Sunday, March 21, 2010

Xenri No Tsuki: Check the Bill

I was tipped off about this 6th floor Japanese eatery, Xenri no Tsuki, by a foodie friend. From what I was told, this place does old-school, traditional Japanese cuisine, and… they do shirako (male fish genitals). I was actually enticed by the shirako (I’ve never tried it before), but that night, was told by the sushi chef that they were out of that. No dice. Ah well, maybe next time.

(Amuse bouche: Nippon style)

After we made our orders, we were presented with a lovely amuse bouche platter. A bite-size serving of shrimp with jelly and caviar followed by a square of bonito-topped pumpkin and a tamago-esque concoction of some sort. A very welcoming start that heaped automatic brownie points to Xenri. Then came the first of the few small dishes we ordered. The marinated baby squid were slimy and intensely salty. Sooooo perfect with the sake. Then came the chilled uni tofu, which personally, I thought was no surprises there (not that it was not fresh or well-made… but it was just a little boring). Next up, stingray tempura. I’m not sure if I liked the stingray itself – it didn’t really seem meaty enough for my liking, but the tempura itself was perfectly executed. It was crispy and not the least bit greasy. I popped them, piece by piece into my mouth like peanuts, along with the accompanying mayo.

(Sake-perfect squid)

(Uni tofu: fresh but "meh")

(Stingray tempura: like peanuts)

(Cucumber with miso: complimentary from the chefs)

And having nabbed a seat at the sushi bar, there was no way we could bypass the daily specials. We tried a chef-recommended fish, which was diced up and dressed in a light and tangy sauce which really elevated the freshness of the fish. We also gave the jumbo shrimp sashimi a go. This was beautifully prepared, with an accompanying sauce made from all the delectableness in the head of the shrimp. And waste-not – they deep-fried the shrimp head for us afterwards, for our crunchy eating pleasure.

(Fresh fish sashimi of the day)

(Shrimp sashimi with sauce)

And wanting our share of carbs for the evening, we placed an order for my beloved ikura sushi (savory yumminess), and also the grilled eel sushi, which was interesting served with the slice of eel rolled around the rice. How pretty…

(Sushi: carbsssss)

In terms of service, I had absolutely no complaints about the chefs, who seemed like a nice bunch of dedicated, and friendly folk. Our serving waitress, on the other hand, though not unfriendly, seemed only half-awake (we ordered the onigiri, she brought us the teapot rice). But overall, I was impressed with the dining experience at this tucked-away gem… that is, until our bill came. Just as we had been commenting on how cheap everything seemed to be, our waitress handed us the bill, which turned out to be a few hundred $$ over what we had calculated the bill would be. But of course, being not the smartest people in the planet (and finishing a whole bottle of sake didn’t make things better), we didn’t realize this until we had paid the bill, left the restaurant… without taking the receipt, of course. Damn…

So kids, here’s the moral of the story: enjoy the food, double-check the bill, and drink the sake responsibly.

FOOD: 4/5
SERVICE: 3.5/5

XENRI NO TSUKI ($$$$/$$$$$)
6/F, Jardine Centre
50 Jardine's Bazaar
Causeway Bay

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