In collaboration with Fukuoka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Japanese Dining SUN (Chijmes, pictured above) and Sun with Moon (Wheelock Place) present the Kyushu Gourmet Experience, which introduces food from Kyushu, Japan.
Kyushu (九州), literally translated as “nine provinces,” consists eight prefectures, including Nagasaki and Okinawa. If you have read the award-winning author David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, you’d know that Kyushu, located at the southern tip of Japan, a region that is nearest to mainland Asia, had the only port and sole window to the world during the Edo Period (1603-1867), designed to keep foreigners out of Japan. Since Kyushu had the only port of Japan then, the food in Kyushu differs from other regions of Japan in that Kyushu food has influences from all over the world.
Kyushu Sashimi Mori 7 Kinds ($88.80)Imported from Kyushu every Tuesday and Friday, the sashimi changes according to the catch. The 7 types of fish come in 2 or 3 slices (for 2-3 persons) and were soooo fresh that there wasn’t any fishy stink. The flesh was firm and bouncy and had a very delightful bite. This was my dish of the day.
Sun Goma Salmon ($15.80)
My dining partner’s favorite dish: a row of beautiful, fresh raw salmon, garnished with sesame seeds, lined half the circumference of a transparent plate. In the hollow of the plate is a dip: break the soft-boiled egg and mix well with the soya sauce. While I thought it was such a waste of good salmon to dip in anything, my dining partner said that the dip brought a complexity of taste to the salmon.
The Wagyu beef is costly because it is imported from Japan.. Having experimented with several grades, the restaurant eventually chosen Grade 3 (there are 5 grades) with 3-4 marbling. This is because the steak would be too greasy with a higher grade. Our verdict: LOVE IT. Both my dining partner and I picked this as our second favorite of the night. Very buttery, without being excessively oleaginous, and tender, melts in your mouth.
Shiokoji Moriawase ($15.80)
According to Los Angeles Times, shiokoji is the latest food fad to hit USA. Shiokoji is a sauce made of fermented rice, fungus, sea salt and water.The various meat, including Berkshire (black) pork, chicken and salmon, are marinated in shiokoji and then grilled to give the umami taste. This dish is a specialty from Fukuoka, a prefecture within Kyushu.
Mentai Salmon Takana Roll ($18.80)
This sushi roll, with tamago, cucumber and salmon, demonstrates a Chinese influence as it is wrapped with preserved mustard leaf and topped with spicy seasoned cod roe.
Kurobuta Gyoza ($9.80)
Another Fukuoka speciality, the Berkshire (black) pork dumplings had a tenderness that contrasted textually and wonderfully with the cabbage, chives and garlic within. Instead of hardening with the pan-searing, the decadent dumplings remained soft.
From Saga area of Kyushu, this is a udon, pretending to be a soba. It looks green because seaweed is part of the ingredients, and it comes with a cold dipping soya sauce. Very refreshing.
Tonkotsu Takana Ramen ($11.80)
The Fukuoka ramen comes with a slice of pork, an egg, and preserved mustard left.
Kinmedai & Mentai Chazuke ($15.80)
I don’t quite like the Hakka’s thunder rice (or rice in tea) but the ingredients here are different from the Hakka’s dish–lightly grilled golden-eye snapper fillet with spicy seasoned cod roe in green tea bonito soup–and the ingredients make the dish palatable. This dish works because green tea is less bitter than other tea, and the bonito makes the food savory. When I was there, the rice was cooked to be slightly more sticky so that when the tea was poured into the rice, I was eating congee.
Between the two cakes, it was difficult to say which was the better one. They both had the lightness of touch that Japanese are renowned for. Even though the yamecha roll cake or Fukuoka green tea roll has vanilla cream, the cream was very light and not at all sweet. The chiffon cake from Oita in Kyushu, on the other hand, looks bland but the fragrance of the peach (momo) is quite tangible when you eat it. Both were excellent in their own right.
Japanese Dining SUN
30 Victoria St
T: 6336 3166
Sun with Moon
501 Orchard Rd
#03-15 Wheelock Place
T: 6733 6636
PS: Thank you, Fukuoka Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Suntory group for the sponsored entry. And thanks to Su Ping and Roy for hosting us.