Friday, November 16, 2012

Kyushu Gourmet Experience at Japanese Dining SUN (CHIJMES)

Kyushu Sashimi Mori Seven Kinds
Those of you following me on Instagram will have seen me going on my first trip to Kyushu a couple weeks back, checking out wagyu and produce farms in Saga prefecture, and the Fukuoka fish market. It was a glorious three days where I got to try Kyushu food in Japan itself (yes, will be blogging that soon).

When I got back, I was glad to see that Japanese Dining Sun had partnered with the Fukuoka Chamber of Commerce and Industry to offer the Kyushu Gourmet Experience from 16 Nov 2012 to 8 Jan 2013. So yes, good food continues here and it starts today! Executive chef Toshio Sawaii has created a menu using ingredients from Miyazaki, Fukuoka, Saga, Kagoshima and Oita. Here are some highlights from the wide-ranging menu:

Kyushu Sashimi Mori 7 Kinds   S$88.80
Fatty tuna, yellow seabream, horse mackerel, golden-eye snapper, striped jack, yellowtail and Japanese seabream

The ensemble above is flown in twice a week (Tuesdays and Fridays, if I remember correctly) from Fukuoka, which is a major shipping and fishing port. Yes, the fatty tuna belly (chutoro) is fairly decent, but don't overlook the others - even the horse mackerel is pretty fresh and without that dreaded fishy taste. Man, I did see a lot of horse mackerel at the Fukuoka fish market, and fugu too. But relax, no fugu here.

Mentai Salmon Takana Roll
Mentai Salmon Takana Roll S$18.80
Spicy seasoned cod roe, sweet omelette and cucumber sushi roll wrapped with salmon and preserved mustard leaf

Kyushu is very near China and Korea, so it's not surprising to see culinary influences crossing over. Takana - preserved mustard leaf or kiam chye - makes it as a sushi topping too. This sushi roll is not only colourful but hearty in size and gets a nice salty accent from the preserved vegetables and cod roe.

(Miyazaki) Wagyu Steak Ajikurabe
(Miyazaki) Wagyu Steak Ajikurabe S$88.80
Japanese Grade A3 – Miyazaki wagyu ribeye and sirloin steak teppanyaki

Yes, one of the best ways to do wagyu is teppanyaki. A quick sear on a hot pan nicely caramelises the meat without overcooking it. They brought in Grade A3, which is moderately fatty, because Singaporeans still tend to prefer a more "beefy" taste in their wagyu. Super high grade wagyu is often deemed too fatty by some. It really depends on your personal taste. I saw some really nice marbling in Saga prefecture. Good for shabu shabu.

(Kagoshima) Mentai Cheese Chigiri Age
(Kagoshima) Mentai Cheese Chigiri Age S$9.80
Fishcake of spicy seasoned cod roe and cheese

Deep-fried, cheesy and umami -- what's not to like? This is fun finger food. The cod roe is not overpowering, so don't worry about it being too spicy or fishy.

(Fukuoka) Shiokoji Moriawase
(Fukuoka) Shiokoji Moriawase S$15.80
Shiokoji marinated meat platter of Berkshire pork, tender chicken and salmon

Aha. Shiokoji - a new ingredient. I also saw this fermented rice yeast marinade/condiment in Saga, which is apparently the new rage among young chefs. And I wonder if it's the same thing as shiokoji, which sounds similar - rice innoculated with a safe mould, in salted water. Brings out the umami and sweetness of meats. Seems to work best on chicken, but I liked the pork belly treated with this too. Umai!

Shiokoji, Hot Parasol Japanese Tabasco sauce and Wasabi sauce
That's what the bottle of shiokoji looks like (left) -- whitish fermented gruel in a salty suspension. We also got to try the grilled items with two sauces - a green yuzu-scented tabasco sauce (middle) and a wasabi sauce. I fell in love with yuzu-gosho in Kyushu, which is a superspicy and salty yuzu-green pepper paste. The tabasco sauce is very similar, just more watery. Yuzu gosho is a Kyushu specialty because citrus fruits thrive in the region, and it's used in lots of stuff from miso soup to yakitori. Even on simple steamed white rice it's a treat! Yes, I brought back a bottle and you can get it at Meidi-ya, so the Japanese chefs tell me.

(Saga) Nori Udon
(Saga) Nori Udon S$12.80
Cold seaweed noodle

If you love your noodles QQ and al dente, this seaweed noodle will interest you. It's a lot more chewy than regular soba, with a texture almost like konnyaku. Nice when mixed with shredded nori, scallions and ginger.

(Fukuoka) Tonkotsu Takana Ramen
(Fukuoka) Tonkotsu Takana Ramen S$11.80
Tonkotsu ramen served with Japanese preserved mustard leaf

Another noodle dish, and the photo really doesn't do justice to the delicious pork bone broth. Kyushu is where tonkotsu originated, so they say, and a bowl of this ramen is a must on this menu.

(Fukuoka) Kurobuta Gyoza
(Fukuoka) Kurobuta Gyoza S$9.80
Pan fried bite sized Berkshire pork dumplings filled with cabbage, chives and garlic

The Chinese influence rears its head again but the Japanese have made pot stickers really ultra delicious with a thin skin, delicately steamed and pan-fried on the bottom. The kurobuta filling is addictively good, especially with the dip. This was the hot favourite at our table.

(Fukuoka) Kinmedai & Mentai Chazuke
(Fukuoka) Kinmedai & Mentai Chazuke S$15.80
Lightly grilled Golden-eye snapper fillet slices, spicy seasoned cod roe served with green tea bonito soup

If you prefer something a little on the healthier side, chazuke -- rice in tea. Some people may not be used to green tea as a savoury broth, but for me, it works right off the bat. Rice in hot soup, pickles and fresh fish. Comfort on cold nights, if we ever have cold nights...

There are so many things to try from the main menu, but if you still have room for dessert, here are a couple of options.

(Oita) Momo Jam Chiffon Cake
(Oita) Momo Jam Chiffon Cake $6.50
Light and fluffy chiffon cake infused with the flavor of ripe peach jam and served with homemade vanilla cream

Peach chiffon cake made with peach jam. I'm not a fan of chiffon cake, but you may like this.

(Fukuoka) Yamecha Roll Cake
(Fukuoka) Yamecha Roll Cake S$6.50
Premium Fukuoka green tea roll with vanilla cream center

This roll cake was a little more dense and dry than I expected. Help yourself to the swath of green tea powder behind it if you want even stronger matcha flavour.

(Fukuoka) Yame Tea with Goma Sable Cookies
(Fukuoka) Yame Tea with Goma Sabure (Sable) Cookies S$5.80
Premium Fukuoka English tea with sesame sable cookies

Oh I liked this "dessert" the most, strangely, because the tea is very strong (just the way I like 'em). It helps to cleanse the palate and gullet of greasy fare consumed with wild abandon earlier.

Sun's signature tofu cheesecake
Sun's signature tofu cheesecake

Of course regular a la carte items are still available, and if you'd like to spring for their signature tofu cheesecake, by all means. It's honestly more satisfying than the Kyushu desserts, and I'm glad it's a permanent item.

The Kyushu Gourmet Experience runs 16 Nov 2012 to 8 Jan 2013 at both SUN dining outlets (the one at Wheelock, SUN with Moon, is more casual and cafe-like with all-day dining).

30 Victoria Street #02-01
Singapore 187996
Tel: (65) 6336 3166
Open daily
12 Noon to 3pm and
6:30pm to 11:00pm Mondays-Thursdays, Sundays & Public Holidays
6:30pm to Midnight Fridays, Saturdays and eve of Public Holidays

501 Orchard Road #03-15
Singapore 238880
Tel: (65) 6733 6636
Open daily
Noon to 10:30pm Mondays-Thursdays, Sundays & Public Holidays
Noon to 11:00pm Fridays, Saturdays and eve of Public Holidays

Many thanks to SFBI and the 360PR team for the invite and dinner.

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