Monday, October 13, 2008

Sen chou, Niseko Hirafu

Okay, so we've only been in Japan a week, and the thing is there's just not much concession made to non-Japanese speakers. Not that we're complaining, it's just that we have no idea what anything is .... In the convenience stores, the road signs, the menu's .... Thank goodness for pictures! Our new technique is if it smells good, we're going in. So far we haven't walked into any one's house ... although we have been tempted!
Sen chou has a big neon scrolling sign that leaves you with no doubt it is an eatery. But what sort? They have a few photo's on the board out the front, with a variety of sets, seafood, meat and smaller dishes on display. But what we've discovered after our first venture is that they're actually an izakaya, a Japanese version of a Tapas bar. The place is small with only a half a dozen tables and seats at the sushi bar and mostly full, seated and quickly supplied with essential beverages and snacks that go with said beverages, in this case the beer was accompanied with a small plate of crispy squid and kewpie, the greatest mayo in the world. We browsed the menu, well the pictures mostly.

Settling on a few things we sat back, unaware of how delicious the night was going to become.

The first to arrive were the chicken and pork yakitori, the chicken minced served with an aoli and raw egg yolk to mix in, it was delicious the meat moist and flavorful, the film of egg yolk and aoli making it wonderfully rich.
Niseko Hirafu
The pork was a skewer threaded with marinated sliced of pork belly grilled to a crisp crust on the outside that crunched open as you bit it to let to melted fat and juices run out, the first mouthful was rapturous, then the agonizing decision, to keep eating it or save it till last. yeah right, as if we had the will power to save it...... it was gone in a matter or seconds.

Niseko Hirafu

Next came an eggplant sliced and stuffed with chicken before being steamed in a dashi broth and topped with fresh grated diakon, needless to say, but will anyway, yum. The eggplant all silky smooth and the chicken just cooked all in drenched in the smokey dashi.

Niseko Hirafu

Then the tuna with fresh wasabi, oh the joy of fresh wasabi, once you've had it the green powdery junk that gets passed off in tubes as wasabi around the world will disgust you. The tuna was swimming fresh and just melted in our mouths.

Niseko Hirafu

Marinated mackerel with fresh ginger was next up and wow, I mean wow. It was nothing like any that had come before the texture transformed from the pickling, firm but not cooked. The flavour of the pickle not overpowering the fish but enhancing it. This was my favourite dish of the night.

Niseko Hirafu
Niseko Hirafu

And finally Hokkaido lamb with asparagus and roast potato's, coming out on a pottery hot plate still cooking the smell was captivating, upon lifting the lid to the cooker we found four fat slices of lamb, some asparagus and the famed Hokkaido potatoes all sizzling away. The lamb was already at a perfect medium rare so we dived straight in............mmmmmm so juicy and tender. the potatoes were out of this world soft and floury in side with the most terrific crunchy exterior.
We both agree that this was a fine end result for the smell and see technique.
All through the night the beer and then the sweet potato shochu had kept coming so we were well insulated against the cold for the walk home.

On the way we reasoned that would really need to return several times as we had only just touched on the menu and Sen chou really deserved a thorough reviewing. All in the name of science of course.

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