Showing posts with label Miyazaki. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Miyazaki. Show all posts

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Izakaya Evening with Echigo Saké at Ichigo Ichie

Izakaya Evening with Echigo Saké at Ichigo Ichie

Smashed cucumber with Bonito flake.

For one night this/last week, Michelin Star Chef Takashi Miyazaki turned his Ichigo Ichie restaurant into a Japanese style gastro-pub with a lot of help from Mr. Ono from the Echigo Saké Brewery in Japan. 

It was the first Izakaya evening here and a delightful experience that began with a glass, sorry, that should read masu, of Echigo Koshi No Happo. The Masu is a square wooden cup used to measure rice in Japan during the feudal period. It holds 180ml of that first saké so that was quite a substantial aperitif. Quite a lovely one also, smooth, almost savoury with a slightly syrupy texture giving it a rich mouthfeel.
First pour

There would be more sakés as the pleasant evening went on, with Mr Ono on hand to explain the various types. Perhaps the outstanding one from my point of view was the Ozeki Karatamba Honjozo Namachozoshu. Here, we were told that the brewing technology brings out the crisp and rich flavour yet dry taste of “Karatamba” that pairs well with any cuisine, indeed the prefect saké to indulge your taste buds. It certainly did that!

Of Japan’s major saké-producing regions, Niigata is regarded as the most prestigious and well-known. And deservedly so. Known long ago by the name Echigo, modern-day, Niigata is the region of small craft producers from the countryside. It is also the origin of the light and dry tanrei-karakuchi style of saké that has become so popular amongst saké lovers today. And we did indeed enjoy the Echigo Karakuchi, “a very hearty saké”.
Sashimi selection

At the end, we had a taste of the Amakuchi, the sweet saké. But not that sweet! From the delightful, if limited  (we didn’t have all night!), tasting, it seems that the dry to sweet range of the Japanese drink is much narrower than is the case with wine! Open to correction on this one.

And how did we get on with the square cup? The masu? Quite well actually. It stands on a saucer so, when  it is full to the brim, you can lift the saucer and sip, “not rude” says Mr Ono. Being Cork of course, there was one “complaint”: we couldn’t make those cups clink! Well, if you really want to get that cheerful sound, you may drink it from a short clear glass also!
Pork belly with bean sprout

The special Izakaya Menu was a multi-course treat. Hard to keep track of all the courses and Mr Miyazaki also added in a couple of bonuses. So, from the Smashed Cucumber at the start to the delicious pannacotta at the finish, we were more than well fed.

Highlights? Well those two already mentioned for a start. The Sashimi was an early highlight for me with salmon, tuna and sea-bass in the mix. The Prawn (a substitute for squid) and Padron Pepper Tempura was another as were the Chicken Tatsuta. And an unexpected one - it was additional to the 12-course menu - was the swordfish towards the end.

CL also enjoyed the meal from start to finish especially that little Smashed Cucumber at the start. The next dish, the Pork Belly, was another of her favourites along with the Sashimi. But all were appreciated.

Izakaya Menu

Peanuts Tofu (peanuts, wasabi)

Kyuri Tataki (smashed cucumber, bonito flake, crushed garlic chilli)

Chashu and Moyashi Namuru (pork belly, bean sprout, shichimi, sesame oil)

Sashimi (Corvina, Organic Salmon, Daikon, Shiso, Wasabi, dashi shoyu)

Yakitori (tsukune tare sansho and egg yolk sauce, pork belly)

Buta Shabu Salad (Pork, Mizuna, Silken Tofu, Radish, Sesame Ponzu)

Grilled Asparagus Yakidashi (asparagus in dashi, bonito flake, chilli)

Ika and Shishitou Tempura (squid and Padron Pepper). Ika (squid not available so we had prawns instead).

Chicken Tatsuta (Fried chicken thigh)

Satoimoni, Tori Soboro Sauce (Taro Potato stew with minced chicken sauce)

Tamago Maki (Egg Roll Sushi)

Amazake (White chocolate pannacotta, cherry)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Miyazaki. Special Every Time

Miyazaki. Special Every Time

Buta Yanagawa Don
It was a cold and wet Tuesday and crossing the city at rush-hour wasn't appealing. But there was ample reward at the end, picked from the Specials Board of Miyazaki. And to make it even better, we managed to get two of the famous six high-stools with a view of the rain-drops on the window and the remnants of rush-hour traffic outside.

That specials board keeps changing. Had I been in before Christmas, I might well have had Salmon Zuke Don, maybe Kisu Ten Don (fried whiting). Though I do think I would have started with the Bora Aria with Karashi Susimo (Grey mullet).
Looking out the window
 at remnants of rush-hour

Tuesday's menu though was every bit as inviting. There is always the usual addition, on a separate board (watch out for it!), of Hot Soup Noodle (Soba or Udon) Dishes, all eat-in only. One, for example, is Beef Soba or Udon (thin beef dashi in warm broth with garnish).

My pick from the Specials was the very top one: Buta Yanagawa Don, thinly sliced pork belly with dashi broth, burdock, onion, shimeji mushrooms, simmered with egg and nori (14.50). A large bowl of deliciousness, a superb mix of flavours and textures, the oh so thinly spread egg, the pork, the greens, the little mushrooms and, of course, the broth. Not bothering too much with the view outside as I concentrated on that.

Ebi Curry Udon

And, to my left, CL, who had been reading all about Takashi Miyazaki in the current Food & Wine magazine, was now totally engaged with her Ebi Curry Udon (Udon noodles in Japanese curry,  with prawn tempura, age tofu, ginger and sesame, also 14.50). She loves those plumb noodles and the dish was further enhanced with a little side bowl of pickled ginger while the heat in the curry was perfect for a girl that grew up nearby when this premises bore the name Yangtze River and was indeed a very popular venue for southsiders making their way home.

We could see a few customers gathering in the small space, some for takeaway, some waiting for a stool. So we moved on, but not before buying a box of the sushi. “Just a simple one,” our friendly server said. I think it may have been the last one also.

So we paid up and walked out into the cool night, the rain had stopped, and took the opportunity to check the location of Bau Boi (another soutside raid in the planning), picked up the car and headed home
The sushi immediately attracted the attention of the dog but, determined as he was, he would have to do without on this occasion. It may well have been a basic Miyazaki but it was well ahead of any other we’ve tried locally, outstanding flavour; ginger, wasabi and soya sauce were all included with the six rolls, all for a tenner. 

We took our time with that and a bottle of Lustau Puerto Fino, a Fino sherry aged  on the Atlantic Coast of southern Spain in a town called  El Puerto de Santa Maria, bought in Bradley’s (Cork) and just the job for sushi!

1A Evergreen Street
(021) 431 2716
Hours: Tue-Sun 1.00pm to 3.30pm; 5.00pm to 9.00pm. Mon - closed.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

What to drink with Sushi? Answers At L’Atitude Event

What to drink with Sushi?
Answers At L’Atitude Event
Miyazaki magic

Cider? Wine? Sherry? Champagne? Which would win? These were the questions as this fun event, involving matching Sushi with various drinks, kicked off in the marvellous L’Atitude Wine Cafe in Cork last Wednesday. In the end an atypical Loire Sauvignon Blanc got the nod from the audience.

There was already one champion on the table as we entered and that was a plateful of delightful Sushi, skillfully prepared by Takashi Miyazaki, Cork and Ireland’s favourite Japanese chef. And what does the maestro himself drink with it? Well, saké, of course, after a beer or two! Saké, a natural match, wasn't in the line-up the other night. The omission was deliberate and that gave the others a chance.

Takashi (in front) with (l to r) Beverly, Leslie, Pascal, Paddy and Susan
Takashi had Seared Salmon (sesame oil added before the searing), Cured Salmon (tasted somewhat like the very best Prosciutto), Sea Bass (with salmon roe on top) and “Plain” Salmon (with green chilli, pepper, and salted to give it “a kick”) in his sushi selection.

Beverley of L’Atitude kicked off proceedings with a bottle of Cockagee Cider in her hands. “This is the champagne of ciders”, she declared. “I just love it. It's incredible, not overly tannic. A fine cider for some very fine sushi.”

And then came Leslie Williams, words flowing like bubbles at a West Ham game as he lauded the Devaux Rosé Champagne, made mainly with Pinot Noir grapes. “Its richness, that hint of sweetness, would work well with the sushi.” If in doubt, not that Leslie had any doubts,  “it has to be champagne”.
L'Atitude, No. 1 Union Quay.
And then, with hands in motion, Pascal introduced his natural wine, a Loire Sauvignon blanc by Alexandre Bain. “He makes wine like his grandfather did, not like his father did, and is the only grower in the area to allow malolactic fermentation. It is rounder, richer, creamier than the standard Pouilly Fumé. It is listed in a three star Michelin in Paris and paired with raw fish and pickled ginger!” The words plus, we believe, no little “practice” with Takashi, paid off in votes.

And then Paddy Murphy took up the cause of sherry. What else? His Manzanilla (La Guita) - “really a wine in its own right”- was bone dry and light with a saline character and paired with the sushi “should enhance the umami”. The Don Zoilo Amontillado was, said Paddy, “the king of sherry..with a slight richness, yet bone dry..savoury..tangy… should pair well”.  Indeed, both styles went down very well indeed among the voters but the two-wine strategy split the vote; both did well but neither got enough to win.
The noteworthy Champion
Susan Boyle sang the praises of her St Brigid’s Pale Ale and pointed to the hop bitterness “a key ingredient for this matching, not in any of the previous drinks”. She listed other local ingredients: barley and honey from their own hives. “It may be an unusual choice but I think it works particularly well. I’m saving the best til last so tick that little box!”

Ottolenghi tasted the beer at the recent LitFest and said it was “the bee’s knees”. Susan wasn't the only one to name-drop. In the end though, the audience went with Le Caveau Sauvignon blanc.
Two Many?
Really though, there were quite a few winners on a very enjoyable evening, including the punters. Well done to L’Atitude for their irrepressible enthusiasm and bubbling invention, to the five presenters, to our MC Colm McCan (he said he was using the south facing clock on Shandon Tower as a time-keeping aid - visitors had to be told that Shandon is known as the four-faced liar), and of  course to Takashi Miyazaki (whose famous must-visit takeaway is at the corner of Barrack Street and Evergreen Street).

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Return of L’Atitude’s CineCafé. Sushi, Saké and Miyazaki

Return of L’Atitude’s CineCafé
Sushi, Saké and Miyazaki

L’Atitude’s CineCafé started its 2016 run with the enthralling Japanese film Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011), the story of an 85 year old chef who runs a 10 seat three star Michelin sushi restaurant in a Tokyo subway station. Not alone do L’Atitude entertain you, they also feed you and, for this occasion, local Japanese chef Takashi Miyazaki was on hand to do matching food, a small plate of big delights.

And that wasn't the end of it - remember all this for 15 euro. We had an opening wee glass of an Italian natural wine from Piemonte, a drop of Saké at halftime and a drop of Shōchū, a distilled version, for the road. Quite a night and the next CineCafé event, a sherry based one, is due on the third Wednesday of February. The upstairs room, decorated on this occasion with origami by Celine, is ideal for these events.

The film's blurb says: At the heart of this story is Jiro's relationship with his eldest son Yoshikazu, the worthy heir to Jiro's legacy, who is unable to live up to his full potential in his father's shadow. We didn't really see that much tension between the two, on the contrary.

Sushi lovers from around the globe make repeated pilgrimage, calling months in advance and shelling out top dollar for a coveted seat at Jiro's sushi bar. But often your 21 course (bite!) meal is over in 15 minutes. Jiro puts your piece on your slate and you eat it immediately!

Not so quick though if you’re an apprentice here. Your training could take ten years! Then, one day, you are told you've made it. Not all hopefuls last the pace - some pack it on after one day.
One of the jobs for the newcomers is to massage the Octopus. In the early days, this was a 30 minute stint but Jiro has increased it to 45.He is always trying to improve his sushi, thus the long massage. And a tip for Irish sushi imitators. Serve your rice at room temperature, not cold!

He is the undoubted master in Japan and son Yoshikazu buys the best fish available in the market. That market is huge, the tuna lined up like battalions. And you wonder how long more that particular fish will last if so many are needed every single morning for this part of the city alone. Yoshikazu is also anxious about the future supply.
For all his fame and his insistence that a good palate is essential to being a chef, Jiro is a humble man, humble enough to acknowledge that the best palate he has come across belongs to the famous French chef Joël Robuchon.
I won’t tell you too much about it as the film is easily found on the internet and this is one link where you can see it in its entirety.
Miyazaki, who has been getting great praise for his little restaurant/takeaway of the same name, was introduced at the start and his plateful came during the interval. He explained that, since we were in a wine bar, he used red wine with the duck and it was delicious. So too was the prawn - “the head is the best part” - and the salmon sushi and the sea bass sushi were also delightful.
You can see Takashi in action in his kitchen in Miyazaki which is on Evergreen Street, at its junction with Barrack Street. You can also have his food at home, thanks to Deliveroo, but it's great to get in there and get one of the six or seven high stools! I’ve been there a few times and my first vist is recalled here.
Just like Takashi, I too succumbed to being in a wine bar and sampled a few from L’Atitude's amazing list, dozens of terrific wines available in many options, from a small tasting glass to the full bottle.
I started with the Forrest Pinot Noir (Marlborough, New Zealand), elegant and altogether excellent, €5.70 for a 125ml glass. My companions were enjoying the Palacio de Bornos Verdejo (Rueda, Spain) and I was allowed a few sips of this and found it smooth and fresh with loads of fruit.
And we finished the night drinking a lovely Madregale bianco, a blend of  60% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and 40% Chardonnay (from Abruzzo), simple and refreshing but with inviting aromas and no shortage of equally pleasing fruit flavors (4.20 a glass). And the good news is that they also do a red, both available here at L’Atitude. Importer Pascal Rossignol of Le Caveau (he also enjoyed the evening) tells me that they are becoming quite popular as house wines. Not surprised.
There’s a lot going on in L’Atitude: wine courses, tastings, films, music and wine and food of course. Check it all out here or just call in to Number 1, Union Quay, Cork, across the road from the City Hall, across the river from the Clarion Hotel.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Return to Miyazaki. Umami by the spoonful

Return to Miyazaki
Umami by the spoonful
Salmon sushi

Grabbed my opportunity to return to Miyazaki, Cork’s amazing Japanese Take Away, when in the Barrack Street area during the week. Open since March, it is located at the junction of Evergreen Street and Barrack Street.

Enjoyed a salmon dish during the previous visit so this time I picked something different: Miso Butter Tonkotsu Ramen (Miso Butter Tonkotsu, pork stock noodles with corn and chashu). And there was a little extra, a Nitamago simmered egg. Quite a special dish indeed, full of flavour and appropriately warm for a cold November day.

My pork
My bowl by the way was eat-in only so just as well we got in early and got a pair of the limited sit-down places! But most of the menu is available to take out.

Salmon features regularly on the menu here as indeed do pork, beef, and chicken. There is a regular menu and a Daily Specials board and you may check them out on their Facebook page, updated daily with all those lovely specials.

Seared salmon
They had a couple of salmon offerings up on the board in mid-week and CL chose the Seared Salmon with ikura, garlic chips, mixed seaweed and ponzu. This looked amazing, so inviting, and tasted so well.

We had started with a couple of bowls of soup, delicately delicious, umami by the spoonful! The one we got was: Bamboo shoot and Shimeji Mushroom soup. Go treat yourself.
As on the previous occasion, we bought something to take home for later on. There is so much to choose from here including Donburi (rice bowl dish with your choice of topping), Bento boxes, a variety of noodle dishes, salads, and Japanese Curry.
And sushi of course and we picked a lovely salmon box, attractive looking and all neatly wrapped in Nori seaweed! They are open Tuesday to Sunday: 13.00-16.00 and 17.00- 21.00, phone 4312716.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Miyazaki Japanese Take-Away. On the corner, a “treasure box”

Miyazaki Japanese Take-Away
On a Cork corner, a “treasure box”
The always busy Cork corner between Barrack Street and Evergreen Street has a new feature, a Japanese Take-Away called Miyazaki. It looks as if this corner will get even busier as top chef Takashi Miyazaki has opened up a “treasure box” of Japanese food. “I want people to enjoy the real flavours of Japan.”

The owner-chef is a native of Fukuoka in Japan and has over twenty years high level experience. The use of fresh local ingredients and Takashi's essential ingredient of dashi broth brings you a traditional Japanese cuisine known as “Itadakimasu”.  I was there last Friday and got lunch and supper for forty euro for the two of us.
The “treasure box” is just that, a small boxy place with room for just a handful of sit-down customers. You sit on stools near the a shelf along the window and watch the people come and go outside. But you don't do much watching really as your eyes and attention are on the flavours in the dish.

 We were there just as the doors opened at 1.00pm and got two of those precious high stools. We studied the menu and, of course, the specials board! As we waited, we were served with bowls of a lovely Miso Soup (with tofu, wakame seaweed and dashi), delicate and delicious.

Neither of us knows much about Japanese food so we were consciously or unconsciously looking for familiar words. And so it was that CL chose the Teriyaki Chicken Bento (grilled chicken, marinated with homemade teriyaki sauce). This was superb, a great balance between the flavours, the rice too playing a role here.

Chicken. Yes that's half an egg at top.
I went for the Salmon Zuke Donburi (fresh Atlantic salmon marinated in soy based sauce on steamed rice). This was served in a bowl with slices of marinated salmon and ikura (salmon roe) on top and a little dollop of wasabi. Lots going on here, the colour, the flavour, the amazing texture of the salmon all adding up to lunch-time perfection!

Lunch was over but the remarkable experience was to be soon continued. We had a look at the take-away section (this gets very busy in the evenings) and picked two items for sharing later on. The first was Nori Bento (Nori seaweed, breaded fish, fish cake with kimpira burdock). It looked a small enough container but there was certainly enough there as a shared starter. But never mind about the quantity, the quality (flavour and texture) was once again outstanding.
Yakiniku Bento
 And it just got better with the (Stir fried beef and vegetables with Miya’s yakiniku sauce). Once again an amazing mix of flavours and, of course, that lovely softish crunch that you get with stir-fried vegetables.

So if you want remarkable food from this amazing chef, head to Evergreen Street (just a few minutes from the English Market) and you’ll find Miyazaki’s doors open between 13.00 to 16.00 and 17.00 to 21.00 Tuesday to Sunday. Phone number is 021-4312716.

Find him on Facebook at and his Twitter is @miyazakicork  

Nori Bento