“Responding to the four seasons, the severe changes between them, understanding this environment, and living our lives taking only the most necessary resources for daily life from the earth : this lifestyle is called Satoyama Culture” (source: Narisawa)
Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa interprets this lifestyle as “beneficial and sustainable gastronomy” and “expresses [it]…as ‘Satoyama Scenery’”. It starts with the menu – which detailedly states the origins of the ingredients. The 13-course dinner is a journey into nature – forests, moss, farms, lakes and oceans.
Let’s begin our culinary excursion…
Satoyama Scenery and Essence of the Forest – Water with tree essence filled a small tree trunk to be drunk first; the forest was made of green moss (matcha), charcoals, soya and yogurt.
Baby Sweet Fish, Kanagawa * Azalea, Ishikawa – Deep fried sweet fishes were entirely edible (with bones, roe and all). The azalea sauce was light and sweet.
Charcoal Sweet Onions – They tasted nothing like onions to me. The flavors were mild.
“Bread of the Forest 2010” Kinome & Citrus Fruits – This is Narisawa’s signature creation. The bread dough inside a warm water bath was brought to our table; it fermented in 3 minutes. The rising was slightly noticeable. Then the waiter brought a heated stone bowl and placed the bread dough inside, covering it with a piece of wood. The bread was being “baked” on our table.
The result was this soft bread with citrus chunks, and the “moss” butter was served alongside.
Sea Snake & Taro Potato, Okinawa * Squid Kanagawa * Caviar, Miyazaki – This trio of sea snake soup, Japanese fish tartare with snap peas and squid served on squid ink cracker was tasty.
Later, the waiter showed me the dried sea snake – which didn’t look as attractive as the soup I drank.
Hamaguri Clam, Fava Beans, Mie – This clam was one of our favorites of the evening. Perfectly cooked.
Langoustine shrimp, Shizuoka * Sea Urchin, Hokkaido – Another favorite of ours at Narisawa. The presentation was beautiful. The pairing of a char-grilled shrimp with raw sea urchin was ideal.
Eggplant, Kyoto – 3 textures, fried, puree and grilled, were present in this one dish. The almost cake-like creation was topped with tomato jelly. We thought that it was one of the most innovative and complex dishes of the dinner.
Conger Pike, Aichi * White Peach, Kumamoto – Deep fried conger pike was garnished with white peach and ginger foam.
Flathead fish, Mie * Asari Clam, Aichi – Originally, this was supposedly to be an oyster dish, but due to our dietary preference, the chef replaced it with this delicious concoction of fish and clams.
Duck, Kyoto – What can I say – the duck was grilled to perfection!
Green Ume and Agar Weed, Shizuoka – Surprisingly the green ume was not very sour. The agar weed jelly was refreshing and cleansed our palettes.
Green Tea, Fukuoka * Black Sugar Cane, Kagoshima – This dessert is made for admirers of matcha green tea. It had multiple textures – meringue, sponge cake, ice cream, foam, cracker and mochi – all made of matcha. I loved it!
Lemon, Shizuoka * Honey, Fukuoka – The last dessert of the evening was a traditional Japanese Monaka with a twist. Usually, monaka are filled with red beans, but at Narisawa, they were filled with lemon peel and custard.
Mr. King and I were surprised that Narisawa was not garnered 3-Michelin stars. The dining concept was thoughtful. The cuisine was impeccable and innovative. The service was excellent. The servers were very knowledgeable about the chef’s philosophy and ingredients used in each dish.
My dear friend, Ms. L from New York, was fortunate to have met Chef Narisawa when she dined there in May 2016. Mr. King and I were disappointed that we didn’t get a chance to meet Chef Narisawa in person. In mid-June 2016, Chef Narisawa made a special trip to the World’s 50 Best Restaurant 2016 award ceremony – where Narisawa was awarded #8 again!
We were happy to learn that the restaurant retained his ranking – no small feat to be ranked amongst the top 10 in the world! Well, we look forward to our next visit and hope to meet Chef Narisawa one day. Narisawa is definitely on our list of Tokyo restaurants to revisit.
Narisawa – Japan, 〒107-0062 Tokyo, 港区Minamiaoyama, ２−６−１５
All photos were taken by Mrs. King.