Hayashi, Tokyo

May 27, 2010

On April 24, 2010, Linda, Toshio and I dined at Hayashi. It has been on the fourth floor of a building in the Akasaka restaurant district for the last 34 years. Linda and Toshio pose for a photo outside as we arrived. 

The interior originates from 100-year-old buildings of the Takayama-Hida area. Hayashi is a sumiyaki (charcoal grill) restaurant. This is the front dining room.

We were seated in a “horigotatsu” tatami room that had a well for our legs under the low table/grill which had a pit in the middle with sand on the bottom and large hot chunks of good wood charcoal.
The amuse-gueule was spinach and bean sprouts with myoga, a kind of ginger, grated on top.

The first sake, which was served in the square wooden cups, was Hakkaisan (Niigata.)
We were served a little bowl with sashimi of sea bream and shrimp. The heads of the shrimp were put on the grill. They really smelled good as they were turned and cooked. They were crunchy and very tasty when we finally ate them.

Next came a bowl of soup of junsai, water shield, a spring marsh plant with almost no flavor, appreciated for its gelatinous texture.

We started on a second sake, Joppari, a brew from Tsugaru, Akita.

Abalone in their shells were put on the grill and basted with soy-based dashi. They were a bit chewy, but not tough, with a distinct flavor.

A tray with sweet green peppers, Jidori free-range chicken thighs marinated in miso and chicken balls arrived. The peppers were put on the grill and then the chicken.

The skewers of chicken balls were added to the grill and occasionally dipped in miso sauce for basting as they cooked.

This course was delicious, particularly the chicken balls. Everything had picked up flavor from the grilling.

Three ayu, or sweetfish, were then presented. Skewering ayu lengthwise, so they look as if they were swimming, is traditional. Our competant, genial apprentice chef then arranged them vertically over the hot coals.


He basted them occasionally. The fish oil and basting liquid dripping down into the coals really smelled good.

He took out the heads and backbones and put them back on the grill. He served us the body with a green sauce. Eventually, he served us the crisp heads and bones. Ayu is a prized fish as it is an omnivore and is known for its sweet taste. It was delicious. The crispness made it all the more enjoyable. Bravo.

A bowl of sliced beef was then presented and grilled. (My notes say “tojiki beef,” but I can’t find a definition of tojiki anywhere.) The grilling did not achieve a crisp outside, but preserved the tender, pink, delicious inside. It was served with a green salad and a soy sauce that looks like it has grated daikon and something else. Excellent.


The last course, instead of the usual pot of coarse rice, was grilled rice cakes with shiso leaves. They were served with a nice pickle selection and a cup of miso soup. Very good.



Finally, we had a square of yokan, a jellied red bean dessert. Very good.
We had a lovely evening, trying new flavors, enjoying the traditional ambience and conversing with our old friend Toshio.
The restaurant’s English website:

One Response to “Hayashi, Tokyo”

  1. Blair Says:

    This looks soooo good. I can only imagine how good it smelled when the fish and meat was roasting over the coals

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