Bei Restaurant: Doyo Ushi No Hi—Japanese Eel Day
I love the way eel day sounds in Japanese and I’m sure I pronounce it like an American learning french, butchering every nuance in the language. This year, eel day falls on July 19, which is apparently the hottest day of the year in Japan (not sure with global warming as we’ve moved from a heatwave week of 40ºc to a week of acid rain this week.
I hope the nutritious eel will also protect me from pollution and acid rain. I had a 7 course eel menu of amazing textures and flavours, 2 of which were sorbets. We laid down our chopsticks with true regret because by the time our 3rd course arrived, we were stuffed.
We started with a tart pickled cherry sorbet with wild pepper (I tasted the distinct tongue numbing Sichuan peppers)
Roasted eel, avocado wrapped in cucumber, who would have thought this would be a winning combination? This dish was soft, creamy, crunchy, juicy, sweet and savory, not quite all at the same time as the textures came subtly layered as with the flavours.
My long time love affair with the black sesame grilled eel with miso foie gras and 三杯醋 (literally translates to 3 cups of vinegar san bai zu in Japanese) based on the famous Taiwanese dish 三杯鸡, whose recipe involves one cup of soy sauce, one cup of vinegar and a cup of chicken stock (eel stock in this case). Given the importance of vinegar to the flavours, it was named so in the dish.
This dish is balance personified with all the key flavours at play, bringing out the best of each other, taking you slowly from water to land. Best to savour that subtle umami alongside the rich fatty goodness of that roasted crisp eel and take a bite of courgette to go with it.
Sushi? What can I say with all the usual adjectives and not appear contrived and annoying. It was tops as always—selection depends on what what the kitchen decides to feed you on that day.
Amazing as always—roasted Mishima ranch wagyu with ramen and eel, the textures and flavours (strong umami) which I can only liken to a dance at the perfect tempo. I was already stuffed by then… and half of this had to go to waste.
Here we had a crunchy eel spine chip garnishing a layered omelette with eel—I could almost feel all that calcium going into my body instantly chewing on that crackling piece, just like an elixir for osteoporosis. I remember my mother making this fish when I was a kid and we would eat the whole thing, they use that fried fish alot in nasi lemak and I can’t for the life of me remember the name of that fish.
Cloudy solution above is Horsemilk liqour from Inner Mongolia paired with my strawberry rice cake and cream. I’m not sure if it’s because of the perception of the liqour or if I really didn’t enjoy the taste…This lovely dessert was pretty much niangao (dull old Joe sticky rice cake) going on a date with lolita, which was yummi-licious.
Eel month menu through end of July, 2010Bei restaurant
No 11 Sanlitun Road
Chaoyang District, Beijing
Reservations, please call 6410 5230