Friday, January 7, 2022

Ando x Fukuoka

A lucky few us were given a sneak peak of Chef Agustin's special collaboration menu with Fukuoka Prefecture government. The area on the northern shore of Kyushu Japan has no lack of fine food ingredients and many of those made it to our table with this limited-time tasting menu. 

We started with a nice array of amuse-bouche courses, including the Sazae Chawanmushi with the egg custard mixed with bits of turban shell steamed in its horn-shaped shell. The piece of saba (horse mackerel) was marinated with soy and served with soy gel, seaweeds and pickled ginger on a thin crisp. Those were in addition of my favorite of the (Argentinian) beef tartare topped with Kristal caviar served in a neat porcelain cup.

Got more of caviar with our first proper course, this time with a juicy piece of Ebisu single seed oyster served raw with green radish, caviar, shiso oil and a gently acidic dressing. The rich flavor and plump texture of the oyster from Fukuoka worked very well with the dressing. The quintet of raw seafood never disappoints, and this time it's a special selection using seafood exclusively from Fukuoka. Among them my favorite was the seasonal Mejina (Largescale Blackfish) with lovely bouncy texture and served with salt-cured kelp and a dash of light soy sauce. 

After the bread course (the umami-rich miso butter was the bomb!), it's a refreshing course with wild shiitake mushrooms, asari clams, fruit tomatoes served in a clear shellfish dashi, showcasing the quality variety and seasonality of ingredients available from this agriculture-rich prefecture around 4 times bigger than Hong Kong. The yuzu zest on top was an excellent touch. The flavor combination of the next seafood course was interesting (in a good way), with the piece of kinmedai (goldeneye snapper) prepared Matsukasa Yaki style (with the crispy scales), and on the side was the sharp umeboshi (pickled plum) sauce, daikon (radish) and hime kabu (baby turnips). 

Wagyu from the neighboring Kumamoto Prefecture was used and served with sauteed hiratake mushroom, gingko nuts, miso-mushroom puree and demi-glace. The slightly toasted gingko nuts with a hint of bitterness worked well to balance the fatty meat and the rich sauce. The caldoso course was a familiar one, prepared using Brittany blue lobster. 

Amaou Strawberry is a specialty cultivar from Fukuoka, known for its sweetness and bright red color (with its name stood for amai, marui, okii and umai - sweet, round, big and tasty) and Chef Joanna just served the piece as is with a tofu kingyoku (traditional wagashi with the piece of tofu "floating" inside the bite-sized clear sweet) and kuromitsu (dark sugar syrup) The second dessert was another piece of wagashi art, this time in Nerikiri style, with sweetened dough carved into a flower and filled with pecan nut praline.

We also enjoyed a few bottles poured to pair with the dishes. The well-aged bottle of red from Friuli region was great with the wagyu main course - medium-bodied, earthy with a hint of red fruits and balsamic worked well with the similar earthy tones of the mushrooms. 

More photos on the web:

When? December 3 2021
Where? Ando, 1F, Somptueux Central, 52 Wellington Street, Central
Menu Highlights? Kinmedai, Umeboshi, Hime-kabu
Champagne Krug Grande Cuvee 169eme Edition Brut
Ohmine 3grain Yamadanishiki Murokana Namagensu  - Ohmine Shuzo
大嶺3粒 山田錦 無濾過生原酒
2014 Balthasar Ress Wein am Limit "32" Riesling
1990 Ronchi di Cialla Schioppettino di Cialla
2018 Azienda Agricola Luca Attanasio "Fioremio" Primitivo Puglia IGP

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