Sunday, June 13, 2021

Birthday Omakase

Eating at Sushi Shikon has always been one of those “serious decisions” we contemplate every now and then – with the tab for its omakase menu comparable to a fancy weekend getaway nearby, it’s somewhere we saved for one of those rare special occasions that we didn’t mind splurging a little. 

The evening a few weeks ago was exactly that, because wife suggested that we went to celebrate her birthday (Not that I have a say) Jokes aside, it’s lovely to see Chef Kaki-san behind the kitchen counter, making final preparations as we walked in. The dinner omakase menu was the MUCH more elaborate version of their lunch menu (which we came away only half-full and slightly underwhelmed)  They were thoughtful enough to place the menu in front of us so we could follow as the dishes were served. 

Meal started straight away as soon as everyone at the long counter was seated. First was Shako (Mantis Shrimp), gently cooked, brushed with dashi glaze, served with tofu skin underneath and dressed with a warm shoyu sauce. I like the delicate texture and the rich flavor from the shrimp itself and from the sauce. Next was Karei (fluke/flounder), served in two slices with one coming from the engawa part (near to the fin). It’s topped with a small dab of konoko (sea cucumber roes)

Both Tako (Octopus) and Awabi (Abalone) are the signature dishes at this Michelin 3-starred restaurant, and they were both as good as I expected. The tako was slow braised with a slightly sweet tare sauce and finished with a strong hint of smoky flavor. It’s as tender as one could get, almost effortless to chew – I could imagine Kaki-san got asked whether he “massaged the octopus” before cooking a million times, thanks to THAT sushi movie. Finally got served the whole piece of abalone during dinner service this time, and with the decadent liver sauce. And the small dab of rice served with the leftover sauce (and a hint: you can always ask for more sauce to top up) This dish always had a special place in my heart starting from the first time I tried many years ago, and Kaki-san still wouldn’t teach me how the sauce was made. (at least he did tell me one ingredient that wasn’t there)

The last otsumami course was the akamutsu (rockfish/blackthroat seaperch), grilled on open-fire with the skin on and slightly crisped, and served with kinome and congee. I couldn’t recall trying a dish with congee (rice porridge) served like a sauce and it worked fine, holding up the flavor together in one bite. 

Just as we finished with our appetizers, the chefs got on with mise en place for the sushi courses by carving the ingredients (neta) into the right portions and placed them carefully into the wooden board. Altogether 10 different sushi courses were served in a few different styles, beginning with Aori-ika (Bigfin Reef Squid), tender and finished with a gentle brush of salt water for the extra flavor. Hon-masu (ocean trout) was definitely a better version than the one we had just a few weeks back, with a firmer texture and richer flavor. 

Two tuna pieces were than brought to us in order – first the chu-toro (medium fatty tuna) quick marinated in sauce and then the o-toro (fatty tuna). I thought the marinate was overwhelmingly rich, shielding the nice fish flavor, but I love the o-toro this time, with the right balance of fat and seasoning. I told Chef Kaki-san Kohada (gizzard shad) was the piece I most look forward to this evening, given a good one was hard to find in town, and it didn’t disappoint with the perfect neta-shari balance and texture. 

And one impressive course led to an even more impressive one as the piece of Aji (horse mackerel) sushi was brought to us. It’s presented like a piece of art with the well-carved and cut neta garnished with a small dab of negi (green scallion) paste for the color and for the flavor. It went particularly well with the shari seasoned with akasu (red vinegar) with the perfect fatty texture and flavor came this time of the year. 

Uni (sea urchin) sushi was served gunkan style with two types of uni (Murasaki and Bafun) served in layers, and I could taste the nice contrast between the richer bafun uni underneath and the creamier Murasaki uni on top). Kuruma-ebi (Tiger Prawn) came in the right size with the slightly crunchy texture. Anago (sea-eel) was served bo-sushi style with the piece of grilled sea-eel rolled with futomaki filled with takuan and kanpyo – I prefer the more traditional way with more eel but this one was fun and got more textures in play. Finally it’s the toro temaki (hand rolls with chopped fatty tuna), egg castella cake (love the slightly wobbly texture), soup and the mango pudding as dessert (was expecting something more elaborate as finale but it tasted fine)

A bit bummed that a few items on the drink menu were sold out, but we started with a carafe of Junmai Ginjo from Miyagi Prefecture. Great balanced flavor and fruity aroma, worked especially well with our rich appetizer courses of octopus and abalone. 

The limited edition Iwa 5 was not the first choice I laid my eyes on but I was glad that we ordered the bottle to go with the sushi courses. The debut bottle from a French winemaker now based in Japan's Toyama Prefecture (Richard Geoffroy formerly of Dom Perignon), made unconventionally by combining sake made with different rice breeds and yeasts (assemblage style like how champagne was made). Pleasant floral aroma (hint of white flower) and I love the intense and complex palate (some citrus, buttery, mineral) that didn’t get in the way with the food but rather, complement perfectly well especially seafood. 

Turned out it was an excellent decision to eat here – a pricey one no doubt, but memorable with impressive execution and met every bit of our expectation and more this time.  

More photos here:

When? May 18 2021
Where? Sushi Shikon. Level 7, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen's Road Central
Menu Highlights? Kohada and Aji 
Hakurakusei Junmai Ginjo – Niizawa Brewery, Miyagi Prefecture
(伯楽星 純米吟醸 宮城県新澤醸造店)
Iwa 5 (Assemblage 1 - 2019) – Shiraiwa Brewery, Toyama Prefecture (富山縣白岩酒造)

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