Wednesday, February 25, 2009

sake no hana

there's nothing good about the credit crunch.

except perhaps, that there's been a deluge of offers on toptable.

and so with the offer of 50 per cent. off the food bill, i've found myself back at sake no hana for the third time, this time with the red hare, mrs red hare and mister yau. i like the miso chilean seabass in houba leaf. try saying that quickly three times. i made mister yau say it three times quickly and it made me laugh. but maybe i just like laughing at mister yau. He's a hoot. We spent all evening quoting him verbatim.

i really do like the miso chilean seabass in houba leaf. While there's nothing particularly inventive about this dish which is practically served at every izakaya worth its mettle, it's very well cooked here. the fillet comes in its just-barely-cooked still translucent flakiness, its delicate sweetness emboldened by the deep earthy miso paste. there's a lone ginko nut and a couple of shimeji mushrooms which burst most delightfully in your mouth.

having just come from a session at the whisky society (where a naked woman (or the perception thereof) was involved) and then proceeding to order every cocktail which involved calpico on the drinks menu, much as we wanted sashimi, we were also in need of a little bit of grease. we might have gone a little overboard. This is what we had:

1. sesame aubergines - deep fried batons of aubergine, coated in a sweet smokey sesame paste and sprinkled with more toasted sesame.

2. tuna yukke - tuna tartare. spicy with a quail's egg yolk atop a peppery rocket salad.

3. sashimi moriwase - turbot, chu-toro, sake, octopus, mackerel. a little bit of bartering went on - try splitting two pieces of each sashimi amongst four (very lovely but hungry) mates.

4. agedashi tofu - panko and bonito flake crusted cubes of deep fried tofu, served with a soy and dashi sauce. the bonito was an interesting touch.

5. soft shell crab with wasabi salad - not so yummy but we ate it anyway.

6. katsu of berkshire pork - more panko deepfried goodness.

7. yaki-onigiri with unagi - unagi-don deconstructed. the just-crisped cake of rice wrapped around with a sweet grilled slice of freshwater eel, oodles of kabayaki sauce.

8. gomoku rice topped with omelette strips

9. mixed seafood tempura

and of course we had pudding:

1. nashi pear tart with lavender and chocolate ice cream

2. white chocolate and pistachio mousse with cherry beer sorbet

3. chocolate fondant cake with milk ice cream

4. walnut croustillant with vanilla ice cream

i had pudding with a glass of sauternes ch. de malle '98. the sommelier was as sweet as the desert wine - he came round to pour out our measures, and was about to leave with the dregs in his bottle, but we convinced him his dregs wouldn't make up another measure, so he might as well top up our measures. which he did. and all served with a smile.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

mango tree

"being married means you have to order the desert your wife wants rather than the pudding you really want." -- mr fei-lo. (i'm not being rude. the nickname for the purposes of this blog entry was chosen of his own accord - curious choice since mr fei-lo and the missus are hardly rotund.)

mrs fei-lo and i were going to have the mango with sticky coconut rice for pudding. that decision had already been made a week ago when we had booked sunday lunch at the mango tree for post-orchestra sustenance. mrs fei-lo was trying to convince mr fei-lo that he should order their selection of ice-creams and sorbets because she was curious about one of the sorbets - it did seem an intriguing selection, including the likes of vanilla-pandan, calamansi, chocolate and lemongrass and something called "fruits exotiques" which frankly just sounded a little dodge.

mr fei-lo was clearly not interested in the sorbets. he wanted the mango with sticky coconut rice too. he did however show a brief moment of weakness which was pounced on upon by the missus. in the interests of marital harmony, they reached a compromise, he settled on the Guay Ob Ma Prow Sob - layered caramelised banana and coconut pudding with caramel sauce and banana ice cream. it did turn out to be rather nice - having a texture of not unlike bread pudding, the mushy gooey bananas and the sponginess of the coconut cake-like concoction. the banana ice-cream didn't really taste of banana, but it was comforting to eat with the pudding nonetheless. i did however notice the contents of mrs fei-lo's desert plate being slowly chipped away at surreptitiously by her husband. and who could blame him? deliriously sweet and ripe brunoises of mango layered with sticky coconut rice, drizzled with coconut sauce and mango puree. it made me think of summer days and the comforting simplicity of lounging around in shorts, flip flops, metal spoon in hand while clutching at a half eaten overly ripe mango, juices running down my fingers with abandon to be licked clean later.

i did have a brief moment of plate envy earlier at lunch - after our starters of fish cakes with sweet chilli sauce and the barbequed pork strips with its tangy, tamarind dip, i was immediately seized with a i-wish-i-ordered-that-instead covetousness upon the arrival of the plates of pad thais that had been ordered by the fei-los. mr fei-lo had ordered pad thai with king prawns - a happy mound of sweet wok fried rice noodles held in captivity beneath a wispy egg net. mrs fei-lo ordered the pad thai with lobster - this came wrapped in its own little egg pancake and a tempura-ed bit of lobster. being seasoned so that the noodles were slightly less sweet than mr fei-lo's king prawn pad thai, the subtler succulence of the lobster bits were able to shine through the dish.

"thou shalt not covet (thy neighbour's plate of pad thai)" i reminded myself of the tenth commandment. and besides, my duck curry was a sight to behold. sitting prettily in its own little pineapple boat, it was brimming full of succulent roast duck pieces. i'm extremely partial to duck. it's probably my favourite meat on par with pork belly. it's probably the high fat content. i stopped coveting. the duck curry was more than perfectly adequate - the right amount of spice, juicy chunks of pineapple and cherry tomatoes, lots of roast duck and eaten with lashings of steamed jasmine rice. a little bartering took place as we swapped bits of pad thai for duck curry.

it was a lovely meal and a fabulous sunday - i couldn't think of a better way to spend it as i took a post-prandial nap in the car on the way home - music, friends i absolutely adore, lots of food, an afternoon nap and being driven home - what more could a girl want?