Many of the city’s top seafood restaurants pride themselves on having fresh seafood delivered from Toyosu Market every morning, but Kenichi Nemoto takes things one step further at his French seafood restaurant NéMo in Minami-Aoyama. The head chef and owner was an avid fisherman in his youth, thanks to the influence of his grandfather. Though he later went from working as a fisherman to cooking at three-Michelin-star restaurants, Nemoto still works closely with the fishermen he has known as a teenager, who send their catch of the day fresh from the boat to NéMo’s kitchen.
This unique relationship means there's no fixed monthly menu at NéMo. Instead, multi-course lunches and dinners are crafted based on the season's bounty. But while daily surprises can range from a crate of sweetfish to a 6kg yellowtail, knowing the best way to prepare each fish comes naturally to Nemoto, whose previous posts include big names like Narisawa and Quintessence.
This season’s menu begins with charcoal-grilled sweetfish that can be eaten from head to tail, served with a cooling sauce of spring onions, nori seafood and wild greens finished with a touch of olive oil. Later, he serves yellowtail pan-seared medium rare, so that the skin is a crisp golden brown and the centre blushes a delicate pink. This is plated with sauteed chanterelle mushrooms, diced tomatoes and basil puree, which manager and head sommelier Yuito Terashima pairs with a bright Sauvignon Blanc to complement the Mediterranean flavours. To end the meal, canelés that were baked that same morning and infused with small-batch rum are served with a selection of house-blended teas or coffee.
With its sophisticated ambience enhanced by natural wood and the chef's undeniable passion, NéMo encapsulates all the traits sought after by discerning diners who often patronise the city’s 50 Best Restaurants, sans the hefty ¥30,000 price tag.
Having opened its doors in the summer of 2021, Némo is still in its early days. Currently, a seven-course lunch is priced at ¥8,250, while a nine-course dinner is ¥16,500, with wine pairings starting at ¥6,200. As NéMo’s reputation grows, however, these rates are bound to increase, so be sure to make your reservation at this rising star while you still can.