The Best Kaiseki Meal in Tokyo: Innsyoutei

Innsyoutei Review | Add A Little

If you go down to the woods today you’ll find a big surprise…

Nestled into the depths of Ueno park, you’ll find a beautiful traditional restaurant – Innsyoutei.

Innsyoutei Review | Add A Little

It’s almost like a treehouse, hidden within the growth of trees and the beautiful natural surroundings.
The view from the seating area is incredible – if you dine upstairs, you get the view of the park and the trees surrounding you, amost as if you are enclosed in a secret room!

Innsyoutei Review | Add A Little Innsyoutei Review | Add A Little

I was lucky enough to have the traditional course meal of kaiseki ryori. It was my first time having it and I’m hooked – not only is the food and harmony of flavours incredible but the beauty of each dish comes through and everything is so intricatly plated.

Also, can we just take a moment to look at the placemat?! It is probably the most beautiful piece of paper ever.

Innsyoutei Review | Add A Little Innsyoutei Review | Add A LittleWe first started with a plate of bite sized foods. At the top, we have an amazing creamy salad made with cucumber and sesame. Next to that was an incredible namafu dengaku – chewy wheat gluten topped with rich and sweet miso. a piece of what seemed to be frittata bursting with fresh summer vegetables, lemon flavoured sweet potato and a piece of plum to cleanse the palate.

Innsyoutei Review | Add A Little

The next course (unpictured) consisted of a slice of winter melon and light king prawn dumpling which was so light and in a smooth dashi broth. I’m normally not one for dumplings in soup as I find that they are soggy, but this was truly another experience!

Speaking of experience, the picture above shows my first yuba experience – almost like burrata, it melts in your mouth while remaining creamy and rich.

Innsyoutei Review | Add A Little

The sashimi we got next couldn’t be more fresh – the squid melted in your mouth whilst I was lucky that my two favourite fish came out – tuna and yellowtail, both of which had incredible flavour and texture: so simple yet delicious dipped in soy sauce.

Innsyoutei Review | Add A LittleThe next fish course was a salt grilled mackerel fillet that was perfectly oily and tender and delicious when paired with the two sides: grated daikon with knotweed to give a fresh and almost mint like flavour and the baked okara (a salad made from the by product of tofu – much tastier than I described it!).

Innsyoutei Review | Add A Little

Before heading onto the final course, we had a chilled chawanmushi (egg custard) that was pudding like and so wobbly yet easy to eat and flavoured with the perfect amount of dashi.
The final savoury course consisted of deep, dark and rich miso and some light pickles that came with the large pot of rice that got placed on the table. The rice was cooked in a traditional pot and filled with fresh corn, scallops and herbs to give the most fragrant rice!

Innsyoutei Review | Add A LittleOfcourse no meal is complete without dessert and although I only pictured the matcha mousse here, I actually loved the more traditional wagashi of a mochi like substance, made of wheat, filled with red bean paste.

Innsyoutei is definitely a restaurant where I’ll be back – the food and the service was top quality (nothing less than expected in a beautiful restaurant like this)! They are also known for their nabe dishes where you cook chicken and vegetables in a shabu shabu like manner, so I guess I’ll have to go back to try that! 😉

 

 

 

Maisen Review

Review: Maisen | Add A Little

If you go to Tokyo, this place is a MUST.

I rave about it to just about anybody who will listen because if you’re looking for the best tonkatsu in the world, you’ll find it here!

Review: Maisen | Add A Little

The restaurant itself is super cute (and a bit hard to find, although there are guides luring you to it all across the street!) and, fun fact, used to be an old bath house, so the main area where you sit is where people used to change!

Review: Maisen | Add A Little

Review: Maisen | Add A Little

If you are unfamiliar with tonkatsu, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Tonkatsu is tender and juicy pork thats coated in light panko breadcrumbs, fried until crispy… or in other words, the best piece of fried meat you will eat!

In my opinion, no one does it better than Maisen. Ofcourse they do more luxury tonkastsu using the best pork but they also have delicious fillets for a much more reasonable price!

However, my favourite has got to be the daily changing set lunch. It’s a bit of secret that only locals know since it’s written in Japanese on a tiny board, but I love it because it’s got a bit of everything!

Review: Maisen | Add A Little

You start with some freshly grated daikon with a drizzle of soy sauce to cleanse your palate before the main event.

And this is what you come for.

Review: Maisen | Add A Little

The menu changes daily and today’s main was a pork and green pepper fry along with a king prawn cream croquette.
The meat is unbelievably tender and juicy whilst the outside gives a contrast with the crunch and it’s surprisingly not greasy at all!

Whilst I couldn’t eat the croquette I was told it was piping hot and creamy with large chunks of prawn (no skimping here!)

Review: Maisen | Add A Little

As with any traditional set meal, it comes with a few sides. the first of which was some light and refreshing cucumber salad with shirataki noodles. The cucumber gives a lovely crunch and cooling flavour when you need a break from the rich tonkastu.

Review: Maisen | Add A Little

There was of course some nimono on the tray as well – super fluffy yet creamy potatoes, carrots and melt in the mouth onions and pork belly stewed in a sweet yet savoury stew. This is a meal that will transport any Japanese person back to their childhood – it tastes like comfort!

Review: Maisen | Add A Little

I always find the little portion of fish a really nice touch, it’s simply seasoned with salt and grilled to give it a perfectly flaky texture. They also somehow have the most deep coloured salmon known to man which gives a lovely brightness to the tray of more brown hues!

I couldn’t recommend Maisen enough, so if you’re planning a trip to Tokyo, this better be on your list!
If you can’t make it, make sure to go to a depachika or get a quick takeaway from outside the store where they sell bentos, sandwiches (which are to die for: the fluffiest, slightly sweet Japanese bread (crusts off of course!) which encases the tender tonkatsu and delicious sauce, I could eat 100 easily) and mini katsu burgers!

Review: Maisen | Add A Little

Maisen
Website: http://mai-sen.com/
Address: Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya, 神宮前4−8−5

New York Roundup

New York Roundup | Add A Little

So I’m back from New York and it was such an amazing trip so I thought I’d share a few of my favourite places to eat and sights to see!

Clinton Street Baking Company

Ok, so I know this place is famous for it’s pancakes but OH MY WORD. Best kale salad I’ve ever eaten in my life: kale massaged in a lemony vinaigrette with creamy avocado, red onions, cherry tomatoes, quinoa and crunchy spiced pepitas.

ABC Kitchen

Of course a trip to New York wouldn’t be complete without a trip here! I was sad to have missed the amazing kabocha toast (don’t worry, I made up for it by having kabocha basically every evening 😉 ) but I got to try the roasted carrot and avocado salad which was a wonderfully spiced and creamy yet light! I also tried the fluke ceviche which was so well complimented by the olive and caper dressing and the halibut with olive oil was perfectly light!

Izakaya Mew

I was so sad that I didn’t come here earlier in the trip because not only is it so delicious but great value for money! They have lunch sets for only $10 and my favourite was the salt grilled mackerel with rice, miso soup, salad and pickles. The sushi was only a steal for $5 and certainly looked fresh and delicious!

Beyond Sushi

I had to stop by at Beyond Sushi after hearing so much about it! It’s great whether you just want a snack or a full meal! I tried out the Pickle Me roll, which was great, but seems like the Sweet Tree (with avocado and sweet potato) was super popular too!

The Butcher’s Daughter

Although I didn’t get to eat here after hearing great things about it, I still went for tea here. It has super cute and hipster decor with a very cool vibe. They had a great selection of teas, coffees and smoothies so you should pop by if you’re in the area!

Beyoglu

This is in a great location, very near Central Park so it’s a great easy place to stop by whether you want a full meal or a quick snack! We got the mezze plate (the hummus was amazing) with the ‘crack bread’ – it was fresh out of the oven and so warm and fluffy! The red lentil soup was also great but I highly recommend the mezze plate if you are there – it’s super reasonable too!

The High Line

We were so lucky that it was such a beautiful day when we decided to walk the high line as it’s a lovely walk and I can imagine it would be lovely to sit down with a book and spend all afternoon here!

Chelsea Galleries

There were SO many galleries in Chelsea and it was so interesting to see them all, definitely a must if you are going to the high line anyway! My favourite was one of the Gasogian galleries as they had an amazing collection with Picasso and Freud yet its hidden away!

MoMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Obviously I have to write these museums as they were truly wonderful – I could have stayed all day  as it was amazing to see so many pieces that I love up close. Just a warning that there will be a long queue at the MoMA if you go on a free day – but it’s more than worth it!

Central Park

This is also a must go to spot. Although I didn’t get to spend too much time here it was really lovely to have a walk around and it is just so big! Being in London there are quite a lot of parks but this was something else – I don’t think you’d even be able to go around in a day!

I wish I could have stayed longer and there’s no doubt I’ll be going back since it was so amazing there: there’s so much to see and do!

Have you ever been to New York? Where was your favourite place to eat or favourite thing to do? I’ll definitely note it down for next time!

ps. Illustration above is drawn by the wonderfully talented James Gulliver Hancock!