HK: Wagyu Kaiseki Den (Jan. 2013)
Restaurant: Wagyu Kaiseki Den
Exec Chef: Hiroyuki Saotome
Date: January 5, 2013
-I wanted to try some of the sushi and kaiseki restaurants in Hong Kong during my time here, so I looked up restaurants. Wagyu Kaiseki Den came up a lot, so I quickly made reservations. It’s located in Sheung Wan, so it’s a short walk from Central.
-There are a total of 30 seats, with eight of those seats at the bar. We sat at the bar, and we got a great view of the kitchen staff prepping and cooking the food!
-The meal had a LOT of truffles. It’s arguably overkill to do the white truffle tasting at Amber and then eat here the following day, but… you only live once!
-The wagyu used is from Kagoshima, Japan.
-I really enjoyed this meal. The ingredients were all really fresh, and the constant use of uni, truffles, and wagyu made me a very happy man.
-Some of the dishes really weren’t all that creative, but they were executed REALLY well. The ingredients were great, and everything was really well-prepared/cooked, so each dish was delicious. This was superb cooking.
This was the view from our seats. Chef Saotome’s preparing toro for the sashimi course (#5) here.
Steamed abalone, taro yam, and sea urchin with seaweed sauce.
Zuwai crabmeat and kikuna (chrysanthemum greens) with dried persimmon in vinegar jelly.
Wagyu vegetable roll and deep-fried spring onion chip with sesame vinegar sauce.
Shrimp ball with shimeji mushroom clear soup.
Chef Saotome is preparing our next course (sashimi) here.
“Chef Selection Sashimi”
Middle: Codfish egg with ponzu sauce.
Right: Ponzu sauce.
Left: Soy sauce.
Wagyu sushi with truffle and akamutsu (black throat snapper)-kabu (Japanese turnip) sushi,
The sushi rice is red because it was prepared with red vinegar; most places usually use white vinegar.
The akamutsu was great, but the wagyu sushi was just amazing. The truffle definitely helped. I also thought it was really interesting how they prepared the rice with red vinegar. The rice was fluffy, and it seemed to have more of a “kick” than normal white sushi rice does; it definitely complemented the wagyu better than white sushi rice would. I’m not sure whether it helped or hurt the akamutsu.
They took out this HUGE piece of Kagoshima wagyu here, and I had to take a picture hahaha.
Braised lobster with truffle, maitake mushroom, and kabu (Japanese turnip) in saikyo miso sauce.
Saikyo miso is sweeter and less salty than normal miso, and it definitely helped provide a nice backdrop to the main ingredients at hand. The lobster was delicious and paired really well with the truffle, mushroom, and kabu.
Charcoal-grilled wagyu tenderloin, sirloin, and smoked ox tongue.
Right: Ox tongue.
Right: Black truffle salt.
Middle: Sea salt.
I tried the ox tongue first. It was great, but what came next was even better. The tenderloin was VERY soft and intense in flavor; it was incredibly tender and juicy. On the other hand, the sirloin melted in my mouth with as much intensity in flavor as the tenderloin. I cannot decide whether I liked the tenderloin or sirloin more. Both were amazing.
Sea urchin–truffle rice.
This was the (relatively) big pot the rice was cooked in (I think).
There have been a few dishes in my life that have made me scarf down food like an rabid animal. This was one of them.
When they set the bowl in front of you, the smell of the truffles and rice hits you HARD. For the first 20 to 30 seconds, I just sat there, happily smelling the rice. When you take your first bite, the taste of uni and truffles overwhelms you, and the rice adds texture as well as balances out the richness. This was incredibly satisfying to eat, and you can get more from the big pot! (I had no choice but to ask for more bowls.)
Pear sherbet and wasanbon (sugar) warabimochi cake.
-You’re supposed to eat the sherbet first (to refresh your palate) and then the warabimochi cake. The warabimochi cake is in wasanbon sauce, I think.
-This was a great complement and ending to the meal. It wasn’t too sweet, and it refreshed me—I felt hungry again!
The kitchen crew started to do clean-up near the end of our meal.