Summer Lunch at Nihonbashi Yukari

Nihonbashi Yukari - summer lunch

Iron Chef Kimio Nonaga of Nihonbashi Yukari

On a recent afternoon we found ourselves in Nihonbashi a little after noon. Just around the corner was one of our favorite restaurants in the city, Nihonbashi Yukari. Nihonbashi Yukari is a kaiseki/kappō restaurant. Behind the counter on most days is the third-generation chef, Kimio Nonaga. We actually tried coming in last week but when we called to make our reservations Nonaga-san said that he was going to be at NHK that day filming for a television program. When Nonaga-san is not in the house his father, the second-generation chef, fills in.

We were thrilled when we opened the door to see Nonaga-san behind the counter. We had just seen several people leaving the restaurant so our timing was perfect. The counter was just being cleared and we were seated just in front of the former Iron Chef champion at the best seats in the house.

Usually we pre-order our lunch, the Yukari lunch box which is like a mini-kaiseki meal and a great bargain at 3,500 JPY. Today as we were walk-ins it was our first time to order lunch off of the menu. There is a wide variety of dishes to choose from including tempura, grilled fish, simmered pork, sashimi platter, and much more.

Nihonbashi Yukari - summer lunch sashimi

Summer sashimi course on Edo Kiriko plate

We are big fans of a special nattō taré (sauce) that was created by Nonaga-san. This sashimi course was in addition to the regular lunch. Three types of sashimi, seared scallops, katsuo (skipjack tuna), and kanpachi (yellowtail) is topped with julienned daikon, shiso, myoga, onion, kaiwaré (daikon sprouts), and baby shiso. The dressing is a blend of the fermented soybean dressing which adds a rich umami and deep flavor to the dish. Anago bones are deep-fried and pulverized and sprinkled on which adds an unexpected and welcome crunch to the dish. The dish is a beautiful dish for summer, Edo Kiriko.

Nihonbashi Yukari summer lunch - anago

Anago Jyubako

Anago is sea eel and is often seen at the traditional sushi counter in Japan. At Nihonbashi Yukari the anago is simmered until tender and then served over rice in a lacquer box, jyubako. The anago is so soft that it melts in your mouth. The sauce is ever-so-sweet, not cloying as is often the case with unagi (fresh water eel).

Nihonbashi Yukari - summer lunch simmered meitagarei

Simmered meitagarei (fine-spotted flounder)

There were a few offerings for simmered fish this day. Shinji went with meitagarei which is a type of flounder. The simmering sauce is not made fresh each day but is passed on day after day over the years. It has a deep flavor from it. Nonaga-san said that many different types of fish are simmered in this sauce, hence the depth of flavor. This is something that would be hard to recreate at home, we pondered aloud. Nonaga-san suggested we try it. He said to save the broth and to put it in the fridge. I love his positive and encouraging attitude. The rice served with the simmered fish has julienned fresh ginger and abura-agé (deep-fried tofu) in it. Refreshing for the summer, and we find inspiration in another dish we will try at home.

Nihonbashi Yukari is just minutes from Tokyo Station’s Yaesu Guchi. It is possible to walk-in, but we recommend reservations. Within about ten minutes of being seated the counter filled up again and most of the tables in the restaurant were also full.

Nihonbashi Yukari

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 3-2-14

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July Seasonal Japanese Seafood

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Simmered ma-anago

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Seared katsuo

July Sashimi

July sashimi

 

Some of our personal favorites include ayu (salted and grilled), shitabirame (meuniere), shijimi (miso soup), benisake (salted and grilled), and for sashimi – surumeika, kinmedai, takabe, and isaki.

Ainame 鮎並 fat greenling (Hexagrammos otakii)

Akashita birame 赤舌鮃  red-tongued sole (Cynoglossus joyneri)

Awabi abalone (Haliotis sorenseni)

Ayu 鮎 sweetfish (Plecoglossus altivelis altivelis)

Benisake べにさけ 紅鮭 sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)

Dojou 泥鰌 loach (Misgurnus Anguillicaudatus)

Hamo   pike eel or pike conger (Muraenesox cinereus)

Inada イナダ young Japanese amberjack (Seriola quinqueradiata)

Isaki 伊佐幾 chicken grunt  (Parapristipoma trilineatum)

Ishidai 石鯛  barred knifejaw (Oplegnathus fasciatus)

Ishimochi イシモチ nibe croaker (Nibea mitsukurii)

Iwana 日光岩魚 whitespotted char (Salvelinus leucomaenis pluvius)

Kamasu 大和叺 barracuda (Sphyraena japonica)

Kanpachi  間八 amberjack or yellowtail (Seriola dumerili)

Katsuo 鰹  skipjack tuna or oceanic bonito (Katsuwonus pelamis)

Kawahagi 皮剥 thread-sail filefish (Stephanolepis cirrhifer)

Kihada maguro 黄肌鮪 yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares)

Kinmedai 金目鯛 splendid alfonsino (Beryx splendens)

Kisu 鱚 Japanese whiting (Sillago japonica)*or shirogisu

Kochi 鯒 bartail flathead (Platycephalus)

Kuro maguro 黒鮪 bluefin tuna (Thunus thynnus)

Maaji 真鯵 Japanese jack mackerel (Trachurus japonicus)

Maanago 真穴子 whitespotted conger (Conger myriaster)

Maiwashi 真鰯  Japanese sardine (Sardinops melanostictus)

Makogarei 真子鰈 marbled sole (Pleuronectes yokohamae)

Masaba 真鯖 Pacific mackerel (Scomber japonicus)

Mejimaguro めじまぐろ young tuna (genus Thunnus) if it is a young bluefin tuna it will be called honmeji, if it is a young yellowfin tuna it will be called kinmeji.

Niji masu 虹鱒 rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Oni okoze  鬼虎魚 spiny devilfish (Inimicus japonicus)

Shijimi – 大和蜆 corbicula clams or water clams (Corbicula japonica)

Shima aji  島鯵 striped jack or white trevally (Pseudocaranx dentex)

Shiro ika 白いか  swordtip squid (Loligo (Photololigo) edulis)* or kensaki ika

Shitabirame 舌平目 (or ushinoshita) four line tongue sole(Arelia bilineat)

Surumeika 鯣烏賊  Japanese common or flying squid (Todarodes pacificus)

Suzuki 鱸  Japanese sea perch (Lateolabrax japonicus)

Tachiuo 太刀魚 cutlassfish (Trichiurus lepturus)

Takabe たかべ yellow-striped butterfish (Labracoglossa argentiventris)

Tobiuo 飛魚 Japanese flying fish (Cypselurus agoo agoo)

Unagi 鰻 Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica)

August Seasonal Japanese Seafood

Photo of anago tempura.

Some of my favorite seafood is in season this time of year, particularly unagi and anago. For unagi I love Nodaiwa and for anago, Tamai in Nihonbashi is a treat. Kamasu (barracuda) is lovely just salted and grilled. The meat is light and flakey. Kawahagi (thread-sail filefish) sashimi is light and delicate. If the fish is very fresh the liver can also be eaten. We love to mix the fresh liver with some soy sauce and dip the kawahagi sashimi into the creamy dip. Tachiuo (cutlassfish) is also very nice as sashimi as it too is a light whitefish. One of our favorite preparations of tachiuo sashimi is to mix it with a bit of aromatic sesame oil and salt.

Ainame 鮎並 fat greenling (Hexagrammos otakii)

Aka isaki 赤伊佐幾 Schlegel’s red bass (Caprodon schlegelii)

Akashita birame 赤舌鮃  red-tongued sole (Cynoglossus joyneri)

Awabi 鮑abalone (Haliotis sorenseni)

Ayu 鮎 sweetfish (Plecoglossus altivelis altivelis)

Benisake べにさけ 紅鮭 sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)

Hamo  鱧pike eel or pike conger (Muraenesox cinereus)

Hiramasa 平政 yellowtail amberjack (Seriola lalandi)

Hoya 海鞘 sea squirt (Halocynthia roretzi)

Inada イナダ young Japanese amberjack (Seriola quinqueradiata)

Stages of buri: wakashi, inada, warasa, buri

Isaki 伊佐幾 chicken grunt  (Parapristipoma trilineatum)

Ishidai 石鯛  barred knifejaw (Oplegnathus fasciatus)

Ishimochi イシモチ nibe croaker (Nibea mitsukurii)

Iwana 日光岩魚 whitespotted char (Salvelinus leucomaenis pluvius)

Kamasu 大和叺 barracuda (Sphyraena japonica)

Kanpachi  間八 amberjack or yellowtail (Seriola dumerili)

Karei 鰈 littlemouth flounder (Pleuronectes yokohamae)

Katsuo 鰹  skipjack tuna or oceanic bonito (Katsuwonus pelamis)

Kawahagi 皮剥 thread-sail filefish (Stephanolepis cirrhifer)

Kensaki ika 剣先烏賊 swordtip squid (Loligo edulis)

Kijihata (Akahata) 雉羽太 red-spotted grouper (Epinephelus akaara)

Kisu 鱚 Japanese whiting (Sillago japonica)*or shirogisu

Kochi 鯒 bartail flathead (Platycephalus)

Koyari-ika槍烏賊  baby spear squid (Loligo bleekeri)

Ma-anago 真穴子 whitespotted conger (Conger myriaster)

Maiwashi 真鰯  Japanese sardine (Sardinops melanostictus)

Makogarei 真子鰈 marbled sole (Pleuronectes yokohamae)

Masaba 真鯖 Pacific mackerel (Scomber japonicus)

Matsubu (Ezobora) まつぶ(えぞぼら Japanese neptune or whelk (Neptunea polycostata)

Mehikari  目光 greeneyes (Chlorophthalmus borealis)

Mejimaguro めじまぐろ young tuna (genus Thunnus)

Nijimasu 虹鱒 rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Oni-okoze  鬼虎魚 spiny devilfish (Inimicus japonicus)

Saba 鯖  Pacific mackerel (Scomber japonicus)

Saragai 皿貝 Northern great tellin (Megangulus venulosa)

Shiira  しいら 鱪 dorado or mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus)

Shima-aji  島鯵 striped jack or white trevally (Pseudocaranx dentex)

Shinko (Konoshiro) 鰶 dotted gizzard shad (Konosirus punctatus)

Surumei ika するめいか 鯣烏賊 Japanese common squid (or flying squid) (Todarodes pacificus)

Suzuki 鱸  Japanese sea perch (Lateolabrax japonicus)

Tachiuo 太刀魚 cutlassfish (Trichiurus lepturus)

Tobiuo 飛魚 Japanese flying fish (Cypselurus agoo)

Unagi 鰻 Japanese eel  (Anguilla japonica)

June Seasonal Japanese Seafood 6月旬の魚

June Seasonal Seafood

The arrival of ayu is a sign that summer has arrived. Simply salted and grilled is the most popular way of serving this tender-fleshed fish. Kawahagi is a funny looking fish. The skin is so thick, hence the name kawahagi, or leather jacket. We love this fish as sashimi. If we’re lucky, the fresh fish will have its liver, which we mix with ponzu and serve with the sashimi.

Katsuo simply seared on the edges, sliced thickly, and served with some soy sauce and garlic. Katsuo tataki is particularly nice if you can garnish it with fresh myoga. Karei is lovely when deep-fried whole, a dish called karei no kara-age.

As for octopus, which is one of my favorite seafood if cooked properly, there are so many recipes. Shinji and I visited an octopus-processing factory and the staff there suggested putting boiled octopus on top of Japanese curry. It’s so easy as boiled octopus is often sold in Japanese supermarkets. And, it’s yummy.

Suzuki is a nice fish to sauté meuniere style. Tobiuo we love as sashimi. As for saba, there are so many different preparations, including simmered in miso, salted and grilled, deep-fried, or sautéed.

If you are in Tokyo, be sure to visit Tamai in Nihonbashi, near Takashimaya, for anago which is in season now.

And, while wakame is not a seafood, this sea vegetable is in season now. If you have the opportunity to have some you are in for a treat to enjoy its texture and flavor this time of year.

If you click on the Japanese name of the seafood you should be directed to a link with a photo.

Ainame 鮎並 fat greenling (Hexagrammos otakii)

Aji 鰺 Japanese horse mackerel (Trachurus japonicus)

Aka isaki 赤伊佐幾 Schlegel’s red bass (Caprodon schlegelii)

Akashita birame 赤舌鮃  red-tongued sole (Cynoglossus joyneri)

Anago  穴子 conger eels (Conger myriaster)

Aodai 青鯛 Blue fusiller  (Paracaesio caeruleus (Katayama))

Aori ika 障泥烏賊 big fin reef squid (Sepioteuthis lessoniana)

Awabi 鮑  abalone (Haliotis (Nordotis) discus discus)

Ayu 鮎 sweetfish (Plecoglossus altivelis altivelis)

Bai 貝 Japanese ivory shell  (Balylonia japonica)

Benisake べにさけ 紅鮭 sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)

Buri 鰤 Japanese amberjack (Seriola quinqueradiata)

Hamo   pike eel or pike conger (Muraenesox cinereus)

Hanafuedai – 花笛鯛   (Pristipomoidae argrogrammicus)

Horagai or boushuubora  房州法螺  Japanese triton (Charonia lampas sauliae)

Hoya 海鞘 sea squirt (Halocynthia roretzi)

Isaki 伊佐幾 chicken grunt  (Parapristipoma trilineatum)

Ishimochi – イシモチ  honnibe croaker (Nibea mitsukurii)

Iwana –    (Salvelinus leucomaenis pluvius)

Iwashi 鰯  spotline sardine (Sardinops melanostictus)

Jindou ika 神頭烏賊 Japanese dwarf squid (Loliolus (Nipponololig) japonica)

Kamasu 叺 barracuda (Sphyraena japonica)

Kanpachi  間八 amberjack or yellowtail (Seriola dumerili)

Karei  鰈 littlemouth flounder (Pleuronectes yokohamae)

Katsuo 鰹 skipjack tuna or oceanic bonito (Katsuwonus pelamis)

Kawahagi 皮剥 thread-sail filefish (Stephanolepis cirrhifer)

Kensaki ika 剣先烏賊 swordtip squid (Loligo edulis)

Kibinago 黍魚子 banded blue sprat (Spratelloides gracilis)

Kihada maguro 黄肌鮪 yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares)

Kijihata or akahata 雉子羽太  redspotted grouper (Epinephelus akaara)

Kisu or shirogisu 鱚 Japanese whiting (Sillago japonica)

Kochi 鯒 bartail flathead (Platycephalus)

Konoshiro or shinko 鰶 dotted gizzard shad (Konosirus punctatus)

Kuro maguro 黒鮪 bluefin tuna (Thunus thynnus)

Kurumaebi 車海老 Japanese tiger prawn (Penaeus (Melicertus) japonicus)

Madai or tai 真鯛 seabream (Pagurus major)

Makogarei 真子鰈 marbled sole (Pleuronectes yokohamae)

Oni okoze  鬼虎魚 spiny devilfish (Inimicus japonicus)

Ooasari 蜊蝦夷忘 Japanese littleneck clam (Callista berevisiphonata)

Saba 鯖 Pacific mackerel (Scomber japonicus)

Sazae 栄螺 horned turban shell (Turbo cornutus)

Shijimi – 大和蜆 corbicula clams or water clams (Corbicula japonica)

Shima aji or striped jack or white trevally 島鯵 (Pseudocaranx dentex)

Shira ebi 白海老 glass shrimp (Pasiphaea japonica)

Suzuki 鱸  Japanese sea perch (Lateolabrax japonicus)

Tako 蛸  common octopus (Octopus vulgaris)

Tobiuo 飛魚 Japanese flying fish (Cypselurus agoo agoo)

Torigai 鳥貝 heart clam (Fulvia mutica)

Uchimurasaki ウチムラサキ  butter clam (Saxidomus purpurata)

Uni –  sea urchin

Wakame

Yamameヤマメ cherry salmon (Oncorhynchus masou maso)

September Seasonal Japanese Seafood 9月旬の魚

September Seasonal Japanese Seafood

Sanma

Sanma

Perhaps no fish signals the arrival of autumn to me than sanma (Pacific saury), a silver skinned, long and skinny fish that for me is best when simply salted and grilled. This at night with a glass of nihonshu or shochu is heaven for me. What many Japanese especially appreciate is the bitter innards of the grilled sanma, a nice match for a hearty sake.

The shijimi (corbicula clams) are perfect in a bowl of miso soup and asari (Japanese littleneck clams) are great simply steamed in some sake or if you are craving a Western preparation, then steamed with white wine and garlic and served over pasta.

Many flounders are in season now. We like these meuniere style, sauteed in butter and then finished with a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Finally, a lot of these are great as sashimi. Shinji likes the fishy seafood like nishin (Pacific herring), sanma (Pacific saury), and iwashi (Japanse anchovy).

To make it easier for readers to understand what each seafood is I have linked to a photo of the seafood. Just click on the Japanese name.

Ainame 鮎並 fat greenling (Hexagrammos otakii)

Aka garei 赤鰈 flathead flounder (Hippoglossoides dubius)

Akijake 秋鮭

Amaebi 甘海老 sweet shrimp (Pandalus borealis)

Asaba garei 浅羽鰈 dusky sole (Lepidopsetta bilineata)

Asahigani spanner crab (Ranina ranina)

Asari 浅蜊 Japanese little neck clam (Ruditapes philippinarum)

Awabi 鮑abalone (Haliotis sorenseni)

Ayu 鮎 sweetfish (Plecoglossus altivelis altivelis)

Baka gai 馬鹿貝 surf clam (Mactra chinensis)

Benizuwai gani 紅頭矮蟹 red snow crab (Chionoecetes japonicus)

Botan ebi ボタンエビ Botan shrimp  (Pandalus nipponesis)

Dojou 泥鰌 loach (Misgurnus Anguillicaudatus)

Ezo bafun uni 蝦夷馬糞海胆 short-spined sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus intermedius)

Ezobora 蝦夷法螺 whelk (Neptunea polycostata)

Hakkaku 八角 sailfin poacher (Podothecus sachi)

Also called tokubire

Hanasaki gani 花咲蟹  spiny king crab (Paralithodes brevipes)

Hata hata 鰰  sailfin sandfish (Arctoscopus japonicus)

Hime ezobora 姫蝦夷法螺  sea snail (Neptunea arthritica)

Hirame 鮃 olive halibut (Paralichthys olivaceus)

Hokke 𩸽 arabesque greenling (Pleurogrammus azonus)

Hokki gai  北寄貝 surf clam (Pseudocardium sachalinense)

Hokkoku aka ebi 北国赤蝦  Alaskan pink shrimp (Pandalus borealis)

Hon maguro (or kuromaguro) 黒鮪 bluefin tuna (Thunus thynnus)

Hotate gai 帆立貝 Japanese scallop (Mizuhopecten yessoensis)

Ibodai 疣鯛 butterfish (Psenopsis anomala)

Kaki  牡蠣 oyster (Crassostrea gigas)

Katakuchi iwashi 片口鰯 Japanese anchovy (Engraulis japonicus)

Kawa yatsume 川八目 Japanese lamprey (Lampetra japonica)

Kawagarei or Numagarei 沼鰈 starry flounder (Platichthys stellatus)

Kegani 毛蟹 horsehair crab (Erimacrus isenbeckii)

Kinki or Kichiji 黄血魚 thornhead (Sebastolobus macrochir)

Kita murasaki uni 北紫海胆 Northern sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus nudus)

Kouika 甲烏賊 cuttlefish (Sepia (Platysepia) esculenta)

Kounago 小女子 Japanese sand lance (Ammodytes personatus)

Kuro gashira garei 黒頭鰈 cresthead flounder (Pleuronectes schrenki)

Kurokarei 黒鰈 black plaice (Pleuronectes obscurus)

Kuruma ebi 車海老 kuruma prawn (Penaeus (Melicertus) japonicus)

Ma anago 真穴子 conger eel (Conger myriaster)

Magarei 真鰈 littlemouth flounder (Pleuronectes herzensteini)

Mako garei 真子鰈 marbled flounder (Pleuronectes yokohamae)

Managatsuo 真名鰹 silver pomfret (Pampus punctatissimus)

Masu 鱒 trout (there are many types of trout – see nijimasu, sakuramasu)

Mizudako 水蛸 North Pacific giant octopus (Octopus dofleini)

Namako 真海鼠 Japanese sea cucumber (Stichopus japonica)

Niji masu 虹鱒 rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Nishin 鰊 Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii)

Sake 鮭 salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)

Sakura masu 桜鱒 cherry salmon (Oncorhynchus masou maso)

Sanma 秋刀魚 Pacific saury (Cololabis saira)

Saragai 皿貝 Northern great tellin (Megangulus venulosa)

Shijimi 大和蜆 corbicula clam (Corbicula japonica)

Shirauo 白魚 icefish (Salangichthys microdon)

Souhachi 宗八鰈 pointhead flounder (Cleishenes pinetorum)

Suketou dara 鯳 Alaska pollack (Theragra chalcogramma)

Suna garei 砂鰈 sand flounder (Limanda punctatissima)

Surumeika 鯣烏賊 Japanese flying squid (Todarodes pacificus)

Tachiuo 太刀魚 cutlassfish (Trichiurus lepturus)

Tarabagani 鱈場蟹 Alaska king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus)

Torigai 鳥貝 Japanese cockle (Fulvia mutica)

Unagi 鰻 Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica)

Wakasagi 若細魚 Japanese smelt (Hypomesus nipponensis)

Yanagi no mai 柳の舞 yellow rockfish (Sebastes steindachneri)