Thursday, April 11, 2013

Motorino (now in HK)

Good news! There is a new NY-imported pizza place in town – Motorino. Yay!

Motorino serves up neopolitan styled pizza or for some it is the “soggy” styled pizza. Whilst this leans towards being authentic, I’ll be the first to admit that it really isn’t my style of pizza. Eating with a knife and fork is more appropriate than getting all stuck in with your hands and somehow with pizza that just seems too proper for this causal food.

As compared to the pizza places around the city, Motorino offers interesting toppings - their signature brussels sprout with pancetta, and cherry stone clams - gives them a slight edge and to make it a complete meal, they recommend Gragnano perfect pizza to wash it all down. Whilst what tops the pizza does matter, the dough and the crust is something that I’m still trying to come to terms with. The crust is very puffy. Puffy, puffy, puffy that when we first ate it my dining mate described being naan-like (less the ghee and garlic that is usually slathered on) and someone else said to me that it was like pita bread and all they needed was hummus, so not really pizza crust-like descriptions. To me, it was just too puffy and too much dough that even though it did have marks of the wood fire oven char – although some just were outright burnt – it lacked character is flavour and mouth feel texture.

Not a big fan of the crust but happy to have this pizza option in town.

14 Shelly Street
Central, HK

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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Sushi Sawada – Sublime Sushi

I’m not quite sure if I can describe it. I have no pictures and no proper words. The best way I can think of saying it is - Mind blowing sushi.

The sushi counter is an immaculate single piece of wood that sits only six and behind the counter stands Sawada with his stunning knives, his ice box refrigerator where he ages his fish, a small charcoal burner and also a clock that is 30 minutes too fast (we found out this was to ensure his alcohol enriched guest don’t miss the last train home).

For the few hours at the sushi counter, it is an opportunity to connect with Chef Sawada and for him to demonstrate his skill and passion. The meal is an eye opening experience and these are some of the things that I learnt ...
- My idea of “freshness” was turned upside down. For me fresh always meant – this fish was caught earlier today/ we bought this at the market today/ this just came off the boat – and fresh was always best, but here old is gold and the aging process of the fish is a very large part of making exceptional sushi here because the texture and flavor improves.
- Aburi sushi should always be done the traditional way for the best result. Here at Sawada, he does this by holding a piece of bincho charcoal over the fish for the skin the crisp and the oils to develop. This sounds like a really DUH statement to make but up till then, all the aburi sushi I’ve had have been done aburi-ed with a blowtorch which have always left a lick of butane flavour, in contrast, Sawada does this by holding white hot bincho charcoal which produces a pristine tasting piece of sushi.

This is the rundown of what we had ...
Chu toro

Squid and abalone with uni (squid aged 10 days)
Aburi saba (aged 2 days)
Aburi toro (aged 2 weeks)
Barracuda maki
Steamed seasonal kisu white bait
Smoked buri o-toro – bacon of the sea
Otoro (aged 5 days)

Nigiri Sushi
Steamed Kumura ebi
Akami maguro
O-toro (aged 2 weeks)
Aburi o-toro (aged 2 weeks)
Spring Katsuo with smoked rice
Hokkaido bafun uni (uni ice cream as Sawada jokingly described)
Anago with yuzu salt

Gooseberries to end

Eating here is a very beautiful experience. Sushi Sawada is small and intimate and everything is personal - the napkins that are painted by his wife, the fish that is hand-picked, broken down and carefully aged and the whole meal service is done with so much grace, humility and humour that nowhere else that I have dined at comes close to this experience.

Simply sublime sushi, thank you Sawada-san!

Sushi Sawada
MC building, 3F
5-9-19 Ginza, Chuo-ku

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