Friday, 15 January 2016

Den, Tokyo

Fresh from our travels from Japan and Korea one of the most eagerly anticipated meals was at Den in Jimbocho, Tokyo. Chef patron Zaiyu Hasegawa serves up his take on modern kaiseke cuisine. Situated down an alley a couple of minutes walk from Jimbocho station it can be easy to miss the Den "傳" signage, the hostess was surprised that we had found the restaurant without any trouble.

We had an early booking for 6pm and me being overzealous not to be late we were ten minutes early and waited in the seating area whilst the kitchen finished the prep for the night. Immediately we could see the playful aspect of the restaurant which it is famed for as we noted scribblings in black marker along the walls and doors from famous visiting chefs from all over the globe. Notable familiar UK chefs included Isaac McHale who had visited a month earlier.
Savoury play on red bean monaka, this one was filled with foie gras, chestnut and pickles. It was so good Wendy wanted another one.
Blowtorched crabshell hiding a piping hot crab croquette filled to the brim with crab meat and roe.
Beautiful bespoke crockery
Chef presented us with a chicken box next with a title of DFC. Inside was a nice surprise with a thanks for coming message and chicklet bearing the Union Jack. The star of the box however was the perfectly fried stuffed chicken wing, filled with rice, goji berries and pine nuts.
Meguro sashimi with a tomiko brown sauce which we mopped up with gusto.
Japanese mackerel served with a divine monkfish liver sauce and celery sauce with a garnish of fried radish. This was simply amazing, the celery sauce brought a good balance to a otherwise rich dish.
Next up was Chefs signature salad showcasing Japanese produce, fried leaves, raw and cooked vegetables all added to a complex dish, the star for me was a delectable tomato.
We noted a rice pot cooking away during our meal and inside was our next course. Chef presented a sakura ebi ricepot to us which are in season two times a year. The essence of the shrimps permeated through the rice as it cooked and this was a delight. We didn't want the meal to end with this being the final savoury course.
Dessert served with a gardening theme complete with "rusty" chocolate spade, the contents included a charcoal cheese pudding covered in green tea, brown tea and barley tea.
The last course was a rich Italian truffle and chocolate pudding served in a mug similar to the coffee chain, this one however signified Chefs determination to regain his second Michelin star.
 Being avid followers of Chef on Instagram for which he was humbled, his face lit up when we mentioned Pucci Jr. Chef even brought him down from his slumber and he became the centre of attention. Pucci licked my hands when I stroked him, Chef said he could smell the DFC on my hands which is his favourite! Amazingly when chef said arigato, Pucci would put his paws together and bow to thank the customers!

The sake and wine pairings were great and value for money, with the whole meal costing around 34,000 Yen for two. Chef even provided some recommendations to us when we enquired where to sample different types of Japanese cuisine. He even offered to make  his special version of whatever we wanted if we returned, now thats service!
www.jimbochoden.com

Sunday, 15 November 2015

The Seafood Bar Spui, Amsterdam

The Seafood Bar has two branches in Amsterdam, we visited the newer Spui branch on a chilly Sunday night. It was near capacity and to our horror I had my dates mixed up and actually reserved a table for the previous night, the host however assured it was fine and they had a table free luckily. The Spui restaurant is huge and split on three levels in a long dining room elevated in the middle and gain towards the back. There is a seafood bar along the side followed by the open kitchen, just walking to the table is a treat as you can eye up your favourite crustacean and fish before being seated.
Selection of oysters - Fines de Normandie no 3, Spéciales Tsarskaya no 3
Fruit de Mer mixed grill - lobster, salmon, prawns, squid, mussels
Fruits de Mer - a mountain of langoustines, lobster, crab salad, king crab legs, razor clams, winkles, clams, mussels, oysters, king prawns
The two tiered seafood feast in all its glory!

I don't ever recall being stuffed to the absolute brim so much that I couldn't finish a seafood meal before, but it happened here as we had to leave some salad and mussels. The sheer mountain of seafood was too much but very good value for money. The whole meal including drinks and service charge came to 120 Euros which is great value compared to anywhere in the UK. The pick of the seafood had to be the mixed grill platter and the crab salad from the cold fruit de mer, but overall it rivalled any other seafood platter that we have tried anywhere. A must visit for seafood lovers in Amsterdam.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Rijks, Amsterdam

On a recent weekend trip to Amsterdam we visited Rijks restaurant for lunch after a whistlestop tour around the Van Gogh museum. We didn't anticipate the large queues at ten in the morning but ended up on time for our reservation. As we trawled through the menu we were presented with some stunning amuse bouches. A cream of oyster, radish and champagne foam which packed bags of flavour and a deep fried leaf. We noted that there were deep fried leaves on every vacant table and were tempted to eat them as well! The menu features a small plate concept with a few larger plates.

Roasted langoustine tail, curry cream, trout eggs, linseed, quinoa - a food bloggers / instagrammars heaven, each dish was very photogenic and the curry cream on the bed of quinoa worked very well with the langoustine.
Gasconne veal shank, crème of foie, apricot, crispy buckwheat
Bbq sweet cornchickenparfait, crispy chicken wing, dried onion - this was Mrs Noms favourite dish as she is a big fan of corn
Roasted beef tenderloin tartare, chopped egg, tarragon, spinach - the title baffled us as the beef found in the onion cups were three quarters cooked. Not sure if thats how it was supposed to be served but the tartare name was a bit odd and resulted in it being the least successful dish of the meal.

Duck, germule, lingonberry, Dutch plum sauce - this dish would have been exceptional if the duck was cooked less, it proved to be tough and not in the slightest pink.

We enjoyed lunch at Rijks, on the main the food was at a high level. It was noted that as lunch service picked up we began to find flaws in the dishes as well as in the speed of service, this meant we skipped dessert in order to make use of the last of our time in Amsterdam. 

Friday, 30 October 2015

Nahm, Bangkok

A quick recap of our meal at Nahm, Bangkok, number 1 in the 2014 San Pellogrino Asia's 50 Best restaurants list.

Refreshing drinks by the pool prior to dinner at Nahm
Ma hor - minced pork, chicken and prawns with palm sugar on fresh Thai pineapple
Pork and lobster with shredded ginger and Thai citron on betal leaves
Blue swimmer crabs, peanuts and pickled garlic on rice cakes
Chiang Mai larp of guinea fowl
Prawns and coconut wafers with pickled ginger
Tom Yumtini
King fish salad with pomelo, lemongrass and lime
Clear soup of roast duck with thai basil and young coconut
Hot and sour soup of chicken, prawns and wild mushrooms
Preserved shrimp and crab simmered in coconut cream with deep fried prawns and vegetables
Aromatic curry of prawns with cucumber served with pickle vegetables
Stir-fried wagyu beef with charred onions, oyster sauce and thai basil
Unripe green mango served with salt, chilli and sugar
Pandanus noodles with black sticky rice, water chestnuts, tapioca and coconut cream
Fruit platter
Birthday coconut cake