This is a crazy luxurious dish, containing some of my most favourite seafood in the world, and cream and butter. I've had uni sauce for pasta before, mostly in fancy restaurants and the like, but not to this degree at home. Well, ok, we did attempt an uni cream sauce once, with actual fresh uni, but this dish, this dish nails it just so. Just the right amounts of cream and uni and other goodness (mentaiko was definitely the key) to turn something fantastic into something orgasmic.
Ok, I’ll admit it, Wakuriya only hit our radar after it received its first Michelin star. I have a horrible fault of usually turning a blind eye (with a few exceptions) to anything south of San Francisco, preferring to focus on wine country or Oakland/ Berkeley instead. DD had tried to get reservations before, but had called too late for a birthday dinner.
We wish we had gotten to Wakuriya sooner. I’d go every month if we could.
DD and I visited New York in December of 2009. He was there for work, I was there to tag along, partially working remotely as well. We also turned the trip into a bar-hopping and salacious dining extravaganza. During our 5 days there, we managed to sample 3 of David Chang’s eateries: Momofuku Ssam Bar, Noodle Bar, and Milk Bar, though I have to admit that the visit to Milk Bar was just a cursory walk-through - we had been lunching at the Ssam Bar next door, and could not pass up a visit to peek at sweets. I don’t much recall what we had at Milk Bar if anything as I was too full from our decadent lunch.
Sushi Kazu has got to be one of the more underrated sushi-yas in the tightly packed and well-curated commercial area that is the best part of my neighborhood in the Inner Sunset. Restaurants and shoppes are thickest between 6th and 10th on Irving, and in that radius there are no less than five sushi restaurants, and further down on Irving and 15th, there are exactly three Japanese restaurants (not necessarily sushi, though) located within one block.
We knew we were going to have very limited time in Vancouver. 3 full days, most of which would be taken up by family gatherings (Chinese Banquets, a wedding, a wedding-related cocktail and hors’d’ouevres afternoon)... DD had mapped out a strategy of how to make the most of our time in Vancouver/ Richmond, food-wise, and that was to target the best items or dishes that specifically typified “Vancouver” -- that which we may not be able to get anywhere else. Needless to say, Japadog was in our sights.
Somewhere around the fall of last year, I went on a Japanese cooking jag, inspired by and anticipating our upcoming trip to Japan. We were taking Japanese language courses and I was shopping at Nijiya, weekly. The Japantown neighborhood suddenly became familiar, where it hadn’t before. My mania for Japanese cooking reached somewhat of a turning point when I took a Japanese Kaiseki cooking workshop through the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California in December, and cooked up a multi-course Japanese holiday dinner.
In the dark, walking on the sidewalk towards the restaurant, it can be easy to miss Halu's door, if not for the small bench outside, groups of folks milling about, the shoji screens covering up part of the windows, and the numerous items plastered on the door and windows - most are old concert flyers and menu pages, advertising the bill of fare; others are clearly warning notices - unless you're truly, awfully oblivious - you'd see that Halu definitely does not serve any sushi in any form, nohow, nowhere. "No Sushi Today (or Tomorrow)," the signs proclaim; and "Sushi Free Zone" just for good measure.
Halu's popularity a good sign that the lack of sushi is clearly not a problem.
The Asian recipe for this week is Tonjiru - or, Japanese pork and miso soup with root vegetables. I've made it a couple of times and love its ease, tastiness and generally healthy (are pork belly and "healthy" allowed in the same context?) contents. I also like this soup since it's so flexible, and you can add or subtract ingredients to your liking and taste. For instance, the version below uses sato imo, or taro root instead of potatoes, and omits goubou (burdock root). Instead of just using Akamiso (red miso), add a little of the sweeter Shiromiso (white miso) for balance. Also, the amounts below are estimates, so please adjust as necessary. The rest of the meal included nanohana no karashi, or broccoli rabe/ rape flower with mustard dressing, rice of course, and pickles.
We should have asked. We had noticed the young man standing by the sidewalk – not so much in the middle of the walkway, but on the edge, somewhat nonchalantly, looking around – crisp cream shirt, black trousers. He stood in front of a quiet, understated entrance whose signage we did not initially see; we also didn’t want to gawk and only glanced in its direction (we thought it could have been someone's residence). We should have just asked, “Sumimasen, Kichisen wa, dochira desu ka?” (Excuse me, where is Kichisen, please?)
It took us an hour by Kyoto's city bus to get to Kichisen on the other side of the city, approximately the same time estimated by Google walking directions. It’s a good thing that we left the Shunkoin Guest House with plenty of time.
Kichisen was our first truly fancy meal of the trip, selected because of Michelin, recommendations and accounts by Kyoto Foodie, and some research on Chowhound.
How can a dish with no sugar in it be such a stunningly tasty dessert? We fell in love with a number of things while in Japan, one of them being a fantastic dish called Goma-dofu, or sesame dofu. It had a creamy, savory-nutty sweetness that was terribly addictive. Note that it’s not actually soy-based tofu though; it’s made of ground sesame seeds and kuzu starch, and makes for a great vegan dish. Kuzu (or Kudzu) is a perennial ornamental vine that’s a member of the pea family, and originally hails from Asia where its root starch is used primarily as a thickener for soups, stews, and sauces. In Japan it’s used in both savory and sweet treatments.
We ate a number of tasty goma dofu dishes while we were in Japan, and before we had even returned to the states I vowed that I would try to replicate it at home.