Although Kanda is one of the few Michelin-three-starred Kaiseki restaurant, i am quite surprised that i haven't really think of visiting Kanda until i read about its famous dashi. Well, that's not the only reason drove me to Kanda, to be honest, I just wanted to try new restaurants i haven't been yet. My expectation was not high, while the meal was even below expectation.
Located in a quiet neighbourhood in Moto-azabu, Kanda is one of the most famous kaiseki restaurants in Tokyo. I didn't notice it is in the same building as L'equateur until i passed by the stairs to L'equateur. Step into the tenth year since the first Michelin Guide Tokyo has been published, this is also the tenth year that restaurant Kanda continuously gets three stars.
The first impression of the restaurant was not that pleasant. The counter was high with bar chairs, all the servers were ladies wearing black suits and heavy makeups, which was totally different compare to most Kaiseki restaurants. The chef didn't really greeted us nor with a smile. Whatever, i left all the hopes to the food.
The meal started with tara-shirako (cod's milt) chawanmushi with large portions of scallions as a topping. The egg custard was silky to match the creamy shirako.
The second dish was Oya-gani, or the female Matsuba-gani (Japanese snow crab). Inside the shell was the entire crab's meat with its roes on the side, topped kani-miso (crab ovaries). I alway believe the presentation of dishes shows how aesthetic the chef is, although the taste was okay , the presentation was really lack of sense of the beauty.
I found Kanda has a modern approach since high chairs, the makeups of the waitress, as well as some dishes such as the Kawahagi sashimi. It was topped with fish liver and shiso flowers, on the side served a hot pepper paste tastes like Korean Gochujang. I don't understand this dish at all. The fish was very clean while the shiso flower was imbalanced with the fish and its liver, let alone a spicy paste? Tastes like a joke.
The Owan(soup), the dish i expected a lot, was as good as i imagined. The clear soup was deep in taste and absorbed all the oceanic flavors of the crab and clam. The turnip on the side was so juicy and sweet that i can hardly find the fiber inside. Kanda's dashi definitely lives up to its fame.
My mood was like a roller coater since a horrible sashimi dish, followed by a wonderful owan, and to continued with a nigiri sushi that i didn't understand at all. The toro was fine but hard to compare those served at highend sushiyas, worst part was the mushy shari which wasn't sync with the neta at all. Truffle was lack of fragrance and taste too.
Another dish i like was the deep-fried ayu spring roll served with bamboo salt. The wrapping was really crispy and not oily at all, inside was delicious pregnant Ayu fish. The texuture was wonderful too.
I don't know whether the chef did this for a purpose - one horrible dish followed by a good dish. The grilled Maitake really shocked me. It was nothing difference from a pack of 200yen Maitake i buy from the supermarket and pan-grilled with butter. The cheapest grilled dish i have had at a highend Kaiseki restaurant, so disappointing.
I liked the grilled buri which is a better dish of the meal, as well as the ayu spring roll and owan. Based on my research before i decided to go Kanda, i found Kanda's grilled beef has a good reputation. Normally a red meat course is served after a fish course, but we only had a grilled Buri dish with Gingko nuts before the rice dish to arrive. We were told the beef was not available on the day we visited. Kidding me. My partner and i wasn't really full at this point, which rarely happened to us right before the rice dish to arrive.
Another famed course at Kanda is actually the rice dish. By using rice from Niigata, the rice was perfectly cooked in a claypot. Each grain was so pearly white, smells so good!
The rice comes with red miso soup with ebi-imo, pickles, and soy-braised fish and kombu, which all tastes quite nice with the damn moist and delicious rice. I am not a big fan of white rice itself, but i had two bowls at Kanda because the rice was so good, and also because i was still hungry.
Lastly, two desserts to wrap up the meal. The yonashi (Japanese pear) itself was soft and juicy, the mint jelly added a refreshing touch. While overall nothing surprised me. The second dessert, a very average strawberry rice cream, made of strawberries from Tochigi.
In my opinion, Kanda's Michelin-three-star position is definitely overrated. But its Tabelog rating of 3.90+ is quite reasonable. My companion and i felt we can still have a late night meal after we finished Kanda.
Address: 3-6-34 Motoazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 18:00 - 24:00, closed on Sundays and PH
Cost: 25,000 JPY+