Akasaka Kikunoi is the Tokyo branch of the famous Kikunoi restaurants in Kyoto. The original Kikunoi was established in 1912 at the foot of the Higashiyama Mountain Range in Kyoto. Today there are three Kikunoi restaurants – two in Kyoto and one in Tokyo. All three restaurants are still faithful to the Kyo-kaiseki cuisine based on the traditions of Kyoto style multiple-course dining.
Chef Patron Yoshihiro Murata is the third generation of Kikunoi and is famous as one of the most recognised kaiseki chefs in the world. Chef Murata’s Tokyo restaurant is located in Akasaka and is headed by Head Chef Tuji Masahito. The Tokyo establishment is not as lavish and grand as the original Kikunoi Honten in Kyoto, but it is still an impeccable restaurant and the Kyo-kaiseki is of absolute top class.
The Japanese shark fin hot pot of fins from blue shark is not politically correct, especially not for Westerners, and the actual flavours of it are not among the top dishes from Chef Murata, but it is a classic dish for the restaurant which has always been a part of the Kyo-kaiseki cuisine so it is a difficult balance between following the traditions and actually living in the present. There are numerous exclusive top ingredients offered like the sashimi of fugu with chives, blanched fugu skin, grated radish with red pepper and ponzu or the sashimi of koshibi (young bluefin tuna) with soy-marinated egg yolk sauce. Of course you will find a complete representation of the Kyoto cuisine including the minced duck with yomogi (Japanese mugwort) dumpling, Kujo onion, mache, arrowhead root, giant turnip slice, carrot and gold leaf, but all the dishes have Murata’s touch and style of it and most particularly his way of presenting the dishes which is beyond beautiful.
The origins of Kikunoi come from tea ceremony practitioners in the early seventeenth century so there are certainly a history and traditions few other cuisines around the world can match. It is impressive how refined and perfected Chef Patron Yoshihiro Murata’s Kyo-kaiseki is and how well Head Chef Tuji Masahito takes care of the cooking at Akasaka Kikunoi. You will have a great experience even if you are not used to kaiseki, but not all dishes are entirely politically correct for Westerners so that might be an issue for some. You can rely on that the kaiseki offered at Akasaka Kikunoi can not be much better.
Written by Andy