Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Nadaman, finally

While still recovering from that diet-busting dinner at Magnolia, we were forced by circumstances beyond our control (gluttony) to heave our lazy bottoms from their cushy corner on the sofa and trek all the way to Island Shangri-La. Nadaman, with its teppanyaki table overlooking HK park, was waiting.

I had my usual house salad and cold green tea noodle. Anywhere I eat I have to partake of the salad. It makes me feel less guilty about the calorific delights I am bound to order and finish off like a starving prisoner of war. I used to shudder at the thought of cold noodles with raw quail egg, wasabi and soya sauce, but after a brave evening ages ago I gave my heart and have been in love ever since with cold soba, cold udon and any manner of cold noodle served Japanese-style. They taste so refreshing, not least because of their temperature - definitely not ice-cold but cool to the lips and tongue, balanced by the salty-sweet sauce and given a zing by the wasabi. It acts like a sorbet for me, and cleanses the palate after rich, fried offerings like tempura or Angus beef teppanyaki. Sometimes I eat it as an appetizer, more often than not it stays with me throughout the meal. Just like pickled ginger, those crunchy pinkish slivers that are sweet, sour, and go perfectly well with some sushi or sashimi balanced delicately on a chopstick and slightly dipped in soy sauce. I eat pickled ginger with everything, from my raw fish to my fried rice.

Although I enjoyed the salad and soba, the highlight of the start of the evening (yes, the middle and end had highlights too) were the toro handrolls we ordered, the tuna so fresh and fatty and flavorful, each mouthful redolent of perfectly-made sushi rice mixed with a generous amount of cubed toro that left a pleasant lingering sea-taste on our tastebuds. Afterwards we watched while an expert chef moved around the teppanyaki table, his movements graceful, his eyes alert, his hands swift. We had large, firm scallops, wagyu beef tenderloin and the highlights, two of them, if you please -- a whole, live, quivering mass of abalone; and codfish cooked in the most interesting manner. The abalone, which looked like a barnacle-crusted sea monster, was quickly relieved of its tough outer fringe by a sharp knife and the flesh was seared and sliced, seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper, and served to the most grateful of guests who ooohed and aaahed the entire time it was being prepared. It was wonderful, a sweet-tasting, resilient piece of seafood. After this a fistful of sliced white onions were sauteed and partly caramelized in butter. Two fillets of buttery, soft-fleshed cod were seared, then placed on a small copper pot on the bed of onions. Sake and brandy were added and left to reduce. A knob of butter and a squeeze of lemon juice finished off this highly aromatic dish whose preparation was a show in itself. The combination made for a heady, exciting broth that cradled the fish and teased the senses with its superior flavor. I will definitely eat this again, and again, and again. I could eat several orders of this and get drunk with happiness. It was heavy on the senses but light on the tummy. We enjoyed all these with a bowl of Japanese sardine (looked like tiny silver dilis) fried rice.

An auspicious beginning demands a superlative ending, and the apricot mousse with melon ice cream was just that- superlative. It was like eating the fruits with all their perfume and sweetness encased in ice and cream which made biting unnecessary, as every wonderful spoonful melted in one's mouth and flowed with ease and grace further down, hitting just the spot that sends replete, happy signals to the brain. Ahhhh, success in our chosen restaurant. Life is good.

1 comment:

PV Beley said...

Geez. You really do know how to write about gastronomic temptations. If only Monette and I can fly to HK every month and go on an eating frenzy. ha ha ha. Come to think of it, you can very well organize foodie tours. BTW, thanks for the backpack of Niccolo.