Friday, July 29, 2022

Steakhouse Japanese Style

Went for a meat feast second night in a row at the exclusive Teppanyaki Issho inside the Happy Valley New Clubhouse of HKJC. I was impressed with our friend H and A being able to score a booking at this restaurant which could only seat 14, let alone getting a table for dinner during the popular Tuen Ng Festival long weekend. Lucky us. 

The restaurant entrance was tucked on the side next to one of the main restaurants on the 6th floor of the new clubhouse building. Inside, the dimmed lighting and the black and golden-themed decor gave a sense of luxury in a dining theater-like atmosphere without looking overly opulent. 

Several "tables" were set up inside the dining area of this "Japanese style steakhouse", each with its own cooking station and served exclusively by one chef throughout the service. That means the place could only accommodate up to 3 different parties at each service. Menu has to be confirmed in advance to allow time to have the ingredients ready with a choice of 9 or 12 courses, and we went for the shorter one with a few optional upgrades. 

We began with a simple appetizer of uni (sea urchins) and shiro-ebi (white prawn) sashimi served in the sea urchin shell. Both ingredients were jetted in live (uni from Iwate Prefecture, shiro-ebi from Toyama), prepared a la minute and served in the sea urchin shell along with caviar and gold flakes on top. The dish was minimally seasoned to showcase the original flavor, and that's the only savory dish not done from the show kitchen by the chef. 

While we were enjoying the appetizer and the sip of the champagne, chef began to carry the ingredients out and got ready to cook. First was Karei (flounder) from Hokkaido with bamboo shoot and maitake mushrooms on the side. The skin of the fish fillet finely-scored and crisped from the searing over the sizzling pan, and I also liked the firm texture with nice fat balance. 

A few palm-sized fresh kuro-awabi (Japanese black abalone) were shown to us before they were cooked on the sizzling pan and served in thick slices, finished with aonori (green seaweed) ankake sauce and flower and yuzu zest garnishes. The abalone liver was taken out, cooked and then served separately. I like the slightly smoky flavor though not as fancy as turning it into a dipping sauce like those offered in many sushi joints (which would have taken much longer to prepare)

We shared a pair of Ise-ebi (spiny lobster) among the four of us. Both came from Mie Prefecture - the region well known for its lobster catch in the nearby seas - and it's served in chunks with a rich bisque sauce (reduction from lobster and prawn shells) poured on top with slices of Shogoin kabu (a variation of Japanese turnip recognized by its large round shape) and mustard spinach served as sides. 

We went on with more vegetables served as a medley on a long plate with miso dipping sauce on the side. The king shemeji mushroom was my favorite but the surprise one was the onion with nice subtle sweet taste. 

Beef is the must-have for any teppanyaki dinner, and this time, we were served a nicely marbled slab of Miyazaki Wagyu Sirloin in tasting portion given the amount of dishes we had. Fried rice may be a simple, straightforward dish but did require some skills from the chef to create a perfect bowl. Here it's done with the small sakura-ebi and grated karasumi (dried bottarga) mixed in for the extra umami flavor and the crunchy texture, and then we finished with a bowl of miso soup (cooked using lobster shells), a choice of Japanese seasonal fruits and also wagashi sweets. 

Champagne and red wine sound like a no-brainer in terms of pairing. The grower champagne made with 100% chardonnay showed plenty of acidity, white flower aroma and ripe lemon and apple on the palate. The 10-year-old Lynch Bages sound like a good value for the price it was offered from their menu. Very approachable even at relatively young age, medium-bodied, plenty of black fruits and good tannin structure. 

When? June 3 2022
Where? Teppanyaki Issho, 6/F, Happy Valley New Clubhouse, Shan Kwong Road, Happy Valley
Menu Highlights? Shimane Black Abalone with Fresh Seaweed and Yuzu Zest
Champagne Doyard Vendemiare Blanc de Blancs Brut NV
2011 Chateau Lync Bages Pauillac

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