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

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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

Japanese Breakfast – Kuouesu

Kuouesu

I have a six-month column on Japanese breakfast in the Japan Times. This special spot was mentioned in my first column on traditional Japanese breakfasts.

Kuouesu near Hiroo offers a very unique Japanese breakfast. The kappō restaurant is only open for breakfast and dinner. It was a long walk from the station, so best to take a taxi if you can if the weather is not good.

I was greeted by chef Moteki. She was in the back kitchen for most of the meal, getting ready for the next seating. I loved having a female chef as I don’t run into them very often, especially at traditional Japanese restaurants.

This is a classic ichiju sansai meal of rice, miso soup, and three side dishes. Ichiju sansai is literally one soup and three vegetables. This meal is rounded out with a grilled fish on this day. The rice has an al dente texture and Moteki-san said that they cook it with less water than usual in Iwate Nambu steel pot to make the Niigata koshihikari rice firm. I loved it.

Managatsuo pomfret is prepared in a classic yuan-yaki style of soy sauce, saké, and mirin that is grilled over charcoal.

Reservations are required for this bargain breakfast of 900 JPY. Side dishes like tamagoyaki and nattō can be added. This is a hidden gem. I only wish I lived closer.

 

 

Kuouesu 栩翁S

Minato-ku, Minami-Aoyama 7-14-6 Minami-Aoyama Bldg. 1F

港区南青山7-14-6南青山1F

Japan Times article on traditional Japanese breakfasts.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2016/08/05/food/start-morning-serving-tradition-breakfast-joints/#.V7v-SZN96i4

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.

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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 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

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.

Gotta Go – Nihonbashi Yukari

I am often asked for restaurant suggestions in Tokyo. There is one restaurant that I recommend time and time again. Chef Kimio Nonaga of Nihonbashi Yukari was the 2002 Iron Chef winner, and the trophy is displayed when you first walk in. I love this restaurant for lunch or dinner. For a multi-course kaiseki dinner incorporating seasonal ingredients, you get a meal for a good value. Lunch is also reasonable. If you want to splurge, call ahead and order the Yukari bento box, pictured here. The last time I went this was 3,675 JPY.

The food here is prepared using classic Japanese techniques. Chef Nonaga trained in Kyoto at Kikunoi with Chef Murata, author of the gorgeous Kaiseki book published by Kodansha International.

If possible, sit at the counter so that you can watch Chef Nonaga perform his magic. And, tell him Yukari sent you. If you go with a Japanese speaker you can talk to him about the seasonal ingredients, how the food is prepared, and observe his passion for traditional Japanese cuisine.

Nihonbashi Yukari

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 3-2-14

tel. 03-3271-3436

http://www.nihonbashi-yukari.com/