And once again it's that time of the month that I have been waiting for - The BackBench at Koya. Held once a month, The BackBench is an opportunity for diners to enjoy a delightful tasting menu, created by the talented Chef Junya - dishes which go beyond the Specials blackboard which utilize the freshest ingredients in season.
We also went for the sake flights as usual to get the full experience.
| Namayasai Vege Plate |
A little lunchbox-inspired vegetable dish - pickled bitter-gourd, fresh edamame beans, turnip wrapped in egoma leaves, and a physalis.
A fresh and healthy start to our evening.
- paired with Sohomare, Karakuchi, Junmai -
| Roasted Cobnuts Hiya-Atsu Udon |
For once, we were able to participate in the preparation of our dishes! We were first served a pot of roasted cobnuts and some nut-crackers, which we were required to crack open to make the udon soup - and nibble on whilst in the process of doing so. After that we each handed our bowls back over the bench to be crushed and mixed into the udon soup.
We still had quite a lot of cobnuts left in our pot, so whilst the others were still slurping away on udon, the both of us continued nibbling away on our cobnuts - can't let good nuts go to waste!
| Grilled Wild Salmon Sashimi, Salted Elderberry, Potato & Horseradish |
Delicious fresh sashimi, with a nice touch of saltiness from the elderberries, and a hint of heat from the horseradish - a nice combination of flavours.
- paired with Toko, Junmai -
| Tempura Steamed Carrot, Rowan Berries & Honey |
The carrots were cooked in tempura, which were then removed, leaving the carrots which were nicely steamed and non-greasy. On the side were some rowan berries, which had a slight bitter taste, but which was balanced out by the honey.
| Wild Scottish Mushrooms Chawanmushi |
My favourite dish of the evening. I absolutely love chawanmushi, and this was so smooth and silky, which literally melts in your mouth (actually, it melted in mine, sorry!). Topped with mushrooms, one of my favourite ingredients, and I was left feeling very contented.
- paired with Kamoizumi, Shusen "Three Dots" Junmai -
| Grilled Aubergine, Manganji pepper & Nuka Mackerel in Hojicha-dashi |
The mackerel was first fermented in Nuka, which is a versatile Japanese technique for fermenting using rice bran, and then grilled. I liked the dashi which was mixed with hojicha, made from late-summer bancha leaves which are roasted, giving it a slight nutty flavour.
| Young Grouse, First Apple, Crab Apple & Sake Chutney & Thyme |
My first taste of grouse this season! The pink and tender meat of the young grouse was suitably matched with crab apple from his forages. And on the side, a nice sweet sake chutney and thyme.
- paired with Masumi Arabashiri, nama Genshu, Junmai Ginjo -
| Beetroot, Cherry, Elderberry & Sake-Kasu Ice Cream |
One of my favourite desserts - made from the lees left over from the sake production, giving it a bit of a boozy flavour. This time served with sweet cherries and beetroot.
| Caramel Sweet Corn |
Chef Junya's take on a simple, yet comforting snack - slathered in caramel and grilled.
My fifth BackBench, and still maintaining my BackBench-er record (if there ever was one).
Each and every experience so far has been especially unique and exciting, and I am definitely looking forward to more of Chef Junya's creations to come.
See you at the next BackBench in September.
For my previous BackBench posts, click on the links below:
The Cheekster, signing out x