Tokyo Toyoken – Yoshoku by Narisawa

ImageVery exciting news from Tokyo for fans of chef Yoshihiro Narisawa. He is collaborating with a historic yōshoku restaurant, Toyoken, to bring it back, but with a modern take on yōshoku. The original restaurant, in Mita, opened in the Meiji period (1889) and closed about ten years ago. Many top chefs in Japan worked in the kitchen over the years. It is mentioned in this newspaper article dating to 1915.

For Chef Narisawa, considered one of the best chefs in Asia, it is a big contrast to the cuisine that he is known for at his eponymous restaurant. At Narisawa, the menu may include soup made from soil (a GREAT dish), and includes many ingredients harvested from the forest.

Yōshoku is Western dishes adapted for the Japanese palate. Classics include croquettes and beef stew. Narisawa’s menu is a healthful take on traditional yōshoku cuisine, by using olive oil in lieu of butter where he can. This evening, at a reception to introduce the restaurant to friends, we got a small taste of what is on the menu, like this menchi katsu, think hamburger that is breaded and deep-fried served with kaki furai, breaded and deep-fried oysters. A quick look at the menu and it’s evident that top-quality ingredients are used, so it will be an upscale, healthful version of yōshoku.

Tokyo Toyoken is in Akasaka, a business district in the heart of the city. The restaurant tonight was set up for a reception, but I imagine it will seat about forty diners, so not big. There is a private dining room in the back that seats ten.

The chef at Tokyo Toyoken is chef Takayuki Nakatsuka, who is coming from Narisawa restaurant. Narisawa is the executive chef who has worked with Toyoken to create these new dishes. Narisawa will stay at his namesake restaurant.

Tokyo Toyoken opens to the public on Wednesday, January 15th. A quick look at the menu and I remember the lunch course being 3,800 JPY and the dinner course 5,800 JPY. The link to the restaurant’s website is below, but the menu is not online, yet.

Tokyo Toyoken

Minato-ku, Moto-Akasaka 1-2-7, Akasaka K Tower 1F

03-5786-0881

toyoken1

The sign leading to the restaurant. Love the font, most likely from the original restaurant.

Toyoken2

The main dining room today was set up for a reception. Stark contrast to most yōshoku restaurant interiors which can be very rustic.

Toyoken3

Private dining room. A hint at what the main dining room may look like?

Yoshoku – Yoshikami in Asakusa

Beef Stew at Yoshikami

Yoshikami in Asakusa is famous for its beef stew. Tender beef in a demi-glace sauce. Other popular dishes include the omuraisu (omelet enveloping ketchup flavored rice) and croquettes. The feel of the restaurant is like a diner from the 50s in the USA. Be sure to get a seat at the counter where you can watch the food being cooked in the open kitchen.

Yoshikami is a short walk from the temple Sensoji.

Yoshikami ヨシカミ

Taito-ku, Asakusa 1-41-4 台東区浅草1-41-4

03-3841-1802

http://www.yoshikami.co.jp (in Japanese)

Yoshoku – Taimeiken in Nihonbashi

Omuraisu

Yoshoku in Japan has been very popular for the last several years. Western-style dishes that have been adapted to the Japanese palate. Dishes include beef stew, croquettes, and perhaps the most popular, omuraisu. Omuraisu is an omelet that envelopes ketchup-flavored rice. Sometimes the rice may include chicken or chopped ham.

Mention omuraisu to any Tokyoite and chances are they will tell you go to Taimeiken. This third generation shop in Nihonbashi usually has a line out the front door. But if you are not in a rush, it is definitely worth the wait. Not only for the food but for the ambience of the restaurant.

There are two levels here. The first floor is the more casual. Here is where you’ll feel the frenetic activity of the kitchen and the busy waiters rushing out plates of omuraisu to the customers. The second floor is more upscale and usually doesn’t have a line, but you’ll also miss out on the experience that is Taimeiken.

Insider’s note – if you are in a rush, then peek around the corner to the right of the restaurant, there is a standing bar ramen shop that Taimeiken has that overlooks the open kitchen. You can’t get the omuraisu here but you can watch it being made.

たいめいけん Taimeiken

Taimeiken たいめいけん

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 1-12-10 中央区日本橋1-12-10

Phone: 03-3271-2465

http://www.taimeiken.co.jp (Japanese)