Suigetsu Hotel Oghaisou, Tokyo

April 9, 2013

The old house of the great writer Ogai Mori remains enclosed in the garden of the Suigetsu Hotel next to Ueno Park. The house now houses a traditional Japanese restaurant. This hotel is among a few remaining Japanese-style inns (ryokan) surviving in Tokyo and pampers you with a hot spring communal bath. Toshio invited Linda and me there for dinner on March 21, 2013, the first day of spring.

We walked in Ueno Park at the end of afternoon. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom. There were crowds of strollers and a few late picnickers, but nothing like the hordes expected on the upcoming weekend.ueno 003 (480x191)
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There were foodstalls set up for the blossom viewing crowds doing a good business.
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Arriving at the hotel after dusk we discovered that a group had taken over the old house and that, despite Toshio’s reservation, we were seated in the modern dining room.
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We ordered a bottle of Asahi beer to quench our post walk thirst. It was followed by a bottle of light sake. This was followed by two more robust sakes, one with a very picturesque label all around.
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We were given a menu of the evening’s meal. Toshio found it hard to follow with what was actually served.
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The meal started to arrive with various appetizers.
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In the bowl was a cube of tofu on a bed of sesame paste with a piece of salmon on top. Wrapped in the leaf was a savory mochi tidbit. The bit on the right seemed like yoghurt. The shrimp was very good.

In the red bowl were dashi with a shrimp soufflé topped with a shiitake.
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The sashimi course included three different fish which were pleasant, but nothing special.
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Our hostess then introduced geishas who came around to the tables for conversation.
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This was entertaining and appropriate.

The next course had a ball of potato puree surrounding a bland meat forcemeat. There was a seasonal tofu cherry blossom.
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Slices of smoked duck breast.
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A piece of sablefish and a slice of sticky potato with seaweed.
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A sort of Japanese bourride with tofu broth instead of the aioli.
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The chilled bowl had been placed over the candle burner at the start of the meal and the candle was lit just before we were to eat this course. It was quite nice.

A roll of squid and carrot with a light vinegar sauce.
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Miso soup, rice and pickles.
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The pickles were quite good and really sparked up the rice.
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Tofu milk marinated in cane sugar which tasted like caramel.
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We had a good time, but it was clear that this restaurant had declined since Toshio’s last visit. He was quite disappointed. The food was okay, but lacked imagination and freshness. The service was a bit erratic and the ambience lacking.


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