My Top 10 Dishes of 2016

Okay, as promised here’s the top 10 dishes of 2016. This list does not consider what was listed previously as part of the 10 best meals of 2016. I’m not gonna rank it, so this is just alphabetical by restaurant name. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this list!

01-Biblioteka-tongue

Veal Tongue: Bibliotēka №1, Rīga, Latvia (16 June 2016) — The best dish of an excellent tasting menu, came close to getting into the 10 best meal list. I love tongue, and when done right it’s amazing…and this was perfect, cooked slowly in butter. Oh my, the flavour… Best restaurant in Latvia, hands down!

02-Black Market-Tongue

Grilled Tongue: Black Market, Indianapolis, Indiana (17 November 2016) — Hard to pin one dish down as everything I’ve eaten at this place in my 2 visits this year have been amazing. The tongue on the 2nd trip was just a tad better. I don’t want to have one place listed multiple times on this list, so this will have to do! Best restaurant in the Midwest! Awesome food, awesome drinks, awesome staff!

03-Cobble Hill-sturgeon

Smoked Sturgeon: Cobble Hill, Cedar Rapids, Iowa (23 July 2016) — Another of my favourite fish done in a wonderful way. Light smoke for this meaty and tasty fish, the best dish of an evening of excellent dishes in Iowa. Worth a trip, probably the 2nd best restaurant in the Midwest!

04-Do Kai Noi-Fish

Steamed Mekong Fish: Doi Ka Noi, Vientiane, Laos (19 December 2016) — A simple yet incredibly flavourful dish, this wonderful informal restaurant on the outskirts of this quiet capital city gave me the best dish of that entire trip. Cooked perfectly, the fish and sauce complements the organic purple sticky rice just perfectly. Bliss. Sometimes simplicity is the best, but don’t let this dish fool you — it’s full of flavour.

05-La Fia Cod

Smoked Black Cod: La Fia, Wilmington, Delaware (5 November 2016) — Lovely smoke flavour for this lovely fish. Too often this fish is cooked in some pan-Asian style, so it’s refreshing to get a new take on it. Awesome fish, awesome prep, excellent, underrated kitchen, worth stopping in Wilmington just for it! Skip Philly, this is far better!

06-Lucky Belly-Cheek

Beef Cheek: Lucky Belly, Honolulu, Hawai’i (29 August 2016) — One of the best cheek dishes I’ve ever had in my life… Lovely texture and flavour, with some excellent local root vegetables too. Fabulous! And throw in some excellent cocktails and you have a sure winner here! A dream destination for kama’aina for sure!

07-Lunk King Heen-apps

Chinese Roasted Meats: Lung King Heen***, Hong Kong (12 December 2016) — What happens when you have a 3-Michelin restaurant do traditional Chinese roasts? This. Wow…amazing stuff. The crispy roast pork was divine, with the skin just perfect. The roasted goose was juicy and delicious. And the barbeque pork was lovely. Best part of a wonderful meal! Best in Hong Kong!

08-Noble Rot-Middlewhite

Middlewhite Chop: Noble Rot, London, England (28 September 2016) — This much-hyped restaurant lived up to its billings, a rarity in London these days. Fabulous meal, but this Middlewhite pork chop is just stunning. Rich and uncompromising, this is about as drool-inducing as any other dish this year!

09-Oaxen-Mackerel

Mackerel: Oaxen Slip, Stockholm, Sweden (20 June 2016) — One of my favourite fish done in a simple yet wonderful way. A serve-yourself thing with beets and asparagus, adding butter to an already oily fish made this a rich treat for a lovely summer lunch! Again, sometimes simplicity is the best — let the ingredients speak for themselves. Some chefs just can’t resist, but here it is a mantra!

10-Rx-Chicken

Poulet Rouge: Rx, Wilmington, North Carolina (17 February 2017) — So easy to mess up chicken, heritage stuff or not. But this was a perfect execution of a wonderful bird. Juicy, fabulous texture, with no dryness whatsoever. A wonderful dish for a wonderful night of dining in a town few visit for the food — hopefully this excellent eatery changes that! A surprise find for sure!

And, like last year, here’s the lucky 13 extra dishes that are “honourable mentions” for 2016! Too many good dishes all over the world!

x01-a(Muse)-surfturf

Yellowtail and Sweetbread — a(MUSE) (6 November 2016)

x02-Bachelor Farmer-Duck

Roast Duck — Bachelor Farmer, Minneapolis, Minnesota (29 July 2016)

x03-Central-bread

Coca-Smoked Bread — Central, Lima, Peru (4 July 2016)

x04-Finnjavel-Smoked fish

Smoked Whitefish — Finnjävel, Helsinki, Finland (14 June 2016)

x05-Forequarter-Poussin

Roast Poussin — Forequarter, Madison, Wisconsin (25 July 2016)

x06-Frantzen-satio tempesta

“Satio Tempestas” — Frantzén**, Stockholm, Sweden (18 June 2016)

x07-Lot 12-Duck

Roast Duck — Lot 12 Public House, Berkeley Springs, West Virginia (18 August 2016)

x08-Malis-Crab Rice

Crab Fried Rice — Malis, Phnom Penh, Cambodia (22 December 2016)

x09-Marino-Snapper

Red Snapper Crudo — Marino, Hollywood, California (28 May 2016)

x10-Republic-Heart

Heart Salad — Republic, Detroit, Michigan (19 July 2016)

x11-Sweet Root-Snail

Snail Caviar — Sweet Root, Vilnius, Lithuania (4 October 2016)

x12-Youngs Lobster Pound

Steamed Lobster — Young’s Lobster Pound, Belfast, Maine (30 April 2016)

x13-Zu Hacker-Brain

Brain Schnitzel — Zu den 3 Hacker, Vienna, Austria (26 September 2016)

Well, here you go, this is 2016. During the year I managed to travel to 23 US states and 19 countries on 4 different continents, eating all all of them. I hope you enjoyed this little trip through the past year with me, and hope you enjoy my travels so far in 2017 and those forthcoming!

Thank you all!

 

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My 10 Best Meals of 2016

Well, it’s a few months into 2017, so there’s enough time to totally digest (sorry) all the meals of 2016. And like last year, what I will do is break the “best of” into two parts. This first part will be the 10 best meals of 2016; the next entry will be the best dishes of 2016 — excluding the 10 restaurants listed on this list. So I hope you join me in this 2-part journey through a wonderful food year that is 2016!

10-Pujol

10) Pujol (19 January 2016)
From that amazing smoked baby corn with powdered chicatana ants to the suckling lamb taco, this was a wonderful night of innovative Mexican cooking. On this evening the “mother” part of their signature “mole madre, mole nuevo” was 865 days old, providing an unique experience for someone not all that enamoured with Mexican cuisine in general. If anything, this dinner actually made me seek out more Mexican food since. Excellent.

9-Ichi

9) Ichi* (2 September 2016)
Much like my 2015 dinner here, what is wonderful about dining at Ichi is the total experience. You really feel at home here, especially with the wonderful attentive and friendly service. The cooking is top-notch, doing just enough with the fabulous ingredients as needed — and not more. Restraint is sometimes the hardest thing for chefs to practice. Amazing stuff all night, but one has to mention that superb snapper that nearly killed me… Still my favourite restaurant in Tokyo.

8-Kokkeriet

8) Kokkeriet* (11 June 2016)
I’ve not had many good dining experiences in Copenhagen, and I frankly think the city is the most overrated in the Nordic area. But I was seriously impressed with one of the lesser-cheered Michelin places in town, Kokkeriet. Finally some sensible cooking and service that didn’t make me feel unwelcomed, rushed, or bewildered. The veal tongue was fabulous, the humble beet excellent. Star of the night was the poussin, which was one of the best fowl dishes I’ve ever had.

7-Picanteria

7) La Picantería (4 July 2016)
This is the only lunch listed on this list, and it was a surprise to me. I was not planning anything, but when my server told me they’ll do a special tasting for me, I went with it. And it was awesome. From the amazing seafood to the tripe, it was a total treat of Peruvian cuisine. The crab was gorgeous, the ceviche stunning. Even the duck! This place and its humble, close-to-the-heart cooking blew the biggies in Lima out of the water. Definitely worth that bus ride!

6-Stages

6) Stages at One Washington (28 April 2016)
Chef Evan Hennessey is one of the most talented chefs in the US and this place is one that I would make a huge detour to visit again. A little different from my first (and amazing) visit when Chef ran everything on his own, this meal saw a very functional kitchen team work on some amazing dishes that highlighted New England’s best. Some of the best aspects of this dinner was the wonderful produce, from the beets to mushrooms, from carrots to rutabaga. Amazing talent at work here, and I’ll happily make the detour to come back to this amazing little restaurant.

The next four are all tied at #2…way too hard to rank these amazing dinners. They are listed in alphabetical order…

2-Konstantin

2*) Konstantin Filippou* (26 September 2016)
Like Copenhagen, I’ve had some challenges with Michelin places in Vienna. But this place really killed it this evening, with some amazing cooking. The service team also smoothly dealt with some unpleasant challenges, but it really shows how good they are. The langostine was amazing, the lobster stunning, and the scallops were dreamy. One of the most pleasant discoveries I’ve made in the past few years food-wise, the irony of having some mind-blowingly good seafood in a landlocked country. Awesome.

2-O

2*) Ö (17 June 2016)
I went “home” to Tallinn unexpectedly for one day and of course I drop into my 2nd favourite restaurant in Europe. I’ve had so many amazing tasting menus here that I still await the day they get into both the Michelin and 50 Best categories. The service is amazingly good, excellent pairings, and the dishes are all spectacular in taste and visuals. The raw courses here, from elk tartar to whitefish carpaccio, were awesome, but the cooked dishes were beyond special. The beef from Saaremaa is gonna be a regional star soon, but it’s the stupendous quail from Järveotsa that has me in heaven each time I have it here. Very affordable for this amazing quality too. Never disappoints!

2-Senses

2*) Senses* (1 October 2016)
I was extremely happy to hear that my favourite restaurant in Europe had received its first Michelin star, and I went to celebrate with Chef Andrea Camastra. He again pushed the flavours to the very limit for the dishes presented this evening. Once again, like before, the service is beyond spotless — far more refined than many 2-star places. Amazing wine pairings as usual also, complementing Chef’s amazing creations. His take on gulyas is always one of my favourites, with some extremely intense flavours. The scallops were some of the best I’ve ever had, and that Kobe rib was just divine. I stopped in Warsaw just for this dinner, and I’m glad I did. And will do it again.

2-Sushisho

2*) Sushisho Masa (4 September 2016)
Often sushi-centric dinners are dependent on rather subjective judgement, but one thing that made this evening at Sushisho Masa amazing — one of the best sushi experiences of my life — is the celebration of the bounty of the sea. Instead of just giving us a wonderful slice of the fish, what is awesome about this place is that they often give you several perspectives of the same creature — such as a contrasting raw versus seared, or different parts of the fish, or even the fish and the liver. You don’t just get a simple slice of flesh, you get to appreciate everything from awabi (abalone) to sanma (saury), from katsuo (bonito) to anago (eel). Just give such a better perspective than a series of different fish. Amazing stuff…

And the very best of 2016?

1-Leo

1) Leo (1 July 2016)
One of the joys of travelling the world is to enjoy not just local cuisine, but the best and most unique local products. And the meal that really defined this effort is Leo in Bogotá. This was the best meal of the year, as Chef Leonor Espinosa brings out the very, very best of Colombia. Some of the dishes that evening was mind-blowing, from the amazing mutton to the awesome tuna coated with hormigas culonas ants. You get so many things that are unique to the region that can’t be found elsewhere, which adds to the joy of this evening. Amazing beverages too for the unique pairing. And that pepper sauce with the caiman? Oh my. Yep, the meal of the year, #1.

Anyway, here they are! I hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane with me and my stomach. Next up, the best dishes of 2016!

PS: If you are wondering, here are my 5 “Hall-of-Shame” entries for biggest dining fails of 2016…
Craigie on Main (Boston, 27 April 2016)
Kondo (Tokyo, 5 September 2016)
Maido (Lima, 5 July 2016)
Quintonil (Mexico City, 18 January 2016)
Vetri (Philadelphia, 28 November 2016)

Review: Hiyama

9 March 2017

I woke up happy and sad. I had a wonderful evening the previous night; it was a date night so I didn’t want to do a full review, but safe to say I will be returning to 1-Michelin kaiseki Totoya Uoshin next time I’m in Tokyo. Excellent seafood, from a fabulous nodoguro to a rather nicely-presented and delicious sazae. Sad, as I was heading to Narita in a few hours to fly out.

I had already finished packing up, but there was one more meal to be had — and it was a meaty one. I checked out of my room and headed off to the train for a few stops to my lunch destination, Hiyama.

This 1-Michelin place is above a butcher shop that sells some fabulous meats. I didn’t anticipate getting a whole tatami room, but that seems to be the way this place is structured. I looked over the menu and they recommended the wagyu rump from their special herd, so I went with it — in butter-yaki style.

I chilled as I had some sake and they brought the pot and various vegetables — and the meat…

rump

My server started up the pot and started cooking some of the vegetables. Then added one piece of the beef, and this was the first bowl…

1st bowl

Mmmm, excellent beef indeed, and some good asparagus and onions. Good stuff. As I was finishing, my server returned and started up again, cooking a second bowl…

2nd bowl

Agian, very good, lovely flavours with the generous use of butter. I enjoyed it, and she returnd with a full tray of things for the third bowl, cooking the rest of the vegetables.

3rd bowl set

Good, and I enjoyed this lunch. But I thought, I didn’t want to eat on the plane (don’t want to be poisoned by Delta like coming over) so wanted to fill up beforehand since I won’t be eating for another probably 20 hours (1.5 hours to Narita, 2 hours at Narita, 12 hours to Detroit, 2 hours in Detroit, 1 hour to Baltimore, 1.5 hours home from BWI), so I asked to order one more dish…

NOPE! Got dinged. They said they needed the space. I left rather unhappily…I was just an early space-filler apparently. Sigh… So I headed back to my hotel, but was way early for my bus to Narita… In any case, I ended up going to a nearby izakaya, Zen, had a big ol’ excellent grilled saba (mackerel). Damn that was good. That helped fuel me for my long, long trek home…

Sad to go, but had to go. Was a hellish trek home, but worth all the headache, stress and pain of cattle class travel to come to Japan. I’ll miss Japan, but will be back sooner than later.

Hiyama [日山]
2-5-1 Nihonbashiningyocho, Chuo-ku
Tokyo, Japan

Review: Miyaba

8 March 2017

I woke up in a bit of pain and my knee was purple, but oh well…the sun is out today for my final full day in Tokyo. A bit melancholic because of that, but it’s been fun. I headed out towards Hamamatsucho for my lunch today — another sushi meal, third in a row.

Today’s destination is another highly-rated sushiya on Tabelog, Miyaba. A bit old-school, cash-only place conveniently near a busy railway station. I got there as it opened and wasn’t very busy at 11.30am as we went into the sushi course. They seem to have a limited course for lunch, but I soon forgot that when the first piece came out…

01-baby tuna

Wow, this baby tuna was just gorgeous, melt-in-your-mouth stuff. Lovely. Then another treat, some wild hon-maguro (bluefin)…

02-hon-maguro

Wow again, lovely stuff. Felt a little guily about this, but it was delicious. Then some hirame (flounder).

03-hirame

A bit back down to earth, but good. So far much better than the sushi at either Umi last night or Ichiyanagi for lunch yesterday. Next up, hiramasa (wild yellowtail).

04-hiramasa

Ugh, really hard. What is going on with the yellowtails? Yesterday’s kampachi was dreadful, now this… Anyway, then we get a marinated katsuo (bonito).

05-katsuo

Ah, much better than yesterday’s mess. In fact, it was very tasty. Next up, sayuri (halfbeak).

06-sayuri

A bit too much ginger here, it robbed the fish of its natural flavour. I’m never a big ginger fan, I only use it as a palate cleanser. This just took out the fish, sadly… Next up, kohada (gizzard shad).

07-kohada

A susprisingly good piece, I’m amazed I actually noted this fish I usually find boring (and for visuals only). But this was excellent. Then some uni.

08-uni

Tasty stuff, then already some eel…

09-eel

Geez, are we done? Good, but I guess that’s it? No wonder it was so (relatively) cheap. Then a closing set of rolls…

10-maki

Frankly I was happy with this lunch. This is a place I like to come back for a dinner course, as the fish has been good and the sushi-making was good. Old school and it worked well. I had some errands to run out in Odaiba, so I didn’t ask for more pieces.

I headed out pretty happy, finally a good sushi meal out of the last 3-in-a-row. Recommended, but remember it’s cash only! Would be excellent for a cheeky last lunch if you fly out of Haneda (the Monorail to the airport is just steps away).

Miyaba [宮葉]
2-11-8 Hamamatsucho, Minato-ku
Tokyo, Japan

Review: Umi

7 March 2017

It was an exhausting afternoon trekking through Tama Cemetery, which is large and a bit out of town. Lucky my dinner wasn’t until late tonight, as Umi didn’t have a space until 9pm. I was still in a bit of pain from that ugly wipe-out on some marble…

I got to the 2-Michelin sushiya just before 9pm and it was empty. I guess they did seatings and ran everyone at the same time. But everyone arrived pretty much on time and they started the service. A bit energetic I must say, as the shouting reminds me too much of a modern US kitchen, full of orders being repeated by everyone…

Honestly felt a bit squeezed at the edge of the sushi bar, but that’s life… First up was some seaweed topped by uni.

01-uni seaweed

Nice start, essence of the sea. Then we start full force with a piece of chu-toro sushi…

02-chu-toro

Talk about mixing things up, a beautiful piece of bluefin belly. Just melt-in-your-mouth stuff. Wow. Then a bit down hill…

03

Hmmm, flavoured a bit oddly from the cooking, couldn’t pin it down. Then we get a skewer of hotaru-ika (firefly squid).

hhh

Love these things, these were especially good. Then the weird mix-up continues with another sushi, aji (horse mackerel).

05-aji

Not bad, and the progression kept us on our toes with the next item, grilled menuke (rockfish).

06-menuke

Very good, full of oily flavour. I enjoyed picking off the flesh from the bones as those were the tastiest bits. Nice! Then torigai (surf clam).

07-torigai

Good, though chef did a huge production whacking these clams into shape. There’s a lot of showmanship here, perhaps some of the appeal. But that didn’t work quite for me. More booze…and more fish.

08-kampachi

Ugh…this was an awful kampachi (yellowtail). I was shocked. Terrible quality fish, no taste, horrible texture. What happend? Sigh… Anyway, next up some tako (octopus).

09-tako

Not bad, tho not as good as lunch today. Next up was some custard with crab…

10-custard with crab

Meh to be honest. A few poor items in a row and I was taking down the sake a bit faster. Next up, shiroebi (white shrimp).

11-shiroebi

Beautiful but never one of my favourites… Then a rather novel way of serving uni at a top sushiya

12-uni

It’s kinda a fish market way of serving it, and it was pretty good. Then another weak dish…

13-katsuo

Marinated katsuo (bonito), really boring. The flavours did not get into the fish. Really disappointing… What’s going on, have we peaked? I was starting to worry… Then we have sumi-ika (cuttlefish).

14-sumi-ika

Oh dear the rice was horrible on this piece. What happened all of a sudden? Sigh… So far not so good… Then we continue on…

15

At this point I was just concerned but soon we shift back to seriousness with some nairagi (striped marlin).

16-nairagi

Excellent stuff, finally the fish is winning. Then we get some tsuke

17-tsuke

The marinated lean tuna was far better than the horrible marinated stuff earlier but still pretty meh. Then the o-toro

18-o-toro

Really good, but preferred that chu-toro that came early in the meal. A few of my fellow diners (Americans) were gushing very vocally… In any case, then the usual follow-up kohada (gizzard shad).

19-kohada

Meh-ish, but then the next piece was fabulous — saba (mackerel).

20-saba

Lovely stuff, one of the best pieces of the night. At this point everyone was watching them clean the kurumaebi (prawn), as these were monstrous sized…

21c-kurumaebi

Some sushiyalike Masuda — breaks these things into 2 pieces but they made it huge…again, for show. Terribly hard to eat like that. It’s all a show here…

I gobbled the monster down and took a big swig of sake and looked at the clock…last trains are just around midnight, but things are moving pretty well, thank goodness. This meal wasn’t worth missing the last train for, to be honest… Then some uni.

22-uni

Excellent Hokkaido stuff, tasty. Then we’re at an end with the hamaguri.

23-hamaguri

Wee bit of sauce and we are at the close. Tamago

24-tamago

And an unexpected eel roll…

25

And the course was done. They asked if we wanted anything else, and most diners asked for one of the toro. My first two choices were nixed as they supposedly ran out…then why are you serving it to locals? Fine. I asked for a saba (mackerel) and the bill.

An expensive late night sushi, and it was again mixed. Some highlights, like the opening chu-toro and the menuke, as well as the nairagi. But there were some really awful items like the kampachi. Too much show here, from the shouting to the obese kurumaebi.

I for one find this sushiya a once-and-done, as it didn’t impress me as much as others. I don’t need a show. I need solid stuff. But when there’s issues with rice (tho not as much as lunch at Ichiyanagi) and especially with fish (that horrible kampachi) it’s not worth trying again. I have limited time in Tokyo and it’s never good to leave dinner with mixed feelings.

Made the late train with plenty of time and frankly if I wasn’t so tired I’d go somewhere, but I was still in pain from that damn wipe-out… Ugh…

Umi [海味]
3-2-8 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku
Tokyo, Japan

Review: Ichiyanagi

7 March 2017

Now being a bit of a veteran of Tokyo dining, I rely far more on the excellent Tabelog than other guides, including Michelin. I always found the latter wanting, especially after that terrible “1-Star” experience at Ryo last night. So for this trip I chose a few highly-ranked sushi places. And for lunch today? Ichiyanagi.

I walked out to the tail end of Ginza and was led into the sushi bar. I always found it strange how they like to crowd people together when there are open spaces at the sushi bar. This was particularly bad as the space between seats is even narrower than the Tokyo usual. Plus, the sushi bar is pretty large for a high-end place, but let’s see how it goes.

I chilled out and ordered some sake and soon we began with some noresore (baby eel).

01-noresore

Excellent start, tho it was hard to eat with chopsticks for someone as chopstick-fatigued as I am! As I was finishing it off, a slice of tai (red snapper).

02-tai

Nice, very clean tasting. Then some hotaru-ika (firefly squid)…

03-hotaru-ika

Again, very nice, love these. Then another sashimi…

04-baby tuna

Oh my, this baby tuna is quite nice. I like this mixing-it-up style. And next up was something handed to me…

05-tairagai

Tairagai (penshell clam), which is often served like this. Excellent meaty stuff. Nice!

06-tako

Then we have some marinated tako (octopus), which was very flavourful and soft — tho not too soft, which is perfect. So far so good! Then a real treat…

07-ankimo

Another good serving of ankimo (monkfish liver), which I love. Not quite as nice as from Masuda the other day, but darn good. Then we have some fugu no shirako.

08-shirako

Already bursting at the seam, this was burning hot as it should be. Very nice. Then some grilled hirame (flounder).

09-hirame

Very nice, with a boatload of daikon under the fish. Very nice. Then next up was another wee treat, awabi (abalone).

10-awabi & himo

Not just the abalone, which was very tasty, but also the himo (liver). Very tasty stuff. So far rather impressed. Then another cooked item, sawara (Spanish mackerel).

11-sawara

Oh this was fantastic, really oily and nice! Then a wee palate cleanser of seaweed…

12-seaweed

Now we shift into the sushi segment. First up, hirame (flounder) again…

13-hirame

Uh…I really had trouble enjoying the fish because the rice was STEAMING HOT. Huh? Now I understand different sushi chefs have different takes on rice temperature, but this was a bit extreme for me. It was actually a distraction. Did something go awry or was this the intention? Next up was kinmedai (goldeneye snapper).

14-kinmedai

Good fish, but again the rice was very hot — tho cooling off a little. Not as hot as before…geez, are they just running slow and cooked the rice quickly? This was disappointing!

We moved to the tuna segment and first up was some tsuke — marinated lean tuna.

15-tsuke

Nice, and finally the rice seemed to have cooled enough not to be a distraction. Still noticeably warm, but now not bugging me. Then the chu-toro.

16-chu-toro

This was fabulous, lovely stuff, full of oily goodness. Then a bit unexpected for lunch, o-toro.

17-o-toro

Excellent, but I don’t know why these days I so much prefer the chu-toro over the o-toro. In any case, an excellent trio there. Next up, sumi-ika (cuttlefish).

18-sumi-ika

Uh, what happened? There was WAY TOO MUCH SALT dumped onto this thing, was almost difficult to eat. This is a messy lunch! For all the nice bits, there are some inexplicable stuff for a high-class sushiya… Then kohada (gizzard shad).

19-kohada

Far better than usual for a fish I don’t really care for. Then next, aji (horse mackerel).

20-aji

Not bad, through the flavouring really was overwhelming. Again, a bit sloppy sushi-making here. Disappointing. Then we got some uni.

21-uni

Tasty as usual, and it held up well. Then we shifted to some kurumaebi (prawn).

22-kurumaebi

A bit fibrous to be honest, perhaps wee overcooked. In any case, I knew we were starting to wind down with the next item, hamaguri (clam).

23-hamaguri

Glazed with a bit of sauce, not bad. Then the anago.

24-anago

Again glazed with a lot of sauce, pretty good. Then we have some concluding tamago.

25-tamago

I was a bitdisappointed by this lunch. Some real highlights here, from the baby eel to the chu-toro. But the hot rice thing was really odd, as was the messy prep on some pieces like the cuttlefish. Just seems sloppy for a top sushiya to be honest. I doubt I’ll be back, the competition is too great out there. This was not that great in sushi-making, nor was it very comfortable. Next…

Ichiyanagi [一柳]
1-5-14 Ginza, Chuo-ku
Tokyo, Japan

* Stupid me I forgot to wash my hands and it reeked of fish as I trekked out to Tama. Lucky I got caught in a downpour so that rinsed it away…as well as wiping out badly on some ultra-slick marble that left me with a seemingly random set of bruises on my lower body…

Review: Bettei

6 March 2017

I was frustrated after that meal at Ryo and still had room in my stomach so after 1 stop on the Hibiya Line I decided to jump off the train. There are many places to eat around Ebisu and I had looked at several over the last few trips, but one stood out — Bettei.

After that duck shabu during the kaiseki course at Kojyulast week I was dying for some more — and Bettei is one of the few duck specialty places in Tokyo. I got there and it was boiling hot inside but a nice atmosphere. The host, Iwasa-San, was extremely friendly and spoke amazing English. So he explained the menu to me and poured me some interesting sakes with the amuse — fried shirasu (whitebait).

amuse

Nice fish snacks. I accepted the host’s recommendations and chilled out with some sake. Then soon the first item was ready, the salad.

fish salad

Very tasty, excellent dressing — a wee fusiony in taste away from the usual miso/sesame-based stuff in Japan. And the shirasu was a great addition. Lovely start. They they set up the shabu…

shabu set

Oh my…the duck looks fantastic. From Aomori Prefecture in the north. The key is to cook it quickly…

duck

Fantastic, lovely duck. Why people don’t eat duck here is beyond me. Cute, sure, but tasty too. I finished it off pretty quickly and enjoyed some fresh veggies in the broth too. Then as my host poured me another sake, the guy behind the kitchen counter took the broth and rendered it down and made a bowl of noodles…

noodles

Nice end to the second dinner of the night. I chilled and chatted with them a little before taking my leave, promising to come back for a full meal next trip.

Rescued a bad night here, so I’m very appreciative. But had to run for the last train, so that sucked a bit…

Bettei [ベッテイ]
3f, 1-14-15 Ebisuminami, Shibuya-ku
Tokyo, Japan