I just came back from a three week trip to Japan. This year's homecoming was very special because it was the 30-year anniversary of friendship with my two best friends. I had the honor to pick the location to celebrate our special night out.
The place I picked, Yakumo Saryo, is located in a quiet residential neighborhood in an old private mansion. It is called a salon, rather than a simple restaurant, where the guests can enjoy different spaces for different functions. Other than the main restaurant, they have a tea room where they also serve traditional breakfast in the early morning, a salon serving traditional Japanese sweets, and a gallery and shop. You can discover the beauty of the perfect collaboration of modernism and old tradition throughout their design. On top of the amazing architecture and design, their premium service was a true luxury and probably the best service I received in a long time. From the moment we got out from the cab until we got back on the return cab, the whole experience was perfect. Yet we were not overly taken care of. They gave us the perfect time and relaxation to stimulate all our five senses.
Later, I learned that the group behind Yakumo Sarto is called Simplicity and their CEO is very successful creative genius, Mr. Shinichiro Ogata. Simplicity owns other restaurants with a similar concept and traditional Japanese sweets shops (wagashi) in Tokyo. They are also involved in architecture, product design and graphic design and I can now understand the reason why Yakumo Saryo was so perfectly designed, executed and operated.
The dinner started with very refreshing sparkling green tea while one of their staff explained the ingredients they would use that night. And then they brought a pot of lukewarm water infused with cherry blossoms to calm our stomachs for the upcoming course meal.
The meal is a Kaiseki dinner (a simple meal served before a ceremonial tea) and we had wonderful seasonal ingredients from all over Japan. It was an 11-course meal but I felt healthy and awake at the end of the meal. The food was prepared very simply to bring out the natural flavor (mostly either grilled, boiled or raw), so it was not heavy at all.
As for drink, you can select either a wine or sake pairing. They also have a tea pairing. We chose the wine pairing but they let us taste one of their sake selections too.
Wine: Jubilee Hugel Riesling
Grilled bamboo shoot with seaweed salt
Greenling tempura with green bean pure
Sea bream sashimi
Sake : Manotsuru (sake) from Niigata
Pen shell sashimi
seared pen shell wrapped with nori
Maguro (tuna) sushi
Wine : Chablis Premier Cru Vaillon
Fried cutlass fish and bamboo shoot
Boiled Butterbur, bracken with tofu sauce, yam with butterbur miso, konnyaku with dried bonito flake
Wine: Ceretto Monsordo Bernardina
Hot Sichuan pepper hot pot with Omi beef
Rice with bamboo shoot, miso soup, pickles
Seasonal Japanese cake
Probably the most exciting part of the meal was the last dessert. A Japanese pastry chef prepared the cake right in front of us. Unlike western style dessert, you don't get to see much how these edible arts are created.
One of their staff told me that they serve shaved ice with homemade syrup made with the apricot from their garden during Summer. Unfortunately it was too early for that but I have an excuse to visit them in Summer to try their shaved ice next time.
３−４−７ Yakumo Meguro-ku, Tokyo