Nice Birthday Lunch for a Good Friend on 27Apr2015

grilled cod

grilled cod

bought early birthday lunch for a close friend today at mikuni on 27.4.2015. ^^

they do not serve the grand tour tasting menu for lunch. for simplicity & ease i ordered the premium bento “miyabi” from the lunch set menu.

prawn crackers

prawn crackers

salad

salad

we had the usual prawn crackers to start, and for the bento, a salad, simple & quite nice.

premium bento miyabi

premium bento miyabi

sashimi - toro, salmon, hotate

sashimi – toro, salmon, hotate

the sashimi that came with the set was quite good standard – with toro, hotate & salmon.

tempura moriawase

tempura moriawase

the tempura here was quite ok standard, but not my favourite.

kagosima wagyu robatayaki

kagosima wagyu robatayaki

the kagoshima wagyu robatayaki was good, nicely marbled & tasty.

grilled cod

grilled cod

& there was a very good quality grilled cod.

simmered veg

simmered veg

the simmered veg side dish was ok to complement the lunch course & meat dishes.

unagi don

unagi don

& there was an unagi don & a clear soup.

dessert

dessert

dessert was nice.

this friend is quite busy guy & i don’t get to spend much time with him except during chinese new year. so it was a very good lunch talking about family, children, his work etc.

the food at mikuni is always pretty ok. however the premium bento “miyabi” at S$120pax (even with 50% discount to S$60pax) was to me below par.  e.g.-

the robatayaki set at S$68 here at mikuni (vs S$120) offers the same kagoshima wagyu skewer & the teppanyaki set at S$68 also offer cod, beef & golden prawns

the chirashi don at S$90 is very much superior.

likewise the S$62 chirashi don set at kuriya.

not everything is directly comparable of course…we were more interested to catch up & did not pay much attention to the menu, but they must have changed the menu as we did not get the golden prawns & bara chirashi. maybe i will write to mikuni to ask about it.

c.h.e.f andy

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A Tale of 2 Dinners Part 2 The Good Ending – A Marvellous Kaiseki Dinner @ Gettoan on 26Jan2015

excellent uni

excellent uni

after the excellent ryokan breakfast this morning, we now had cause to anticipate a nice kaiseki dinner on 26.1.2015.

kaiseki menu

kaiseki menu

this time we were not disappointed.

hence i had termed these 2 dinners on 25.1.2015 & 26.1.2015 “a tale of 2 dinners”

what a difference a menu change made.

see the sub-par dinner on 25.1.2015

with a good kaiseki dinner & breafast, Gettoan 月灯庵 did fully meet our expectations of a good ryokan.

umeshu梅酒

umeshu梅酒

for this evening, dinner started with umeshu梅酒.

excellent chawanmushi with egg & spring onions

excellent chawanmushi with egg & spring onions

excellent chawanmushi with egg & spring onions

excellent chawanmushi with egg & spring onions

the chawanmushi (茶碗蒸し) was outstanding. there was bits of minced ginger on top. the texture & flavours were exquisite. maybe i will try this at home.

superb braised wagyu & tendons

superb braised wagyu & tendons

superb braised wagyu & tendons

superb braised wagyu & tendons

superb braised wagyu & tendons

superb braised wagyu & tendons

the braised wagyu & tendons was just superb. texture was almost like gelatinous, had bite yet dissolving in the mouth, and nice mellow beefy flavours, mildly sweet. this was par excellence! ^^

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

grating own wasabi

grating own wasabi

ika

ika

fish sashimi

fish sashimi

we grated our own wasabi roots!

sashimi moriawase was nothing like last evening’s which was below those at sun with moon, or for that matter any supermarket basement sashimi picks in japan!

this time we had good serving each of uni, very sweet! ika was pretty good & the fish slices were very good too. the same lady server initially said it was swordfish, but when i mentioned it did not look remotely like kajiki, she corrected herself but we did not understand what fish it was actually. whatever, what counted was it’s good!

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

& we had an excellent tempura!

the 2 large pieces each of anago (sea or conger eel) was a large helping. the tempura batter was just great & the whole experience wonderful.^^

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

& we had a wonderful bungo wagyu 丰后和牛 shabu shabu. there were 10 large thick slices of wagyu for 2 pax, beef was well marbled and flavourful, very good indeed!

shabu shabu

shabu shabu

noodles, mushrooms, veg

noodles, mushrooms, veg

we had the usual noodles, mushrooms, vegetables.

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

i can have this again! 🙂

if we were to make a comparison with mikuni’s excellent kagoshima wagyu sukiyaki konabe, certainly what we have at Gettoan was much more marbled & better beef quality. in terms of satisfaction, mikuni’s was almost as good & a good approximation to this.

pickles

pickles

we had pickles with the gohan (rice).

cake dessert

cake dessert

dessert was ok. we did not have much interest for the butter cake. it maybe that gettoan indeed is trying to be fusion, with the foie gras tofu last evening (tonight’s chawanmushi would beat tat hands down), and these cake stuff, which some restaurants in Singapore like kuriya etc does too.

anyway, we were immensely satisfied with the kaiseki dinner this second night. ^^

c.h.e.f andy

A Tale of 2 Dinners Part 1 – Disappointing Totally Below Par Kaiseki Dinner @ Gettoan on 25Jan2015

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

we were booked for 2 nights at Gettoan ryokan 月灯庵 at yufuin 汤布院. Gettoan ryokan & its kaiseki dinners had very good reviews, and we were expecting a very good dinner on the first evening we checked into the ryokan on 25.1.2015.

it turned out to be really disappointing. i would say this dinner was below just about every ryokan dinner i had in tohoku (we visited just before the tsunami, sadly cannot go back now), and way below (say) mikuni or hachi or kuriya in singapore.

i need to add here though that the japanese breakfast the next day was excellent (& the day after too) & the shabu shabu kaiseki on our second night 26.1.2015 was just exquisite, par excellence, so i term this a tale of 2 dinners. ^^

https://chefquak.com/2015/02/08/a-tale-of-2-dinners-part-2-the-good-ending-a-marvellous-kaiseki-dinner-gettoan-on-26jan2015/

https://chefquak.com/2015/02/08/wonderful-breakfast-a-redemption-gettoan-ryokan-yufuin-kyushu-on-26-1-2015/

https://chefquak.com/2015/02/08/another-wonderful-breakfast-to-savour-gettoan-ryokan-月灯庵-yufuin汤布院-kyushu-九州-on-27jan2015/

kaiseki menu

kaiseki menu

sensai

sensai

sensai-seaweed wrapped mentaiko

sensai-seaweed wrapped minced salmon?

sensai - fish roes

sensai – fish roes

the sensai was ok, but really unexciting for this class of ryokan (i.e. very expensive ryokan). the mini kaiseki lunch at kuriya had far better sensai (前菜). and the omakase lunch at GOTO had just as good sakizuke(先附).

tofu dish with foie gras

tofu dish with foie gras

the foie gras flavoured tofu dish was a nice dish, but really average by japanese kaiseki standards, non descript really.

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

the sashimi moriawase (kampachi, tai maybe?? & hirame) was an immense let down, completely substandard. for me, even sun with moon sashimi is much better standard than this! sashimi was not sweet & was tough – a really low grade cut!

yuba pot

yuba pot

there was a egg, yuba pot with veg. i would give same assessment as the foie gras tofu…underwhelming, just like the entire dinner.

clear soup with fish

clear soup with fish

clear soup with fish

clear soup with fish

the clear soup came with a nice tasty piece of fish, maybe snapper? anyway for this dish alone, maybe one could say “normal service resumes??” but this was a non-substantial by-the-way dish in a kaiseki.

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

of course the bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧 was just excellent. like my wife said, ishiyaki is self service & they did gave a very good beef cut. in a good or at least par-for-the-course kaiseki, one expects to taste good cooking, some creativity & great matching of taste. those were non existent in this dinner!

ochazuke

ochazuke (お茶漬け)

ochazuke

ochazuke (お茶漬け)

ochazuke

ochazuke (お茶漬け)

ochazuke

ochazuke (お茶漬け)

other than the bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧, the ochazuke (お茶漬け) was the only other dish throughout the dinner that we consider of good standards. the kampachi cut was good & could be taken as sashimi or slightly poached with the rice. the yuzu miso paste was great & the dashi 上汤was just excellent! a very good dish.

deseert

deseert

the dessert was just as bad. any dessert in sun with moon would be better!

one comment on the service. the overall service of the ryokan was top notch as expected of any ryokans of this standard. we were assigned a server who spoke very good english & we were kind of expecting top level service.

but the service was really superficial! the server tried to get us to order red wine instead of sake claiming that the dishes suited wine better. i would say none of the dishes qualified at all as western or fusion & why would one take red or white wine instead of sake for a japanese dinner, they were just not very good japanese food! & it was quite blatant way to get us to spend more money. this the first & only time we encountered that in japan. even in Singapore these days, server will advise you NOT to order things you don’t need/want!

and worse, after the beef before ochazuke she asked us whether we wanted tea. we asked for ocha & was later billed 950yen! of course it was not about the money. she did not tell us it was chargeable, and the way she asked it was evident that she did not intend to reveal it was chargeable. immediately after the ochazuke, we were served another ocha, this one free. does that make any sense??

for me it was a lowly tactic suited for yesteryears, like london chinatown in the 1970s, not a top class ryokan in Japan, or for that matter any ordinary restaurants in Singapore.

fortunately for us, the ryokan redeemed itself the next few meals. we were asked again the next dinner if we wanted tea by the same server, again w/o telling us it was chargeable! some bad habits just do not go away!

c.h.e.f andy

Very Expensive Kaiseki & Way Below Expectations @ GOTO on 23Oct2014

#1 sakizuki – a selection of small appetizers

#1 sakizuke – a selection of small appetizers

we had good recent experience of GOTO’s S$68 omakase lunch on 1.10.2014.

my wife wanted to buy me a good dinner & also to invite her close couple friends. since GOTO will start renovation very shortly & remodel to a casual non kaiseki restaurant, we decided to order the S$280pax omakase dinner on 23.10.2014.

food was good of course, but relative to the exorbitant price, it was really far below expectations, compared with keyaki, kuriya, hachi & of course mikuni. 😦

#1 sakizuki – a selection of small appetizers

#1 sakizuke – a selection of small appetizers

the #1 sakizuke – a selection of small appetizers 先附 was of very good standard, with a very nice pickled sanma (秋刀鱼) pacific dory which i liked, duck, a periwinkle?, prawn, cured squid, ikura, pickled shimeji mushrooms & spinach.

#2 dobinmushi

#2 dobinmushi

#2 dobinmushi

#2 dobinmushi

#2 dobinmushi was a very good soup, very clear, tasty soup, with pieces of fish fillet, mushrooms etc.

#2 sashimi moriawase

#3 sashimi moriawase

#2 sashimi moriawase

#3 sashimi moriawase

#2 sashimi moriawase

#3 sashimi moriawase

#3 sashimi moriawase

#3 sashimi moriawase

#3 uni - sashimi moriawase

#3 uni – sashimi moriawase

the #3 sashimi moriawase was a very large serving than the usual served in a kaiseki or course meal. there were 2 chutoro, 1 botan ebi, 2 hotate, several thick cut tako, 2 kampachi, hirame & tai, & uni. it was good standard but no better, in fact the toro was distinctly poorer c/w the S$45 chirashi don (after 50% feed at raffles discounts) at mikuni.

#6 braised kinki (expensive japanese fish)

#4 braised kinki (expensive japanese fish)

#6 braised kinki (expensive japanese fish)

#4 braised kinki (expensive japanese fish)

the #4 braised kinki (expensive japanese fish) was a good tasty fish but to me it tasted like angkoli (red snapper), so i didn’t really understand why it was expensive. this was a nitsuke or simmered dish.

#5 minced prawn in lily bulb paste

#5 minced prawn in lily bulb + yan paste

the #5 minced prawn in lily bulb paste was an interesting, unique dish. the lily bulb + mountain yam paste had the slightly sticky yam texture, and the dish was very tasty overall. 🙂

#6 miso ebi tempura

#6 miso ebi tempura

#6 miso ebi tempura

#6 miso ebi tempura

as with the S$68 lunch, they served a dry miso tempura. it was very nice. 🙂

#8 kagoshima wagyu

#7 kagoshima wagyu

#8 kagoshima wagyu

#7 kagoshima wagyu

#7 kagoshima wagyu was very good, but the better marbled much tastier kagoshima wagyu ishiyaki at mikuni only cost S$37.50 alacarte after 50% discounts.

#9 gohan - chicken shimeji musroom rice

#8 gohan – chicken shimeji mushroom rice

#9 gohan - chicken shimeji musroom rice

#8 gohan – chicken shimeji mushroom rice

the #8 gohan – chicken shimeji mushroom rice had good mushroom flavours but otherwise no comparison with any kamameshi at sun with moon wheelock or a unagi chahan at zen japanese.

#10 dessert tray

#9 dessert tray

#10 dessert tray

#9 dessert tray

they offered very good dessert – very good japanese melon + grapes. yuzu ice cream, orange jelly & strawberry mousse.

macha - nice end to dinner

macha – nice end to dinner

& i always enjoyed macha.

the kaiseki dinner was very good standard, but for me price was far too exorbitant relative to other good kaiseki restaurants & it was not at all value-for-money.  one could get a very good omakase dinner at hachi for S$118pax. and at this price i would want to try kumo anytime.

c.h.e.f andy

Excellent Omakase @ Hachi on 9Nov2013

excellent kobachi (小钵) -amuse bouche

excellent kobachi (小钵) -amuse bouche

we had an immensely satisfying omakase dinner for 3pax at hachi on 9.11.2013. 🙂

omakase is like a chef’s table. there is no menu & the chef dishes out the freshest ingredients of the day. generally it is done like a kaiseki course dinner. at hachi we were served a 12-course autumn-theme dinner. the restaurant asked whether we had diet restrictions, as was customary. we of course ate anything & everything..haha. 🙂

the first dish was an excellent kobachi like an amuse bouche. i can’t really remember what it was except for the slice of japanese persimon sticking out. 🙂

sensai (前菜) platter - tofu, ginko nuts, a momiji (maple) flour cake. chestnut etc

sensai (前菜) platter – tofu, ginko nuts, a momiji (maple) flour cake. chestnut etc

sashimi moriawase (shima aji, hirame, hotate, kampachi)

sashimi moriawase (shima aji, hirame, hotate, kampachi)

oyster

raw oyster

sensai (前菜) platter was lovely – tofu, ginko nuts, chestnut & a momiji (maple) flour cake etc befitting the occasion.

next was a dobin mushi (teapot soup) which was simple & nice. didn’t take a photo though!

the sashimi moriawase consisting of shima aji, hirame, hotate, kampachi was excellent, very fresh & sweet. 🙂

we also had a very large plump juicy oyster. very good indeed!

hamachi kama (fish cheeks)

hamachi kama (fish cheeks)

steamed crabmeat, tofu, seaweed, melon dish

simmered crabmeat, tofu, seaweed, melon dish

ohmi wagyu rare

ohmi wagyu rare

hokkaido tomatoes

hokkaido tomatoes

light noodles with tempura batter

light noodles with tempura batter

next up was the hamachi kama (fish cheeks). this was among the best for this evening. i don’t order kama at japanese restaurants because it is usually quite a large helping & not everyone likes it. for this evening though it was excellent, 1 of the best kama i had, very well marinated, sweet (not too sweet) & tasty. we all liked it. 🙂

next was a simmered dish of crabmeat, tofu, seaweed, melon etc, delicate & tasty.

following that we were served ohmi wagyu (ohmi is 1 of the top 3 kuroge wagyu after matsuzaka & kobe) – the highlight of the evening. it was very flavourful & a nice rare. after that we had hokkaido tomatoes. they were super, sweet & refreshing. these are now served in many restaurants in Hong Kong & Singapore & xiyan served them as a starter dish in their rather expensive course meals.

to round off the meal, we had, in place of the usual gohan set (rice & pickles), a light noodle with some tempura batter. it was very satisfying.  after that we had a nice macha ice cream. 🙂

the price of the omakase was S$118pax. it was very good in quality of cooking & ingredients & also quantity. it was certainly a much better deal c/w the S$138pax kaiseki at kuriya dining & the S$170pax kaiseki at keyaki. c/w mikuni at 50% FAR discounts and Andy’s kaiseki (in jest only la! haha), mikuni was still the better deal. still hachi was an excellent alternative for good japanese kaiseki. will certainly be back. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Kaiseki Dinner @ Kuriya Dining on 4Jun2013

scallop with truffle,anago,miso prawn,lily bulb & cucumber

scallop with truffle,anago,miso prawn,lily bulb & cucumber

see also the superb november lunch kaiseki on 16.11.2013.

wife & I went for the June kaiseki course dinner at Kuriya Dining. 🙂

the starter platter include scallop with truffle which was good, conger eel (anago) also good, miso prawn (nondescript), lily bulb & cucumber (to make up numbers???). overall a rather average starter.

hamachi,tai wrapped over negi toro topped with caviar,mirugai

hamachi,tai wrapped over negi toro topped with caviar,mirugai

the sashimi plate consisted of very thick-cut hamachi, tai wrapped over negi toro topped with caviar, and the mirugai was tiny but very sweet – not expensive ingredients but the cut was good. 🙂

grilled salmon with foie gras sauce & miso & french pastry

foie gras & miso on grilled salmon with french pastry

the next dish was grilled salmon with foie gras sauce & miso & french pastry – nice dish. 🙂 not sure if its some attempt at fusion?? now the Japs have added to their kaiseki & course meals some western touch eg the very nice teppanyaki course at Gozanbo. 🙂

awabi (abalone) & nori (seaweed) tempura

awabi (abalone) & nori (seaweed) tempura

the awabi (abalone) was excellent – it was braised first to a tender texture then deep-fried in tempura batter. 🙂 & the nori (seaweed) tempura underneath & ginger were very nicely done too…

DSCN5316 DSCN5315

the nabe dish was tuna neck (sashimi quality) – nice & I enjoyed it. 🙂 but miso kimchi soup was not quite the best matching dish for kaiseki. 🙂

very marbled otoro topped with uni

very marbled otoro topped with uni

the sushi moriawase was superb! it had this very marbled otoro topped with uni – scrumptious! 🙂

DSCN5318 DSCN5317

the akagai was very good & so were the 2 other fish I did not identify. 🙂

fruit & cake dessert

fruit & cake dessert

the fruit with cake dessert platter was quite nondescript…another feeble attempt at fusion?? 🙂

Kuriya Dining June Kaiseki Course

Kuriya Dining June Kaiseki Course

at S$138pax, it’s among the cheaper kaiseki, a bit more ex than Hachi*, but cheaper than Keyaki or Kumo, but then the ingredients were cheaper too, no Jap wagyu in the set.

overall a very satisfying dinner even at this price. 🙂

unless Kuriya bring back their much more value offerings like their monthly S$88 promotion set, I won’t be doing this often though as I can get a lot more value-for-money & really top quality offerings at Mikuni. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

* i had an excellent meal subsequently at hachi on 9.11.2013.

Asahi Sushi Shinjuku Sumitomo 50F Course Dinner on 9Apr2013

Kinki - a fatty Japanese delicacy

Kinki – a fatty Japanese delicacy

arrived Tokyo on 9apr2013.

had dinner arranged with my daughter & JH. they were already travelling Japan. decided to book a course dinner in a comfortable environment & easy to locate place, so booked Asahi Sushi at 50F, Shinjuku Sumitomo Building. They had a few course menu promotions for the month & great views up there. 🙂

DSCN4166 DSCN4169 DSCN4176

JH & I had the 7-course with kuroge wagyu beef dinner. My daughter had a 10-item sushi moriwase set.

for the course dinner, we also had a small veg salad with mayo otoshi. The 7 courses were-

  1. hokkaido crab claw with unagi & vinegared pickles (below photo left)
  2. maguro & tai sashimi (above photo middle)
  3. chawanmushi (above photo right)
  4. kinki (japanese delicacy & chef’s favourite here)
  5. kuroge wagyu grilled
  6. 8-item sushi moriwase
  7. miso soup

DSCN4168 DSCN4172

the veg salad, chawanmushi & miso soup were non-events. the crab & unagi vinegared dish was very tasty. the sashimi were very average even for Singapore.

the kinki was fabulous. this very sweet tasting fatty fish is like between a cod (not as fatty) & chilean seabass (the latter is my perennial favourite). super! 🙂

kuroge wagyu (黑毛和牛) rare

kuroge wagyu (黑毛和牛) rare

the kuroge wagyu was good I guess but kind of underwhelming. I always felt Japanese wagyu were so good they were best eaten teppanyaki or yakiniku style rather than western fine dining style. When Andre Chiang was at Jaan years back, we use to frequent there a bit more. he had this kagoshima wagyu done in this Gordon Ramsay style similar to what’s done here in the above photo. It was good of course but I would much rather have it sizzling hot & with the freshly seared aburi marbling flavour. 🙂

DSCN4170

10-piece sushi platter

my daughter was not too impressed with her sushi platter (above photo). It had anago, 2 pieces maki, hamachi? (not sure), ikura (these were small & I much preferred the large ones so maybe it was not ikura), tai, aji, prawn, hotate, maguro uni & akamai (lean toro). after I later tried the very good quality sushi at Daikokuya 大黑屋 kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi, I had to agree with her that you could get equal or better quality sushi at much lower price but of course ambience and view was a world apart. 🙂

her set also included the vinegared crab dish & miso soup.

8-items sushi moriwase

8-items sushi moriwase

for the course dinner, we had a 8-item sushi platter-maguro, saba, akamai, hotate, amaebi, uni, ikura (small ones) & anago. It was good but same observations as my daughter. 🙂

DSCN4178 DSCN4177

was the dinner worth it? my daughter’s set cost 2730yen=S$30++. good kaiten sushi not withstanding, S$30++ for a plump, succulent, sweet hokkaido crab claw + 10 piece sushi including akamai, uni, anago, ikura, hotate would  really be nothing to complain about in Singapore.

the 7-course dinner cost 6090yen=S$67++.  here with kinki & kuroge wagyu thrown in, I would say it was still a very good set c/w say Kuriya Dining which offer very good monthly S$88++ set but my usual eat at Mikuni would beat this hands down in terms of overall satisfaction if not value of ingredients. 🙂

& that was before factoring in the free view of Shinjuku night skyline, privacy & quiet ambience.

c.h.e.f andy