[Tokyo] 神楽坂 石かわ Kagurazaka Ishikawa

神楽坂 石かわ Kagurazaka Ishikawa (3 Michelin stars)

Add: 1F, 5-37 Kagurazaka, Shinju-ku, Tokyo 東京都 新宿区 神楽坂5-37 高村ビル 1F
Tel: +81 (0)3 5225 0173
Hours: Mon-Sat 5:30pm-12am
Price: JPY22,000+ (+8% tax and 10% service charge)
Visited: September 2016
Will return: Yes

Tucked away in a quite little alley in Kagurazaka, Ishikawa is one of the top 10 kaiseki restaurants in Tokyo on Tabelog, holding three Michelin stars for 10 consecutive years ever since the Michelin Guide Tokyo was first published in 2008. My dinner there last September was one of few surprises but endless enjoyment.

IMG_7790-Edit

There are tasting menus that make you wish for a bed to fall into, followed by a glass of detox juice in the morning. Ishikawa’s made me feel more awake, the food so expressive that I felt like they were drawing me into a conversation. Delicate pieces of pike eel thrummed beneath a tangy casing of yuzu and Japanese vinegar. Soft-shell turtle was fried between two wafers of lotus root, its gelatinous texture a delightful symphony with the crunchy lotus root, meaty shiitake mushrooms, and soft ginkgo nuts. A fillet of horsehead snapper took a gentle swoosh of darkness from a bed of grilled eggplant that fell apart at the touch of my fork, softened by a sweet broth.

IMG_7798-Edit-EditPike eel, red plum paste, cucumber, yuzu jelly
先付:燒鱧,梅肉,胡瓜

IMG_7799-Edit-EditFried soft-shell turtle, lotus root, shiitake mushroom, mitsuba greens, ginkgo nut
揚物:スッポン,蓮根,椎茸,銀杏

Sashimi here was so much more than sliced raw fish, gaining an eloquence that was as magical as it was unlikely. Flatfish coursed with energy with the addition of seaweed. Pearls of salmon roe picked up a lyrical sensibility in a light marinade of yuzu and citrus. Sea urchin was served without embellishments, but Chef Ishikawa intensified the flavors by presenting two different kinds of sea urchins side by side – briny, umami-rich Kita Murasaki uni from Rebun Island, Hokkaido and sweet, creamy Aka uni from Karatsu, Kyushu. The combination was miles better than the sum of its parts.

IMG_7815-Edit-EditFlatfish, fresh seaweed, Japanese herbs
造り:平目

IMG_7825-Edit-EditKita Murasaki uni from Rebun Island, Hokkaido, and Aka uni from Karatsu, Kyushu
造り:礼文島の北紫雲丹,唐津の赤雲丹

IMG_7829-Edit-EditSalmon roe with yuzu citrus
造り:生 いくら

Over the course of three hours and nine courses, nothing screamed for my attention. Everything was presented almost unadorned, yet I had no doubt that I was tasting each ingredient at its best. A small disc of abalone liver lent depth to slices of tender, flavorful steamed abalone. Thick slabs of fresh water eel were gently grilled, its natural sweetness intensified by the sweet crust, and by the crunchy petals of caramelized onion and the contrast of bitter grated radishes.

IMG_7830-Edit-EditSteamed abalone, abalone liver
造り:蒸し鮑,肝添え

IMG_7835-Edit-EditFresh water eel, sweet onion, grated white radish
燒物:天然鰻の醤油焼き,玉葱

Much of the cooking was expressed in the language of broth, in which Chef Ishikawa is well-versed. A thick, glossy one coated pink, tender slices of duck breast and soft wax gourd. A crystal clear one surrounded delicate shreds of horse hair crab loosely molded into a ball, topped with a rich, creamy dollop of crab butter and paved with seasonal vegetables. A bowl of steamed rice laced with slivers of blackthroat seaperch was accompanied by a miso soup of improbably depth. You wouldn’t expect these broths to be all that different from one another, but they were in fact so distinct, the contours of their flavors so precise and nuanced, that changing a single thing about them doesn’t bear thinking about.

IMG_7840-Edit-EditJapanese duck stew, simmered wax gourd
中皿:鴨治部煮

IMG_7843-Edit-EditHorse hair crab, seasonal vegetables
煮物:津合蟹の小鍋,京小松菜,豆腐,木耳,長葱

IMG_7853-Edit-EditIMG_7854-Edit-EditSteamed rice with blackthroat seaperch, miso soup, pickled vegetables
食事:赤鯥ご飯,味噌椀,香の物

There is no ego to be found in Chef Ishikawa’s food. Nor is there a desire to dazzle and impress. Instead, what you experience is every ingredient at its simplest and most natural, cooked with all the heart and respect they deserve.

IMG_7867-Edit-EditFresh grape and pear, almond jelly, coconut cream
水菓子:巨峰と梨,杏仁豆腐,ココナッツプリン

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s