Goryukubo, a Michelin-2-starred Kaiseki restaurant in Nishi-Azabu, is one of the new babies featured in Michelin Guide 2015. The name of Goryukubo combines the owner-chef’s name ‘Takeshi Kubo’ with that of his son to express who they are.The restaurant was opened in mid-2013 and has become one of the top-ranked Japanese restaurants on Tabelog inn a few months.
To get there, you can either get off at Omotesando Station or Roppongi Station, it takes about 10 mintures to walk there. Goryukubo offers 6 seats at the counter and a private room for 6 pax. Opens only for dinner, Goryukubo served Omakase menu at 3 prices: 15k,23k and 30k. This review is based on the menu of 23k.
Kiku flower (菊, chrysanthemum) is widely used in Japanese appetizers in Autumn, mixed with wild green mountain vegetables (tastes like spinach tho) and Shiitake mushroom and topped with Bachiko (ばちこ,dried sea cucumber ovary) to brought some oceanic flavors. The corn juice used in this dish also enhanced the seasonal senses. A very refreshing dish to start with.
The steamed egg itself was very silky, the entire dish balanced very well and was not that oily/rich as Kisaku's. While Kisaku wins on the texture and flavors of the turtle.
Chesnut and new harvest rice are both symbols of Autumn, while instead of pearl rice, Kubo-san used Mochi rice (sticky rice) in this dish to create a perfectly smooth texture. I thought the rice was quite chewy but it was unexpectly melted on my taugh with a sweet hint, the chestnut was too glutinous and brought up the sweetness. Lovely one.
Matsutake, one of the best produce of the season, also one of my favorite mushroom (and truffle!). Compare to the more flavorful pan-seared with soy sauce or whatever, char-grilled Matsutake served with sea salt and lime is probably the best way to eat Matsutake as it perfectly keeps its own flavors. The Matsutake are sourced from different parts of Japan depends on the availbility, the one we had was from Iwate. Really good!
Move on to the aged-dish (deep-fried/tempura). The batter was pretty thin and not oily, i had the Maitake mushroom first which was juicy and crunchy inside, the outer-layer was very crispy - at this point i was quite confident with the rest. Amadai too has a thin and crispy battering, the flesh inside was succulent and full of ocean flavors. Even the taro impressed us a lot, too. Taro is very hard to cook to smooth but Kubo-san deep-fried it directly without pre-cooked it, thus it is very important to control the temperature and time of cooking. The taro was very smooth and has a sweet aftertaste.
First of all, enjoy some clear soup before adding in the lime and eating the fish and mushroom inside. The soup itself was clean and aromatic, with a hint of umaminess from the Hamo fish. The lime juiced added some refresh to the soup; the hamo fish was tender and delcious, Matsutake was too lovely. To be honest, i may say this dish was a bit bland in general and the guests next to us have the same opinions.
It is quite instering that Kubo-san served sashimi mixed with vegetables that suppose to clean your palates. Aji itself is a fish that higher in flavor, thus this dish was well-balanced. While i personally prefers the traditional way, as i think in this way, you cannot have a better taste of the fish itself.
Sourced from Chiba (千葉) near Tokyo, the Nodoguro (black throat fish) was wonderfully grilled - aromatic, crispy skin that was slightly burnt. The flesh underneath was succulunt and flavorful. It is really hard to imagine that only soy sauce was used to grilled the dish, this dish was really awesome. One of the best grilled fish ever. On the side, the hozuki fruit nicely balanced with the fish.
After the peak season for Anagi (sea eel) in Summer, now it comes to the Unagi (freshwater eel). I didn't expected that much on an unagi kabayaki as it is nothing besides unagi and the sauce, while, it was amazing -the best unagi kabayaki ever.
Instead of steaming for 30 minutes which is a common way, Chef Kubo san steamed the unagi for only one minute before grilling it. The skin was so crunchy/crispy and i can even hear my partner eating it. While the flesh was still melt-in-mouth tenderness. The sauce was very simple but paired so well with the flavor of the fish itself. Side with Kabu (radish) from Kyoto, which was very smooth, juicy and sweet; the shirona (vegetables with deep-fried tofu) too well-balanced. It was so good....i wish i can eat this everyday.
(I think i should write a post about 'the best dish of the year', if i will do so, Kubo-san's Unagi Kabayaki certainly will be featured!)
Maybe the third time having ikura over rice in the past 30 days: first time at 3* Esaki, then 1* Jimbocho Den, and here at Goryukubo. I may say that Esaki's rice was very disappointing as the rice was lack of fragrance. Goryu-kubo uses freshly harvest rice, same as what i had at 3* Ishikawa last week. Each grain was chewy and sweet, Hokkado ikura was so fresh, its skin was really thin that even you slightly stir it with the rice, the juices would bursted and made the simple rice super umami. If was too perfect to eat after adding in seaweed!
My partner and i loved the rice dish so much, but we eneded up with 2 bowls each as we want to leave some room for the famous soba. Something insteresting: once i was hungry for soba and i Tabelog-ed for the top soba places in Tokyo, i found Goryukubo was ranked No.2, although it is a kaiseki restaurant. When i told Kubo-san this, he was shocked that he even don't know his soba is very famous.
Okay back to the food, the soba was very chewy and you can see it was 'hand-sliced' as well. It somehow fits its second position on Tabelog, i mean, as in Goryukubo is not a really soba place. I thought it would be weired to have a bowl of cold soba after the warm rice dish, but it was surprsingly refreshing and harmony.
The black bean mousse was very silky and smooth, full of black bean flavor with a hint of black sesame and baked tea flavor. Perfectly endling.
It was a fantastic meal. Each dish was wonderfully-done, Kubo-san keeps the orginal flavor of the ingredients by using his superb culinary skills. We found that he is a genious in grilled dishes, both the Nodoguro and Unagi impressed us so much, especially the unagi. The ambiance is very homey, it seems that not too many foriegners know this place compare to Ishikawa which is also my hearty one. Highly recommend!