L received good news and to celebrate, he told me to pick a restaurant. By the time L finished his sentence, I had already booked a table at Shokunin. For this post, let’s listen to “Love Like This” by Faith Evans.
Aside from the new winter menu, I noticed the seating between the tables is more spacious than before. And to keep up with the fast pace of the restaurant, there’s an army of cheerful, happy looking staff. From what I could see and experience, customers are well taken care of throughout the evening.
To start off our meal, L ordered a beer – the Okami Kasu (6 oz, $7). I ordered two glasses of red – Orofino Gamay ($15) and Dom Charbonniere ($11) because I wanted to compare the two wines side by side. The latter was sweet and easy to drink, with a fuller body. The Orofino was lighter and tart with a more pleasing bouquet.
L’s is obsessed with the Japanese Potato Salad ($8). Since I’ve been a customer, I have tried about three different versions. Past potato salads were served colder and with a chunkier texture. Another version used more red pickled onions with a balance of creamed and solid pieces of potato. This time, all the potatoes were whipped and creamy. We could taste a strong tang of horseradish. With the addition of half an egg, this version was creative, just like Shokunin.
The Foie Gras Don ($25) is my favourite dish of the 2019 menu. The moment this bowl hit our table, we could smell the roasted nori. The rice was perfectly perfumed with vinegar and each grain was tender but dense. For L, the highlight was the teriyaki sauce and rice. The sauce wasn’t sweet but true to the traditional teriyaki flavour you get from a homemade sauce.
For me, the foie gras stole the show. Each piece was warm, delicate and so buttery it melted on my tongue. The flavour was so explosively rich and fresh, it reminded me of a raw westcoast oyster. This dish was so distractedly decadent, I neglected my two glasses of wines. The side of tempura mint was lovely, as it combined the refreshing taste of mint with the salty thin crunch of the batter. I’d order this dish again.
L requested we order the Chicken Karaage ($14). Our chicken arrived blistering hot. I burnt my tongue because I didn’t wait for the karaage to cool down. I was surprised the meat was so juicy.
This karaage tasted different from past versions. I’m think the chicken is now skinless. All the crevices in each morsel was covered in a fine, crunchy batter. It was almost like the meat was scored and dusted with the seasoning mix. In any case, the karaage was scrumptious.
The Duck Udon ($19) is my favourite bowl of noodles in city. I find udon more satisfying to eat than ramen. I like the slippery smooth texture and the chewiness of the fat noodles. The slivers of spring onions were crunchy with the strong, sweet flavour of fresh green onions. The earthiness of the meaty mushroom slices and the creamy egg rounded out this bowl of treasures.
In my past visit, the duck slices were thicker, rare in the middle and satiny in texture. Now the meat is thinly sliced and it looks like it was torched or seared. The result is a more delicate texture that blends in with the vegetables
L remarked that I was smiling as I ate. I told him I was happy and I felt like the Ramen Master on Tampopo. I was elated to eat something that I couldn’t make at home.
L informed me he’s never watched Tampopo. What? The greatest movie of all time? I stared at L like the grocery merchant gaped at the crazy old lady (see video below for illustration). If you haven’t seen this epic movie, go do it. Watch it here.
Hitting the Sauce gives Shokunin’s new winter menu two fat thumbs up. The foie gras don is a work of art and I hope it is a permanent fixture on the menu. Below is a review of my review from my father. As always, he is correct.
“An enthusiastic review characterized by your usual erudite style and entertaining humour. But to neglect or almost neglect your glass of wine. Now that is the ultimate compliment and should not be conferred lightly!”
Ludvig van Louie