torsdag, mai 24, 2012

Tokyo Michelin dining

Tokyo recently confirmed its status as the city in the world with the most Michelin-starred restaurants. Then again, the city boasts more eateries than the whole of France, so with that perspective in mind the Michelin status should not come as a surprise.

The great aspect of eating in Tokyo is that a bad experience is very unlikely. You can choose a random place and the food will be both affordable and of good quality. In any case, this time we decided to splurge for a couple of the starred venues.

Both Isshin Sushi and Kanda are hidden away in residential areas of Asakusa and Motoazabu. Finding the restaurants was a bit of an adventure in itself given the obtuse Japanese address system, entailing twice passing the seriously serious guards of the Chinese embassy.

Both restaurants are very small, Isshin just with one bar seating seven people, the three-star Kanda adding a private room to a similar bar. You place yourself at the mercy of the chef-selected menu mostly based around seafood, which in no way proved a disappointment though two out of the dozen courses were somewhat uninspiring. The anago eels however, a true taste sensation. First rate ingredients and excellent service without austere formality.

Looking back though, the one-star Isshin Sushi proved the most memorable of the two. A miniscule place run solely by the owner and his wife. There is something very inspiring about watching someone extremely skilled at what they do, as the chef-owner sliced and prepared with minute precision. At times like an enshrined art performance, one with a most tasty end result.

Character added by the only other guest there, a suited Japanese salaryman extremely eager to translate each and every type of fish served into English through his smartphone translator. Budding gourmands beware, as with some other traditional Japanese eateries cards are not accepted in spite of the not cheap menu. Avoid sending one guy out for 45 minutes trying to find an ATM, as we did. Love cash, as the Japanese do.