Grand Hyatt Tokyo – Shunbou

Shunbou is the Japanese restaurant at the Grand Hyatt in Roppongi. The Grand Hyatt has several Japanese restaurants including Roku Roku for sushi and Keyakizaka for teppanyaki. Shunbou features seasonal kaiseki dishes as well as comfort food like curry udon. It is kid-friendly and a great option in the Roppongi area.

Entering the restaurant seasonal produce is displayed, as are large earthenware serving dishes. The main dining room is in granite and there is an inner garden behind windows that opens up to the sky, bringing in sunlight, or on this day, rain sprinkling on the rocks and tree.

I joined a friend for lunch here and ordered the shun-sai lunch box (5,300 JPY). The presentation is gorgeous as lunch comes in a wooden box with three tiers. The appetizer for the autumn lunch is a chrysanthemum tofu topped with chrysanthemum petals.

The first tier was composed of tuna sashimi, yuba (soy milk skin), mozuku (a slippery sea vegetable), and grilled sanma (Pacific saury).

The second tier included crab cream croquette and grilled salmon.

Grilled Iberico pork, unohana (tofu lees with vegetables), and boiled vegetables completed the third tier.

Separately takikomigohan of vegetables cooked with rice, grilled eggplant miso soup, and pickles round out the lunch. Dessert is a petit kuri chestnut wagashi, not too sweet. It was a perfect mini-kaiseki including all of the components and was a great way to sense the seasons.

Executive sous chef, Takuya Nezasa, was with Nadaman for thirteen years before coming to Shunbou. Nadaman for Tokyoites is a revered establishment with a 185-year history. Some department stores will have a branch of Nadaman in the depachika so that customers can buy seasonal and traditional dishes. Shunbou is kappō-style so you can see some of the chefs in the open kitchen cooking.

The sake list has many offerings by-the-glass, including seasonal hiyaoroshi from Nagano Masumi brewery, perfect with the ingredients available this time of year.

The dishware is also lovely. Many had lovely textures, like the teacup, calling out to be held. The meal is also a pleasure for the eyes.

Lunch starts at 1,900 JPY for curry udon or soba with rice. We got a small bite of the curry and it’s a light curry and not too spicy. The menu is vast and offers something for everyone. The menu is in English and of course staff speak English, so Shunbou is also a good option for some who may have reservations going to traditional Japanese restaurants with an English speaker.

Menu:

http://restaurants.tokyo.grand.hyatt.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/pdf/shunbou_menu.pdf

Grand Hyatt Tokyo – 6th floor

Minato-ku, Roppongi 6-10-3 港区六本木6-10-3

Map:

http://restaurants.tokyo.grand.hyatt.com/access.html

Kuoesu Breakfast

Kuoesu is the rare kaiseki restaurant that is open for breakfast. It is a long walk from Hiroo station, but worth the journey. The set morning meal starts at 900 JPY, so without the kaiseki prices.

I was greeted by a female chef who guided me to the quiet counter. I was the first diner this morning and loved the peaceful setting. She worked in the back kitchen so I had the whole dining room to myself.

She first came out with tea and an oshibori (wet towel). Then came the tray with five dishes: rice, miso soup, turnip and cucumber nukazuke (rice bran pickles), red-veined spinach lightly blanched and deep-fried hamo (conger eel). The last was a large round earthenware dish, almost as big as the tray, with a charcoal-grilled managatsuo (pomfret) and grated daikon.

The meal was colorful and nutritious. My favorite was the rice, which was a revelation. It was very firm, almost al dente. The chef told me that it is cooked in an cast iron pot with a small amount of water.

There is also a menu for supplemental dishes like omelet and nattō.

As I finished my meal she was setting up a few more settings. I wish I lived closer, but it is worth making a special trip across town. Reservations are required.

Kuoesu 栩翁S

Minato-ku, Minami-Aoyama 7-14-6 港区南青山7-14-6

03-6805-0856 reservations required

This first appeared in my monthly column for The Japan Times on Japanese breakfast.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2016/08/05/food/start-morning-serving-tradition-breakfast-joints/#.V93rv5N97uQ

72 Seasons – guest post by Janice Espa

Tokyo is enthralling.

If like me, you can’t get enough of this city, then you’re probably on the go from early in the morning.

Tokyo dining, though delicious, can leave you dumbfounded. Dinner plans, which many times require a reservation, are easier to plan around than deciding what to have for lunch when caught in the midst of exploring the city.

When this happens, and lunchtime pangs spring up, unsolicited, a really great option is 72 Seasons. Shichi Jyu Ni Kou – a Japanese restaurant specialized in both kaiseki and teppanyaki cuisine – is in the basement of the Tokyo Station Hotel. It is a midday dining haven.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m equally as happy grabbing a snack or five from the smorgasbord available at department store food halls (depachika), or to eat the donburi of the day while sitting on a counter, or graze on a set of mixed yakitori skewers while standing. However, when your legs can’t take it anymore and you long for a bit of serenity, places like Shichi Jyu Ni Kou are an oasis. Serene, secluded, delicious, and right in the heart of the city’s movement.

I sat in the restaurant’s kaiseki section and opted for the bento box of the daily. I felt it not only offered the most variety, but also, seasonality and a well-balanced portion for lunch. There’s an introductory teishoku menu which features a grilled fish of the day, a more extensive “kaiseki in lighter style”, and several a la carte options to add to the set lunch meals.

The amuse bouche was a spinach ohitashi, with the works: edible flowers, shaved katsuo sprinkles, and ikura. Splendid. Followed by a lacquer box filled with steamed mussels, nimono stewed vegetables, an assortment of tempura, and a few pieces of sashimi.

The hassun, artfully plated, had grilled tai (snapper), a piece of tamagoyaki – my favourite addition to any plate, one piece of oshizushi (pressed sushi), a portion of sweet and savoury chestnut paste, cubes of sweet potato, and stewed burdock.

All of those flavours along with miso soup, steamed rice, and roasted tea for 3800 JPY. I was delighted.

To finish the meal, a different tea was served with a choice of dessert: fruit or kokuto purin (Okinawan black sugar pudding). I had the latter, which was caramelized on top like a cold crème brulee, wonderful, just wonderful.

The full menu is not available in English, though a general description of it is. Front of the house service is courteous, and the waitresses, beautifully dressed in kimonos, are helpful and accommodating.

There is a second location of Shichi Jyu Ni Kou, in Roppongi. However, if you’re in central Tokyo, and want an hour of serenity before continuing your sightseer trail, I strongly recommend paying this restaurant a visit.

Shichi Jyu Ni Kou
The Tokyo Station Hotel B1F,
1-9-1, Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan
100-0005
Tel +81-(0)3-6269-9401

 

Open Daily
Lunch 11:00a.m.~ 3:00p.m.(Last Order 2:00p.m.)
Dinner 5:00p.m.~11:00p.m.(Last Order 9:30p.m.)
http://www.72kou.jp/marunouchi/english.html

Janice Espa photo

Janice Espa

Janice Espa is a Spanish-Peruvian food enthusiast; an avid traveller and inquisitive taster who explores culture through cuisine.  Janice lives in San Francisco where she writes and styles food. Her days are spent visiting grower’s markets, checking out restaurants, and shopping at specialty stores to discover goods from every corner of the world.

Feel free to email suggestions and travel tips, or to contact Janice for her own recommendations, whether you’re visiting Peru, trekking South America or doing a road trip along the east coast of Australia.

Wadakura at the Palace Hotel Tokyo 和田倉

Image

Seasonal Sashimi of Sea Bream, Medium Fatty Tuna, and Squid

Kaiseki restaurant Wadakura in the Palace Hotel Tokyo is a quiet oasis overlooking the moat of the Imperial Palace. Seasonal dishes are brought out in small portions and presented on beautiful dishes. There are many good reasons for having kaiseki for lunch. First and foremost, it is much more affordable than having kaiseki for dinner. But, more importantly, evening kaiseki meals can be very taxing on the stomach. Some kaiseki restaurants are only open for dinner, so it is good to keep in mind the restaurants that are serve kaiseki at lunch, including Wadakura.

Image

Wagyū Sirloin Steak Jyūbako

I dined with a girlfriend so we ordered two different menu items. This jyūbako, a square lacquer box of rice topped with seared wagyū sirloin steak as the main part of the kaiseki is 8,700 JPY. This comes with an appetizer, sashimi, miso soup, pickles, and dessert. The meat was marbled with fat but was not too rich. A great option for meat eaters.

Image

Nodate Bentō Box

The three-tiered lunch box kaiseki set starts at 5,400 JPY. This is a lovely presentation with many courses served in one box. This is also served with rice, miso soup, pickles, and dessert. Following are some of the highlights of the Nodate bentō.

Image

Wagyū Croquette

Image

Grilled delicacies. Small bites including duck, eel, chicken, and eggplant.

Image

Bamboo Shoot, Wakamé, Fuki (butterbur stalks), and Roe

This is a typical spring dish. Delicate flavors of the ocean (fresh wakamé and roe) come together with mountain vegetables (bamboo shoots and butterbur stalks). In particular, the sansai mountain vegetables sing of spring. Tender bamboo shoots and the crunchy butterbur stalks simmered in dashi.

Desserts were the perfect finish to a big meal, warabi mochi with coconut and mango and an aromatic annin dōfu.

Wadakura is on the 6th floor of the Palace Hotel Tokyo. There are private rooms, but the main dining room has a large window overlooking the moat of the Imperial Palace. There are only a handful of tables in the simple space so it still feels intimate. This day the other diners included some businessmen and well-heeled ladies. The kimono-clad servers are very gracious and could answer my many questions about the different ingredients. The Nodate bentō comes with a bilingual Japanese and English menu which is a nice souvenir, especially when looking back at the photos of the different dishes. A very nice touch for novices to Japanese cuisine who want to know more about the varied ingredients.

DSCN7335

Ichi-no-Ichi-no-Ichi Palace Hotel Original Sake

One of the highlights of dining at Wadakura is the private branded saké made for the Palace Hotel by Hakkaisan of Niigata. This saké is not sold retail so the only place one can try this is at the Palace Hotel. The name of the sake, Ichi-no-Ichi-no-Ichi, is the address for the hotel, Marunouchi 1-1-1. The calligraphy on the label is gorgeous as well. The saké has a nice aroma of rice and is very food-friendly.

Wadakura, a kaiseki oasis on the moat of the Imperial Palace, is a short walk from Tokyo Station.

Wadakura at the Palace Hotel Tokyo

Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 1-1-1

030-3211-5322

The Artistry of Den 傳 2

Den16

Asamayama Natsu-Jun, or summer Junmaishu, was rich enough to stand up the fish course.Den17

Katsuo-zuké, skipjack tuna marinated in soy sauce, is a dish we eat at home, but this was so much more upscale. The katsuo was marinated for a much shorter time than we do at home. Also, I loved the egg yolk that was marinated in dashi. There is a trick to get his texture but I don’t want to reveal too much.
Den18

Akita prefecture’s Yuki no Bijin (Winter Beauty) is an appropriate name for a saké as Akita is snow-filled for most of winter. This snow melts and contributes to the delicious water used for making Tohoku saké. This was a Tokubetsu Junmai Ginjo. Check out the beautiful glass it is served in.Den19

I was so curious about this ceramic as it had a rich texture. Chef Hasegawa brought out some bowls to show me the beautiful work of this potter from Mashiko in Tochigi, just north of Tokyo. The potter carefully etches or scrapes out the black parts to show the interior white.Den20

My neighbor happened to be drinking from a saké cup also by the same potter. Gorgeous. Den21

Ayu is a summer river fish in season now. Most times it is simply salted and grilled, which is of course delicious. Tonight was my first time to try ayu as himono. The fish is butterflied, guts removed, and then marinated in salt water for a brief period and then air-dried. Just before serving it is grilled. The whole fish is edible, head to tail. “Rich in calcium,” said the server in Japanese.

In the middle was liver mousse from the ayu. Very rich in flavor, but a light mousse. And the green cake on the bottom is a steamed bread made with tadé no ha (water pepper leaves) and rice flour. It is first steamed until cooked through and is light and fluffy. Chef Hasegawa then grills it under a direct flame to give the edges some crispy texture which is like the cooked edges of the ayu. Brilliant dish that can only be had here at Den.
Den22

Haneya Junmai Ginjo Nama Genshu. The cup looked like it was made by a girl. When I asked about it they said yes, Midori Uchiyama, I believe from Tokyo. The bottom of her pieces either have a “M” for Midori or “Mid”.Den23

Here is his signature dish that comes with every meal, no matter what time of year it is. He calls this dish “Hataké no Yōsō” or the state of the farm. There were over 20 vegetables and flowers in the salad bowl, including baby kabocha squash and corn silk. He treats many vegetables individually, either roasting or pickling in a sweet vinegar, or even deep-frying. Giving a variety of textures and flavors. Brilliant dish. I wish I could eat this everyday, or make this at home, but I can see it’s a lot of prep.Den24

Pringles canister containing Den potato chips – check out the smile! And, a zucchini blossom that was deep-fried.
Den25

Here is Midori’s sake cup and tokkuri.

Den26

Tachibanaya Tokubetsu Junmaishu made with omachi rice. The sweetness of the sake paired well with the soy sauce ankaké sauce on the next dish.Den27

Again, a brilliant use of texture buckwheat grains on the sweet soy ankaké sauce over kuro wagyū from Hokkaido.Den28

Chef Hasegawa assembling a dish for other guests (I’m allergic to shrimp, otherwise I think I would have had this). He was saying he had just returned from a trip to France and Italy and was inspired by bouillabaisse. Den29

This saké cup was by far my favorite. I had seen photos of it from the Kenshin Utsuwa facebook page. I loved the texture, the color, the rough exterior and smooth interior. And, the saké tasted lovely in it. The artist also makes a tokkuri that my neighbor used that was gorgeous as well. I think I’ve found my next birthday present from me to me.Den30

The donabé with the rice for the shimé.

Den31

Kamo Kinshu Karakuchi Junmaishu. A little frizzante on the palate.Den32

The rice course was amazing. Sweet corn and scallops cooked in dashi before adding to the rice pot to be cooked with the rice. I wish I could make this at home, and will definitely try.Den33I was getting full at the end of the meal so asked for a small serving of the rice. Chef Hasegawa made a rice ball for me to bring home to my husband. Very thoughtful. The rice was served with asazuké pickles made that morning and miso soup.

Den34And, dessert. Looking like the moss in front of the restaurant. I was so curious about it. It had to be edible, but all of it? So I asked Hasegawa-san if I could eat it all, dried leaves and all. He said yes so I took a bite. I was so curious what the dried leaves were. I had no idea, but it added a unique texture to the dish. “Tea leaves” he revealed.

Dinner at Den is a night that you will remember for a long time. I can’t wait to go back. I spoke with my neighbors who come once a month, all the way from Yokohama. I hope someday to be a monthly customer as well. The atmosphere at Den is light and friendly, not stuffy and staid as some kaiseki restaurants may be. It’s fun and friendly and has amazing food served on gorgeous dishes. Even for a solo diner, it’s easy to sit at the counter by yourself and take it all in.

Artistry of Den Part One

Den

Den has moved to a new location:

Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 2-3-18
Please call +81-3-3222-3978

Chiyoda-ku, Jimbocho 2-2-32

03-3222-3978

 

Nihonbashi Yukari Summer Lunch

photo-1

Nihonbashi Yukari is one of my favorite restaurants in Tokyo for a kaiseki meal. Chef Kimio Nonaga is the 2002 Iron Chef champion from the original series. I’ve included many Yukari Gozen lunches on this blog and it’s a beautiful way to taste seasonal ingredients exquisitely presented.

This lunch in early June starts with a chilled chawanmushi topped with a hydrangea flower picked from the small garden in front of the restaurant. Hydrangeas (ajisai) are blossoming all over Tokyo but it’s an unexpected treat when it is presented with your meal. A gentle reminder to the time of year.

photo

Chawanmushi is a savory egg custard, usually served hot. But on this hot summer morning he serves a very soft custard that is topped with a thick slurry. It’s a unique flavor and texture that I’ve never had before and I have a hard time imagining what it could be. Nonaga-san says that it is dashi mixed with Jersey mozzarella cheese made in Tokyo at Isonuma Farms in Hachioji. It adds to the dish a creamy texture.

Nonaga3

 

Here is the lunch, presented in a lacquer box and is a generous lunch, so come hungry.Nonaga4

Another look at the lacquer box with all of its components. A fried course, a sashimi course, a simmered course, and the top right box which includes small bites prepared in a variety of ways.Nonaga5

 

Another overview of the lunch including young ginger rice, miso soup, and pickles.

Nonaga6Top left is the simmered course with ganmodoki (deep-fried tofu) and nama fu, a lovely wheat gluten that is a treat as at our home we only have the dried version of fu which doesn’t have the chewy texture of nama fu.

Top right are the small bites including a savory fuki miso garnished with pine nuts, yokan sweet cake made with amazu (tart plum vinegar), and a sweet egg omelet.

Bottom left is the otsukuri (sashimi) course of scallops, horse mackerel, and North Pacific giant octopus topped with vegetables and a creamy green dressing made from shiso.

Bottom right is the deep-fried course of shishitō and shiitake tempura, baby ayu that is covered with sticky rice balls and deep-fried and yuba stuffed with shrimp paste and deep-fried.

As you can see, it is a variety of colors, flavors, and textures. For those who want to experience kaiseki cuisine this is a great lunch in Tokyo.

 

Nonaga7

Nonaga-san is known for serving desserts, not just cut fruit, at the end of each meal. Today it is a mattcha babaloa made with yogurt. It is served with a creamy, sweet azuki bean paste and sticky rice balls.

Nonaga exterior

The entrance to Nihonbashi Yukari. Can you see the lavender hydrangeas that were used for the first course? If you come, tell Nonaga-san that Yukari sent you. The recommended lunch is the Yukari Gozen as seen here for 3,675 JPY. It must be reserved in advance when making your reservation. Alternative lunch options include sashimi, tempura, or grilled seafood. Nine-course kaiseki dinner starts at 10,500 JPY, a bargain and great value for a kaiseki evening. Nihonbashi Yukari is a five-minute walk from Tokyo station’s Yaesu exit. It is also around the corner from Takashimaya’s flagship store.

Nihonbashi Yukari

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 3-2-14

03-3271-3436

closed Sunday and holidays

Kimio Nonaga on Twitter

Kimio Nonaga on Facebook

 

Nihonbashi Yukari Spring Bento

Yukari 1

Chawanmushi

Nihonbashi Yukari is one of my favorite restaurants in Tokyo. Chef Kimio Nonaga is the 2002 Iron Chef Champion, from the original series. He is the third-generation chef of a kaiseki restaurant that is located in the historic district on Nihonbashi. His restaurant is about a three minute walk from Tokyo Station’s Yaesu exit.

Yukari 2

On this chilly spring day he starts his lunch course with a savory, warm egg custard, chawanmushi. Inside of the custard is anago eel and it is topped with some grated ginger, which helps warm up the body.

yukari 5

I like to request a seat at the counter so that chef Nonaga can answer questions about the different ingredients and cooking techniques. He’s very passionate about Japanese cuisine and enjoys sharing his knowledge with diners. He doesn’t speak English so it’s best to go with a Japanese speaker.

yukari 4

The bentō lunch needs to requested when making your reservation. It is a mini-kaiseki meal as it includes a variety of dishes incorporating seasonal ingredients that are prepared using different cooking techniques.

yukari 6

One of chef Nonaga’s signature dishes is a Japanese dish made from chicken liver that is topped with keshi no mi. It is not served with the bentō, but we were talking about Valentine’s Day and chocolate and he paired this with some chocolate.

yukari 7

While it is called a bentō, it is an extravagant affair that is presented in a lacquer box. It’s quite a feast:

Sashimi topped with a nattō dressing that he created with an Ibaraki nattō purveyor.

Tender Yamagata pork kakuni.

Tempura of shishitō pepper, shiitaké mushroom, wakasagi Japanese smelt that is is rolled in komé-ko (rice flour) before deep-fried, and kakiagé – a melange of seafood and vegetables deep-fried in a little cake.

Rice is studded with benidaizu red beans from Yamagata, and more.

yukari 8

With the tsukuri, sashimi course, chef Nonaga puts some nattō dressing on it. There was also something crunchy. I asked him if it was dried nattō beans and he said that it was deep-fried anago bones. A great example that nothing goes to waste in the Japanese kitchen.

 

 

 

yukari 9

Nihonbashi Yukari is the rare kaiseki restaurant that serves dessert. This day it is a mattcha yogurt babaloa with a strawberry from Ibaraki, azuki paste, and wasanbon sugar.

yukari 10

 

And, as if that was not enough, chef Nonaga gave us a second dessert. A cookies and cream ice cream that had some ground coffee in it.

There are so many things why this is a favorite of mine. The location can’t be beat as it is in the heart of the city. Chef Nonaga is full of personality and sitting at the counter, I always learn new things about Japanese cuisine. The food incorporates seasonal ingredients – and many of it from Tokyo, including Tokyo Bay. Finally, it is a bargain when compared to similar restaurants. A client recently dined here twice during her stay in Tokyo and she wrote about it on her blog. If you go, please tell chef Nonaga that Yukari sent you.

Nihonbashi Yukari

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 3-2-14

Nihonbashi Yukari 日本橋ゆかり – August Bento Lunch

My favorite restaurant in Tokyo is Nihonbashi Yukari. Third-generation chef Kimio Nonaga is the 2002 Iron Chef champion. The food is amazing and I most of all I appreciate chef Nonaga’s passion for sharing Japanese cuisine. He graciously answers all of our questions about the ingredients, where it was sourced, and preparation. He also shares with us current projects that he is working on.

On this hot August day we start off with a cold beer as we watch chef Nonaga preparing dishes.

Eggplant chawanmushi. Chilled Kyoto eggplant soup over chawanmushi. Topped with eggplant skin sauce, rice arare, and shiso no hana hojiso. Nonaga-san says that the skin which is often discarded has color and flavor. Lovely flavor of eggplants which are at the peak of their seasonality.

Yukari bento is much more than a bento. To me it’s like a mini kaiseki meal as it includes many different preparations incorporating seasonal ingredients that are artistically displayed. The lunch bento needs to be ordered ahead of time when making your reservation.

On the left: A tender pork kakuni  with a sauce of Hatcho miso and kurozato (brown sugar). Chef Nonaga said the whole process to make the pork takes three days to make and that one of his key points was to steam the pork. It is served with fresh awafu, sato imo, and okra.

On the right:  Katsuramuki daikon wrapped around smoked salmon, toriniku dango, shrimp and ikura, sweet potato, grilled chicken Nambanzuke, sawara Saikyo-yaki, Tokyo tamagoyaki, grated yamaimo topped with house-cured karasumi (bottarga).

On the left: Banno natto made with kuromame (black bean) natto from Hitachi, Ibaraki. Include link. Otsukuri (sashimi) of shima-aji, mizudako, and meji maguro. Garnish with daikon, kaiware, onions, shiso, benidate.

The banno natto is a dressing that chef Nonaga makes in house. He says that it is good with noodles, seafood, salad, or as a dressing as aemono.

On the right: Tempura eggplant, shishito, and kakiage melange of eggplant, shako, sayori, ika, kobashira, and sakura ebi. Chiayu fish rolled in rice arare then deep-fried. The colorful red is momiji oroshi for the dipping sauce.

On the left: Rice topped with yukari (dried, red, shiso). Today’s pickles include wasabi zuke made with shoyu kasu and katsuobushi.

In the middle: the dipping sauce for the tempura.

On the right: Akadashi miso soup with fu, mozuku sea vegetables, mitsuba, and a hint of kona zansho.

Chef Nonaga’s signature kinako ice cream studded with black beans. Topped with kuromitsu (brown sugar syrup) and puffed rice. Heaven in a cup.

The toothpicks are from a historic shop Saruya.

As we went to Nihonbashi Yukari during Obon holidays in August we were curious where he got his seafood as it was very fresh. He said that on days that Tsukiji Market is closed he procures his seafood from the Kyoto Market.

I’ve walked in front of Nihonbashi Yukari for years and this is the first time that I have seen these gorgeous chochin paper lanterns. It gives a festive ambience to the entrance.

Lunch was very busy, especially considering it was during Obon holidays. Diners were a mix of young and old, men and women. If you come with a large group you can request one of the private rooms in the basement. Nihonbashi Yukari is conveniently located just minutes from Tokyo Station’s Yaesu Exit and around the corner from Nihonbashi Takashimaya. If you go, tell him Yukari sent you.

Nihonbashi Yukari

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 3-2-14

Autumn Lunch at Nihonbashi Yukari 日本橋ゆかり

Iron Chef Kimio Nonaga

Iron Chef Kimio Nonaga

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.

Nihonbashi Yukari

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi  3-2-14

03-3271-3436

www.nihonbashi-yukari.com

Anago Chawan Mushi 穴子茶碗蒸し

Anago Chawan Mushi 穴子茶碗蒸し

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.

Nihonbashi Yukari Bento 日本橋ゆかり弁当

Nihonbashi Yukari Bento 日本橋ゆかり弁当

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.

Autumn at Nihonbashi Yukari

Autumn at Nihonbashi Yukari

Inside of the bento are these four lovely dishes.

Otsukuri お造り

Otsukuri お造り

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.

Tempura 天ぷら

Tempura 天ぷら

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.

Simmered Pork 豚の角煮

Simmered Pork 豚の角煮

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.

Autumn 秋の旬

Autumn 秋の旬

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.

Kuri Gohan 栗ごはん

Kuri Gohan 栗ごはん

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.

Mozuku Miso Soup

Mozuku Miso Soup

The miso soup had mozuku (a type of sea vegetable), mitsuba, and futama (wheat gluten).

Kinako Ice Cream きな粉アイス

Kinako Ice Cream きな粉アイス

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.

Nihonbashi Yukari 日本橋ゆかり

Chef Kimio Nonaga

Chef Kimio Nonaga

One of my favorite restaurants in Tokyo is Nihonbashi Yukari. It is just a coincidence that it is called Yukari. It is not a coincidence that I worked at Takashimaya in Nihonbashi, just a few blocks from this oasis. Nihonbashi Yukari is a kaiseki restaurant serving seasonal cuisine. Chef Nonaga was the 2002 Iron Chef Winner, you can see the trophy when you walk into the restaurant.

Bento Lunch Box

Bento Lunch Box

If you are going for lunch, call ahead and order the Yukari Bento box. (3,675 JPY last time I had it, or about $35 USD.) It is a gorgeous presentation including tempura, sashimi, and usually something simmered and grilled.

Dinner here is reasonable for the several courses. I believe it starts around 10,000 JPY or about $100 USD. Ask to sit at the counter so that you can watch Chef Nonaga behind the counter as he works with the seafood for sashimi. The hot dishes are prepared by his team in the kitchen.

If you go, tell him New York Yukari sent you there.

Nihonbashi Yukari

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 3-2-14

Phone: 03-3271-3436

http://www.nihonbashi-yukari.com

closest station is Tokyo station’s Yaesu guchi (exit) or Nihonbashi.