A Creative, Fresh Restaurant in Tokyo Recommended by a Japanese Cuisine Obsessed Writer!
Washoku (Japanese cuisine) is known worldwide for its healthiness. If you came all the way to Japan, you’d definitely want to enjoy dishes made with unique ingredients or traditional cooking methods, correct? However, Japanese cuisine comes in various forms, from the food served up at casual restaurants and traditional Japanese restaurants, all the way up to sushi that can be enjoyed by the counter and teppanyaki (food grilled on an iron plate). A lot of people find it difficult to decide what to eat when they stay in Japan for a short period of time, which is where this article comes in. It introduces a dream-like restaurant where you can fully savor the pleasures of Japanese food.
Sudachi – A Japanese Restaurant With A New Culinary Style
Located in Minami Aoyama, Tokyo, Sudachi is a Japanese restaurant that opened in 2014 as the second branch of La Bombance. This restaurant has managed the in-flight meals of one of the two major airlines in Japan, All Nippon Airways (ANA), and currently has one Michelin star.
A growing number of restaurants in Japan have made booking a table quite difficult nowadays. This phenomenon is particularly conspicuous for Japanese restaurants that have limited seating. There are even some restaurants that are booked solid for several months after earning a Michelin star, so you cannot even reach them by phone.
Under these circumstances, people now seem to be shifting their attention over to second or sister restaurants that have properly taken over the techniques of their original restaurants. Sticking to the base concepts and offering additional features and services that address the needs of customers, these second restaurants often end up becoming more popular than the original.
Sudachi, which opened under the theme of “creating an sudachi (independent) stage where the light shines on every single young chef”, is one restaurant where guests will likely find it difficult to make a reservation in the future.
Japanese-style Space and Menu for Every Occasion
Enter the building, which is tucked away in a quiet neighborhood, walk down the basement stairs one step at a time, and then open the heavy glass door. Every time I do so, I find myself smiling at the level of energy coming from the open kitchen that greets me.
The 10 counter seats that surround the kitchen are designed to be slightly low, somehow giving off a relaxing feeling to guests from the first time they visit.
There are tables with chairs in the private room at the back of the restaurant that is separated by a partition wall, making it the perfect spot for people seeking privacy.
I come here for meals with close friends, but I also use Sudachi a lot for entertaining tourists visiting Japan.
Inside the restaurant, the space is illuminated by recessed light. It is not too dark, but it oozes a relaxing vibe. When I see the profile of my companion who is obviously full of anticipation, I can’t help but tell myself, “I’m glad I chose this restaurant.”
Their menu contains nothing but course meals. For lunch, you can choose between two courses – the 4,800 JPY (incl. tax) course with eight dishes and the 8,000 JPY (incl. tax) course with 11 dishes. Both courses are filled with everything from an assortment of appetizers, up to fish and meat dishes.
For dinner, guests get to choose between the 17,820 JPY (incl. tax) sushi course with 27 items or the 12,960 JPY (incl. tax) kaiseki course with 11 items. The kaiseki course is a selection of creative Japanese dishes that use seasonal ingredients sourced from all over Japan. Note, though, that it does not only contain simple Japanese dishes. You may encounter a plate that resembles French cuisine every now and then!
The menu, which has English notations, only states the ingredients, so one of the pleasures of eating here is that you get to guess what dish will be served next. Foreign guests may find it difficult, but each plate comes with a menu card (in Japanese only) that is written in quiz format.
Feel the Delicacy and Opulence Unique to Japanese Cuisine
One of the reasons why I love Japanese food is that one full course meal lets me experience luxury and delicacy at the same time. It may not have the resplendent opulence and rich flavors that French cuisine possesses, but I feel like its modest arrangement and delicious taste represent the Japanese virtue of emphasizing grace.
At Sudachi, the meal begins with an appetizer that shows off the changes in the seasons while whetting your appetite, followed by a plate with an assortment of 5 - 6 starters and side dishes. They use the purple of perilla flowers, the green of leaf buds, and other delicate spices to draw out the flavors of each ingredient, so try to sharpen your senses when tasting them!
When you get to the wanmono (dish served in a bowl), you definitely should look at the back of the bowl’s lid to see designs unique to Japan painted in gold foil, such as cranes and Mt. Fuji. The soup is characterized by its mildness and richness, without any hint of bitterness. The true pleasures of Japanese cuisine lie in the first bite and the gradation in flavors that is generated when you put your chopsticks into the ingredients and their delicious flavors are released.
Look at the Extensive Drinks Menu!
The flavors of Japanese cuisine, known for its delicate taste, change when paired with a drink.
Sudachi offers a wide array of alcoholic drinks covering all genres, including beer, sake, shochu (distilled liquor), and wine. They will do their best to accommodate whatever request you may have. Not only do they have an awesome sake repertoire, but also a long list of brands offering different tastes, from drinks with a bold taste, up to ones with a crisp sensation.
If you can’t decide on what to order, go for the Degustation Set (prices start at 4,000 JPY (incl. tax)). It comes with a glass of alcohol, chosen by the restaurant, that perfectly matches your dish. You can also order pair the meal with wine. It is recommended to consult with them on what to order, taking into account your mood and the menu.
Enjoy Truly Japan-esque Nigiri Sushi
I often think that we cannot expect high quality in sushi if it comes from a restaurant that specializes in Japanese cuisine. However, the nigiri sushi (hand-formed sushi) at Sudachi goes against that preconception in a magnificent way.
The small amount of shari (sushi rice) has a vinegary taste that refreshes the inside of your mouth, preparing it for the other fish dishes that come later, such as grilled foods and tempura.
The toppings, carefully prepared in an Edo-mae style, vary depending on the season. Any sushi you choose, though, will definitely have a delicious aroma that is bound to stimulate your appetite.
Savor Dishes That Go Past Genres
The majority of traditional Japanese restaurants in Japan do not serve meat dishes. However, the meats raised in Japan are high-quality and robust in taste, making them something that every tourist should try. Sudachi is a place that grants that wish.
Here, you’ll find meat in their nabe (hot pot) dishes. Sometimes you’ll also find meat cooked with a red wine sauce in their French-style dishes!
One can probably say that it embodies the concept of La Bombance, which is to “go beyond the barriers of genres while keeping the essence of Japanese cuisine”.
A New Culinary Style That You Won't Get Bored Of!
When I look at the sparkling grains of rice covered in steam inside the pot, I can’t help but sigh, “Ah, this is Japan.”
Tourists who visit Japan may think that eating white rice and pickled food is boring. However, Sudachi takes its rice to a new level, cooking it with seasonal ingredients in an earthen pot or serving it as tai chazuke (a dish of sea bream, rice, and tea).
If you can’t finish the rice, you can take it home as onigiri (rice balls). You’ll be able to taste the deliciousness of the rice even when it’s cold, making it a stunning recommendation!
Another must-try dish is its famous dessert called “White Coffee”. Even when you’re basking in the aftertaste of everything you have devoured, this dessert will make you want to sit up straight in order to thoroughly taste it.
I also like spending time silently savoring a meal in an orthodox Japanese restaurant. However, since you came all the way to Japan, why not taste various dishes full of the Japanese spirit? Also, don’t you think that the best part of any meal is chatting with your close friends and family while eating? Sudachi provides a brilliant environment to do exactly that. I hope you figure out the other secrets hidden in the name “Sudachi” while enjoying all kinds of Japanese foods!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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