Saturday, December 21, 2013

Akasaka Tantei 赤坂潭亭: Michelin-Starred Okinawan Kaiseki

Kaiseki might be a familiar term in Japanese cuisine but how about Okinawan Kaiseki? 

Akasaka Tantei received it's first Michelin Star in 2012 by serving Okinawan produces that are presented in Kaiseki style. Instead of an open dining area, diners are greeted by a central corridor with individual rooms located on both sides. Inside each of the private rooms where guests can stretch their legs in the hollow underneath the table
 
The space inside a four-seater room can be really cramped, causing one to feel stuffy initially. But the classical music playing in the background keeps one's composure down. 

With dinner priced from ¥10,500 onwards, lunch from 1,800 is definitely a great way to savour the best Okinawan offerings. Shima Bijin gozen 島美人御膳 ¥1800
The "Island Beauty" set meal is highly popular among ladies who are seeking on a healthy meal. Regardless whether this can transform one into a beauty, the meal is surely one of the prettiest I've ever seen. 

In the wooden box, there is Goya tempura, a mixed salad in walnut cream sauce, simmered vegetables, dragonfruit. In Okinawa, the old saying goes, “every part of the pig is eaten except the oink", and here pig ears are casted into a gelatinous cube made from stock. Very chewy and delicious.  

The colorful platter of small dishes served on a leaf reminds me of having nasi lemak or nasi briyani on banana leaf. There were pickled radish, marinated papaya, mixed shredded carrots, makomotake and a purple ball of Umukuji andagi ( sweet potato dumpling). スクガラス豆腐 Sukugarasu Tofu is a local Okinawan creamy tofu topped with a super salty preserved fish called Sukugarasu, or Suku.
 
This set actually starts of with a freshly pressed juice of Island Beauty Juice, a semi bitter and sweet concoction of Okinawan vegetables, including bitter gourd. Very delicious! 
 
The Shima Bijin Gozen comes with sour sugarless hibiscus tea Don't be shock when you see a whole bowl of tau hway. It is Yushi Dofu Soup. Yushi tofu is a fluffy Shima tofu (Okinawa tofu), that is scooped out after it coagualates without being pressed and formed into typical block shapes. Hidden below the soup is Mosugu seaweed. Tri-color rice of Tumeric Rice, Black Purple Rice and White Rice 
Dessert is homemade Jimami Tofu in Kuromitsu Sauce. 
Another lunch set is this two tier box (1950yen) 特製2段日替わり膳 that comes with rice and miso soup. While some items are similar to the Shima Bijin Set, sashimi and grilled fish are exclusive to this set.As mentioned earlier in the Yushi Dofu dish, this is Mosugu, an Okinawan seaweed delicacy in a gently vinegared sauce. This is my all time favorite and I get instant packs from supermarkets occasionally. Instead of white rice, one can top up for 500 yen to enjoy Okinawan Soba. It neither ramen nor soba, but flat yellow noodles with a pliable texture like Thai rice noodle soup. 
Chilli Oil to be poured into the Okinawan Soba. It does not taste spicy initially, but the numbness starts to sting the tongue like Sichuan Peppercorns.
The broth is lighter and is typically topped with a tender rafutei, or pork belly. 
Jimami tofu (left) that appeared earlier in dessert is also served as a savoury dish. According to the Okinawan Gourmet Guide, Jimami" means "beans that grown in the ground", which means peanut. It is the special local product of Ie Island. I prefer this kind of tofu to Kyoto tofu because it is creamier and slightly sticky.

Sadly, there is no desserts for this set and the only ala carte dessert that day was pineapple ice. Overall great service and healthy Okinawan meal. Do note that the other two lunch sets (4500/8000) require advance reservations. Dinner starts from 10,000. 


Okinawans are known to have the highest life expectancy in the world. so do have a taste of the okinawan cuisine and find out for yourself the secrets to long life. 


Akasaka Tantei 赤坂潭亭
Monday - Saturday/PH/ Eve of PH 
Lunch: 12pm-2.30pm  Dinner: 6pm-11pm
Closed on Sundays 
Reservations: 03-3584-6646 
Access: 
5-10min walk from Toei Oedo Line Roppongi Station Exit 7 / Metro Chiyoda Line Akasaka Station Exit 6 / 
Metro Chiyoda Line Nogizaka Station Exit 2
http://www.akasakatantei.com

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