They’re serving up traditional ingredients to suit the modern palate
Nihonbashi Dashi Bar Hanare has its roots in a 300-year-old purveyor of the dried tuna that is turned into dashi stock, the essential base of Japanese cooking. In 2010, the company in Tokyo launched a dashi bar, for customers
to sample the various types. Recently, they opened a full-service restaurant serving meals that let the dashi’s umami flavors shine. You’ll love the crab rice hotpot and bonito dashi clam chowder, as well as the filling seasonal courses. ninben.co.jp/hanare
Newly-opened Komesan dining bar is so serious about rice that the menu starts with a choice of five different varieties described in minute detail, down to the name of the farmer that produced it. After taking your pick, your portion will be cooked to order in a traditional donabe clay pot for optimal flavor. While waiting, you can sip sake and munch on sashimi and other classic dishes, made with domestic produce and served on gorgeous ceramics sourced from around Japan. kome-san.com
Pass through the wooden entrance gate and up bamboo-shaded stone steps to find Tofu Cuisine Sorano, a chic izakaya built on the appeal of humble tofu. While most tofu production relies on imported soy, Sorano uses only organic soybeans from Hokkaido, teasing out subtle flavors in savory dishes like fried shrimp wrapped in tofu skin as well as desserts like tofu tiramisu. Try the velvety handmade tofu, cooked in a wooden box at your table and served just as it sets. foodgate.net/shop_sora_shibuya.html
You may have to wait for a seat at Misogen, a little restaurant that only serves combos of rice and miso soup. Despite its department store locale, the spare wooden interior and white traditional fabric curtains project the same welcoming warmth you’ll get from the homey food. Choose from five different styles of miso soup, as well as dried rice toppings called furikake, then enjoy this classic quick bite. The just-add-water miso packs with their smiley cracker casings make for great gifts too. misogen-online.com
. . .
Trivia: What exactly does a traditional Japanese meal look like?
It’s based on the concept of ichiju-sansai: literally, “one soup, three dishes”, that reflect the produce of the season. It’s easy on the gut too, thanks to naturally low-salt dashi and fermented, good-for-digestion ingredients like miso and soy sauce. The typical meal doesn’t feature rice or pickles.
This article first appeared in the July 2018 issue of Smile magazine.