Shinjuku’s Kappo Nakajima is known for having one Michelin star, and their kaiseki dinners.
However they are also known for being the cheapest Michelin star, during lunch with their incredible value lunch sets, featuring Japanese sardines (iwashi).
If you go a bit before opening, the line kind of looks like this, which snakes down the stairs to their entrance
When you get to near the top of the stairs:
This is the menu. You can order as “teishoku” (lunch set which comes with tsukemono [pickles], rice, and a bowl of soup at the end), or “tan pin” (a la carte)
Everything is sardines (iwashi) here during lunch
Nimono (simmered in dashi and soy sauce)
Shioyaki (not available during my visit)
Yanagawa (nabe form with dashi soy sauce and egg, originally unagi yanagawa but this is an iwashi version)
Since it was dead of winter, and pretty cold (I think below 5 degrees C), and knowing how fatty the sardines would be the choices were obvious
A view from the counter:
Despite what people think, even ordering sashimi a la carte takes quite some time to arrive. Lots of fat with each sliver…fantastic texture and flavor. So much better in January than back in October/November from over a year ago.
Delicious tsukemono, it makes you want a bowl of rice immediately
Since it was so cold outside, iwashi yanagawa was the perfect choice. It also took the longest to arrive as I watched my neighbors get their orders already of nimono or fried iwashi.
Unlike other unagi yanagawa preparations, this was dead on perfect. The iwashi were actually battered and fried first, then cooked together with egg, dashi and either mirin or lighter soy sauce (more emphasis on dashi). Piping hot and probably the most awesome selection out of them all. Having tried sashimi, deep fried, and nimono over a year ago, it was a pleasure finally having the yanagawa version.
Definitely two really safe choices from this lunch menu.
All lunch sets are under 800 yen, with the exception of the yanagawa set at 900 yen.
That’s $7 to $8 US dollars.
A la carte add on (no rice, pickles, soup) is 600 yen or 700 yen for the yanagawa.
You can ask for half order of sashimi (add on) for example.
What a freakin’ steal. And on top of that, absolutely heavenly.
Shinjuku Kappo Nakajima