And you can imagine my excitement when I found out about Suzunami, a retail shop that specializes in Japanese marinated fish. It has a restaurant space at Tokyo Midtown where one can have a taste of their unique fish that are marinated with mirin kasu (味淋粕). Mirin Kasu refers to solids left after steamed short-grain rice is fermented with rice koji (rice malt) and shochu for the sweet alcoholic liquid known as Mirin, an indispensable ingredient that is used in Japanese cooking.
Suzunami takes pride in adopting the traditional Daiwa-ya style of fermenting technique from Nagoya to produce its unique "Gyokai Mirin Kasu" (魚介味醂粕). The fermentation process is made with premium Niigata rice and the result is clumps of white less that imparts a nice subtle booze to the fish.
The all-day menu is short and precise. There are 7-8 rice sets to choose from, each comes with rice, the fish of the day, dark red miso soup. The Suzunami Set (¥1296) was served with a big bowl of pork radish broth that was sweet and robust. The fish might look like any other grilled fish outside but they have more depth and complexity in sweetness, jazzed up by a mellow alcohol fragrance. Miso has been mixed with the mirin kasu during the marination process, drawing the umami essence from the fish instead drowning them in flat saltiness.
If you want to go light on carbs (which is not a good idea since the rice itself is SO tasty) and more on the fish, you can have a set to share with a partner and order other kinds of fish from the ala carte menu.
A rare non-fish dish in a fish set
Waka-imo Tororo Tsuke Suzunami Gozen (¥1836)
I appreciated that these sets rose above the typical Japanese rice meal with interesting additions like the sticky pool of Tororo, delicious grated yam that pairs superbly with warm rice, as well as chicken wings or the rice bowl that is topped with half minced chicken and half grated egg yolk.
Towards the end, diners will be served a shooter of Ume-kazu vinegar to cleanse the palate. This is made by adding vinegar bacterium (酢酸) to sake kasu (酒粕), which is the by-product of fermentation stretching longer than average for 3 years. Plum juice is mixed in to neutralize the acidity, resulting in a sweet and tangy drink to complete the wonderful healthy meal.
Right outside the entrance is the retail booth that display their mirin kasu products and all kinds of marinated that are good for takeaway or as gifts. This wasn't a place on my list this time but I'm glad to have given it a try.
Having fish is good but having delicious, high-quality fish is even better.
Mon-Fri 11am-3.30pm, 4.30pm-9pm