Review Score: 84 / 100.
Tucked within one of the small side streets in the buzzing Kagurazaka district is Ishikawa, one of the more renown Kaiseki restaurants in Tokyo. I had been to Kohaku (Read Here), their sister restaurant, which was a lovely dining experience and I would still dream of that lovely ball of Crab meat with the simplest and most enjoyable broth. This time around, I had decided to conclude my Tokyo sojourn at Ishikawa. The restaurant has Three Michelin stars and is helmed by the creative and seemingly energetic chef, Hideki Ishikawa, who’s still very much present in the restaurant and interacts excitedly with his guests.
We were seated by the main counter facing the head chef, and the dishes came in relatively rapid succession once the drinks had been ordered. We started off with a smoked Japanese duck with winter spinach. The duck had good flavour and was very tender.
Next, we moved on a deep fried soft-shelled Turtle, which had a nice, crisp texture. The meat itself was also quite tender with, what I felt like, bits of gelatin in it.
Moving on, was a soup of hard clam with freshly harvested bamboo shoot. I loved the texture of the bamboo shoot, that had a bite to it with a tender interior. The clam was also well cooked, albeit the soup was a bit lighter than expected.
After that, we were served a sashimi of Flatfish and Sea urchin (latter not pictured). The fish was quite fresh and had a good texture, while the sea urchin was reasonably fresh although not particularly mind blowing.
The next dish was Yellowtail served with grated white radish. The texture of the Yellowtail was tender, and the dish had a surprising amount of heat in it.
This was followed by a Spanish Mackerel with some ginger, radish and herbs. Fish was well cooked and the ginger provided some heat to balance out the dish.
One of my favourite dishes was the charcoal grilled Horsehead snapper with fried Taro on the side. The skin was perfectly crisped and the fish had a lovely smokiness and a firm texture, although on the verge of being slightly overcooked. The deep fried taro was nice, but didn’t quite get how it fits into the overall dish.
Another lovely dish was a Blowfish milt and Crab meat with sticky crab sauce on top. It almost seems like every meal in Tokyo thus far had Blowfish milt in it, although I must say I do enjoy it. The sticky sauce provided some richness to the Crab, which was quite tasty.
The penultimate savoury course was a Kinmedai snapper with seasonal vegetables in a sesame broth. The fish and vegetables were well prepared and not over cooked, albeit I must say I didn’t fancy the sesame broth as it was a bit too thick for my liking.
Not pictured here, was a rice with scallops cooked in a claypot, which was served with Miso soup and pickled vegetables. The results were quite pleasant as the flavours were light and highlighted the quality of the ingredients. We had some leftovers, which the restaurant had wrapped for us as a breakfast Onigiri and was still very delicious.
We concluded the meal with a dessert of fresh strawberry, Molasses agar, Crushed rum jelly floating on a Coconut soup. The flavour combination was quite pleasing, and the coconut soup was very smooth and did not overpower the dish.
I must say the service here was ace with a very friendly and accommodating crew. That said, I felt the service was a bit too rushed, especially after the calming and zen-like experience at our Ryokan in Hakone, or that at Tempura Motoyoshi, which struck a very good balance. Food was generally very good, although frankly I had preferred my experience at Kohaku a bit better. Perhaps I need to try out the menu for other seasons to truly have a proper view, but for now I’ll rank it as a good but not the most outstanding Kaiseki I’ve had thus far.
Location: 5-37 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. +81 3 5225 0173. Website