Ishikawa – Tokyo (***)

Food: kaiseki
Address: 5-37 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Phone Number: +81 (0)3 5225 0173
Website: www.kagurazaka-ishikawa.co.jp
Guide Michelin: 3 stars
What I paid: 22867 Yen (about 162 € per person for the big tasting menu with water, sake and tea)
Visited: March 14, 2014

Ishikawa (石かわ) is located behind the Bishamon shrine (temple) in a black wooden building (look for a black fence on the corner of the building for the entrance). As a general rule for most Tokyo restaurants, though many are tricky to find, do your homework and check the address on a map (e.g. Street View) in advance.

Head chef Hideki Ishikawa’s kaiseki cuisine is more traditional than for instance RyuGin (that also serves kaiseki cuisine) but it cannot really be described as traditional though it is far more creative than most other kaiseki restaurants. The cuisine is sometimes called “Ishikawa-style” to describe that it is only bound by Ishikawa’s own imagination. Hideki was early on in his career recommended to work in many different restaurants in order to gain knowledge in different food- and technique areas.

The restaurant has an interesting selection of sake, mainly from the Hideki’s birthplace of Niigata and the Hokuriku region, so we opted for that in regards to most of the dishes served. However, they also have a good wine list and beer if that is preferred.

There are four private rooms as well as a seven-seat counter to choose from and since we had not made any special requests we were seated on the counter, which I am glad for, so we could both observe the work and also have an interaction with Hideki Ishikawa.

There are two set menus to choose from (no al la carte):

  1. ¥15,000
  2. ¥19,000

We opted for the ¥19,000 menu (exclusive of 5% tax and 10% service charge) and this is what we had:

Appetizer:

Hard Clam, Monkfish Liver and Ripe Flower Bud, covered with egg yolk and sauce with Japanese mustard.

Hard Clam, Monkfish Liver and Ripe Flower Bud, covered with egg yolk and sauce with Japanese mustard.

Deep-fried:

Conger Eel with mashed garden peas with Butterbur Bud Petals.

Conger Eel with mashed garden peas with Butterbur Bud Petals.

Conger Eel with mashed garden peas with Butterbur Bud Petals. Served with a dipping sauce.

Soup:

Ishikawa-8

Freshly harvested Bamboo shoot dumplings and Wakame Seaweed.

Freshly harvested Bamboo shoot dumplings and Wakame Seaweed.

Sashimi:

Sea Bream garnished with fresh seaweed and Japanese herbs and Snow Crab topped with crab innards with broth jelly.

Sea Bream garnished with fresh seaweed and Japanese herbs and Snow Crab topped with crab innards with broth jelly.

Snow Crab topped with crab innards with broth jelly.

Snow Crab topped with crab innards with broth jelly.

Charcoal-grilled:

Kinki Fish and freshly harvest onion.

Kinki Fish and freshly harvest onion.

Specialty:

Spear squid with roe garnished with seven kinds of spring vegetables.

Spear squid with roe garnished with seven kinds of spring vegetables.

Hot Pot:

Japanese Duck, Duck dumplings, tofu, tofu skin, Chinese cabbage and broth Ager.

Japanese Duck, Duck dumplings, tofu, tofu skin, Chinese cabbage and broth Ager.

Japanese Duck, Duck dumplings, tofu, tofu skin, Chinese cabbage and broth Ager. Unfortunately I started eating this dish before taking the photo making the dish look less desirably. That said, this dish might also be the least desired during this dinner.

Steamed Rice:

Steamed rice with fresh Sea Urchin, Short-neck Clam and Wasabi Buds. Miso soup and pickled vegetables.

Steamed rice with fresh Sea Urchin, Short-neck Clam and Wasabi Buds. Miso soup and pickled vegetables.

Dessert:

Strawberry and Setoka Tangerine and Sherry flavored mousse topped with Genko citrus sherbet.

Strawberry and Setoka Tangerine and Sherry flavored mousse topped with Genko citrus sherbet.

Matcha Tea:

The dinner was finished with a cup of Matcha Tea.

The dinner was finished with a cup of Matcha Tea.

In summary: This was my first kaiseki dinner and I did not only enjoy all of the food served but also the warm welcoming service that seemed genuine authentic. That and the fact that we also could interact with Hideki Ishikawa himself during the dinner (which was in sharp contrast in comparison to the lunch we had earlier that day on Sushi Mizutani) contributed to the overall good dinner experience. Also, I had not tasted any sake I liked before this dinner so that was also an interesting experience (usually I am a 99% wine person…).  In all: highly recommended!

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5 Responses to Ishikawa – Tokyo (***)

  1. Chrissy M says:

    Hey, I just found your blog and am loving it!
    But I was wondering how you reserved Ishikawa? I tried calling them many times but all I got was this beeping sound… Have you also encountered this problem?
    Thanks for the diligent postings and information!

    • Jesper says:

      Almost always, the restaurant reservations for “overseas guests” have to be made by the hotel (concierge) you stay at in Tokyo (which eventually can be an alternative for you if you have problem getting in contact with them). That said, for Ishikawa I was actually making the reservation myself by phone (+81 3 5225 0173), in English (their web site claims that they should have an English speaking person available after 3PM). So, I did not have the problem you describe (the only problem was some minor language problems). Good luck!

  2. I had amex platinum concierge book for me, most seamless process!

  3. Andrew C says:

    How far in advance do they accept reservations?

    • Jesper says:

      Tokyo restaurants in general; between one to three months. Ishikawa specifically; three months (at least when I did the reservation). Phone number for reservations: +81 3 5225 0173 (their web site claims that they should have an English speaking person available after 3PM).

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