So many of Tokyo’s top Japanese restaurants have minimal and modest décor. To the uninitiated, especially those accustomed to glitzy high-end establishments in the West, it can seem strange to spend top yen to sit on a stool in what resembles a cramped (if freakishly tidy) living room. But when you eat Shotaro Hara’s hassun, a mixed platter typically served as the second course in a kaiseki meal, you’ll understand why tablecloths and fancy furniture are entirely unnecessary. The food at Haramasa is a work of art and it demands your full attention.
The individual elements of the hassun change frequently but in autumn there’s a decent chance you’ll receive exquisite barracuda sashimi, intensely flavourful matsutake mushrooms, edamame, salmon roe, and boiled aubergine with sea urchin. If it’s on the menu, the sumptuous Kobe beef cutlet is not to be missed. Cut into bite-size pieces, it boasts a thin and crunchy breaded crust and joyously pink flesh, and is served with light flakes of black truffle and a short mound of freshly grated wasabi. Everything at this small but perfectly formed Akebonobashi restaurant is prepared in front of your eyes. Grab one of the eight stools at the light wooden counter and prepare to be dazzled.