Showing posts with label braised daikon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label braised daikon. Show all posts

Hishinuma 日本料理 菱沼 (Tokyo)

Location: Tokyo, Japan
Address: 5-17-1, Roppongi, Minato (in the Axis building B1 level)

Type of Meal: Lunch 

Hishinuma provides a tranquil environment against the busy Roppongi street with it being located on the basement level of the Axis Building. We had a particularly intimate experience, while visiting during the Christmas holidays, since we were only one of two tables. Upon arriving, there was no one at the door so we tentatively walked in and found the chefs preparing in the open concept kitchen. Luckily, they noticed us and shouted out greetings to alert the host (also the waiter for the day) to show us to our table.

Their lunch menu consists of three, four or five course options; we went with the four course version (¥5,000 per person). In reality, we received seven courses when it was all said and done. The first amuse bouche was a thick pumpkin mousse, the consistency of custard, with a rich savoury pumpkin taste. Granules of coarse sea salt were sprinkled at the bottom of the dish enhancing the natural sweetness from the squash.  

The second course was the most challenging of the meal for me - marinated cold sea snails. Personally, I’m squeamish when faced with bugs and lizards, so when the bowl of four of them were presented, my stomach dropped.  Luckily, they were cooked!  The hardest part of eating the dish was extracting the meat from the shell – a toothpick is given and you essentially need to stab it and rotate the shell until the snail is freed.  Honestly, they tasted decent having been marinated in a slightly sweet soy sauce.  The meat is firm and the texture and taste resembles abalone (another type of crustacean common in Asian cuisine). In the end, I was able to stomach three of the four. 

Arriving next was a simple braised daikon adorned with carrot slices and green onion slivers.  Upon lifting the lid, you get a whiff of smokiness that wasn’t present in the food itself. Poached in a relatively light consommé, the vegetables were soft but still held their shape.  It’s a nice neutral dish where the sharp green onion is what really adds any flavour. After the first two comparatively more flavourful dishes, this helped calm the taste buds prior to the sashimi course.

Kampachi (the red fish) and another unknown white fish comprised the sashimi and was my first experience in Japan.  The fish is firmer and has a more distinct flavour compared to the various sashimi I’ve had in Toronto. This could be on account of the freshness where restaurants regularly purchase the fish from the nearby Tsukiji fish market.  In fact, we were having great difficulties getting reservations after December 29th as Tsukiji was slated to close and move so specialized sushi restaurants ended up closing for the holidays as well.

Perhaps what I’ll miss most is the freshly grated wasabi we received adding heat to the tongue but not hitting your nose. Hishinuma’s soy sauce was also fairly neutral with neither saltiness nor sweetness being overly prevalent.

The steamed shrimp dumpling was my favourite dish of the meal. Although it was presented as a “dumpling” it was wrapperless with the shrimp paste being light as air with small pieces of shrimp mixed throughout to add texture. Accompanying was a light shoyu dipping sauce but was watered down so the sweetness of the shrimp still shone through. I would happily order this dish by itself again if I can ever find them elsewhere.

Alas, the final course is presented and you’ll know it’s the last as rice and soup arrive with it.

The fish was a beautifully grilled piece of yellowtail tuna (jaw portion of the fish); its skin was crispy while the meat tender and juicy with just the right amount of fat to give it flavour. The jaw portion is actually great for people who aren’t skilled with eating fish with bones as they are in large pieces so you won’t risk choking on anything. A plate of wasabi mixed with miso and marinated seaweed accompanied the fish for flavouring but I found the salt lightly coating the fish sufficient.

The miso soup also differed from the Toronto versions given it wasn’t overly salty and the paste didn’t settled or have any graininess to it. Moreover, it retained heat really well with plump soft mushrooms and herby leaves of some sort giving some meatiness to the soup.  

To end a hunk of strong coffee jello arrived in a sweet vanilla custard cream.  It was surprisingly flavourful compared to the natural tastes of all the previous courses. All in all, a good way to end the meal and helped ward off a food coma.

Dishes at Hishinuma may seem simple and understated (no heavy sauces or garnishes in sight) but it really allows the quality of the ingredients themselves to shine through.  Overall, I was pleased with my first Japanese style meal in Tokyo. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

Like the blog? You can now follow me on twitter for notifications -

Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!