1 This is Chef Hiroki Abe, the executive chef of EN Japanese Brasserie. Abe is a real innovator of Japanese cuisine and a highly respected sushi master. In fact, he comes from a family of sushi chefs.
2 Abe's kitchen counter seats eight lucky diners.
3 Once Abe chooses ingredients and decides on the dishes, a special menu is printed for this once-a-month Tuesday meal.
4 EN Japanese Brasserie offers and extensive menu, featuring dishes such as fresh tofu, which is prepared in-house six times a night. I love this gossamer tofu and was hoping Abe would serve it.
5 The sake served with the first course was Sakura Biyori "Ginjo" from Niigata. Often referred to as rice wine, sake is produced from rice by means of a brewing process more like that of beer.
6 The house-made fresh tofu
7 We were also served yuba, or soy milk skin. Like the 'scald' of heated cow's milk, yuba is formed in the tofu making process and is quite tasty.
8 This sign was a gift to Abe, created by a famous Japanese calligrapher.
9 These are just some of the raw ingredients - waygu beef, golden eye snapper, Japanese tomatoes and corn, all from Kyushu Province, the third largest island and the most southwesterly of Japan's four main islands.
10 Stripped pretty much clean of any flesh, we were all wondering what Abe would do with this tuna carcass.
11 He picked up a tool and began scraping between the bones for any remaining tuna. It was to be part of the next course as minced tuna.
12 En has the most beautiful serving pieces, like these glass chargers.
13 Serving plates are stacked on the counters - so Japanese!
14 A cold beer is great with sake and Japanese food.
15 Preparing the Japanese tomato
16 The menu said the next course would be Three Kinds of Zensai - momotaro (Japanese tomato), kinoko to kani (mushrooms with crab), and nakaochi (minced tuna).
17 The finished dish - fabulous flavor combinations
18 Abe was busy preparing the third course.
19 It was Corn Chawanmushi - steamed egg custard with corn.
20 My perfect serving!
21 The sake served was Denshin Natsu "Daiginjo Nama" from Fukui
22 The next course was Yaki Nasu Rosemary Ohitashi With Uni - grilled eggplant in rosemary dashi with sea urchin. This is the grilled eggplant and dashi, a clear, flavored broth used extensively in Japanese cuisine.
23 Abe gets his uni, the edible part of sea urchin, from Santa Barbara, California.
24 Here he is placing the uni over the eggplant. It's really wonderful to watch a master prepare your food.
25 Uni has a light, sweet and somewhat briny flavor and is is usually enjoyed as nigiri sushi or sashimi.
26 The finished plate
27 Chef Abe photographs his food purchases. This fish is silver pomfret, which was the next course.
28 Another great iPhone shot
29 A wonderful tasting of Managatsuo Kobujime - kelp cured silver pomfret
30 The sake was Gasanryu "Honjozo" from Yamagata.
31 Beautiful hand-blown glass plates were lined up for course #6.
32 That golden eye snapper was sliced up for sashimi and sushi.
33 Finely grated daikon radish was plated.
34 The sushi was prepared.
35 The finished plate was utterly fresh and delicious.
36 Chef Abe's photo of the mackerel for course #7.
37 It was Sanma And Aspapra Tempura - lightly fried pike mackerel and asparagus.
38 We were served Kagatobi Ai "Junmai Daiginjo", a sake from Ishikawa.
39 The 8th course was Anago Shumai - sea ell steamed dumplings.
40 For the next course, Abe chose these long ceramic plates with a wavy pattern.
41 It was Kawari Aaikyo Zuke - new style saikyo miso marinated tofu, avocado, okra, and creamcheese.
42 Next, Abu started to shave ice. I love this ice shaver, made by Swan.
43 This hand-cranked gadget works so well.
44 Chef Abe was making sno-cones as a refresher course.
45 The shaved ice was so light and flaky!
46 The chef poured yuzu syrup over the ice, made from a type of tart orange. It was indeed refreshing.
47 More serving plates were lined up. These are made out of heavy clay.
48 The next course was Wagyu Tataki - seared Japanese beef.
49 This beef melted in my mouth!
50 More amazing serving plates for yet, another course - #12
51 Hand towels were passed to the diners.
52 Very hot water was poured over each one.
53 The towels grew for a bit of "theater".
54 The next course was Tail Sake Kasu Zuke Yaki - oxtails marinated in sake lees and grilled. Sake lees is a thick rice paste that¹s left at the end of the sake-making process and is often used in Asia as a marinade for fish or meat.
55 The oxtails were served simply and were so rich and so tender.
56 The final entree course was Suppon Zousui - soft-shell turtle rice porridge (on right), which I will not eat. Instead, I was served a bowl of salmon rice (on left).
57 Abu applying a garnish of edible gold leaf
58 This dessert is Momo Panna Cotta - peach panna cotta, which was divine!
59 And finally! - Scoops of vanilla ice cream
60 This dessert is Murasaki Imo & Ice Cream - Japanese purple sweet potato with vanilla ice cream - another excellent taste!