Thursday, September 15, 2022

Tongue to Tail

Right after we finished our dinner at Kisho we made a booking to eat at Ushidoki right next door under the same restaurant group a few weeks later. While Kisho specializes in chicken cuisine, Ushidoki focuses on beef. Both restaurants have similar setting where everyone was seated at the counter around the open kitchen, but Ushidoki was slightly smaller in size with only a dozen or so seats and everyone got a better view of the kitchen (they also have 2 private rooms at the back). 

A single tasting menu was offered in the evenings with 10 different courses served and the promises of a unique “tongue to tail” dining experience. We roughly followed the serving order like a proper kaiseki meal starting with the cold appetizers, then courses prepared in different ways and finished with desserts at the end. First to arrive was “chilled shabu shabu”. The thin slices of wagyu was flash boiled then immediately chilled in an ice bath, then served with grated yam underneath and tosa vinegar jelly and grated karasumi on top. It was a refreshing start. 

“Tongue to tail” experience was what they promised and we started with tongues first, with the thick slices of ox tongues served in rich beef consommé, togan (winter gourd) and junsai (water shield). The hint of zest in the soup worked well with the intense meaty flavor. Served at the same time was our first piece of wagyu sushi, topped with grated Australian winter truffles. The combination of uni, wagyu and caviar seem to be popular these days, and this evening we were served two courses with the exact same combination but prepared in a slightly different manner. First was the beef tartare, and later, the wagyu sando with the tenderloin battered and fried and served with slices of white milk bread. I personally prefer the beef tartare more with a more rounded flavor with the piece of nori done tempura style served on the side. 

It's clear the beef they sourced was of top quality, coming from a farm in Kagoshima Prefecture that they exclusively worked with. The meat was not of the fattiest type but certainly one with nice meaty flavor. 

The “Sukiyaki” was done a la minute with thin slices of wagyu sirloin served with soft boiled eggs, sauteed onions and matsutake mushrooms, sukiyaki sauce and thin slices of black truffles. The flavor was as intense as it gets yet well-balanced, with the small dab of rice served just good enough to soak up all the flavor from the sauce. And afterwards, a palate cleanser with the sweetest candied green plum was served in a tall glass, and then a second course of wagyu sushi, this time from a fattier cut and with grated daikon and apple vinegar on top. 

It’s difficult to work out the exact style of cooking for the two “main courses” that were served. The chateaubriand was slightly grilled, carved in thin slices and served with a red wine onion sauce, then it was the sirloin, more marbled and cut in thicker chunks, grilled on charcoal and served with scores of vegetables. The presence of waxberry and Japanese fu was interesting, but the acidity in the waxberry did cut down the fatty taste of the beef with the fu, or gluten meat, added to the overall texture.  

I have never seen Japanese cold somen served in a fancier way than this, with the chef carefully dipped bunch of noodle strands into ice bath, carefully laid out in a lacquer bowl, and topped with fine dices of beef, ikura (salmon roes) and oxtail gelee. I love the contrasting, salivating flavor of the gelee (prepared with oxtail broth and vinegar) in this cold presentation perfect for the weather, and it’s kinda cute to start with a dish with tongue, and finish with a dish with tail. Dessert was remarkable too, with monaka sandwich with whisky ice-cream and a simple egg pudding. 

No more BYO arrangement (unlike our last dinner at Kisho) but we still opted for our own bottles. Started with a bottle of Junmai daiginjo and then a well-aged Bordeaux. Thought we have all bases covered with two drinks in vastly different styles but worked well with the beef dishes. 

When? August 13 2022
Where? Ushidoki, Shop 2, 1/F Manning House, 48 Queen’s Road Central
Menu Highlights? Sukiyaki, Onion, Soft-boiled Egg, Matsutake, Truffles
みむろ杉 ろまんシリーズ 純米大吟醸 高橋活日命に捧ぐ  - 奈良県 今西酒造
Mimurosugi Junmai Daiginjo 35, Imamnishi Shuzo, Nara Prefecture
1990 Baron Philippe de Rothschild Mise de La Baronnie Medoc

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