Mutsukari, 1st dinner on our 2nd trip back to Japan!

So on our first Japan trip over a year ago, which inspired me to start this blog in the first place, we met a lovely Japanese couple while dining at Sojiki Nakahagashi. We kept in contact with them and on our second visit they suprised us with a private dinner in the upstairs area of this restaurant. Mutsukari is ranked #1 on all the vegatarian restaurants in Japan on Tablelog. They are no so much vegetarian but rather focus on vegetable based cuisine, like L’Arpege in Paris. They also serve omakase meat dishes. We unfortunately either misplaced or never recieved a menu as it was a private omakase with no English menu probably. I will do my best in describing the dishes, but I may not be able to accurately describe everything on this post as I was so engrossed in coversation with our gracious hosts.

To start off, a lovely uni with ikura. Sea urchin with salmon roe, over cold tofu, with small flowers and fresh grated wasabi. Pretty, but the textures were what melded the dish together here. I think the key to their cuisine is focus and subtlety. I think that they intentionally don’t go over three items in combination as maybe it produces the right harmony, like an acapella band rather than an orchesta. It’s visually decieving at first, because at Yamasake, as seen in previous posts, this would have also had quail egg and foie gras, with shaved truffles and gold leaf on top. Not that we don’t like that, but this was more like a menage a trois rather than an orgy. There’s a time and place for everything.

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I think this was steamed, then grilled barracuda with rice and ginko nuts, topped with parilla. Gingo nuts were steamed. I literally can’t remember how this tasted but I do remember the super soft texture of the rice against the crispy BBQ skin of the barracuda. The ginko nuts were also very smokey.

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Then the matsutake mushroom soup. We were lucky that we came in time for matsusake season. We had matsutake served in many ways, some were quite comedic and it took everything in my power not to snicker while watching Erika eat the matsutake coming up.

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Matsutake mushroom with hamo (eel), a sliver of a yuzu peel, and what appeared to be chrysanthemum petals. This is so perfect for a cold day. The earthen flavor of the musky matsutake, with the other aromatics in this dish were so soothing and set the tone for the meals to come. The Matsutake mushroom is a deep mycelium fungi, scientifically classified as Tricholoma matsutake. Matsutake means pine mushroom, and it is the odor of this mushroom that truly identifies it. As it thrives in pine forests, it resembles the aromas of the woods.

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Sea bream, ika (squid) and maguro (blue fin) with soy and ponzu. Subtle but amazing.

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I wish I remembered what kind of Sake this was, we were told that it is super popular now and that no one can find this anywhere in Japan, and it was one of the last smaller sized bottles they had left. I will have to get the English translation from our friends once this is posted. I will actually have them comment on the blog and make needed corrections to my posts later.

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Steamed, then charcoal grilled sea bream and grated radish. Interesting kaiseki take on a usual sushi cut.

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Oh God, how can you not laugh? That laceration and squirted lime looks like a nightmare Lorena Bobbitt torture scenario. I didn’t know whether to intently stare at Erika or look away as she bit into this as I would have lost it and fell off my chair laughing.

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This was so damn good. Sweet potato sochu. It was a rare and expensive bottle. I kept making so many O-faces while drinking this that our gracious host slipped out towards the end of the dinner pretending to use the restroom and came back from a liquor store  with a bottle of this as a gifto to me. I was so humbled and flattered. Japanaese hospitality is unsurpassed. It is now the center piece of my sake shrine at home.  2016-10-16-13-33-46

Next was seared eggplant I believe with steamed abalone and snow peas. We remember this dish as being very refreshing and clean in taste, very light. Again, three items, harmonic resonance.

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This image of a vegetable aspic is so vogue right now. This reminded me of the dish from Takazawa in Tokyo, where we were not able to get a booking unfortunately.

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and also reminded me of Hajime in Osaka, where there was a combination of an obscene amount of vegetables, like 16-20 in one plate. I will post this restaurant’s pics in the order in which we ate, so at the end of our trip basically, many more posts down the road. Anyway, back to this item. I believe that inside this aspic there is cherry tomato, Chinese yam, carrots, baby corn, green bean, shitake, enotaki mushrooms and beet root. Again, sublte flavors, but the accompanying peanut sauce was tasty and the visuals were stunning.

Then their one meat dish. I believe it was A5 Kobe beef tenderloin seared, with enotaki mushrooms, shallots, and persimon. Plate was dusted by sansho pepper. Very autumnal in flavor and color. This was paired nicely with young Geverey Chambertin. Very enjoyable nevertheless.

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Soba noodles made from scratch in front of my eyes. Amazing. It doesn’t get fresher than this. It was so al dente, wow!

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Finally the dessert, Japanese shaved ice with DIY topping assortment of red bean, mango condensed milk or green tea. The texture of the ice was phenomenal. Look how whispy it is in the photo. So refreshing.

Finally, freshly made matcha with green tea and sessame macaroons. Superb ending to a wonderful night. It feels good to be back in Tokyo!

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