Nihonbashi Yukari is just a few minutes’ walk from Tokyo Station’s Yaesu exit. This third generation restaurant is one of my favorites in Japan for many reasons. For the quality of food it is a great bargain. The Yukari bento lunch here is about 3,675 JPY. A kaiseki multi-course dinner starts at 10,500 JPY. At this price it is amazing.
Second, the chef, 2002 Iron Chef champion, Kimio Nonaga, is very passionate about Japanese food and sharing it with anyone who is curious. No matter how many questions I ask about ingredients or preparation, he is always full of passion in teaching me.
Third, the atmosphere is very friendly. Some kaiseki or sushi restaurants feel like a temple and diners may feel awkward even if they sneeze. Here, diners are warmly welcomed and the whole dining experience is pleasant.
Finally, the location can not be beat. Very close to Tokyo station, and a good excuse to stop by Nihonbashi Takashimaya which is just a few blocks away.
Here is a recent Yukari bento lunch, featuring autumn seafood and vegetables. This has to be ordered in advance as only a limited amount are made daily.
If you do go here, please tell him that Yukari sent you. And, when making the reservation, request to sit at the counter so you can watch chef Nonaga at work.
Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 3-2-14
It was a very cold and rainy day that we went so the first course was a warm, savory egg custard with tender anago. A great way to warm up and to start the meal.
While this is given the humble name of a bento, it is quite an elaborate meal as you can see. It is also a lot of food. If you are looking for a more simple meal, there is also an a la carte menu. Our neighbors had a nice simmered tai head with gobo that looked very appetizing. The a la carte menu for lunch starts at 2,100 JPY.
Inside of the bento are these four lovely dishes.
The sashimi course was katsuo, hotate, and tako tataki with oroshi ponzu. Over the sashimi was julienned vegetables of daikon, carrots, myoga, kaiware (daikon sprouts), kikuna (chrysanthemum flowers), and baby shiso leaves. What really makes this dish special is Nonaga-san’s unique oroshi ponzu. Typically this is grated daikon with a ponzu dressing but the Iron Chef takes 30 different vegetables, grates them, squeezes out the excess juice and then adds the ponzu. It really elevates the dish to a new level.
Everything at Nihonbashi Yukari is made from scratch, including the yuba in this tempura course. Today’s tempura was of wakasagi (smelt), shishitou, shiitake, and yuba surrounding a hotate shinjo served with a momiji oroshi (grated daikon with togarashi pepper) and a dipping sauce.
The pork was simmered with kurozato (brown sugar) and Mercian kouso wine. It is served with simmered daikon, snap peas and a lovely nama awafu that has a great mochi mochi texture.
Here is the artistry of an Iron Chef. Grilled kuri (chestnut), grilled ginnan (ginkgo nuts), shrimp stuffed with ikura (salmon roe), salmon wrapped in thin layers of daikon, ground duck meatball, dashimaki tamago (Japanese omelet), grated yamaimo topped with karasumi, and grilled sawara (Japanese Spanish mackerel) marinated in Saikyo miso.
The rice course was one of Shinji’s favorite, kuri (chestnut) gohan served with nuka kabu pickles. Shinji got a second serving of the rice.
The miso soup had mozuku (a type of sea vegetable), mitsuba, and futama (wheat gluten).
Very rarely will you find a Western-style dessert at a kaiseki restaurant like Nihonbashi Yukari. Nonaga-san makes my favorite dessert in Japan. Kinako (roasted soybean powder) ice cream studded with Kyoto Tanba Kuromame (black beans), topped with kuromitsu (brown sugar syrup) and puffed rice. It is not too sweet and has great texture – mochi mochi beans and kari kari from the puffed rice. The perfect end to an amazing meal.