February 16, 2011

Foodie Adventures: Mission Gastroclub - Japan

This post is way late, but oh well.

A few months ago, Mike asked me if I wanted to join him in the underground restaurant scene. I had heard of these before but really had no idea what they were. For those of you who do not know, the underground restaurant scene in San Francisco is basically gatherings of food and beverage people to enjoy a not-so-normal meal and socialize. The people can range from professional chefs, owners of restaurants, brewers, foodies, people who sell at farmer's markets etc. You get a whole walk of personalities and backgrounds that all enjoy eating and trying different things.

That brings us to the Mission Gastroclub. It is run by two gentlemen (Neil and Eric) who brew their own beer and do have culinary backgrounds. The dinners usually seat around fourteen people and is centered around a theme: Pork, Japan, Southern, Wine Country for Beer Men, etc. The invite list is long and it's a first come first served to get a spot. They now have two dinners each session because it has become increasingly popular. In the past, they have also had all day events where they got a whole pig or goat and break those down. There are several courses and each is paired with a beer, usually one of their own brews.

Neil and Eric do an amazing job. If you need any reassurance, ask any of the others that have attended the events with us: Shannon, Bryon, or K-Dogg.

This evening's dinner was Japan.

Mission Gastroclub - Japan

As I mentioned above, these are generally fourteen person dinners, served out of an apartment in San Francisco. The people who attend these can range from random food lovers (like Mike and I) to professionals to everyone in between. What is interesting, is that it appears most people have some link to some sort of the food industry, be it their own restaurant or farmer's markets. Regardless, everyone is super friendly and just in it for a good time.

If you want to see what it's like, here is a time-lapse of this evenings meal, you can see me roll into the bottom of the screen about 15 seconds in. Now that the background is laid, let us get to the good bit, the food!

First Course

yellowtail, sea urchin, oyster, rice, scallion, nori

paired with golden ale (regular beer)

What's a Japanese meal without sushi? The first course brought us an array of some fresh seafood.

I'll be honest, up until this point in my life, I had never tried oysters. I never wanted to brave the cold and weird texture. Tonight I figured, might as well suck it up, peer pressure does wonders. Needless to say, I'll never not eat oysters when presented to me again.

The oysters were from two different locations: Drake's Bay, local and freshly caught and Taylor's Oysters from Washington.

The sea urchin came from Santa Barbara and again, was another first for me. It was the best thing on this plate in my opinion and I would gladly eat it again.

The yellowtail was wild and locally caught, and Neil even prepared it in the form of a fish that you can sort of see above.

Overall, the sushi was quite good and amazingly fresh. The beer was a golden ale, brewed by another participant of the dinner. It was smooth and refreshing, a perfect opening to a great meal.

Second Course

chicken skin, pork meatball, soba noodle, pickle

paired with an english ale (moonlight: death and taxes)

The second course brought us a few finger foods. The meatballs (all the pork this evening was from the pig they broke down the weekend before from Devil's Gulch Ranch) was wonderful.

The fried chicken skin was probably the tastiest thing on the plate and paired well with the soba noodles. The chicken was Fulton Valley Organic Air-Dried Chicken.

There were two types of pickle, persimmon and something I am not too sure what it was. Needless to say, they were tasty, especially the pickled persimmon.

The beer was brewed by Moonlight, of which I believe the owner was here at this dinner. It pours pitch black with a nice tan head and you can smell the roasted malt. It had a bit more hops than I expected but was very balanced and delicious.

Third Course

ramen: pork belly, poached egg, listener, scallion in a pork headcheese broth 

paired with smoked porter

This was my favorite dish of the night. The broth was rish, the pork belly succulent and noodles cooked perfectly. I could have eaten several bowls of this, in fact I did have seconds on this one.

The broth is what made the dish. It is a pork headcheese. If you do not know what that is, as I didn't, then you might want to check this out. However, I warn you, it might be better to now know the origin and just eat it.

The pork belly was perfectly cooked and gave some hearty substance to the already amazing dish. This is definitely one of those things I would love to have on a nice cold day to warm you from head to toe.

The beer was porter brewed by Eric, one of our hosts.

Fourth Course

custard, persimmon, rice cookie with soy sauce glaze

paired with stout (hitachino nest: espresso stout)

This dessert was amazing. The rice cookie was freshly fried and paired well with the persimmon and custard.

The only thing I was not a fan of was the soy sauce glaze. It was a bit too salty and cut into the flavors a bit too much for my tastes.

The stout was great and paired well with the dessert, with the espresso flavors. Seeing that I am not a coffee fan, that is saying a lot for me to give it praise.


Overall, the night was a success. I tried some things I had not had before and I was totally sold on coming back for another dinner by Neil and Eric. They are great hosts and do an amazing job. 

1 comment:

  1. I was supposed to go to the Pig Break-Down one... but couldn't go last minute :( These look like so much fun.