An amazing meal at Houraiken, Nagoya, with Japanese wine

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An amazing meal at Houraiken, Nagoya, with Japanese wine

Houraiken Nagoya

Hot on the heels of one of the most memorable meals of my life a few days ago in Tokyo, I had a very special experience last night, dining at the main restaurant of Houraiken in Nagoya (they have three branches). Houraiken is an old, traditional restaurant whose speciality is eel (unagi).

Here is a short film of the meal:

 

The multi course menu we enjoyed was phenomenal, and included several new experiences for me (my first eel heart, my first fugu, and my first crayfish sashimi). It wasn’t just the food that was spectacular, but also the service and the calm ambience of the private dining room. With the food we enjoyed two very good Japanese natural wines. These are my notes:

Azuccae Azucco Quatro Canti White 2015 Aichi Prefecture, Japan
11% alcohol. A blend of Malvasia, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, naturally made. Slightly hazy. Initially this is very funky and reductive on the nose, but after a short while it straightens out with aromas of apples, lemons and fine spices, as well as some mineral reductive notes. Spicy, mineral palate with generous pear and citrus fruit. Detailed, complex and quite lovely. 93/100

Azuccae Azucco Quatro Canti Red 2015 Aichi Prefecture, Japan
11.5% alcohol. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Lambrusco. This has a refined gravelly nose and is sweetly fruited on the palate with bright cherry, raspberry and blackcurrant fruit. There’s a chalky, gravelly edge and a lovely supple, juicy quality to the fruit. It’s cool climate in style and quite Bordeaux-like, and very smashable. 91/100

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houraiken

First course: charcuterie and melon.

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Second course: salmon roe and sticky potato. This was particularly good, with the salmon roe exploding in tiny balls of salty goodness.

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Third course: fried eel heart. Quite tasty and not at all weird. A bit dry? Good for the libido, apparently.

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Fourth course: Matsutake mushroom, in a broth, with shrimp, eel and chicken. You drink the broth, then eat the ingredients.

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Fifth course: a spectacularly presented freshwater crayfish (isebi) sashimi, with a bit of beef sashimi too. Beautiful stuff.

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Sixth course: eel (including the backbone, which is crunchy and tasty), with caviar. Very nice.

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Seventh course: fugu (puffer fish). This is very dangerous and if it isn’t prepared properly, you die. It was lovely, but maybe not worth dying for.

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Eighth course: crayfish heads in a miso soup. This is where the rest of our crayfish went.

hitsumabushi eel

Ninth course: the famous hitsumabushi eel, with rice and soup. You eat some eel (lovely!), then some of the rice under it, then you add condiments and soup and eat the rest. This is a remarkable dish.

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