There's little doubt in my mind that the omakase sushi meal at Sukiyabashi Jiro Roppongi was epic, but if I have to name my favorite meal during the 10-day stay in Tokyo, that belongs to the dinner at Kikuchi, a restaurant in Nishi-azabu which specializes in kappou gomi - which literally means the culinary art of cutting and cooking.
This restaurant is almost impossible to find - first it's not close to a metro station. Situated between Omotesando and Roppongi stations, it's almost a good 20 minute walk from either ones - trust me, it's no fun either walking in the summer heat or the winter freeze. That's in addition to the fact that it's located in a quiet residential neighborhood - without GPS and map on my iPhone, I would have been lost multiple times already on my way from Roppongi. So my advice? Take a taxi.
|Steaming, grilling, cutting, cooking... can you believe they are all done by one chef in this small setting?|
|Elegant and cozy counter space|
|From top left (clockwise) - Steamed Ishikawa Imo, marinated fresh sea weed and steamed sea urchin|
|Chef-owner Kikuchi Takashi|
|Aomori suri nagashi|
|Hamo no yubiki|
|Mana-gatsuo no shioyaki|
|shiro datsu no fuku mase|
The dinner I just enjoyed - all the ingredients were prime for the season; the hamo was cut so carefully that there's no trace of bones; the mana-gatsuo was grilled perfectly that it's not overcooked on the surface and just cooked in the center... even the rice - it's perfectly cooked just at the moment it's placed in front of me. All these were done without use of any special equipment or troops of line cooks to ensure everything's done with pin-point accuracy - it's just the chef, the ingredients, his kitchen, and nothing else, and as everything's done right in front of the customer, there's absolutely no margin for errors or time to panic.
|My favorite part of the kitchen - piles of beautiful serving wares!|
At home I have a book written by Hirohisa Koyama - many considered to be the most authoritative figure in the Japanese culinary scene - which talks about the many simple things that are the key to Japanese cuisine. As I returned home from the trip after meals at Sukiyabashi Jiro, Kikuchi and several other fine restaurants I was lucky to have tried in these 10 days, I picked up the book and read it from front to back once again, and have a deeper appreciation with every word he said. What a treat - and I seriously doubt if there's anything quite like that anywhere else in the world
when? September 11, 2012
where? Kikuchi, Port shop home office Building 2F, 2-17-17, Nishiazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
menu highlights? Grilled Mana-gatsuo no Shioyaki
drinks? Sanno esshu Tokubetsu Junmai (参乃越州 特別純米)
Full set of pictures can be found here: