I was determined to try Japanese kaiseki style multi-course dining. One Saturday night we trawled online for something in Ginza that would have availability at late notice, which is how we came across the vaguely familiar-sounding Michiba Washoku Tateno.
Michiba, as in Rokusaburo Michiba of the original Iron Chef fame. Apparently, his style of traditional Japanese cuisine has spawned a professional following and as an avid fan of the 1990s Japanese television cooking series, I was sold.
|First course at Michiba Washoku Tateno, Ginza, Tokyo, Japan|
The restaurant is fairly compact, featuring counter seating at the semi open kitchen, and a few rooms with sliding doors - each room hosting a number of tables. It was all quite formal so we chose to sit at the counter where the chefs could watch us with as much interest as we them.
With sake ordered from an extensive drinks menu, we started with tiny, deep fried ayu sweetfish, artfully coiled this way and that. The three very crisp, whole fish were served with a young ginger shoot, possibly pickled, and a most unusual, skin-on potato-like vegetable that was mysteriously delightful.
|Second and third courses|
|Steamed uni sea urchin roe|
In fact, after this steamed version served with a touch of a complex soy-based sauce to each mouthful, I could say that I actually like uni.
|Uni - all gone|
While there was also traditional soy sauce and wasabi, the concept of the salt block was an exciting, new approach to raw seafood.
|Squeezing lime onto a Himalayan salt block|
The poached fish had a chewiness to it, which I would probably put down to the skin while the large kuruma ebi prawn was my favourite: creamy, sweet, firm and sea fresh.
From the top, there was a gorgeous, delicate chawanmushi steamed egg custard flavoured with soy - one of my favourite Japanese dishes where it's all about subtlety. To its left was an interesting, hand-formed corn tofu, studded with kernels of sweet corn.
|Shishito pepper with mochi cheese|
In the cute, bright yellow vessel was a piece of anago salt water eel, which is less fatty than unagi fresh water eel. Indeed, I prefer the anago's soft, flaking texture and sweet flavour over the usual grilled fresh water varieties.
Eaten cold, zaru soba style, you can really taste the buckwheat flour and even the water they're made with when eaten in this textural fashion, with finely sliced shiso leaves and wasabi on the side to taste.
In true Michiba style, we were provided with paper menus with our courses listed in traditional Japanese calligraphy: vertically down the page from right to left.
With a few new food experiences and unfamiliar sights, it was a special meal that definitely ranked as our most expensive in Japan.
More Japan posts to come. See photos from my Japan trip on my Facebook page.