Chocstar gave me a bell on Wednesday after two of her friends had dropped out of the date at The Secret Ingredient. Living nearby I was straight down to Horton’s place for a six course veggie Japanese dinner for fifteen bucks. Fair going for an impromptu Wednesday evening.
We wound off
We were booked into the second sitting at meaning that we would not be rushed at the end of our sei piatti or more appropriately, 6つの版, as the Japanese would have it. Having said that, the first sitters didn’t have to rush either as we all bunked up in the small living room together and chatted away until they had finished up and departed. We had been seated by about ten and along came the fayre:
Mixed Japanese crackers on the table to nibble until the first course arrived. It was a salad of fish and plum sauce. A combination of dried fish, sliced onion, sapped of their intense power, leaving a more subtle taste and cracking crunch and a chilled sour plum sauce. The tiny portions left me wanting and wondering.
Next came a plate that wouldn’t have been out of place horizontally in the back room of a heady house party, namely that it was a mirror but bedecked with more wholesome stuffs. A parcel of green beans and carrot batons tied with nori, a splayed open radish topped with what seemed to be lemon soaked Granny Smith apple, the sweet and sour balancing well and preventing the grim discolouration. Two green spinachy rolls with something else unidentifiable, but both fresh clean and well seasoned. Finally to end the ensemble a spinach leaf held a powerful wasabi laced grated daikon salad.
Next – a sharing frame, yes a picture frame. This was the best of the six courses I thought. On it was a warm marinated mushroom, fragrant broccoli florets and a deep fried morsel bound with egg containing carrots various seasonings. It was at this point, as you can tell, that my brain was subject to overload and recollections become rather dim. But I do remember in the centre on the frame, where the hole is, a bowl of wasabi punctuated daikon a little less punchy that the version on the mirror course.
Now verging on full, having had in total about twenty good mouthfuls, we had a bowl of steaming rice another of exceptionally good and sweet miso and crunchy pickled cucumbers. Upon investigation Horton divulged that his miso was lacking in the paste department but was mostly the vegetable cooking waters from the previous courses. It was really spot on and it shows up the powdered supermarket sachet versions for what they are, imposters.
Pudding was the least inspiring of the six, Strawberry slices, chocolate and a sweet miso, which was interesting as a salty combatant to the sweet of fruit and chocolate and there was piping Sake unless we hadn't boozed enough.
Mr. Jupiter must spend on average six to seven hours cooking and preparing each Wednesday and he still had the energy to crack jovial anecdotes and genial quips with us after he had finished dervishing about in his small fridge-less kitchen. He told us that he got into Japanese cooking after stealing a book on the matter from his local library while bored in his early twenties….. A Cook, a Thief, don’t know if he has a wife or a lover but I salute him!