Monday, January 8, 2018

Sou Omakase x Azumino Ikeda, Nagano

Last week, I had the pleasure of sampling a special menu featuring ingredients flown in from Nagano, Japan at Sou Omakase in The Gardens Mall.

Nagano Prefecture, located just two hours by train north of Tokyo, is an area with an abundance of natural resources and beauty and is famed for its ski resorts and hot springs. Ikeda Town, listed as one of the most beautiful villages in Japan, is located in the north-central of Nagano Prefecture with views of the Northern Alps Mountains and beautiful landscape.

From 9th January 2018 onwards, guests can enjoy a special Azumino lunch menu at Sou Omakase for RM88 per set. This collaboration will see ingredients such as miso, shio-koji and shiawase-suke from Azumino Ikeda, used to prepare the dishes. Ikeda is known as one of the leading rice producing areas in Japan, so sake is also another specialty in this area.

To start, we were served an Amazake jelly made from sake komekoji, chia seeds and yuzu which is slightly sweet as well as umezuke (salted, pickled mini plums) to whet the appetite.

In Japan, it is common to have Osechi to welcome the New Year. These traditional Japanese food usually have some symbolism / special meaning behind them, very much like the auspicious ingredients we have during Chinese New Year.

We were presented with a beautiful New Year's osechi platter, featuring Datemaki (Japanese sweet rolled omelette symbolising wish for auspicious days), Kazunoko (Herring roe symbolising a wish to be gifted with children), Kamaboko (fish cake to symbolise Japan's rising sun), Kuro-mame (black soybeans symbolising a wish for good health) and ebi (prawn symbolising a wish for long-life). The Osechi platter will be served until 15 January, after which the chef will create another special appetizer for this Azumino Ikeda set lunch.

Next, we were served the Azumino lunch course, similar to a bento with several dishes showcased. My favorite was the grilled cod, which is marinated with shiawase-zuke, kin no miso and shio-koji which gave it a wonderful savoury flavour. I also loved the meaty texture of the cod fish. The lunch platter also included braised daikon with Gin No Miso (also from Azumino Ikeda), prawn and vegetable tempura, sashimi (yellowtail and salmon) and ikura, pickles, osumashi clear soup with salmon and steamed rice (Tsuya-gohan from Nagano).

Along with the lunch platter, we were also served smooth, delicious Ikeda-soba and Ikeda-udon from Azumino Ikeda.  Wasabi, dried seaweed and scallions are added to the dipping sauce. We learnt that Azumino in Nagano grows the best wasabi in the world, thanks to the pure, clean water in the area.

Finally, for dessert, we had the creamy Sake-Kasu pudding topped with kuwanomi (mulberry fruit) as well as a refreshing Apple Sherbet, made using 100% fresh apple juice from Nagano. Sake-kasu is the leftover lees from sake production. A hot Kuwa cha (dried mulberry leaf tea) from Azumino Ikeda concludes our culinary adventure.

Diners who order the Azumino Ikeda set will receive a Mizuhiki souvenir, made by a talented Japanese lady Aya Nomura.

Iida City in Nagano is the main centre of Mizuhiki production in Japan. Mizuhiki, a decorative Japanese cord made from twisted paper is often gifted during Japanese weddings and special occasions as it is considered auspicious and good luck. Mizuhiki also represents the bond between people; the stronger the Mizuhiki knotting, the stronger the bond.  For those interested in her work, you may check out her website.

The Azumino Ikeda special set lunch is available from 9 January 2018 onwards until end of January or til food stock runs out (whichever sooner).

Opening times: Lunch 11.30am - 2.30pm; Dinner 6.00pm - 9.30pm.

Location: Sou Omakase Dining, G247 Ground Floor, The Gardens Mall, Mid Valley City, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Kuala Lumpur. (Park in mall RM2 for 3 hours)

Tel: 03-2202 1133


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