Jimbocho Den 神保町 傳 (2015.11)
Right i finished my meal at Jimbocho Den one month ago, i made a reservation for my next visit in November. Chef Zaiyu-san's unique understanding and creations of Japanese food is playful but very good in consistency throughout the menu. I loved his grilled and deep-fried dishes very much. More importantly, the atmosphere is very good - relax and homey. There is only one set of menu at Den and a rather affordable price, Zaiyu-san makes something different to the diners every time you visit Den, even you want to eat there the second day.
Last time we had a savory and sour foie gras Monaka made of plum and pickles, we loved it as well as this sweer version with my favorite seasonal produce - chestnut. The foie gras was smooth and delicious and usual, the chestnut paste was natually sweet and pickles added a touch of refreshness.
I am not a big fan of high calories food such as croquette, and this was actually my first croquette experience in Japan. Of course i don't mind to have Zaiyu-san's croquette. I felt the extremely crispy skin and soft inside when i split the cutie into two halves. The chock full of Hokkaido crab mixed with egg and flying fish row was incredible drooling, and of course, very delicous- rich and creamy, but not heavy at all. The crispy skin was neither too oil. Lovely one.
It reminds me of my childhood that i wanted to have KFC every severl weeks, now it is monthly DFC time. I cannot wait to open the box and eat it, to see what's inside the chicken wing this time. Chef Zaiyu-san as well as his wife would never tell you what's inside until you take the first bit. This time seems a quite 'beauty' DFC that good for ladies, made with fragrance black rice with goji berries and crunchy pine nuts. Well, nothing astonishing about the flavor inside compare to my last 'turtle DFC' , but loves the super cirspy skin and succulent meat.
After the Katsuo season, it now comes the best season to have Buri. The fish itself was only 2 day age and Chef Zaiyu-san marinated it with soy, loved the creamy and melt-in-mouth tenderness, some how similar to the texture of chutoro. The seaweed sauce was mixed with vinegar and dashi to balanced the rich oils in Buri.
The grilled dish was Sawara, which was natually a bit dry in texture but Zaiyu-san made it pretty delicious, especially the crispy skin. The grilled sauces on the top were celery (white) and Shiokara (pink). Shiokara, or salt-fermented squid in English, was a dish people usually have with sake. Both of the sauces were umami and enhanced the oceanic flavor of the fish.
Another classical one at Den, a salad consists of over 20+ kinds of vegetables sourced from Zaiyu-san's cousins' farms near Fuji Mountain. Each kind of vegetable is prepared in different ways to make a different texture and flavor, and the edible flowers gives a sour taste. Besides the kinds and preparation of vegetables are different time time, Zaiyu-san also uses his signature 'Mr.Ant' in our salad this time. The little poor guy has been drink only water for two weeks, it taste sour and crispy, My first time eating an ant, interesting.
As it came the season to eat Shirako, i requested for a Shirako dish a week previous to our visit. Chef Zaiyu-san freshly cooked the risotto for us, it looks simple but was incredible - my favorite risotto dish i recently had. Risotto itself was al dente, and the shirako was creamy and simply aromatic and umami. Both my partner and i want to have a second bowl but unfortunately, it was made fresh and we need to wait if we want some more. We found chef Zaiyu-san was quite busy in preparing other guests' dishes, so we decided to try the regular rice dish that other guests were having.
My partner had the rice cooked the pork and mountain vegetables, as i don't eat pork, Zaiyu-san severd the rice with Sakura ebi for me. OMG the Sakura rice was so good, not dry and neither too moist, the fragrance of the Sakura ebi last very long after i finished the bowl - even much better than the one i had in RyuGin before.
My partner was a first-timer so she had the signature 'mold', for me, i had a pretty refreshing dessert made with Japanese fruits and jelly. Wonderful sweet ending.
Oh the last but not the least one, a cup of Statcomebacks, made with black sugar instead of caffine. A very balanced sweet and bitter taste.
Chef Zaiyu-san impressed us a lot, again, and i am pretty sure he will always make oiishi dishes for all of his guests. Before we left, i asked Zaiyu-san how many stars he wants this time. He laughed and said ' The group have come already, and no stars this time, i need three big smiling faces." Anyway, will back for more, and cannot wait to see Den with more stars in the new guide next weekend!