It was the night after the first snow of the winter season, and the city was enveloped in a peaceful quiet. A lone light shone brightly with a warm, welcoming ambiance.
Entering through the doors, we were greeted by a simple center bar where the chefs worked away to prepare the raw bar delicacies. It was a busy scene as the restaurant was full. Examining the menu we saw more than a few items we wanted to try from the Fresh Catch sheet and the Tapas list.
We started off with a bottle of hot sake (kept warm inside a vessel of hot water), and the Nasu Nibitashi, lightly fried eggplant steeped in shoyu dashi stock and topped with ginger and tuna flakes.
The servers were mindful of our meal process, timing the plates to ensure we had ample time to savour each one. We appreciated this as during the busy holiday season it's not unusual for restaurants to serve guests in a hurried manner.
My selects from our meal would be the Hokkaido Hotate & Botan Ebi Sunomono and the Sablefish Yuan-yaki. While the sunomono is a cold dish, it was very well done in that the scallops carried an unparalleled freshness, paired with a surprisingly juicy texture. The jelly-like sauce at the bottom is sweet and sour, meshing seamlessly with the seafood to deliver an appetizing starter dish.
The sablefish is also another memorable dish, because of its butter taste yet firm texture. The extensive time required to marinate the sablefish ensures the flavours are absorbed into every fibre. One thing we must note is that the beauty of an authentic Japanese dish is in the attention to detail in the 'supporting roles' of the dish. The apples soaked in red wine, with its slightly sweet and almost bitter flavour from the wine, serves to either stir up an appetite or to neutralize the palette before the next bite.
The Sanshozuke-ae serves up a sharable snack to start your meal. The finely chopped tartare mixed in with jalapeno and pine nuts provides just enough kick to make you salivate.
After several richly flavoured dishes, our server brought the Beef Suji, a light broth with refreshing daikon and stewed beef. It was a great intermediary and segue to our selections from the raw bar.
After enjoying the tapas and nigiri sushi, we then managed to find room in our stomachs for not one, but two desserts - the Sake Creme Brulee and the Strawberry Cheesecake. The Strawberry Cheesecake was more of a mousse texture, served in a tall cup and topped with crunchy nuts.
To experience the superior attention to detail and delicate authentic dishes, we thought the trip was well worth it to venture out into the cold.