Shunsei is another place that took us all season to get too. It's on Ekimae heading away from the station just a few doors from the corner with the wooden entrance. We tried on several occasions for lunch and for dinner. Then we worked out they're closed on Sundays .. gosh! And many other times we tried they'd been full.
They do an amazing value lunch set for 1000¥. It includes soup, salad, rice, pickles, main course (we had the Ezo deer), soft drink and chocolate rocks.
It's our last dinner in Hokkaido before we leave for our holiday's. There's 6 of us, and Ange has called ahead to make sure we can get a table. We've decided on the 3500¥ set course. They do a few courses, ranging from 2500¥ up to 8000¥. We arrive smack on 7pm and see our table waiting. Each place setting already has a plate of salad awaiting our arrival. The salad is very similar to the one served at lunch, with little pieces of diced prosciutto, tofu, mini tomato, greens and sprouts. As soon as we sit down and order drinks, someone appears with a jug of dressing and each salad is dressed before our eyes.
We're all pretty hungry and the salad disappears in no time! The next course to arrive is a trio of seared seafood. There's a beautifully seared piece of salmon, white fish and a scallop. It's resting on 3 half green asparagus spears that are so crisp and vibrant. There's a generous spoon of a chunky tartare like sauce, laced with gherkins, capers, herbs and hard boiled eggs. There's salmon roe around the plate and caviar (black herring roe) on top with a nice sprig of chervil. Even I like this dish, despite my usual aversion to cooked salmon.
Wow! We had seen the venison dish before when we'd enjoyed lunch here. But we still are all quite shocked with just how much colour makes it onto this one plate. The venison itself is delicious and rich, and cooked perfectly. It's covered in a mild onion sauce and then there's the eccentric selection of vegetables ... everything from broccoli, cauliflower, beans, carrots and green and purple cabbage. The flavours are all really nice, but we still find it quite strange that the vegetables are cold?! (same as when we had this dish for lunch)
Now for some kitch-a-rama! A half avocado is scooped out and frozen. There's an avocado mayonnaise binding a crab salad that is resting back in the frozen shell with a slice of smoked salmon draped over the top. I don't mind it, but Ange devours hers in about 2 seconds flat and I see just how much she enjoys it, so have no problem offering the rest of mine for her to enjoy.
The next dish was definitely my favorite of the evening. A nice chunk of crispy, delicious, fatty pork sitting on a disc of brasied daikon. There was loads of freshly grated mountain wasabi, which is like a wild Hokkaido horseradish, which cut through the richness of the dish and just added such depth to the flavour and complexity of the meat. Mmm.
Then, Kim thinks this was rather strange, well, we all did, mid-meal we just get a little saltine cracker with cream cheese and prosciutto. I mean, it was tasty, but maybe better left to Mum's book club or something ...
Allthough we were a little puzzled as to where the meal was going as it kept going up and down. We thought with Mum's cracker that may have been the cheese course? and maybe just dessert to come. But we were all surprised when a plate of Hokkaido lamb arrived. The lamb was cooked to a beautiful blush pink. It was sitting on a velvetly smooth eggplant half and covered in crispy fried shallots. The sauce was spiked with seeded mustard and it definately didn't need anything that was sitting to the side (especially when we'd already had so many courses). There was a piece of marron (chestnut) one lonely piece of broccoli and half a mini tomato.
All on the verge of exploding, we're thoroughly relieved when dessert arrives as a single scoop of vanilla ice-cream with half a strawberry on top.
But the little chocolate rocks that are placed on the table are just so cool. Look like rocks, taste like chocolate.
I would have to say that each individual dish worked better on it's own, as it was a bit hard to see any sort of cohesion in the whole menu. But the thing I most love about Shunsei is the personable service and humble space. It does feel like a privilege to be allowed into this space, like you've been invited into the families private abode and each and everyone of them treated us to feel comfortable and welcome.