Another late post, but I’ve really been so busy with exams and oral commentaries and what have you. Life seems like a never-ending slew of happenings and events and emotions- I just cannot keep up with everything. Currently drowning in a quagmire of helplessness and self-destruction, yay!
Nadman, nadaman. Cue the witches’ chants. I came here with my Grandma during the December holidays one fine Monday (shock horror! Monday? It seems like an impeccable dream now). It always seemed like that high-class enclave shrouded in some dark and sophisticated air. Almost demeaning, it’s very name Nadaman seemed to reek of superiority. I don’t know why, but that’s just how I felt about it. Even though on the other hand, it also sounds like ‘nada, man, I don’t give a damn’.
Steamed egg custard (chawanmushi)- part of the lunch set
Sashimi set -$70
I remember this chawanmushi in particular because of its lovely, silken tofu texture. And I usually pass up this dish. Really, I still find it a little hard to willingly finish a bowl of egg custard, mostly because many places serve it obtrusively bland. And then here comes Mr Flavourful Silken Tofu, punctured here and there with a little nugget of mushroom or fatty chicken. Lovely. I still wonder at how, even after years of experience, chefs are able to manipulate their skills so wisely and deftly so as to produce the perfect texture each time. It’s mind-boggling and admirable. It came after a traditional small appetiser of sweet pickles in a little saucer, which perked my palate just enough to make me look forward to the main course.
70 bucks. That’s easily a burnt hole in your wallet. Then again, it was the most expensive lunch set, an aspect of the menu my darling grandmother cared rather little for. This woman loves her sashimi, and thank goodness it was worth it. The thing is, if it’s fresh, it will taste good. It’s really just a matter of chop, chop, plate, glaze. Make it look pretty too. I relish the light chew, cool slosh of slime, a soft wail from the dead animal’s voice as it hits the back of your throat. Factoring in that substantial variety of fish, including salmon, tuna belly and swordfish, the price was a little startling, but not extensively surprisingly either. Nothing too, well, fishy.
On a side note, I always feel like a duck next to my swan of a grandmother. She does everything with impeccable grace, so much so that my efforts with a pair of chopsticks would appear to be a toddler’s game when compared to Swan’s slow, deft handling of whatever she touches. Traditional, feminine, graceful. That is my grandmother compressed into three words, I tell you now.
Gyuniku Koumikayi Set- $45 (sliced sirloin beef in onion and sweet soy sauce)
Prawn and vegetable tempura- $20
Yes baby. MY set. The beautiful juxtaposition between stealing bits of cold sashimi and the sweet, bold richness of that teriyaki-like onion and soy sauce, drizzled over febrile, firm strands of juicy sirloin. Scarred with ridges and perfectly angled knife marks to enjoy maximum saturation of sauce. Don’t get me started on those onions. They were caramelised to perfection, without yielding all firmness. Just the way I like it. Just between debilitating and robust. Crunch, chew, the earthly splendour of the bulb basking in the heat of your mouth. Coupled with a fat spoon of obese Japanese rice speckles, like three-dimensional bits of snow freckles- moist, plump, as white as ever, it made for the most satisfying bite. The unstimulating but necessary bed of warm rice creating an appealing, slightly sweet canvas for the drunk flavours of the plate. I wouldn’t say it’s the best beef ever, but darn, was it good.
And that tempura? Not too thick and pale with careless slopped-on beer batter. A thin wrinkled layer adhered nicely to the well-cooked underwear that was the succulent prawn and fresh, seasonal vegetables. I can’t eat tempura or any of the fried stuff without the signature tempura sauce (made with soy sauce, mirin, dashi stock, salt and sugar) and cool radish (daikon) flakes. Oh, how I love that white snowy mound which beckons me to dive into its textured complex! Saturate the wrinkled outside with enough sauce to kiss the outer layers of meat as well. The batter on each was a little uneven though, with some yielding a thicker, chewier outside than others. Well, I can’t ask for too much, can I.
Just the two of us Japanese gluttons, separated by a few centimetres and a few generations.