Sunday, September 20, 2020

Back to Normal (Kinda)

We were at our friend A’s restaurant Nikushou on the first night when the "dine-out until 10pm" restriction was lifted. When everyone in town seems to be out and about eating and drinking, we were glad to score a table at this popular restaurant at the last minute - thanks to whoever bailed and freed up the spots.

And it's even better to see A at the restaurant when we arrived, busy working in the packed dining room full of satisfied customers, a scene we haven’t seen for a while with all the dining restrictions in place because of COVID. We went for the tasting menu this time, and it’s as good as we expected to be. Late summer is the start of the oyster season, and we started with a couple – first the piece of raw Fine de Claire topped with ponzu, and second poached Akkeshi Kakiemon. Former was crisp paired with the punchy acidity, and latter rich and creamy, and served with tomato gazpacho, plum, myoga and drizzles of aromatic oil. Both were tasty in their own unique ways. 

The pieces of grilled eel followed, topped with a dab of fresh sansho (mountain pepper) puree. Love the signature crispy skin with the piece cooked shio-yaki style but I could live with a bit more of the tingling, aromatic kick from the sansho to bring more complexity in taste. Two types of sashimi were then served – the milder hirame (fluke), and a small bowlful of Murasaki uni (sea urchins). Thought the best way to eat them were to roll the uni in the thin slices of hirame sashimi so you got this contrast of flavor with two different ingredients in one bite. Our last appetizer course was the abalone, done in the same way as the one we had a few months ago in the restaurant’s takeaway bento. The abalone was rich and tender, having slow poached in sake for hours and chilled, then served with sudachi zest and rounds of togan (winter melon) – infused with the dashi flavor yet retained the firmness. 

With several cuts of beef (Misuji, Togarashi, Zabuton plus the ox tongue) brought over in a platter plus the condiments on the side, and the grill on the table fired up, we went into the main attraction of the menu. Ox tongue and Zabuton (medium chuck roll) were my favorites this time, with the tongue cut thick and grilled with a charred, crispy crust and tender interior, and the Hide zabuton with well-marbled meat and good balance of fatty and meaty flavors. And at last, the large, thin piece of Kumamoto sirloin which was even fattier, flash grilled and served with warm bowl of rice with egg yolk drizzled on top, leaving us with the feeling of wanting more. 

“Full?” A dropped by and checked in on us as we were finishing up with the wagyu courses. We nodded but that didn’t stop him from bringing us two full portions of their signature curry rice to end our meal with, which we finished to the last grain of rice in the bowl. That and the fruits and desserts. It showed we could always have more when it came to tasty food. Went with a bottle of Zaku Junmai Daiginjo this time which I thought worked well with savory dishes with rich flavor.

Good to be able to dine out in leisure without having the glance at the clock regularly - hope it will stay that way. 

When? September 18 2020
Where? Nikushou, 22/F Zing!, 38 Yiu Wa Street, Causeway Bay
Menu Highlights? Just being able to have a dinner for longer than one hour is worth the meal
Drink? Zaku Miyabi no Tomo Nakadori Junmai Daiginjo, Shimizu Seizaburo Shoten, Mie Prefecture
作 雅乃智 中取り 純米大吟醸 - 三重県清水清三郎商店
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