The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 14 June 2013

Kaiseki Lunch @ Nadaman (Island Shangri-La), Hong Kong

Every year, hubby laments over how it always seems to rain on his birthday, regardless of where we happen to be living. In Australia, it is the middle of winter when rainfall is highest; and in both Japan and Hong Kong, June is smack in the middle of the rainy season. This year was no different to others, and hubby's birthday fell on a rainy and dreary day. One of the great things we like about central HK is the awesome pedestrian network of elevated walkways and underground tunnels connecting buildings and malls, making it possible to get from point A to point B without stepping out under the pouring rain or scorching sun - a good solution for a city that experiences bad weather nine months in a year. So although it was pouring down with rain outside, we stayed completely dry when we went out to celebrate with a lunch date at Nadaman in the swanky Island Shangri-La Hotel. The restaurant is quite highly regarded for the Japanese cuisine in Hong Kong, in particular for kaiseki ryori, the haute cuisine of Japanese food. Nadaman belongs to a famous group of restaurants from Japan with a lineage that dates back to 1830, and this was the first Nadaman established outside of Japan.

Lovely interior:

A glass of umeshu (plum wine) for hubby to start with (I was happy with my hot green tea). Check out the beautiful colour! The umeshu had a very sweet flavour which I thought masked the alcohol taste very well, making it very easy to drink (and to over-drink!):

The restaurant setting was beautiful, with floor-to-ceiling windows, lovely dark wood, and a peaceful atmosphere. When I called the restaurant to make bookings, I was asked if I wanted to sit at the teppanyaki counter, sushi bar or normal table; I opted for a table by the window. The service we received was excellent, professional and friendly. Although this is a fine-dining restaurant, I didn't think it was too formal or stuffy, and I felt quite at ease during the meal. The menu contained many delicious traditional Japanese food, and there were both set courses and a-la-carte options available. The lunch menu is more affordably priced than for dinner, so I would recommend coming by at lunch to sample great quality Japanese food without putting too much dent on the pocket. Hubby and I decided to go for the chef-recommended Lunch Kaiseki (HK$480), which changes monthly to feature seasonal ingredients. Food presentation was beautiful using gorgeous dining wares, and the food was delicious! The only thing we felt was missing in the lunch kaiseki was the 'steamed dish' course, usually chawanmushi (steamed egg custard), which we have come to expect in a traditional Japanese set meal (four years in Japan would do that to a person). Not to worry, we only had to ask our waiter, who confirmed that chawanmushi was indeed available in the a-la-carte menu. So half-way through our kaiseki course (as that was when we realised we missed something), we ordered chawanmushi (HK$70), which was served just before the final savoury course.

Trio of appetisers - tofu, steamed chicken and boiled spring vegetable with bonito sauce. The spring vegetable had a lot of umami, thanks to the nori sheets and bonito sauce:

Appetiser #1 - Asparagus tofu with crab meat and fish roe. I love Japanese tofu, and I realised as I bit into this tofu that it had been way too long since I last ate tofu. The crab was a luxurious touch, and the tobiko gave a nice salty crunch to the dish:

Appetiser #2 - Steamed chicken and bean with sesame sauce. I think that sesame sauce goes well with most meats and vegetables, and I loved the flavours of this chicken dish:

Soup Course - Clear soup with soymilk-layer and fish cake, vegetables and Japanese herb. The tofu/fishcake was such a delight to eat! It had a light airy texture and a delicious subtle fish flavour. The 'soymilk-layer' in the title refers to yuba (tofu skin), which lent to the silky texture of the cake:

Sashimi Course - Seared bonito in salad style with citrus soy sauce jelly. The soy sauce jelly was interesting, and it went well with the bonito:

Simmered Dish - Deep fried and simmered eggplant with shrimp, bean and thick sesame sauce. The eggplant was beautifully silky, and the sesame sauce was delicious:

Vinegar Dish - Crab meat and sliced yam with vinegar sauce and ginger. I loved the presentation of this dish, using a bamboo dish and an ice bath:

Inside the bamboo dish. The crab was sweet and tender, and the yam and ginger bed was refreshing. The sliced yam didn't have an overly gooey texture, otherwise hubby would not have enjoyed it so much!

Grilled Dish - Grilled swordfish flavoured with Japanese herb served with vinegared celery and sweet potato. To be frank, I have never been a big fan of swordfish. This swordfish had a nice sweet miso-based marinade, and the vinegared celery was actually pretty good:

Our Chawanmushi (steamed egg custard), as requested (not part of the lunch kaiseki set). Gorgeously silky and the flavour was perfect. I quite enjoyed this chawanmushi:

Rice with seasonal Japanese corn, soya bean soup and pickles. It wouldn't be a complete kaiseki meal without the rice course. I suggest starting with the subtly-flavoured rice along with the tsukemono, and finishing with the salty miso soup:

Dessert Course - Watermelon jelly with vanilla ice cream. The watermelon jelly was quite refreshing and light, just the way I like to end a meal (not with a heavy dessert!). The vanilla ice cream was pretty good too, and it had a very dense but smooth texture:

Hubby got presented with extra sweets for his birthday. Which was great because he was just saying that he was still hungry. I was pretty full, so I had tiny bites of each to taste. The cheesecake was cottony soft and light, just the way they make it in Japan! We think the pudding next to the cheesecake was made with earl grey tea (hubby thought it was coffee, but I couldn't taste coffee but could detect citrus, so we deduced it must be earl grey), which was quite enjoyable. I believe that hubby's favourite was that rich-looking chocolate cake:

This was a lovely mid-week treat to celebrate hubby's birthday. I heard that the teppanyaki at Nadaman is pretty good, and I'm sure we'll be back to try it out!

[Prices quoted above excludes the 10% service charge]

Nadaman (Island Shangri-La)
7th Floor
Island Shangri-La Hong Kong
Pacific Place
Supreme Court Road
Admiralty, Hong Kong
Tel. +85 2 2820 8570

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