Mutsukari is ranked as No.1 among all the vegetarian restaurants in Japan on Tabelog. Although it is tagged 'vegetarian restaurant', it is more like a vegetable-specialized restaurant as Mutsukari also offers non-vegetarian omakase menu.
Mutsukari located in heart of Ginza, the restaurant has two floors of seating - private rooms on the upper storey and an open kitchen with 6 counter seats on the lower storey. We luckily got a reservation at the counter where and watch the chefs work.
Visited: Sep.11th.2015 (Dinner)
Address:東京都中央区銀座5-5-19 銀座ポニービル ６Ｆ・７Ｆ
Hours:17:30～23:00, Closed on Sunday and PH
As Mutsukari is famous for its vegetable dishes and i love vegetables, i decided to try the Vegetarian Omakase. While my partner had the regular (non-vegetarian) Omakase menu, both includes 11 dishes and priced at JPY 13,500, taxes and service fee included. (Figures: Vegetarian / non-Vegetarian / mature dishes)
The first dish was pumpkin soup, made of Ibakari sweet pumpkin. Compare with mine with sweet potato and broccoli, my partner's was topped with octopus and sea urchin worth more for the value and of course, sounds more dleicious, the sweet and creamy soup paired well with the sea-flavors. Mine was not bad but i couldn't find anything interesting.
Matsutake is one of the best seasonal produce on the land in Autumn, it was well-fried and kept the texture juicy and taste very 'mushroom'.
The sesame tofu impressed us a lot. The combination of wasabi and soy sauce couldn't be simply any more, while they work perfectly with the fragrance and texture of the sesame tofu itself. The tofu was creamy and sticky, but won't stick on your chopstick at all. Beautiful.
Followed by hand-rolled sushi. I had maitake sushi with edible chrysanthemum, the Maitake mushroom was bouncy and juicy, every single grain was stick to each other, not too firm nor too sticky - but of course cannot compare to the shari at those high-end sushi restaurants. The nori was pretty crispy even after i took pictures for a minute. My partner's was quite interesting - topped with cheese? While she said it really works!
For the soup, my friend's soup with pike eel looks obvious better. The white flesh was tender and umami. Mine was unexpectly good, especially the soup itself - braised with winter melon, seaweed and tomatoes, the soup itself was very creamy and refreshing. Accompanied by the sweetness of figs and a zest of yuzu flakes to enhance the fragrance and refreshness, you can never imagine how delcious this vegetarian soup is.
Before i decided to visit this place, i saw a lot of picutres of the 'kaledoscope', which looks very interesting. It is actually a plate of assorted amuse bouche: grilled-pea, mushroom, aged tofu with okura, three kinds of beans, Kanpyo (japanese squash) wrapped with seaweed, pitaya, Tomato and lemon juice jelly, and a Cape gooseberry in the center.
My partner had flounder and tuna sashimi. The soy sauce was served in a mousse form, which is quite interesting. It tastes nothing different from the normal soy sauce, while the smooth and airy texture was very impressive.
I had a quite enjoyable vegeterian course of tofu skin and taro. While my partner didn't love her grilled mackeral very much, i had a bit and found the skin was rich in oils while the white flesh was a bit dry and lack of flavoing (but still better than what i had at Esaki).
Another classical dish at Mutsukari is this vegetable jelly terrine made with seasonal vegetables. The vegetables i can recognize and remember were: tomato, Chinese yam, carrot, baby corn, red and yellow peppers, french beans, shitake mushroom,enokitake mushroom, beetroot. I was impressed with this creative concept but nothing much on the flavor side, the sesame paste on the side was good though.
My partner enjoyed her wagyu a lot, very tender and moist. I had a noursihing dish of pan-fried 13 kinds of vegetables, sounds a bit boring compare to the black wagyu, but it was not bad at all.
It doesn't make any sense to me that the rice was topped with baby silver fish ‘ Shirasu' (しらす) for my vegetarian course, maybe they recognize that i am not a vegetairan? (haha) Luckily i do love seafood. The rice was perfectly cooked with vegetables such as carrot and mushroom, the baby fish brough some umami flavors. The miso soup was the my favorite miso soup so far, even better than Esaki's.
Then we each recieved a little 'envelop' from the chef, he told us that he always recommend the diners to take the chopsticks home as a souvenirs.
Mutsukari's signauture dessert - DIY shaved ice, is no doubt what we (girls) expected the most! Served with 6 different homemade toppings: red bean paste, matcha, honey milk, ginger, rose tea syrup and mago puree. The ice was perfectly shaved, for the toppings, red bean with matcha is a very classcial combination and also my favorite, the mango puree was pretty lovely, too!
Lastly we were served the Japanese jelly dessert 'Yokan' with a cup of hot tea.
I enjoyed my vegetable course very much, the dishes were creative and delicious. My partener was quite satisfied with her omakase set except the grilled mackerel. While in comparison, i think the normal omakase is worth more for value over the vegetarian set. But i didnt't regret as i always enjoy eating vegetables. Mutsukari is a nice place to go if you are craving for a lighter, healthier and unique omakase experience.