- Meal Rating: 16.5/20
- Address: 2 Chome-2-32 Kanda Jinbocho, Chiyoda, Tokyo 101-0051, Japan
- Telephone: +81 3-3222-3978
- Price (all-in including alcohol pairing): 19,500 Yen ($163 at 100 yen = 0.83USD)
- Value: 5/5
- Dining Time: 180 minutes
- Chef: Zaiyu Hasegawa
- Style: Creative Kaiseki
- Michelin Stars: 1
Jimbocho Den is a great experience. From the moment you step foot inside the restaurant, it feels like you are in the home of Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa and team. There is a relative youth to the restaurant, and I felt at home as a non-Japanese speaking foreigner. I would return without hesitation. I was served a great menu, but I also noticed that the regulars (and they were many) were served a different menu. Apparently, diners here rarely ever receive the same dish- which speaks to the creativity of the chef and the kitchen.
Chef Zaiyu-san is good friends with many chefs from overseas, and it shows in both his cooking (the signature DEN salad came with an ant from Nagano) and his ingredients (top-class porcini mushrooms, in the most memorable rice course of this trip).
It would be remiss not to mention that the DEN team work extremely hard. Apparently, 3am-4am nights are de rigueur.
I look forward to returning at the next available opportunity.
Other Notable Links:
- Skinny Bib – “The magic of “Den Kaiseki” is, by no means, limited to what’s edible. Rather, it represents formless inventiveness behind Hasegawa’s mind. The chef combines – subconsciously but with great executional fluidity – the “traditional” face of Japanese gastronomic art and cultural identities with his own “contemporary” face, which is fun-filled and personable.”
- Japanese waffles: Foie gras marinated with white miso, chestnuts and pickled cucumber (4.25/5)
- Supon. (Snapping Turtle Soup). Turnip. Strong tastes of scallion. Sweet, very umami (3.75/5)
- With Asahi beer, DENtucky fried chicken. Glutinous rice, pinenuts, gooseberry. (4.25/5) It was a pleasant surprise to find the Singapore flag inside
- Buri, 4 day aged. Cooked outside like shabu shabu, sour nori sauce [comprised of tobiko, nori, vinegar, dashi]. Buri is the name of fully-grown yellowtail (only applied when they reach 5kg, hamachi is a lower weight standard at 3kg]. I enjoyed the enchanting tobiko (flying fish roe) sauce with nori – sour and cut with wasabi, a good bite with unctuous buri. (4.5/5)
- Takenoko, bamboo from Okinawa (Amami Oshima island). A young bamboo that tasted like sweet corn. Ebimo (a kind of taro) was soaked in dashi for 10 days, deep fried, and then grilled. Black cabbage, made by chips. Very good (4.25/5)
- The signature DEN salad, significantly upgraded by the presence of ants from Nagano (boiled and frozen to kill). The acidity was rather subtle, and only in its hindparts. (The “ant acid” is a trend that started with Noma not using lemons due to their philosophy of getting ingredients from around Copenhagen, and thus choosing ants with formic acid in their bellies to provide sourness) Served on plum jelly on rice paper. Vegetables from Chef Zaiyu’s sisters and friends. Gobo was purple with dashi and pepper. Tomato was bewitchingly cooked with vinegar and vanilla, a true winner. Rocket, tomato, turnip, beetroot and sharp tastes of begonia (4/5)
- Duck meat, kuzu, shimonitanegi (shimonita leeks, also see Kojyu 2014) from Gunma preferecture. (4.5/5) I thought the duck was soft and had a nice texture for highly-cooked duck – it was a good palate cleanser for the decadence to follow…
That’s right, two kinds of rice!
- Porcini, both grilled and dried. Half fresh (grilled), and half dried. A profound mushroom smell and taste to rival any truffle. (5/5) I could not help myself, I asked for seconds of this.
- Sakura ebi in December. Sakura ebi has two seasons, and Zaiyu-san believes it has more umami in December. This was also fantastic (4.5/5).
- In my future fried rice experiments I will combine both these prawns and mushrooms to recapture the fragrant aromas
Pickles: Turnip, myoga, ginger
Lime jelly, coconut soup, strawberries, rice pops and rum (4.25/5)
We ended it off with some very sweet strawberries, in an fragrant coconut soup enhanced with rum and lime jelly.
- Pairing: Berlucchi 61 Brut. Creamy, barely any acidity. Light fruit. (4.5/5) Lovely.
- Sanjurokuninshu (literally, 36 old people)
- Very smooth and dry sake (4.5/5). Junio glass.
- Water from Niigata
- Asahi beer
- Haneya sake from Toyama in Niigata prefecture.
- A very fresh unfiltered sparkling sake called Jikon Tokubetsu Junmai (5/5)