Michelin starred kaiseki with Mr. Kikuchi

Venue: Nishi-Azabu, Tokyo

Lens: Samsung S10 camera

Music: Eric Clapton – Somewhere over the rainbow (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz01q4GueP8)

After the success of my first food-themes post (https://kirilson.com/2019/04/14/food-vendors-in-napoli/), I decided to try taking more photos of food wherever I go. I still feel a bit uncomfortable taking out my bulky camera in restaurants, so this post was made entirely with my smartphone and the photos surely seem much more amateurish compared to my usual standard. Still, the idea is that the photos tell you a story, and hopefully you’ll enjoy this one.

I was visiting Japan for several weeks this spring with my girlfriend and for her birthday we decided to celebrate in a two-starred Michelin restaurant, where the cook Mr. Kikuchi serves his kaiseki dishes (i.e. the Japanese traditional haute cuisine which is essentially a multicourse tasting menu devised by the chef only with fresh local ingredients). We chose this place because, unlike other flashy expensive Michelin-starred places, it is extremely unassuming and relaxing. Set in a quiet part of town and run solely by Mr. Kikuchi (no waiters, no one else to pick up the phone and clean, etc.), the restaurant has a maximum capacity of 10 people and the chef prepares everything meticulously and with great calm right in front of you on the other side of the bar. So, here come the dishes in chronological order,  itadakimasu.

We start with the.. starters. We had fried small fishes (left), Japanese mustard plant (top), and marinated monkfish liver. All three were very good, but the monkfish liver was particularly interesting and nice.
Next came this sublime seaweed soup. It was a bit slimy, but the taste was really great.
A salad with green onions and tiny pieces of fish, might have actually been the famous fugu or blowfish that, if not prepared properly, is very poisonous. In any case I didn’t like it as much as the previous courses as I am not so used to having salads tasting like sea (of course, many things in Japan can surprise you).
Next was the sushi set of raw seafood: squid (left) and uni (top). The squid was way too fatty and unfamiliar as a taste for us, so we really couldn’t eat it. The uni or sea urchin, on the other hand, was really great even if also unfamiliar as a taste for me.
Next came another type of fish (sorry but I forgot really fast all different fish types we were served, mostly because I had never heard of them before), this time fried, together with a mushroom and a pepper. The fish was a bit fatty, while in fact the pepper was really the big star here.
Another fish, this time grilled on a skewer in soy sauce, miso and a small cucumber. The fish and miso were great, but again the vegetable was the main star as it really tasted amazing.
A palate cleanser: a sweet tomato from Tokushima. The taste was truly amazing, we were really in love with this dish. Indeed it was “just” a chilled tomato, but in Bulgaria we usually pride ourselves in the fact that we grow and can appreciate really tasty tomatoes and we really loved this one.
The last course, and by far the most sizeable one (also on the top photo): soup, steamed rice, vegetables, pickled vegetables, and probably something else I’m forgetting. After all the preceding food I was already too full to fully appreciate the rice, but as far as I understand this is a must in any kaiseki menu. In any case we didn’t leave anything behind and after some mango juice as dessert we headed back out happy and rather full.


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