Goryukubo came highly recommended from a friend, and right before going one of my other food friends had gone within a month before my visit. Was super excited and yes, the hype is real.
Bear in mind this visit was back in 2016, probably around the week of Thanksgiving in November 2016
The entrance is in the basement of what looks like a residential “non descript” building. Luckily not an LA style strip mall
Walk down the stairs and you will see the store signage, and a sliding door entrance.
Not that many counter seats, but that is the place to be, so keep your party size small.
“What do you want to drink”? For some reason tea skipped my mind and sake it was! This new aged looking label that is part Alien part religion is the famed Toyo Bijin Junmai Daiginjo from Yamaguchi prefecture, polished to 40%.
Next up and first course: Japanese persimmons in sesame sauce, the theme of autumn begins here
The gorgeous vessels for enjoying sake, many more to come…
Next up, fried wild fugu, paired with fried ginko nuts on the side
A restaurant will not think twice to show the provenance of its raw materials. For high end sushi omakase, there is always a piece of print that shows the lineage of bluefin tuna, especially if native Japanese, where it was caught, weight, and name of wholesaler. Here at GK it is no exception, although it’s not bluefin.
Prior to the crab course, I am shown an entire live crab from Kansai: Matsuba kani which is in season (and far more commonly seen in Osaka/Kyoto regions for high end cuisine). First timers might look alarmed at the circular mini spheres (popping boba for those jokesters out there) on its outer shell. These are symbiotic parasites that attach to the crab, and it is explained that the more parasites on the crab, the healthier and fattier, juicier, more delicious the crab, and thus the more prized and expensive.
We then move onto the grilled crab leg course. The aromatic, texture, temperature, flavor is just tremendous fabulous. My only regret was not specifying their Daiginjo for this pairing, but Kubo san figured out what we needed later.
We move on to the sashimi course, which was kawahagi and a side of sauce with the kawahagi liver. Time to remix, dip, and enjoy! This was another prime specimen.
Kubo san surprises with a nice treat, a portion of warmed sake (I didn’t ask which was the base) where they took the shell of the crab leg from the finished course, quickly lit it to torch the surface, in order to infuse crab flav
or into the sake. A similar technique is employed with dried fugu fin normally, but this is with Matsuba crab. Absolutely ethereal, especially if you love umami rich shellfish and sake together. Here they literally become as one. Cannot be sufficiently described in words!
Next up, Kamo Kinsho Junmai Ginjo, brewed with Omachi rice. A recommendation from okami-san who assisted with sake selections from the menu.
A superb bowl of dashi with more Matsuba crab
An extremely delicious grilled Hokkaido Kinki with broth made from the bones of the fish
Seiko Gani (female Matsuba crab with lots of roe) with ginger infused crab vinegar gelee
Grilled wild unagi with fresh sansho berries
Hakkaisan Kouwa Kura Shikomi Junmai Daiginjo (now, this is available for export, soooo good)
At this point two Japanese customers to my left received a pour of an off menu sake. Being the geek that I am, I recognized what this was and immediately requested some. Kokuryu Kuzuryu (Black Dragon: Nine Headed Dragon) Daiginjo. The Junmai is exported to the US, but not this Daiginjo. It is also built to be served hot which is how it was served. Supremely delightful and one of the best hot sake (and Daiginjo grade too) for kaiseki!
Chef owner Kubo Takeshi
House made soba
Dessert: Yamagata pear with pear sauce
Saw Aramasa on the menu and was soooo curious to try it because the Hong Kongers and Taiwanese can’t stop raving about it in their forums and social media threads on the other side of the world. This was truly excellent and it was the right choice…as a digestif! Paired supremely well with the pear, which in itself is somewhat out of the box. The pearl inlay on the label is a sight to behold
Truly one of the more remarkable meals in Tokyo.