Welcome back to the Araki Neighborhood in Shinjuku. The best dining destination in Tokyo, in my not so humble opinion. It’s got everything you could ever want to eat while on holiday in the Eastern Capital. Tonight we are having Washoku!
So what is Washoku? Washoku and Nihon Ryori are both ways of saying Japanese Food. Washoku however is a little more specific. For example, Ramen and Curry dishes would be Nihon Ryori but not Washoku. Get it? Great, glad we sorted that out.
Washoku is the traditional cuisine of Japan. It’s based around rice and miso soup. Then after that it’s time for the seasonals. You’ll not find a Washoku place serving sweet potato in summer time. That’d be crazy. You’ll find some pickles, sashimi and grilled fish as well in your Washoku meal.
Once in a Lifetime
Welcome to Ichigo. Ichigo, roughly translated, means once in a lifetime in the sense that no moment will ever be repeated. It also means strawberry, but not in this situation. The food that is made for you this visit can be ordered again but it will never be the same. Thought provoking. I think in this situation it means seasonal dishes, very seasonal. I wont waste your data plan with photos of the menu because wow, it is very much written in Japanese. Don’t worry though, I’m going to supply you with buzzwords. Or you can just point at stuff, you can not go wrong here! At the end of the post I will explain how to order here without knowing any Japanese
Yebisu, my favorite Japanese beer. We are off to a good start. That little dish is our otoshi. Otoshi is a little nibble to get you going. Tourists are often a little surprised when they are brought food before they’ve ordered anything. Tonight’s Otoshi was carrots and daikon radish served with tripe. Which I usually hate unless it’s served in the form of menudo but this stuff was slow cooked past edible and straight into heavenly. It’s in a miso and sake stew.
Edamame’s Badass Big Brother
Next up we ordered Soramame which are basically HUGE edamame that are grilled. They are served with salt. Crack them open, dip and eat. You can scrape the inside of the skin like an artichoke for more salty goodness.
I leanred something tonight! There are 2 seasons for Katsuo Tataki, a type of tuna also known as bonito. During the summer they are heading to where the food is. So having katsuo caught in summer will provide a leaner almost beef like sashimi. Once they’ve finished dining and are heading back by Japan in Autumn they’ve fattened up and you get a fattier sashimi. It’s eaten with ginger NOT wasabi and it’s a heavenly little nugget of flavor.
Sakura Ebi Kakiage
Sakura Ebi! Cherry Blossom Shrimp! Deep fried into fritter form! These little guys are AMAZING, this was maybe my favorite dish of the night. Let’s move in for a close up.
Those black spots aren’t pepper haha
Dashi Maki Tamago
A perfectly cooked omelette. It’s cooked with a slight sweet dashi and then topped with ground radish. This is so good and I have no idea how they manage to make an omelette taste so good. The texture of the egg is incredible.
Gindara Saikyo Miso
For the grilled fish we got Gindara Saikyo Miso. This is griled cod and those green dots are white miso mixed with edamame beans served on a bamboo leaf.
These are tulip chicken wings. Deep fried chicken wings served on the bone with lemon.
And the grand finale! Asari Kama meshi! Kama meshi is a white rice that is cooked inside this little cauldron with any variety of seasonal meats and veggies. It takes time to prepare. So order this first and they will bring it out last.
Asari Kama Meshi
Our Kama Meshi was cooked with clams, spring onions, leeks and then dashi. This is one of the most pleasant rice dishes you will ever try. The rice is perfectly fluffy, the clams are in season, the leeks and dashi add a slight sweetness. Awesome.
So simple but so delicious.
Man behind the magic.
Ichigo is listed in the Michelin guide as a Bib Gourmand restaurant. This means that they serve “exceptional good food at moderate prices”. It is an incredible restaurant and you can feel the love in everything this guy makes. With drinks included this whole meal for 2 was about 80USD. I cant even imagine what you would pay for something similar to this in another country. The look of the dishes suggest extravagant prices. This will be an extremely authentic and delicious meal at a price that wont break the bank. Your Instagram followers will think you have Kardashian money.
How to order when you cant speak Japanese
You need only know the name of a type of dish and a have a little faith… and then the word “Osusume” OH SUE SUE MAY. This means “your recommendation”
Order Yebisu Beer or the glass house wine
Order Kama Meshi next becuase it takes a while to prepare. Since we cant read the menu just say “Kama Meshi Osusume” and they will bring you whatever will be in season
Order sashimi, osusume ( recomendation for sashimi)
Order yakizakana, osusume ( recomendation for grilled fish)
Dashi Maki Tamago (this is the omelette and this will always be on the menu)
Kakiage, osusume (this is the deep fried fritter, recommendation for fritters)
yasai, osusume (your recommendation for a vegetable)
If you’re still hungry, bless you, then just start pointing at stuff on the menu. You wont regret it!