Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sushi, Suskino, Sapporo

We're in Sapporo again after a day with M1 at Chitose hunting out some more fine Hokkaido products.  During the day we're already discussing our dinner plans.  As we haven't had sushi in Japan a phone call is made to Y and it's all organised.  Now the whole afternoon is spent eagerly awaiting this fine treat.

After a freshen up, we're picked up from the hotel.  We drive around for a  bit before ending up over in the vincinity of Suskino.  In the evening with all the flashing lights and crazy neon, it's quite a sight!

Sapporo

We find what M1 thinks is the building.  He's looking a bit puzzled though.  There appears to be a florist on the first floor, a set of lifts at the end of the corridor, and on the side wall a vague floor guide, all in Kanji of course.  

Sapporo

M1 doesn't seem to confident that we're in the right place.  He makes a phone call....  apparantly this is the building.  We take a life up to the 4th floor and walk past a place called "Dolce Bar"...  I was thinking, nice, somewhere for dessert after we fill up on sushi (if this is the right place) but upon walking by, realise that it's not that type of "Dolce" .  Anywhoo, we pass another few hostess bars before finding a quaint little entrance.  There's a plant, a sign in Kanji, and a curtain.  We head on through.....

Sapporo

It's allready quite full.  There's traditional Japanese seating off to the left, but thankfully we have one of the best seats in the house.  The 3 of us are seated directly in front of the 2 sushi chefs, at the counter.  We take a moment to take it all in....  The counter is housing an abundence of fresh seafoods...  There are many things unknown to us.  How exciting!

Sapporo

After a nice hot towel, drinks are arranged.  We start with our first, of many, Hokkaido sake's.  Delicious. 

Sapporo

I am then given a kawaii (too-cute) little napkin with the moon and some rabbits on it.  Only girls get these, apparently.

Sapporo

Then the food starts....  A lot is being said between M1 and the 2 sushi chef's, we're not quite sure what, but we're happy to leave it in their hands.  First course is a delicate little bowl of cod-roe with konnyaku. The cod roe was soft and salty, with a slight pop on the tongue. The strands of gelatinous konnyaku a nice flavour and texture contrast.

Sapporo

Next is a bowl of Hokkaido taraba crab.  It's been dressed lightly with fresh lime, and has the most amazing sweet natural flavour.  Sitting beside is a pile of fresh uni (sea urchin) which has a nice creaminess.  

Sapporo

The next to be placed in front of us is a generous bowl filled with ikura (salmon roe).  This is somewhat of a specialty in Hokkaido.  I have been blown away with the freshness and flavour of all the ikura we have sampled since we arrived ....  This is no exception.  Each little ball an explosion of flavour on the tongue.  Slightly salty with the addition of a very good shouyu soy, but still with it's incredible natural flavour.  All this is savoured from a little wooden spoon resting on the side of the bowl.

Sapporo

In some broken Jap-English, we're asked if we like oysters.  Of course!  We then watch as they are carefully removed from their shell, they are then dressed with a tangy ponzu dressing with and finished with a little seaweed.  Yum!

Sapporo

More sake is had as we watch some scallops going onto the little grill which is situated just behind the two chefs.

Sapporo

The scallops are then brushed with a sweet glaze.  Sheets of nori are then flashed over the grill, before the glazed scallop is wrapped up in a sheet of nori and handed to us over the counter.  This one is to be enjoyed with the hands.  Mmmm, and enjoyed it was.  The crisp toasty nori a perfect contrast to the plump, sweet scallop.

Sapporo

We sit back an savour our sake...  Our next dish is the only one of the evening to not be prepared at the counter.  When it arrives, there's a few giggles.  We try to ask what we're about to feast on, but all we manage to get out of them is "the female fish" and plenty more giggles.  Heh, anyway... it's tempura'd so we should be fine.  There's a little wedge of lime and some salt on the side.  The crisp batter reveals some very white and gooey stuff.  It's delicious, none-the-less.  There are also a few pieces of maitake mushroom which have been battered as well.  These have a great nutty flavour.  We later find out this Japanese delicacy is known as 'Shirako' or 'Tachi', which is cod milts, or to put it in lamen terms, cod sperm.  We have since seen this, and eaten it, on several occasions, prepared in a variety of different ways.  Tempura is still up there as one of the best, though.

Sapporo

We move onto another sake, and then start the marathon nigiri effort.

Sapporo

We all receive a beautiful jade coloured crockery plate in front of us.  Each piece of nigiri is then crafted before our eyes, before being placed, one-by-one, onto the plate.  The first is a piece of flatfish.  There is just the right amount of wasabi, the rice is still warm, and the fish so fresh brushed ever so lightly with sauce.

Sapporo

Then there's abalone nigiri.  Lightly scored and brushed with sauce.  It's nice a meaty, with great flavour.

Sapporo

Next up, prepare for battle-ships.  As each one is made, the little strip of nori is grilled before being wrapped around the warm rice.  It is then topped with the creamy uni.  Mmm.

Sapporo

We then see the nice big chunk of toro we've been eyeing off all night removed front the cabinet.  Toro nigiri.  Sublime!

Sapporo

Next is sweet shrimp nigiri.  The flavor is delicious, I just have a bit of a problem with the texture of raw shrimp....

Sapporo

But then next out is salmon belly, one of my absolute favorites.  It's so smooth and tasty!

Sapporo

I think they seen how much we enjoyed the toro...  A norimaki roll gets made right before our eyes.  A bit of the toro is taken and lightly chopped before being added, with a little sauce.  

Sapporo

They have some rather unidentifiable piece of sea creature they are then trying to explain to us.  One of them goes out and gets a little book.  It's full of pictures of all things seafood, with Japanese and English names.  We work out that it's Hokkaido surf clam.  It looks a little like a tongue draped over the shaped rice, but it was delicious!

Sapporo

We're then each given 2 pieces of inside out tuna norimaki, with toasted sesame seeds around the outside.

Sapporo

Then there's a rather unusual offering.  Smoked daikon pickles.  They're a deep brown colour, and the smoke smell is intoxicating.  Three plump slices of the pickle are served with a good dollop of sour cream.  An unusual but outstanding combination of flavors.

Sapporo

While we are savoring our pickles, one bite at a time, some small pieces of salmon are grilled.  This is then wrapped into a little norimaki, topped with ikura and bonito flakes.  Yum!

Sapporo

Another thing we had been fascinated with, was a little container full of the smallest little spring onions.  They looked like something that belonged on a Barbie dolls dinner table, or in a little doll house.  We sorted of pointed and expressed our interest.  We first had a look at the container.  Each strand was so perfect and green.  They were almost the length of my thumb...

Sapporo

We must have spent a while oohing over them, because before we knew it was another plate.  There were batons of Chinese yam, a very glutionous yet crunchy vegetable which had been pickled with perilla (red shiso).  They had a beautiful blush pink colour too them, and were lovely and refreshing.  Sitting to the side was 2 neat slices of tuna tataki, with the same sweet glazed brushed over them, and a little drop of cream cheese on each one.  Again, a rather unusual combination that worked really well.

Sapporo

We all move onto a Hokkaido sweet potato shochu.  It's nice a mellow, and served in a beautiful glass.

Sapporo

We then all (just about) finish with a gorgeous little minegi nigiri.  It has such a delicate onion flavour....  and it is so up there in the cute stakes!

Sapporo

We just sit and enjoy ....  before being asked if there was anything else we would like again or to try.  During the course of the night we had seen this large pink looking thing being sliced up...  We were curious.  We found out it was whale bacon or whale tongue and both lost our curiosity quick smart.  I ask for a grilled salmon nigiri.  Oishii.

Sapporo

Kim has a piece of fresh water eel grilled nigiri.

Sapporo

Another thing we were curious about, turns out to be house-made bottaga.  Awesome.  2 thin slices are served between crisp daikon.

Sapporo

Then comes a plate of house-made skimono, Japanese pickles.  There's daikon, cucumber and carrots and gobo that have been dipped in nutty toasted sesame seeds.

Sapporo

We watch as the two chef's work in harmony to create a gorgeous platter of sushi.  This is then taken down to one of the hostess bar's in the corridor.

Sapporo

We are again game to try a natto roll.  They all laugh when we agree.  We both eat it, I don't mind it's nuttiness, but it is rather slimy.  Again, the whole texture thing.  I mean, it's okay, but nothing either of us are crazy about.

Sapporo

It really is such a privilege to be able to sit at the counter of a fine sushi restaurant.  And to be in Japan and have that honor we are both truly grateful....

As we are leaving, I notice a too-cute little nigiri clock.  Nice!

Sapporo

We are walked all the way to the lifts by one of the chef's.  The whole floor is now buzzing, the bars all busy and plenty of hostess ......  Who would have thought, a fine sushi bar in amongst all of this.  Oh, wait, we are in Suskino.

Sapporo

Here's a copy of the shop card, with address
Somewhere around Suskino
Ph: 011 513 8002

2 comments:

JRS said...

oishiisoo. will have to do my best to track this place down. another good bet for sushi in sapporo is oshidori, which is at kita 19 near hokudai.

Kat n Kim said...

we'll have to give it a go next time.