Showing posts with label ichigo ichie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ichigo ichie. 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.
 
Prawn

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)
Dessert

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)


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Ichigo Ichie. Twelve Courses. Many Lessons.

Ichigo Ichie. Twelve Courses. Many Lessons.
Takashi Miyazaki

The outstanding menu at the Takashi Miyazaki’s newly opened Ichigo Ichie has twelve courses and many tasty lessons for the Irish customers and indeed for Irish chefs.

Take the Mukouzuke, the fifth course, for example. Here, I came across squid like never before (so different to how it is served up here), the 6 days aged turbot was another eye-opener as was the bonito. An amazing plateful.
Nigiri

Mukouzuke, by the way, in the Japanese haute cuisine system known as Kaiseki (the style that Miyazaki is serving here) means the plate for sashimi. 

Another course title, the 9th in our meal, is Sunomono and this is a serving of pickled vegetables. Here, Miyazaki relied on his granny's recipe; she was spot-on and the rice bran, with aubergine, purple ninja radish and cucumber may have been small but it was huge in flavour.

There were little surprises all through the multi-course meal, even with the opening Sakizuke. Here the humble rhubarb found a starring role with Tofu and white sesame. The clams in the 11th dish, the Tonewan, just became available on the day and so were skilfully placed with the red miso, tofu, chive and dashi.
The Hassun: Thornhill Duck, eel & cucumber, Asparagus & cured egg.

Moon Jar
This multi-course meal is meant to reflect the  seasons but “the seasons in Japan are different to those in Ireland”, said Takashi. Our four seasons in one day has him puzzled. But he did manage to get cherry blossom in Douglas for one element of the Hassun, a delightful combination of Asparagus, cured onsen egg yolk, whiting powder and salted cherry blossom.

It is a lovely calm room with a lovely calm crew, conversations bubbling nicely behind us; we were two of the lucky five that had managed to book counter seats. That got us the odd chat with the busy Miyazaki and the chance to admire the floral arrangement and the amazing pottery piece called the Moon Jar that he sourced in London.

One of our first decisions was on what to drink. There is an excellent list of organic and natural wines from Le Caveau and we each started with a glass of white. Some Asahi beer (including draught) also available. But we had spotted the sake list also and then moved on to that, enjoying a can of the delicious Honjozo (17% abv), fragrant and full and with an amazing persistence. I'm converted!
Mukouzuke

One of the highlights of the early part of the meal was the Oshinogi course, two pieces of nigiri (sushi) with soy foam. The yellow fin was high class and even the ginger was memorable. Daikon (winter radish) is a favourite of Takashi’s and appeared in at least two courses, most notably the Nimono where it accompanied the bamboo shoot and yuzu-miso.

Daikon, bamboo shoot
I don't want to go into all the details - leave you to discover some for yourself -  but other highlights for me were the Thornhill duck, the conger eel, the ox-tongue, and the chicken thigh and turbot fin (with a savoury custard). 

Dessert is not a big thing in Japan. The course name is Kanmi and set Takashi a problem but he came up with a neat response: soy milk, chocolate, mochi rice cake, mocha and Jameson Cask Whiskey. Small but packing quite a flavour punch!

Ichigo Ichie, as you may have heard, may be interpreted as “once in a lifetime”. “No once in a lifetime,’ said Takashi, as we left. “Come back soon.” We will. In the meantime, let us hope, his influence will be felt way beyond his Fenn’s Quay base.
Channelled wrack, carrot, burdock, shiitake, dashi = Gohanmono