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Dec 11, 2012 01:36 PM

Tokyo and Kansai report, part 2 - Kanda, Fujiya 1935, Seisoka, Chez Inno...

Here's the second part of my last gastronomic journey in Japan. I'm including some photos this time. Enjoy!

Kanda - 5.0

FF: 5.0 | AT: 4.0 | CP: 4.5

This one was like a greatest hits meal, with some of the best dishes I've eaten in Japan. An example was the kawahagi sashimi and the liver from this fish, served with a stunning chilli sauce. I was very impressed by this dish, and thought it would be hard to beat, but what followed was also fantastic.

The anago, grilled over charcoal and wrapped in a ball of rice, was delicious, as was the mackerel with maitake mushrooms, also charcoal grilled, served with salted ginko. Then came snow crab, again cooked over the bincho charcoal, followed by another memorable dish: straw smoked wagyu. Kaiseki staples, like the clear soup (this one came with shrimp and a dumpling of lotus roots) and the gelatinous amuse-bouche, were also great. Desserts were japanese pear in mint jelly and ice cream of molasses (kuromitsu). Both superb.

Chef Kanda cooks many dishes over the charcoal right in front of you, and since there's nothing to contain the smoke, the counter can smell like an izakaya or yakitori restaurant sometimes. But it's a very sophisticated restaurant, with an impressive wine and sake list, nice ceramics and a beautiful counter.

Kanda is, strangely, one of the least talked about 3 star restaurants, but it was even better than similar places like Koju or Ishikawa, which I also love. Or maybe I was lucky that night.

Seisoka - 4.0

FF: 4.0 | AT: 4.0 | CP: 4.0

The original chef of this 2 star restaurant opened introduction-only Matsukawa earlier this year, so there's a new man over the counter, Mr. Mitsuyuki Kubota. My lunch this time was more zen than the one I had last year, maybe reflecting the style of the new chef. But it was still quite good.

The restaurant and the food here are both very pretty. In some cases, the presentation surpassed the flavour, as was the case with a simple ball of rice mixed with some small japanese potatoes which tasted like nothing. Maybe I should reflect upon the beauty of this dish, but I ate it and found it very boring. There were some fine dishes though, like a nice piece of persimmon, grilled shitake with tofu cream, grilled figs with sesame sauce, sea bream with a dashi gelatine and tofu, a lily bulb with salmon roe and an excellent soup with crab dumpling. Dessert was an small, minimalistic sweet of maron (chestnut).

Chez Inno - 4.0

FF: 4.0 | AT: 3.5 | CP: 3.5

A classic french restaurant in every sense. Classic decor, waiters that look from the 80's and, of course, classic french food.

The classic of the classics here is Noisette d'agneau en eroute "Maria Callas", a lamb pie with foie gras named after the opera singer, who was regular at Maxim in Paris, where chef Inoue worked many decades ago. The chef, who came to our table to say hello, said he used to cook for Charles Chaplin in Paris as well.

Anyway, the Maria Callas was indeed excellent. It had a delicious, sweet truffles sauce that went very well with the lamb and foie gras. I also had a good terrine of mushrooms, with truffles, among other dishes. A very good french restaurant, perfect to eat onion soup and feel like you're in Paris.

Fujiya 1935 - 5.0

FF: 4.5 | AT: 4.0 | CP: 5.0

I loved this restaurant. The decor, service and food were superb, and it was a real bargain at lunch. The food is fusion, mainly of japanese and spanish cuisines. Highlights were the smoked foie gras with sweet potato sauce, grilled oysters, a delicious spaghetti with mushrooms, hokkaido venison with beetroot sauce, an excellent dessert of chestnut, coffee jelly and rum, and the chef's signature "bread with a lot of bubbles", which I had the truffles version.

Every dish was superb, showing excellent technique and perfect execution. Probably the best value of any 3 star restaurant in the world.

Torito - 4.0

FF: 4.0 | AT: 4.0 | CP: 4.0

Good yakitori is not so common in Kyoto, but Torito is an excellent option in the old capital. Juicy pieces of chicken, good cartilage and some interesting ideas like a cut I can't remember that came covered with minced onions and sesame seeds.

Other restaurants I enjoyed: Den (kindest service ever. I'll write about this one later), Omen (a udon restaurant in Kyoto which I randomly walked in last year and tried again this time. Surprisingly good food for very reasonable prices), Tonki (still my favourite tonkatsu restaurant), Butagumi (amazing pork selection, but I'm too ignorant to tell the difference), Cuisine Michel Troisgros (ok, this one I didn't enjoy much, but I just had a simple lunch), Lugdunum Bouchon Lyonnais (excellent classics from Lyon. A place I always go for lunch), unagi Akimoto (Michelin starred unagi, but I don't have enough experience in this kind of restaurant to differentiate them).

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  1. Babreu, thanks, I always was tempted by Kanda, I did buy the book specialized on three stars, and after having read it, I found out Kanda san himself studied a long time France wines. I looove wine. I dont know much about sake, so i always ask friends to choose for me, or ask for a 'karaguchi';.. but with wines, and with some sake, it will be a plenty enjoyment.. thanks again for your reviews.. 

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ninisix

      I second Kanda. Very good food there. Not much mentioned here and the ranking at Tabelog is not so favorable. But I did really enjoy the food there. Half the clientele on that evening is actually Taiwanese.

      1. re: Ninisix

        i'd third kanda -- i visited in 2008, and even after trying many more board favorites on a couple return trips to tokyo, it still sticks out in my mind as a favorite.

      2. "some small japanese potatoes which tasted like nothing"

        I wonder if they were mukago, which a fellow chowhounder helped me identify recently in another thread (

        They're not really potatoes but the bulbil of a plant colloquially called mountain yam or mountain potato. We encountered them in one of the kaiseki ryori meals we had in a ryokan and, like your experience, they were pretty but didn't have any flavour to speak of.

        (Great round up of your restaurant experiences, btw, am so enjoying it).

        2 Replies
        1. re: Kavey

          Yes, they were mukago. Didn't remember the name, so thanks for the information!

          The rice was also totally neutral in flavour. I'm used to kaiseki, but this one had a remarkable taste of nothing. :)

          It was pretty, though. I'm posting a photo.

          1. re: babreu

            Yes, very pretty. That was one of the things we loved most about the kaiseki ryori meals we had in our ryokan stays. Can't WAIT to go back for my second visit.