The Hayato thread spun off into discussions about Go san’s mentors, which included two kappo kaiseki restaurants Ishikawa and Goryu Kubo which was reviewed earlier.
I also mentioned Aoyama Ichita, so here is that review from a visit in October 2017.
The restaurant has 10 or less counter seats which is manned mainly by Chef Ichita san with assistants. It is otherwise an entirely open kitchen where you can see every single station. Once the food is cooked and prepped it is presented to you. This is unlike other kaiseki restaurants that have a counter but the cooking is done to a kitchen adjacent to the chef’s counter.
I was very grateful to have come try this place. It’s tucked further away from the main road, in between some buildings, and nestled into a spot by the ground floor of a building. No obvious signage, other than the noren of the front entrance.
From a quick glance, the image of the mountain might remind you of Metallica . Mountain = yama, and the kanji beneath it, is Ao. To the right, “Ichita”, thus = Aoyama Ichita. Yeah yeah yeah yeah
Wasted no time in requesting sake. Started off with an amazing namazume sake that is limited production and quite sought after over there. Kamo Nishiki (Niigata prefecture) This is polished to 50% and is one of quite a few variations (I’m not certain of how many different bottles there are but that seems to be the trend with some of these craft brews that are doing crafty things)
What is an evening of kaiseki without crab? Zuwai gani from Niigata prefecture
The beautiful Okami san assists with the next selection, Mutsu Otokoyama from Aomori prefecture. I believe it is a sub or side label by the brewery that makes Mutsu Hassen. Not to be confused with the more famous Hokkaido “Otokoyama”. But interestingly apt…Man’s Mountain, in the Blue Mountain of Ichita.
Oooooo… what’s in the box, I wonder?
A beautiful although small piece of wild unagi. Topped with some kinome leaf to give it that peppery, minty, and lime like citrus boost (like sansho / sansho berry)
The next one is a major feast of the senses. Tea time!
Well not quite, it’s a “teapot” containing Hamo and Matsutake as a dobinmushi. The intertwined end of summer and beginning of fall symbolism, coming together as one. Although in a weird way since it was very late October 2017 for this meal
Let’s get a closer look at those hone giri (hamo knife) skills of the chef
OK the next one was a personal request since I know they have it. Denshu Junmai Daiginjo (Aomori Prefecture) Yon Wari Go Bu (45% polish). We can get Denshu Tokubetsu Junmai in California (although in rare quantities) and the rest of the lineup will have to try in Japan. A stellar brew, and I’m less into Junmai Daiginjo these days, but this was really really good and worthy of a kaiseki companion
The Denshu was poured into this beautiful brass looking bamboo shaped holder. It kept the sake cool enough, was visually striking and elegant.
Ooooo what are they doing over there?
Sheeeeeyahhht… Kawahagi (filefish) sashimi, ponzu gelee, poached hawahagi skin, ample amounts of kawahagi liver, shiso flowers, and daikon oroshi. A symphony of textures, flavors, umami! One of the highlights of the evening!
Sashimi time: Mirugai and Sayori (I want to say it was Mirukui which is the proper gaper clam, legit premium stuff)
Will Ichita san continue to surprise? Oh yes… shirako tempura!!!
And to chill out a little, ikura, shungiku ohitashi (Shungiku are Chrysanthemum Garlands)
Hmmm did I even drink any tea or water?? Can’t remember but next up is one of the holy grails. From Fukushima Prefecture, the baseline offering of Hiroki, Tokubetsu Junmai. Excellent and there was a reason this was picked
Because of the yakimono course, the taste of autumn fat and glory: Sanma! About 20 mins prior to getting this dish, one could see Ichita san rushing towards the back (also in plain view) to the charcoal grill station.
Such a generous portion too!
This angle shows generosity and a lot of thickness!
A bit of a cleanser, but at the same time some stickiness and starch
Uni and a root vegetable that is a member of the taro family, ebi imo. Does not contain ebi/shrimp…
And I had to ask if they had Juyondai. Wow they did! It’s not the top of the line one, and it wasn’t bad
Juyondai Namazume - Junmai Ginjo brewed with Banshu Aiyama rice, the “mid press” Nakadori portion. I guess you could see this as a parallel to Les Forts De Latour (or Latour’s 3rd wine for that matter) vs the OG Latour.
Right before the sake was served, was asked how we wanted the soba. One cold, and one hot (with nameko mushrooms)
Of course, cannot miss having soba yu! A true delight!!
And finally, a chestnut based dessert that was an excellent way to finish
3-4-6 , Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Dinner: 17:30~23:00 (L.O. 21:00) Closed Sundays