Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Uni Omakase

I ventured to this new-ish hotel called ALVA in Shatin the other day for a omakase dinner at Mizutani restaurant. To be honest, I haven't heard much about the restaurant nor the hotel before, probably because of its distance from my home or office, but turned out it's worth my little road trip up north after work one evening. 

Not very familiar with this mainly residential neighborhood, I was pleasantly surprised by the view looking out from the table of the restaurant, located on the top floor of the hotel. Right in front was the long riverside promenade of the stream leading to Shing Mun River, and in the backdrop, the surrounding country parks of Tai Mo Shan and Ma On Shan from a distance. The restaurant was spacious, with separate sections to house a sushi and robatayaki counters, as well as tables for shabu-shabu. The meal was hosted by the hotel PR team and we were presented with the uni omakase set menu, with a few courses dedicated to Japanese sea urchins prepared in a number of different ways. 

We began with a cold appetizer of onsen egg and yuba (tofu sheet) topped with sea urchins and light dashi soy sauce - can't go wrong combining the mild and clean-flavored yuba and the umami-rich sea urchins and caviar served in a glass bowl. Got an encore of more sea urchins, this time slightly cured with konbu for a touch of minerality and firmness, and served in the form of a sashimi platter along with chu-toro (medium fatty tuna), hamachi (yellowtail) and shimaji (striped jack), common choices of ingredients for sashimi combo but all of them of excellent quality. 

From the sea urchins served raw we moved on to something cooked. The whole lobster was grilled and served with grilled sea urchins arranged neatly on top and eaten almost like sauce. I prefer a meatier lobster but I like the bouncy texture and a hint of smokiness balancing well with the sea urchin creaminess. An extra course was brought in which was their signature dish of Kabayaki Unagi, or grilled freshwater eel with sauce, finished in open fire and wood-smoked in a fancy wooden box made of hinoki (cypress). The sweetness of the tare sauce was done just right with a touch of sansho pepper sprinkled on top. 

In between the vegetable tempura and wagyu somen noodles in soup, we had another course of uni, this time with four different types served sushi style side by side in small ceramics bowls - two of them, bafun uni from Hokkaido and murasaki uni from Miyagi Prefecture were served raw, while we had two other kinds cured in saltwater and konbu respectively. This time the one from Hokkaido's northmost Rebun Island was the clear winner with excellent creamy texture and rich flavor. All that was needed was a dab of wasabi and a gentle sprinkle of salt to bring out the best of taste. The dessert was mizu shingen mochi (a.k.a. raindrop cake) served with kinako and kuro-mitsu. 

When? November 19 2021
Where? Mizutani, 28/F ALVA HOTEL BY ROYAL, 1 Yuen Hong Street, Shatin
Menu Highlights? Grilled Lobster with Uni Sauce
Web: www.alva.com.hk/en/dining/Mizutani.html 

No comments :