Lunch @ Aoyama Jin 青山 仁 (Tokyo, Japan)

December 25, 2016 in Japanese

Got to learn about Aoyama Jin through @little_meg_siu_meg‘s instagram. And thinking that we should also try the not-as-recognised restaurants (You know… Like non Michelin-starred), my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) and I decided to make reservation for lunch. And it certainly boasted our morale when they accepted our overseas reservation!

During the tele-conversation, we were asked to decide our course. And we chose ¥10,000 over ¥5000 and ¥8000. I was ready to splurge lah. However, the con was that we had to order the same menu as a group. So my IGGF had to splurge with me.

We arrived at Aoyama Jin on a bright Friday afternoon, at 12 noon sharp. And it was off to a very good start as we were impressed with its exterior. Upon entering, a lady in kimono greeted us and brought us to our private room. We were intially disappointed we weren’t allocated counter seats, but having a room to ourselves turned out to be a real blessing in disguise. We were able to take as many photographs as we wanted. Keke. And with that, we started our lunch with:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Scallop and crab topped with (mixed) vinegar sauce. And what looked like caviar wasn’t caviar. It’s actually beans!


2) Dish #2 (above) – Grilled sesame tofu, served with sauce of sesame and arrowroot starch.


3) Dish #3 (above) – Soup. With dagger tooth fish and mushroom.

4) Dish #4 (above) – Thread-sail filefish (kawahagi) sashimi and its liver (kimo). And we were blown away by the plating; Served on a diamond-looking glass plate, with a maple leaf placed between the glass plate and black plate.


5) Dish #5 (above) – Spanish mackerel sashimi with its skin lightly grilled.


6) Dish #6 (above) – Sea cucumber roe and ginkgo nuts on glutinous rice.

7) Dish #7 (above) – Fried breaded matsutake mushroom. I knew it was the season for matsutake mushroom, but I wasn’t expecting it to be part of our kaiseki (traditional multi-course) course. Also known as pine mushroom, it’s nicked as the world’s most expensive mushroom due to the rare conditions under which it grow; At the base of pine trees between 20 to 60 years old. However, the number of matsutake mushrooms harvested in Japan has decreased sharply due to the introduction of a bug that kills the trees they grow under. And this was really unique. Its texture was… Creamy? So glad I managed to try such a prized item.

8) Dish #8 (above) – Half beak fish and physalis.


9) Dish #9 (above) – Fried tofu with braised duck. I was surprised to see duck on the menu cause it’s definitely one of the lesser seen meat in Japan. And this was done very nicely. I especially like the sauce.


  

10) Dish #10 (above) – Chef Fukui san came to our room personally with a big casserole (土鍋ご飯の炊き方). And he removed the wooden lid to show us the prized rice within. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to know where the rice was from due to language barrier. Though a search on instagram showed it’s 金沢コシヒカリ新米 (I hope I copied it correctly). And with hand gestures, we told chef Fukui san we only had space for small bowl of rice. And after noticing his attention to details with the past dishes, we couldn’t help but also notice how nicely chef Fuki san had shaped the rice in our bowls. Even if it was non-intentional. Although we were a little disappointed our rice was served plain. Ie, non-flavoured. Others had corn or soy bean (edamame) with their rice in the casserole as seen from pictures on instagram before our actual visit.


  

11) Dish #11 (above) – Sake pudding, chestnut ball and a cup of green tea (matcha).


12) Dish #11 (above) – And as we made payment for our meal, the staff presented us with a paper bag. And in it was 6 rice balls (onigiri). We weren’t expecting 6 because we were positive there wasn’t that much rice left in our casserole. And of course, it’s unlikely we would be given plain rice ball. Chef Fuki san had generously included tuna within.

We were very impressed with our dining experience at Aoyama Jin. Chef Fuki san paid a lot of attention to the little details. Not just to the plating of food, but also to the interior design of the place. We noticed leaves placed within the light housing on the ceiling, etc.

Would I recommend Aoyama Jin? Certainly.

But do be mindful of the time. We got so carried away with taking photographs of our food that our lunch stretched from 2 hours to 3 hours. Yes. It’s that easy to get carried away in front of beautifully plated food.

AOYAMA JIN 青山 仁
3-9-1 Minamiaoyama, Minato, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 港区 南青山 3-9-1)
+81 3 6721 1131, Website, Tablelog
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ Kappo Yorito

November 26, 2014 in Japanese

I was doing my usual net surfing, trying to sniff out Japanese restaurants which may have missed my radar, when I came across Kappo Yorito. With little information that was available about them (they don’t have a website) except that kappo cuisine means to cut and cook where chefs behind the counter prepare and serve once the dishes are ready, I decided to check them out on a weekday evening.


Reservation was made for 2 the day before. And when we entered the restaurant at 7.30pm, we entered into an empty restaurant which was a little “Oh my god. What should we do?” moment as there was no reception area. We immediately stepped into the sushi counter area after entering through the entrance. Thankfully, the waiting staff appeared shortly and directed us to our seats.

Only the set menus (priced at $158 ad $238) were available for dinner. A-la carte menu was only available after 10pm. I enquired if it was possible for (only) me to order from the set menu (pages 1, 2, 3) and for my friend to order from the a-la carte menu (pages 1, 2). Unfortunately, after checking with the chef, the waiting staff apologetically said it was not possible. Although he continued to add that we could order a-la carte items on top of our set menus.

My friend and I decided to go with the rindou set ($238) as it was the only set menu which included the duck consommé oden. The very item I came here for. Although now that I am thinking back, I realised we could have ordered 1 ayame set ($158), 1 rindou set ($238) and additional oden as a-la carte. (^^lll) That would have worked out to be a better combination for us to try everything. Oh well… I will think faster on my feet next time. Ha!

And with that, we started our dinner:

1) Appetizer comprised of:-

(A) Chawanmushi with yuba and uni (above)

(B) Fried shrimp with cracker (above) – This was really, really good.





2) Sashimi (above) – The set included fresh oyster from Australia. However, we requested not to have oyster and were given flounder topped with caviar. Together with toro, torched sea bream and torched red bream.


3) Sangen pork kakuni with salad (above) – Stew dish of the menu, this was really good. My friend felt it was a little sweet, but we couldn’t deny how tender and flavourful the meat was. I really liked this.


4) Salted black throat fish with wasabi pickles (above) – My friend was given the fish head while I was given the body. I did think it was a little weird for us to be served different halves of the fish. What if we both don’t like fish head? But nonetheless, it happened to work out well cause my friend was an expert at eating fish heads. Ha. And this was pretty good. The fish was nicely grilled and meat was juicy. It’s a habit of mine not to eat the fish skin, but I somehow finished everything off.

5) Dried mullet roe with mochi rice (above) – Labelled as ‘freshener’ on the menu.


6) Fried tororo with uni (above) – I did not really like this. There’s that slimy feel (as with eating ladyfingers) as I bit through the yam.






7) Duck consommé oden (above) – The waiting staff mentioned a total of 8 options to choose from, although I only saw 6 on the menu. Not taking beef, my friend and I requested to try 4 of 6, but to be shared between us. We were really full and my friend was unfortunately rushing for time too. And thus, we tried the fried fish cake, duck minced ball, marinated half boiled egg with black truffle and white konjak noodle. I liked how our bowls of oden were served sequentially. And the soup was really good. If my friend wasn’t rushing for time, I would definitely insist for us to sit a little longer, let the food digest a bit in our stomachs to make more room for second (or even third) round of these. I particularly liked the fried fish cake. It was as though it was a sponge which had absorbed all the goodness of the soup. I did not quite like the noodle though, which was springy / rubbery. Try the fried fish cake with some chilli paste or mustard (place a small spoonful at the rim of bowl rather than putting it directly into soup), and chilli powder with the half boiled egg.

8) Shokuji (食事) with options of:-


(A) Japanese claypot rice (above) – Eel mixed rice.

(B) Handmade cold soba (above) – Zaru soba.

9) Desserts (above) – Salt ice cream with red bean.

While doing up this review, I realised they forgot to serve the soba crepe roll of our appetizers. Location wise, we felt Kappo Yorito was a little out-of-place as they were sandwiched between drinking bars. So every now and then, we would hear loud laughter.

We did not interact much with the chef as he was (probably) a little quiet / shy due to his limited grasp of English. If there was any communication, we were doing it through the (male) staff who acted as a translator.

Speaking of which, the service by the waiting staff was superb. My friend stepped out of the restaurant to answer calls a few times. And I noticed the staff would stand nearer to the entrance so that he could quickly open the door for my friend. All while taking care of us that were at the counter. Talk about multi-task!

I did wonder if it was a tad expensive to be paying the same price for Japanese yong tao fu (the oden portion) as with Japanese omakase of sashimi and sushi. But I will still recommend Kappo Yorito, especially for their duck consommé oden. For those who wish to enjoy the oden without causing a big hole in the wallet, come after 10pm where the odens can be ordered a-la carte. Pretty affordable with price ranging from $5 to $10. If not, drop by for lunch for omakase at $80 per person. Lunch set menus also available.

KAPPO YORITO
60 Robertson Quay, The Quayside, 01-14A, Singapore
6733 6315
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 02:00
Ambience: 8
Value: 7
* Closed on Sun
Service: 8