This month omakase certainly went off tangent compared to last month's one. So without further ado...
Starter dish: Chilled beancurd with red bean, Chilled Plum & Salt-Boiled Long Beans
Continuing on the theme of the chilled beancurd, this one was embedded with bits of red bean. The texture was not very easy to distinguish in the beginning because the inside of the bean probably mirrors the texture of the bean curd while the skin of the bean flap around my mouth. I eventually was able to detect slight differences in the texture and the taste of the bean and those of the bean curd. Not an instant hit or surprise, but a genuine experience, nonetheless.
Digging into the ice revealed something fruity --- a semi-pickled sweet plum. I probably should have saved this for last but eating this one. It did taste slightly soury, but was more puckishly sweet than anything else.
The only let down was probably the salt-boiled long beans, not only did you have to take them out of their pods to eat them, but they tasted no better than the edemame beans that was served when I dined here with Lemongrass.
Soup: Clear Broth with Prawn Dumpling & Water Shield
One long string of cucumber, a prawn dumpling and water shields floating around in the broth. Somehow, this photo I took makes it resemble the sinking titanic that just went under the water (cucumber), next to the iceberg (prawn dumpling) with corpses (water shields) floating around. Wonder which one is Kate Winslett and Leonardo Dicaprio. I have a horrible imagination, if you ask me.
The long stripe of cucumber probably acts like a piece of noodle or pasta, soaking in the broth the same was the prawn dumpling acted as a sponge. Eating the water shields for the first time without the vinegar dressing, I realized for the first time that their surface was as slippery as the vinegared ones I had last month, with a bitey inside all the same. A pleasant discovery for me.
Sashimi: Toro, Pen Shell, Young SeaBass & Amberjack
To be very honest, I can't tell the difference in the taste of the Young SeaBas or the Amberjack, no matter which I took first (note to self: must taste more seabass and amberjack). The only saving grace was probably the texture, the young SeaBass was very tender given the thickness of the slice, it really melts in your mouth like a good Toro should; while the thinly sliced amberjack revealed hints of pinkiness and biteyness all rolled up in one package.
The pen shell is probably the surprise package on this dish, it really is a type of sea shell, yet the meat does not resemble abalone, la-la, clams or anything. It even has a covering resembling skin and the meat was scored along several places, making it very very chewy and improving the overall texture of the meat. The Toro being the toro as per usual, is even more reddish this time around, my only complain would be that the meat wasn't sliced as clean as the last few ones. I really missed grilling Chef Ricky (maybe I should just call him Kusuo) on these details.
Steamed dish: Simmered Dried Bean Curd, Pumpkin, Prawn, Eggplant and Okra
So little sauce!?
Actually the sponge of a dried bean curd sucked up just about every drop of juice left in the bowl. In doing so, it dried up most of the other pieces, overall, a very dry dish instead of a wet one. The eggplant and pumpkin were juicy enough, while the okra was springy and prawn was full of bite. A pity that the dried bean curd didn't suck up the flavours of the pumpkin and eggplant as I found it a bit bland more than mellowy.
Grilled dish: Grilled Sweet Fish with Salt, Wagyu Beef & assorted hors d'oeuvre
The infamous Wagyu beef makes a return to the kaiseki menu, so we definitely have to try it. Grilled in miso paste, the beef was savorily wonderful from the first bite to the last. Even the hors d'oeuvres that accompanied the fish could have done double duty to compliment the excellent Wagyu beef. Compared to the MIGF dish, this one is probably running a distant second, thank in no way to the sweet fish.
For one thing, either the grilling wasn't perfect or someone drizzled too much salt onto the fins and tail, making them taste saltier than the rest of the fish which was just perfect. The brittle bone added some great crunch to the dish but the rest of the bones lodged within the fish was a pain to eat, even with the excellent and fruity plum sauce as a dip. To demonstrate my idiocy, I ate the fish, head first.
The hors d'ouevre were excellent as always, yam balls, potatoes, shallot stick in miso paste (this one turned out to be more astringent than the last one), and thin slices of melon covered in a miso-based sauce.
Fried dish: Deep Fried Mantis Shrimp & Japanese Fig with Plum Salt
Brilliant, simply brilliant. One could easily mistake the mantis shrimp for tiger prawn except that this one turns out to be tender while tiger prawns are bitier. Plenty of meat to savour and chew. A bit of plum salt goes a long way towards enhancing this nice dish.
Same too for the Japanese figs, the tempera coating just retains enough of the moisture and sugar in the fruits to make it taste melty as if it was baked in an oven instead of deep fried in tempera batter. My favourite dish on the menu.
Main Course: Chirashi Sushi and Miso Soup
Having taken the Nigiri sushi the last time with Lemongrass, I have opted for the Chirashi Sushi this time for a variety.
Chirashi Sushi is available in most Sushi bars, but the sushis are not served in bite size portions but instead resemble the atypical chinese mixed rice to speed up the preparation of the dish. As usual, Japanese presentation always outclass Chinese in most dishes.
Since the rice is hiding at the bottom of the bowl, it was the usual dig and eat method that I employ, since I always hate my rice not clumping together. Definitely not a problem when it comes to Japanese rice. I had egg slices, mushrooms, pickles, a tiny clump of wasabi that I was tempted to just throw in my mouth, prawns, Toro, Sea Bream, two different kinds of white fish, a pickled-pink garlic clove, and plenty of seaweed. Being an adventurous sort, I managed to down the bamboo leaves accidentally. Hidden between the rice and meat were thin stripes of seaweeds.
The miso soup tasted the same as always. Nothing to blow me away yet.
Dessert: Black Sesame Pudding & Sliced Fresh Fruits
When I start pining for dessert, you know better than to deny me my Gordiva satisfaction. Iketeru's dessert aren't the best in the world, but rest assure that they are my lowest baseline. If they can't satisfy me, nothing else that ranks higher than them will.
Of the two, I will just gush about the black sesame pudding. I will even say: "Scr*w Hagen Dasz", this wobbly-runny pudding is probably the only way we Asians should have our dessert. Wobbly soft, yet firm enough not to yield at the slightest touch from our spoon, this thing tasted of black sesame in a bang. If the universe ever started with a big bang in your mouth, this one is it.
The strawberries were probably the most curious pieces here. A bit mellow, yet tangy enough to stand out from the pudding: just not that good a fit. Better to just serve it with more cream, the lightness of it with the thickness of the pudding is the better combination. Definitely the second best dish of the night.
After the meal was over, I was a bit inconsolable to find that Chef Kusuo was busy dealing with VIPS (which explains the red carpet leading to Iketeru when I was leaving, I didn't notice if it was there when I first arrived), maybe the Japanese diplomatic corp. Nevertheless, on to the next Omakase.
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