Kyoyasai which came to season just around this time. It’s prepared the traditional kaiseki-style, with the deep-fried ebi-imo served with a clear gravy with picked matsuba crab. It had good balance of flavor to the rest of the rich and intense meat courses, not to mention it’s hearty in this kind of cold weather as well as we held the warm bowl in our hands.

The grilled wagyu dishes were of course still the star of our evening, with each brought to our table in sequence and Anthony helped prepare for us at the table-top grill with much theatrical effect. We admired the fine slices of wagyu coming from different breeds and different cuts as much as we admired the skills in preparing them with pinpoint accuracy. It’s truly a work of art just by seeing him turning and flipping the meat in the sizzling grill with such focus, leaving no details too small to overlook. This evening I was most impressed with the ox-tongue from Kobe beef, which was the first yakiniku course to arrive. The meat has perfect texture and intense flavor, grilled crisp on the outside and soft inside – definitely the best I have had.

We were served two rice dishes this evening – first was the kamameshi prepared with a light shoyu dashi, with drizzles of Japanese egg yolk, thick slices of Kobe Ichibo, a rare cut near the tip of sirloin, grilled and charred and carved, and thin slices of Perigord black truffles. Second was one served towards the end, with the thin slices of Kagoshima wagyu sirloin grilled and put in a bowl with plain rice and egg yolk. The first one was obviously top-notch but I actually loved both for different kind of tastes.

We each brought some bottles to share. The bottle of Juyondai Hishu Junmai Daiginjo was the spotlight and an interesting one really. Subdued at first with more mineral and dryness with intense rice flavor, which later changed to the signature fruity aroma and totally came to life towards the end. That went between the Isojiman Junmai Daiginjo and Aramasa X-Type, plus the red from Jonata that stood up well to the meat. We went light on drinks in our standard (just 4 bottles among 5 of us) but we definitely got a serious meat coma after such a sumptuous meal. That's before we went back to the same spot a few days later with another feast with a different kind of meat... well, that's another story. 

When? February 8 2018
Where? Nikushou, 22/F Zing!, 38 Yiu Wa Street, Causeway Bay
Menu Highlights? Kobe Ichibo Kamameshi with Perigord Black Truffles
Isojiman Daiginjo Junmai 48 28BY - Isojiman Brewery, Shizuoka Prefecture
磯自慢 大吟醸純米48 - 静岡県 磯自慢酒造
Juyondai Hishu Junmai Daiginjo 27BY - Takagi Shuzo, Yamagata Prefecture
十四代 「秘酒」純米大吟醸 - 山形県 高木酒造
2006 Jonata "El Alma de Jonata" - Jonata Winery, Santa Ynez Valley, California
Aramasa No 6 X-Type Junmai Daiginjo 28BY - Aramasa Shuzho, Aomori Prefecture
新政No 6 X-Type純米大吟醸無濾過生原酒 - 秋田県 新政酒造

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