Located in the trendy shopping district in Omotomotesando and Aoyama area, Japanese Restaurant Tagetsu is one of the youngest child featured by Michelin Guide. The restaurant was opened in 2013 and gained its first star in 2014 (Michelin Guide 2015). Tagetsu is also one of the highest-ranked Japanese restaurant on Tabelog. I was not surprised that it soon becomes one of the hardest place to get in in town.
The chef-owner,Mochizuki Hideo (望月 英雄) wasa baseball player when he was young. His father owns a shabu-shabu restaurant in Kanagawa called Tagetsu. After Mochizuki-san graduated from high school, he left his hometown for Tokyo and trained at serveral famous restaurants until he opened Tagetsu at the age of 35.
Visited: Oct.31.2015 (Dinner)
Address: B1, Kitaaoyama Sekine Bldg, 3-13-1 Kitaaoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo (〒107-0061 東京都港区 北青山３丁目１３−１ 北青山関根ビル B１F)
Damage: Dinner menu 12,000 / 15,000 / 20,000
Compare to most other Kaiseki restaurants, the restaurant gives a brighter and more relaxing impression. There are 8 seats at the counter and a private room in the restaurant. Tagetsu opens for both lunch and dinner, during dinner time, three kinds of menu are served: 12k, 15k and 20k. As always, the only difference was the ingredients used in the dishes.
The first dish was quite impressive. Sawara itself was high in flavor, negi (scallions) and the creamy yam gives a nice balance. Buckwheat brings more crunchy texture
Next course includes seven different small dishes, start with the fresh conch, vegetables with prawn jelly and walnut, dried sea cucumber with yam miso, (a kind of) kelp, deep-fried taro coated with prawn flakes, chestnut and pickled daikon with presimmon.
Conch was quite large in size, tender and chewy, left a sweet aftertaste. Another impressive one was the deep-fried taro with prawn flakes. The taro was very smooth and naturally sweet, the crispy flakes brought a lovely umami flavor.
Hirame has a clean taste and the Akami was flavorful and metlt-in-mouth tenderness. Tagetsu was not the first Japanese restaurant i have been to that serves liver sauce to pair with sashimi, it was unexpectedly refreshing with a hint of yuzu.
Managatuo (鯧), or Japanese Butterfish, was nicely grilled – a crispy skin and juicy flesh. The sauce has a sweet hint which matches well with the white fish. To be honest, i never had tamago (Japanese omelett) with unagi outside a unagi restaurant, and i was surprised that this sweet piece of goodness was very moist and delicious.
From the picture above, it is not hard to see the rich oil contents underneath its skin, so was the fork-tenderness flesh. The radish on the back was smooth and sweet, vegetables and yuzu brought a touch of refreshness.
A dish with a deep Autumn impression – ochi rice (sticky rice) with chestnut, ginko and Mugako (baby potatoes). The grains were as smooth as the chestbut and potatoes, the ginko nuts added a chewy texture to the dish.
The last dish before the rice, deep-fried Shishamo (柳葉魚), the Japanese term for the salt water fishsmelt. It was well-fried and you can still see its sliver skin undereath the thin battering, the fish was larger than normal Shishamo as it is now in season. While i don’t really like the bitterness from its organs.
I was waiting for the rice pot coming to us becuase the ‘white rice’ season has passed, and finally i can enjoy the claypot rice with varies toppings. Usually a Kaiseki restaurants prepared the rice with fish but here we got oyster rice – one of the most delicious rice dish by far. The picture was not that appealing as few oysters fell out from the surface of rice, but it was really good. The rice was lightly seasoned with soy sauce, and the oysters were large, tender and umami.
As always, i asked the chef to heat up the rice pot again to make more Ogoke (rice crust) once the first bowl was filled. The second bowl comes with my favorite rice crust – its slight burnt flavor and crispy texture works so good with the oceanic flavors. I couldn’t wait to have breakfast the second day becuase i would have the lovely oyster rice from Tagetsu.
The dessert includes Kobucha (Japanese pumpkin) pudding, Mullet ‘mochi’ in Azuki soup, and milk sorbet. The pumpkin pudding was a firmer type but very ‘real’, which is almost the same as 1* Kisaku‘s pumpkin pudding. (Chef Hideo’s was trained at Kisaku before). Mullet ‘mochi’ was a more impressive one. As we know, mullet unlike glutinous rice that could stick together, i was very surprised by its chewy and sticky texture, and the idea of using mullet in dessert.
The dishes we had at Tagetsu was more creative that different from most traditonal Kaiseki or Kappo places, and Chef Mochizuki Hideo loves to use and combine different ingredients that we never thought before. In general, the food was satisfying but need more surprises.
Something apart from the food. I found there are so many servers in the restaurant – 3 girls who serves food and wine, chef and his two students at the counter ( i don’t know how many back in the hot kitchen) . This is pretty too much for a 8-seater counter, those 3 girls even chatted to each other and seems a lot of fun. Besides that, i noticed that chef was not cooking at all. The only thing i saw he did was slicing sashimi, for the rest part of meal, the dishes was prepared by his students. It is quite interesting that the chef only sliced the sashimi, and, took the dishes. Maybe he is training his students but i just feel unfortable about that.