Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ginsai 吟彩 - Sakura Blossom Meal & Crabs

 Ginsai is 1 of 3 recently opened Japanese restaurants found adjacent to each separate shop,  with each restaurant in the Dining Group strategically designed to cater to different Japanese food concepts.   The Higher end restaurant Wagyu Takumi received instant Michelin 2* status within only months of opening,   over-taking Central’s sister restaurant Wagyu Kaiseki Den’s Michelin 1*.   Their sushi restaurant Rozan next door didn’t receive any stars in this bout,  although many sushi connoisseurs compare it directly to their experience at Sushi Shikon (Michelin 3*).   Ginsai 吟彩 in the mean time,  was originally designed to be a more relaxed Japanese food and sake place,  but their recruitment of a new energetic Japanese Chef Ogawa 小川賢 is turning things up a notch here.   Their Spring Sakura Menu was definitely impressive and one of the best Japanese meals I ate in Hong Kong,  their Seasonal Crab Courses also decent.



GinSai  吟彩-
The original menu focus was more on casual Japanese food.  On this visit,  their newly recruited new Japanese Chef Ogawa seems more keen,  to show us his Kyoto Kaiseki style training.




Upstairs Private Rooms -



Oden  [おでん] – 5 Items for $80
This is one of only 2 restaurants with a dedicated Oden counter in Hong Kong.   The other one is at the Hotel Nikko’s Buffet restaurant.    The base dashi stock here was lighter but elegant,  the Oden items cooked precisely before serving to customers.  A little lighter flavoured than the normal bolder oden versions you eat after drinking too much...    ~  7/10



Cold Taraba Crab Shabu Shabu with Sakura – [ 鱈場蟹冷しゃぶしゃぶ]
   Pretty and tasted equally appetizing as a Spring dish,  that is Kyoto Kaiseki style like.  This dish was performing at above the usual Ginsai standard,  after the arrival of New Chef Ogawa and their intention to bring in Seasonal Tasting Menus.   ~  9/10



Taraba Crab in Steamed Egg Chawan Mushi – [ 鱈場蟹蟹茶碗蒸し ]
Done well with a sophisticated and viscous-thick dashi that was almost ankake like,  with fresh crab meat and kinome peppery leaf.   Egg custard was so smooth,  but not sure if it was intentional to take away some gingko underneath   8/10

Braised Octopus with Sakura & Kinome leaves,  Wild Plants of Spring Bamboo Shoots and Fiddlehead Fern -   [ 蛸の桜煮 山菜の玉味噌和え ]
The mustardy white miso base,  was perfect with the crunchy bamboo shoots,  and this was so Kaiseki in style again,   as it carried all the right micro-tuning combination of Mountain Spring Vegetables and herbs from Japan.  The Octopus tentacles were almost crunchy.  Great Spring dish.  ~  9/10


Charcoal Grilled Taraba Crab Legs – [ 炭焼き鱈場蟹腳 ]
Thick thick legs,  the crab was quite sweet.   But from previous Japan experiences of this dish especially in Osaka,  the outer shell can be more grilled even more aromatic to bring out the best experience possible.  ~  7/10



Tempura Course 
Zuwai Crab Claw with Miso,  Crab Claw topped with Sea Urchin,  Shiso-wrapped Crab Mince,  and Vegetable  - [ 雲丹ずわい蟹爪,  蟹真丈紫蘇包み、ずわい蟹味噌、野菜 ]
The 3 items were all fried decently and micro-tuned with different elements to be quite sophisticated.  Such Tempura crab courses are difficult to find in Hong Kong context.    ~  8/10



Sauces and Salts with Lemon Wedges -
Comes with Curry Salt,  Sea Salt,  Lemon,  and Oroshi and Spiced Oroshi in Tempura dip.  Often taken for granted,  the offering of the whole range is as is expected in Japan.


Sakura Trout in White Miso Soup - 桜鱒の白味噌仕立
Balanced and Sweet Flavorful,  the Sakura Trout fish is a must eat item during Spring-Sakura season in Japan.   (Although it is actually a type of salmon).   Cooked perfectly to tender even inside.  The whole soup was white cloudy and flavorful,  and served neatly in presentation.  Attention to details here were definitely spotted.    ~ 9/10

Sakura Dai & Tuna Toro -  [造里  桜鯛の薄造り 鮪トロ]
Another combination that is always eating during Sakura period.  The fishes are decent but what I liked more was the side of Minced Plum, also the Calamansi lime.  Remember that prior to Sakura Hanami,  Japan was more popular with Plum Apricot Hanami for many years..  It all fits in.   ~  7.5/10


Kinki Grilled with Diced Sakura Leaves – [ キンキの桜葉焼 ]
This was slightly marinated in white miso,  and therefore comes with a Hajikami ginger pickle as the norm.  I absolutely loved the seasoning of this,  it was spot-on,  subtle enough to counter the creaminess of the fish yet not overly sweetened.  Exactly how I would like this dish done..   ~  9/10



Hairy Crab with Tosa Vinegar Jelly & Wakame Seaweed -  [ 毛蟹、若布、土佐酢ゼリー ]
This was another really good dish.  The photo quality doesn’t do this dish justice,  since the room was filled with absurd amounts of yellow lighting.    The meat was sweet and the jelly was vinegary and almost carried some rice wine taste.   ~  10/10

Taraba Crab Hot Pot – [ 鱈場かに鍋 ] 
The base stock was light.  Somebody mentioned this was too light.   I developed a feeling that the base dashi broth was adjusted to suit the taste of the produce tonight.  This concept is so part of real Japanese dining.  It is micro-tuned to bring out the best balance at any time?   ~  7/10



Crab Zosui Congee - [ 蟹雑炊 ]
Mixed with poached egg.  The base broth was sweet but not too powerful,  some of us think this dish can be even stronger in Crab essence taste.  ~  7/10

Steamed Amadai Sea Bream with Sakura Leaf,  Crispy Rice Puffs,  Grated Ume, 
Wasabi, Sticky Rice -  [ 煮物 甘鯛の桜蒸し ]
This is a really traditional Kyoto Kaiseki dish.  Here it was done with flying colours.  The Amadai fish was cooked just right and the Sakura leaf made it so representing the Spring time.  Sticky rice beneath with that thickened starchy sauce was well lubricated but not too thickish.   ~  9/10 

Fried Sakura Ebi Prawns on Rice – [ 桜海老御飯 ]
The Sakura Prawns here are sourced as extra-large and toasted prior to serving.  The ones that got steamed together with the rice,  will release flavours but became soft.  The restaurant therefore provides a separate plate of Fried Sakura Prawns to give it the crispier texture when you sprinkle more on top.   That aroma and the rice,  it was out of this world amazing!   ~  9/10


Red Miso Soup with Pickles - 赤味噌汁、漬物
The red miso beans paste soup carried depth,  with pieces of silken tofu inside the bowl.  It is definitely one of the more thoughtful versions in town.   ~  8/10



Matcha Roll Cake with Yuzu Sorbet -
The matcha roll was decent,  but the Yuzu sorbet was powerful and made from real Yuzu juice.  ~  7.5/10

Sakura Panna Cotta with Lemon Jelly and Cream -
The base Panna Cotta was quite floral initially,  but it got sweeter,  so the Lemon Jelly comes into the rescue!   Looked so pretty enough.   ~  8/10


Assortment of Ice Creams made In-House -
Chestnut and Yuzu got my top votes.  The vanilla was also very aromatic but a bit hard icy tonight.  The Matcha green tea scoop was also decent,  but it can embrace more Matcha taste within.   ~  8/10




Price:  $780 for Sakura Course to $880 for Crab Course + 10%  (Meal was by Invitation per Ginsai Restaurant)
Food:   ♕♕♕♕♕

Ease of Access:  2/5
Address:  灣仔交加里32-38號
32-38 Cross Lane,  Wanchai,  Hong Kong

Ph: 2574 1118

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