Kagurazaka Ishikawa, Tokyo 2
February 24, 2015
On November 1, 2014, Linda and I returned to Kagurazaka Ishikawa. Our meal there a year and a half before with Kent had been a culinary highlight of the year.
Shortly after we were seated at the right end of the seven-seat counter, a little cake with a lit candle was presented to the diner at the other end. When she blew it out, there was applause from throughout the restaurant, including the close, but invisible, kitchen staff who also joined in welcome and farewell shouts. Here the chef is taking a photo of the birthday girl with the cake.
The course titles below are from the menu which was already printed with my name on it and waiting at our places. It was clear that they remembered us, particularly Kent. That was nice.
Silver pomfret, Lotus Root and Oba Herbs
Kakiage is a kind of tempura in which different ingredients are mixed together in tempura batter before deep-frying. Here the fish was combined with lotus root pieces before becoming a tempura ball. It was topped with green onion slivers which were hard to keep in place when one was dipping the kakiage in salt and biting off a chunk. Anyway, it was hot and delicious and nicely offset by the contrasting gingkos.
The chef carefully sliced the sea bream with an enormous knife right in front of us. The garnishes were excellent, particularly the seaweed.
The flaked snow crab was outstanding as was the “broth jelly.” This is when a translated menu becomes quite frustrating as we did not know what the jelly was.
Fresh Water Eel and Sweet Onion with Grated White Radish
The eel was grilled without the customary prior steaming in order to make it crisper, which really brought out the flavor. The grilled sweet onions are hiding behind the eel; their contrasting texture and complementary flavor worked very well.
Wagyu Tongue, Grated Lotus Root Dumpling and Tofu
The yellow dab on top is made from chrysanthemum petals. There are two thin slices of wagyu tongue on top of the lotus root and tofu squares. The sauce underneath was a significant element, but I do not know what it was. Excellent dish.
The chef was proud to have some freshly harvested rice and assured us that it would have a lovely flavor. It did seem slightly nutty and good, but needed the various condiments. He told us to start by adding bits of the sea bream paste on top, then to move on to the nori and seeds. He said that when we were half done with the rice, we should add all of the condiments which remained and pour on the surprise from the pot he had put on the counter. But when we got that far, he could not resist helping us and did it all, resulting in the soupy rice you can see at the bottom. This was quite rich and we could not finish it all.
We had a very good time. The dishes were all very well planned and prepared. There was a certain light-heartedness about them, which is enhanced by the continual, busy, smiling presence of the chef and his chief assistant (here on the right) on the other side of the counter.
They convey their pleasure at being able to serve their customers, while also sharing their professionalism with us. We can easily sense being at one of the best restaurants in Tokyo. Bravo to chef Ishikawa and his team.
To see our meal at Kagurazaka Ishikawa in April, 2013, click here.