Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ebi no Hige 海老の髭 - from Niigata, Japan.

 Niigata is quite famous for their rice grains,  therefore sake and their very clean and sustainable seafood.  I have fond memories of visiting there during work,  and their 30 year old oysters are really memorable from the Northern coasts when they are to be sliced up with a knife for eating as they can be as long as 20-30cm in length.   This shop is originally from Niigata and opened up in Hong Kong as an expanded shop.   I was invited along others during its new opening.   Wouldn’t say everything really wowed me for now,  but it was okay in terms of being unique with the recipes,  the rice and sake part definitely tried to do the part here as expected ...  



Japanese Chef from Niigata chain of Ebi no Hige -
Pretty concentrated on his work,  delicate hands and plating

Sushi of Tuna Akami Zuke,  Sea Urchin,  Ikura with Oroshi -
  The sushi pieces were more on the savory side,  especially the Ikura salmon roes and the tsuke on the tuna,  which didn’t need extra nikiri or soy sauce.   Not a bad start but I guess overall it was a bit more powerful in design,  the rice shari was surprisingly not that sticky for Koshihikari rice grains.   ~ 7/10



Prawns with Chawan-Mushi -
Really plump indeed.  Overall this was smooth,  but could do with some more herbs being mixed in to elevate it to another level.   Loved the crunchy prawns though.. The steamed eggs has ginko nuts and meat and seafood inside,   despite the lack of any mitsuba herbs it was smoothly flavourful.  ~ 8/10




A Variety of Sake Pairings,  from Niigata Prefecture -
You honestly can’t fault any of them but if I had to pick,  the Nechi was more wine like in sophistication.  I also like the smooth sweetness of the one on the extreme ‘left’,   which paired the best with many following dishes especially when the water quality was amazingly crisp.



のっぺり 能平汁. Basically a Niigata version of 筑前 Chikuzenni,
but also with Ikura Salmon Roes and served cold – $58
This was such a homey dish,  and although served cold,  was sliced evenly and appreciated although the usual versions are warmer so it’s up to you to order or not..   ~ 7/10




Steamed Prawn Dumpling Soup -
Milky yet bouncy.  Somehow expected more layering within the soup,  like a tinge of yuzu zest or more bonito flavour.  As it was it’s a bit one dimensional.  ~ 6/10 


Murakami Village ‘Shiobiki’ Dried Salmon,  from North West Niigata -
This is dried for 1 year.  Dipped into the sake to soften it up and becomes such a great umami snack.  Actually I have reason to believe this recipe could be derived from Hokkaido,  because Hokkaido carries a similar dish Sake-Toba,  and even during the BC period in the Jomon era,  salmon and bear hunters in Hokkaido were already establishing trades with Niigata.  And hence both places also have large Ice houses to preserve food for throughout the years..  Just extrapolating from what I studied or heard.  ~ 9/10



Sashimi of Ikijime Hamachi,  Blue Fin Tuna Toro,   Nanban Ebi Prawn and Tai Sea Bream -
The quality was good but the chu-toro instantly stood out for the flavour.  Also note the overall presentation and composition of this was very macro thoughtful,  the sashimi even resting on ice underneath  ~ 8/10


Grilled Vegetables with Cucumber,  Pumpkin,  Tomatoes,  Aka Kabu Daikon,  Asparagus,  etc. 

The crudites mix was enviable,  but it was the two types of koji’s dips which elevated this salad dish,  in an unexpected way.  One Koji dip had Mayonnaise combined and worked with the lighter vegetables,  the other was rice Koji with Miso which was heavier but not too salty.  I always think that anything with koji has a slight ‘zinc’ taste to it,  which is interesting..   ~ 8/10






Tempura Dish -
This was overall good but predictable.  It’s always part of the Tasting package,  at least they had a Fried Shishito pepper for color contrast.  Needed more daikon oroshi for me however.   ~ 7.5/10





Fried Thick Tofu - 栃尾ジャンボ油揚げの炙り焼き $78
Originally part of a kitsune soba/udon add on,  the version here was frozen 1st to make the tofu inflate to a thicker state before frying.  Much like Koya Tofu and similar in Taiwan and China.  A Nagaoka city specialty which is worth coming back for,  the crispy external and porous interior is something I miss from eating in that region.   ~ 8/10





Grilled Akamutsu/Nodoguro with Hajikami Ginger のど黒塩焼き – $268 each
Presented here are both the fish necks and the fillet parts,  2 versions with pickled gingers as expected.  Really fatty indeed and I tried both parts,  and surprisingly the head and neck is smoother,  but the fillet is very oily during this time of the year so I will opt for it as it was very satisfying with oil leaking down your lips..  ~  8/10




Kinmedai Fish cooked in Soy Based Sauce and Veggies -
This was done reasonable,  even if it didn’t spring any surprises.  I like the goubou burdock and carrot on the side,  but somehow I expected slightly more sauce and once again complexity in layering.   But overall this was also flavourful.   I have had better elsewhere consistently..  ~ 7/10 




黄金豚ロースの溶岩焼き Golden Pork Sirloin – $158
The aged pork taste was good,  but I think it needs more grilling caramelization to bring out its full flavours and aroma.  I am starting to see more and more Japanese chefs doing low-temperature cooking to preserve flavours,  but this is Hong Kong and a lot of ingredients seem to need more provocative style of cooking to coax out their flavour?  Rather than aiming to retain the subtleness like cooking on Japan side.   I am sure the pork and beef usually do taste better in Japan,  that bit is quite obvious   ~ 6.5/10





A5 Kagoshima Wagyu Ribeye Beef on Lava Rock -  $368 / 100g
This cooked pretty instantly,  surprisingly it was over within 15 seconds.  The wagyu beef flavour was better than expected,  it actually reminds me of Okinawan wagyu in that robust flavour and crispy fat layering..    - 8.5/10




Mentaiko,  Salmon Harasu Belly, Ikura Roes -
Eaten Ocha Zuke style after trying out the Koshihikari rice plain by itself already.




Sakura Ebi Prawns with Niigata Koshihikari rice 桜海老の釜戸炊き土鍋御飯 -
The Sakura ebi could be more toasted to release more aroma,  and it probably needed more of them.   I have had better versions elsewhere so that’s why we could compare..  ~ 6/10




Followed by Green Tea anything is always good - 
No one will protest about such a dessert as a finish.  However I expected something a bit more local Niigata special somehow.  Overall the prices here are decent and I like how there are some local specialty dishes.  Will have to come back soon to judge further!   Thanks for inviting us to get a preview.  





Price:  $780 Dinner + 10% for Tasting Menu,  Around $350-500 A La Carte plus ( This Meal was by Invitation by the Restaurant)
Food:   ♕♕♕ 1/2 – ♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Address:  銅鑼灣霎東街15號12樓
15th Floor,  Franck Muller Building,  12 Sharp Street East
Ph:  2155 4186

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