Monday, October 11, 2021

"Mo Duck Shue"

Some friends and I decided to take turns in hosting dinners at places each of us were (more) familiar with (including here and here), and when it came to my turn, I suggest we convene at Nikushou partly because that’s a place I am confident about and partly because most of us have not been recently so it’s good for a re-visit. So I gave its owner (and a good friend of ours) A a buzz and asked him to help arrange and all I requested was the menu has to be “unbeatable” (or “Mo Duck Shue” 無得輸 as we often say in Canto) as we often said in the previous rounds of dinners. 

And A did just that, delivering a memorable meal with many great dishes. Nikushou may be the restaurant specializing in Yakiniku (Japanese style barbecue), but our friends often refer this as a yakiniku restaurant that didn’t do just yakiniku dishes. And as a matter of fact, we only had a couple yakiniku dishes towards the end of our feast. Rather, we had a number of other new dishes prepared using the seasonal ingredients. September marked the beginning of crab season and we started with just that, with a small bowl of Matsuba-kani (snow crab) with the sweet Amera tomatoes dressed with ponzu jelly, iwa-mozuku  and shiso flowers. Can’t beat this classic combination for the refreshing and umami-rich flavor that opened up our palate for the dishes to come. 

After the much beloved grilled eel served with the sansho sauce, we were offered a uni (sea urchin) tasting with three different types served in small bowls – Aka-uni from Awaji-shima just off central Honshu, Ensui Shiro Uni from Rishiri-to in the north-most end of Hokkaido and traditional shiro uni from Hokkaido’s Nemuro region. Of the tree I enjoyed the ensui shiro uni most, with the pieces preserved in salt-water and jetted in fresh. Not as rich as the other two, but it got the most amazing hint of sweetness and delicate texture as if they were just lifted off the chilled seawater. 

This time of year also marked the season of mushrooms, and in Japan, particularly the much prized Matsutake mushrooms. And A turned the batch he received into a few dishes prepared for us, beginning with a seasonal Agemono platter, including Matsutake, Hide-beef Chateaubriaud and Gingko. All of which were dipped gently in batter and deep-fried with just minimal seasoning, with nothing but the freshest taste of the ingredients. A pair of seasonal sashimi was then served – the buri (wild yellowtail) served with ponzu has the great soft texture, and our first sanma (Pacific saury) of the season was fatty and rich and the sauce made of the fish liver was an interesting accompaniment. 

We moved to more meat-focused dishes as the night went along – after all the restaurant was known for its wagyu beef – but first it was a local-breed steer tenderloin served with Manganji Amato (sweet peppers from Kyoto) and Awashi onions. The beef was butchered locally and went through aging before delivered and prepared – the pieces were not as fat as Japanese wagyu but got a more intense meaty flavor and more bite. “A hotpot night we are having” as A proclaimed just as the stove, casserole pot and ingredients were brought in for our next course. We were served two different types of beef (ribushin/ribeye roll and and zabuton/medium chuck roll) along with two types of mushrooms - porcini and more matsutake.  

Finally we have the yakiniku courses – not much, just three different types, including ox tongue, misuji and sirloin, all coming from Japan’s Hida region. All were good, but of course, one can’t beat the piece of sirloin cooked to perfection on the specialty grill and served in the bowl with rice and generous drizzle of Japanese egg yolk sauce, something I would love to have any time. And we ended up with two more rice dishes. The seasonal Taiwanese Green Bamboo Shoot kamameshi served with ikura (salmon roes) has this interesting contrast of clean and sweet bamboo shoot flavor and the rich and mineral salmon roes. And the broth used in the hotpot courses earlier was turned into a hearty bowl of zosui, taking in all the great meat and mushroom flavors. 

Went through three bottles among the 5 of us – not a lot but felt just right. Started off with Iwa 5 then the Masuizumi Kotobuki Daiginjo. Felt the current release of Iwa 5 (made by a French dude in a brewery in Toyama prefecture) was a tad sweeter than his first release in 2019, and our second bottle, coming from the same region, has a more richer flavor. For the yakiniku courses, we went for a 25-year-old Bordeaux which was just perfect for the richer courses. Yeah, I am glad that the meal did serve up to the objective being “unbeatable” – well, not that I had any doubt that it will. 

When? September 22 2021
Where? Nikushou, 22/F Zing!, 38 Yiu Wa Street, Causeway Bay
Menu Highlights? Matsutake and Wagyu Shabu-shabu
Iwa 5 (Assemblage 2 - 2020) – Shiraiwa Brewery, Toyama Prefecture (富山県白岩酒造)
Matsuizumi "Kotobuki" Daiginjo - Matsuda Shuzo, Toyama Prefecture
満寿泉 "寿" 大吟醸 - 富山県桝田酒造
1996 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Pessac-Leognan AOC

No comments :