Sunday, March 17, 2019

Crab Feast at a Yakiniku Place

When our friend A said we must come to his restaurant to have the Japanese snow crab before the season is over, we listened and went one evening along with our other friends J and C. His restaurant, Nikushou, might be better known for its exquisite selection of wagyu beef for Yakiniku, we always had excellent seafood dishes as well, for his connection with food suppliers meant he could always import the best directly from Japan, some rarely seen elsewhere, at least in such quality.

Felt like it’s a warm-up appetizer for our crab feast with a simple dish of kegani (hairy crab) served with ponzu jelly and nanohana (rapeseed blossoms) just as everyone arrived. Classic flavor with mild umami accented by the acidity of the jelly with the seasonal nanohana with the springtime flavor of slightly bitter aftertaste. More profound bitterness was evident in the next dish of the seasonal ayu (sweetfish) prepared as tempura. Decent considered this is not a specialized tempura restaurant after all – and the ingredient itself was excellent with that distinct ayu flavor and went well as we moved from the bottle of white wine (a Burgundy) into bottles of sake.

The raw crab was shown to us before it’s brought to be steamed. A apologized to us saying he’s not able to source a bigger one for us, but we know he’s just being modest and this 1.5kg creature coming from Tsuiyama fishing port of Hyogo Prefecture sure was of the right size for the five of us. While the crab was being prepared in the kitchen, two additional courses were brought in, first the wagyu-katsu served with a dab of caviar, followed by a sashimi platter – I know we were so spoiled with all the good food come in one night.

Soon the crab was ready, steamed whole and ready to be served. The crab variety (Tsuiyama-gani) was named after the source where it’s caught and it’s considered the prime source of Japanese matsuba crab. A skilfully removed the shells from each of the leg and passed it to us like a lollipop. We then pushed the meat through the shells which have been cracked open and sucked every bit of the juice from the meat and the shells. That’s just pure umami flavor. After we finished with the leg, we moved onto the body of the crab for a few spoonful of deep-colored kani-miso, the super rich roes. Finally, the remaining roes were mixed with the meat picked from the crab and done korayaki-style, that is stuffed into its own shell and grill on open fire. Every bit of the crabs were utilized with tastes in different styles.

We ended up having two separate rice courses, so the first one came midway through our meal. The Kamameshi was cooked in a big earthenware pot topped with the plump oysters from Akkeshi of Hokkaido. Not a lot of seasonings were added – just laid them in on top of the rice towards the end of the cooking process – and the juice from the oysters flow down and taken in by the cooked rice. That’s good comforting food.

“Let’s not have too much beef this time – just a few if that’s okay with you” suggested A and it’s clearly a lie. The amount of beef he brought us this evening could easily be a meal on its own. We started with a few pieces of ox tongues, then wagyu zabuton (medium chuck roll) and misuji (oyster blade) cut, each coming from beef of different region. It’s half the pleasure already seeing how the meat was carefully prepared in front of us in the super-hot grill, and brought to us on a bed of rice and topped with shaved Perigord black truffles and drizzle of egg yolks. Everything matched perfectly. Despite all these food we had already, that didn’t stop us from ending our feast with a couple desserts, first a fruit platter followed by a small scoop of milk ice cream.

We went from one bottle to another in quick succession and ended up with six – needless to say we were a bit tipsy towards the end, but that’s the good feeling of what excellent food and great company brought us.

(Dinner was by invitation and based on off-menu items)

When? February 28 2019
Where? Nikushou, 22/F Zing!, 38 Yiu Wa Street, Causeway Bay
Menu Highlights? Tsuiyama-gani done in too many ways
2016 Domaine Jobard-Morey Meursault "Les Narvaux"
Zaku Miyabi no Tomo Nakadori Junmai Daiginjo - Shimizu Seizaburo Shoten, Mie Prefecture
(作 雅乃智 中取り 純米大吟釀 - 三重県 清水清三郎商店)
Isojiman Junmai Daiginjo "Spring Breeze 42" - Isojiman Brewery, Shizuoka Prefecture
(磯自慢純米大吟釀Spring Breeze 42 - 静岡県 磯自慢酒造)
2014 Stanislao Radikon 'Jakot' Venezia Giulia IGT, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
2015 Domaine de l'Ecu "Mephisto", IGP Val de Loire, France
2012 Calla Lilly "Ultimate Red" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, California

No comments :