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Run by a charming husband-and-wife duo for the past eight years, Kudan Otsuka is classic kaiseki at its best. The quaint space is situated across the street from Yasukuni Shrine, whose calm surrounds extend into the restaurant. To keep things fresh, the menu changes monthly, highlighting seasonal ingredients in a traditional yet original way. Expect wow-inducing dishes featuring unique ingredients you may have never seen or tried before.
Our meal started with a deceivingly simple soup (or owan, which literally means bowl in Japanese). The clear broth was accented with a tender chunk of winter melon, silky smooth somen noodles, okura and junsai (watershield, whose leaves have a slimy coating). This was followed by a four- appetiser platter served on a beautiful fan-shaped plate: a sunomono salad was given a twist by replacing the conventional cucumber with figs inside a vinegar jelly; a traditional summer kaiseki coupling of daikon and octopus had been simmered in a flavourful soy broth until tender; a selection of summer vegetables fried karaage-style in an unbelievably light batter; and there was an inspired pairing of yuba (tofu skin) and raw shiro ebi (white shrimp) topped with wasabi for a light kick.
Kudan Otsuka is one of the few kaiseki restaurants to offer a cheap ¥1,000 (or ¥1,080 with tax) weekday lunch. For that, you’ll get its signature oyakodon, made with premium ingredients befitting the restaurant: rice from Niigata, chicken from Tottori and the silkiest egg we've ever tasted. Served alongside a miso soup and homemade pickles, it provides a good taster of Kudan Otsuka before you splash out on one of its course menus.
Avista Kudan Bldg 2F, 2-4-12 Kudanminami, Chiyoda (Kudanshita Station)
|Price:||Oyakodon lunch ¥1,080, course lunch from ¥3,780, dinner from ¥7,000|
|Opening hours:||11.30am-2pm (last orders 1.45pm), 6pm-10pm (8pm), closed Sat, Sun|