Yotsuya-sanchome in Shinjuku area is no doubt a food heaven, there are tons of nice and affordable restaurants that the Japanese people love to go after work. Chawanbu locate on a quiet street called Sharikimon is one of the best and a more expensive Japanese restaurants in that area.
Visited: Nov. 24. 2015 (Dinner)
Address: Shima Building. 1F, 3-22 Arakicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 18:00 ~ 23:00, closed on Sundays and PH
Damage: JPY 14,000++
The restaurant is quite narrow, featured a 7-seat counter as well as a table for 6 pax. The interior of the restaurant is a bit crude compare to most other high-ranking restaurants on Tabelog, it is rather like a non-starred Izakaya that gives a very warm and homey feeling. There is only one chef and one student handling everything during our visit. Only one set of menu priced at 14k is served, and the most famous dishes include Saba sushi and Wagyu-katsu. (But sadly no beef for me, i am a pescetarian.)
The main ingredient of the day was sea cucumber. Start from a warm appetizer, steamed glutinous rice with marinated sea cucumber jelly. The rice was fragrant, very smooth in texture and sweet in flavor. Savory of the sea cucumber was very delicious and matched well with the rice.
Chef told us that the crab was delivered from Hyogo this afternoon and was just killed when we stepped into the restaurant. The large amount of fresh and juicy crab meat was incredible, i loved the crab roes and miso inside as well. With a bit ponzu sauce and yuzu twist to bring out the sweetness of the crab, lovely one.
The sashimi was also very high in quality. The Tako (octopus) was chewy, Uni (sea urchin) was very creamy and sweet, Otoro (fatty tuna) was melt-in-mouth tenderness and rich in oils, Aji (Spanish mackerel) was high in flavor and have endless umami aftertaste.
If you notice the serving ware, you will find them very exquisite and you may even get them from any groceries. While the taste of the food was sincere and honest.
Followed by a warm bowl of clean but delciious soup. The soup itself was simply delicious as usual, obviously no strong flavor from the shirako but the fried sea cucumber on the top makes the soup very umami. The shirako itself was pretty creamy and sweet.
Very interesting deep-fried dish that topped with a layer of rice puffs that used in Cha-zuke (rice with green tea), however the Amadai was a bit tough and dry for our liking.
One of my favorite ingredients of this season is monkfish liver. This dish was prepared with ponzu and some garnished radish to balanced the liver, similar to cold foie gras, the monkfish liver was very creamy and rich, but certainly i prefer the fish liver for its oceanic flavor and health concerns. Lovely.
Yamaguchi, or Fugu (blowfish) was replaced my Wagyu-katsu (deep-fried wagyu beef), while my partner had the Wagyu one but i didn’t take a picture of it because she loved it so much and she almost finished it after i shoot and taking down notes. She said the skin was super crispy and inside was very succulent – almonst fork tender, and very flavorful, possibly the best Wagyu-katsu she have ever had. For me, the Fugu was rice in oil and very moist, or maybe a bit too oil for my liking.
I am not a big fan of chicken over rice and to be honest, in my words, i don’t think the rice is ‘worth of calories’. In comparison, i much prefer rice with seafood toppings.
But the miso soup with deep-fried tofu was serisouly the best tofu-miso soup i have ever had. It was so declicious, the chooped baby scallions were very aromatic and balanced well with the deep-fried tofu. This reminds me of the similar one i had in 3* Esaki in September, which was too oily in comparison.
Dessert was Warabi mochi, topped with soy bean podwer and black sugar jelly. Very traditional and home-style dessert.
As mentioned, although the ambiance, serving ware and plating and all other details are not exquisite as those upscale Japanese restaurants i have been to, the dishes were simple, sincere and delicious. All other diners during our visit except me, were Japanese, and seems they are regulars. While the chef somehow seems not very happy that day, he never gives a smile to any of his guests. The bill came around 16,000 JPY per head include sake. Well, to be honest, i don’t think it was that amazingly good, at least i don’t want to revisit this place very soon. I would rather like to pay 19,000 (include tax and service charge) at 3*Ishikawa or Kohaku for the cheaper Omakase menu, and regards to ‘homey’, i prefer 1*Jimbocho Den for similar price as well.