Ruth's new book, "Me and My Sister", is available for pre-ordering through Amazon.ca! It's the second book that she's illustrated AND written. I have such a cool sister.
Hey, has anyone seen the One Man Lord of the Rings yet?
Earlier this week, Jeff and I went to Hashimoto with our friends Mark, Andrew and Jenny. Andrew & Jenny are in town visiting from California. We tend to only go to this upscale kaiseki restaurant about once a year as an extra-special outing because of its price (choice between $100 and $150 meal option, not including alcohol) and location (a remote strip mall in Mississauga), but it's always worth it. Chef-owner Masaki Hashimoto decides on the menu; you just sit there and eat whatever he makes. :-)
Andrew kept notes on his Palm about what we were served. He says he missed some details, but we were basically served the following (we opted for the $100 option):
- Crab with sudachi in lemon
- Pompano & sheephead (ishidai...a type of fish, not from a real sheep) sashimi
- Clear soup with monkfish & yuzu (citrus)
- Baked persimmon (kakidenga) filled with black codfish, sweet miso, walnuts, eggplant, sweet yam potato. Garnish: smoked salmon, ginko nuts
- Winter bamboo, minced chicken, snow peas, ume, carrot.
- Burdock tai buckwheat rolls
- Sweet rice with chestnut. White miso soup with watercress, shiitake and okra.
- Homemade coffee jelly, homemade vanilla ice cream, wild berries.
My favourite course was the fourth dish, a baked persimmon filled with blacked codfish, deep-fried walnuts, eggplant, and sweet yam potato. Tender gingko nuts were elegantly speared on pine needles, with a few small cubes of unbelieveably good smoked salmon on the side. After we ate the filling, we ate the persimmon as well.
Every serving was exquisitely presented without pretension, and the server (sometimes the chef's wife, sometimes his son) would describe each dish after setting out the plates. Our group was the only table at the restaurant that evening; there was only one other customer, and he sat at the bar. The restaurant itself only has three tables; I wonder if they would have still opened if we had to cancel?
We also had sakura-flavoured Okunomatsu sake, which was served chilled. We didn't know the price until we got the bill; the owner's wife asked if we'd like some sake, and we said yes. Instead of bringing the sake in the usual small porcelain containers, she instead brought out the elaborate decorated box, pulled out the container and opened it in front of us.
As she poured it, she described how the sake was made in one part of Japan, the special process it was put through to give it its special flavour. We smiled and listened and the same thought was going through all our minds: How much was this bottle of sake going to cost?!? It seemed tacky to ask at that point since we had already committed, so we just went ahead and enjoyed it. It was VERY smooth and did have a unique fragrance; I've never had chilled sake before and enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. At the end of the meal, we found out from the bill that the sake cost $100. Ouch, but we all agreed it was worth it.
One of the things I love about Hashimoto's is that I inevitably get to try at least one or two things I've never had before. In this case, it was the sake, coffee jelly and the pompano & sheephead (ishidai) sashimi. I may not like everything that's served (though this time, I enjoyed everything without reservation), but it's always an adventure. I love the anticipation of wondering about what's going to be served next, admiring the colours and arrangement of each dish before starting to eat.
This is not a restaurant for the cautious or unadventurous eater, nor is it for someone who's in the mood for simple sustenance, doesn't care about the atmosphere or presentation. Our server noticed some of our party trying to read the Japanese written on the plates beneath one of the courses, example. He translated for us, then told us that the poems were written by the owner's mother as she was hiking through the mountains in Japan.
Yes, it was just a small detail, but it was just one of many such details that enhanced the experience for us.
And here's the last handwritten Blathering of the year (click here for a bigger image). Happy New Year, everyone!
|December 2004 comments:|
Read Blatherchat | Post in Blatherchat | Livejournal comments