Natako Japanese cuisine has to be the most authentic that I have ever experienced. I arrive to the establishment and walk in. I am taken to the very back of the restaurant where there are several private rooms. All are empty with the exception of one. I am asked to take off my shoes and leave them on the black pebble floor. I walk up the stairs to meet with the rest of my party in an exquisite Tataki room. I take a seat on the cushioned mat that is on the floor and take in all that this room of Zen has to offer. I’m seated at a beautiful cherry wood table that has been dressed with traditional tableware and drink ware.
We are told that it is a great privilege to experience this room that we will soon be enjoying the many flavors and textures of Japanese cuisine. Our server arrives with Sapporo, a Japanese beer which happens to be one of my favorites. It is chilled, not too much. It is poured into a glass that is blue with a diamond cut on the sides. I think my mind is playing tricks on me because this beer taste better than I ever would remember.
Soon we will be graced with an aperitif, Shiso Shocu. A succulent as well as delicate drink that will tickle your taste buds with just enough flavor. Oh! Look! Is that gold flakes that I see settled in at the top of the drink? Well I do believe it is, I now begin to feel like Japanese royalty.
Our meal will start with a king crab salad with apple vinegar. Served in a martini glass so that you can take in the sights of the succulent crab meat along with the sea glass that topped this wonderful dish off.
The five point appetizer would consist of “miso” grilled black cod, Slow cooked “tsubugai” sea whelk, salmon terrine, fried “kawaebi” river shrimp, and “sora mame” a broad bean. I don’t even know where to start with all that is in front of me. An array of art in its natural form. The textures captivate all that is culinary in me. I get a crash course from my dining neighbor, Vivian who instructs me on how to extract the sea whelk from the shell to ensure that I get every last bit of the sea creature. The river shrimp have been fried to perfection and act as a little red chip as I carefully bite into its tiny but delicious shell. The salmon terrine is crowned with salmon roe that have a little “POP” party in my mouth, and the broad beans were buttery as well as tender.
A three-point sashimi plate would shortly arrive following the five point appetizer. “Madai” japanese snapper, “toro” marbled tuna, and “isaki” grunt fish. I am told that the grunt fish has a way of giving his opinion once caught by actually grunting. Well there was no grunting on my end after consuming this delicate and light fish that came with a very mild flavor. Ummmmm…….was the tune for me. The Japanese snapper and the marbled tuna would be wrapped in the Japanese piece of basil that gave it a hint of sweetness along with a great aroma.
The braised course I would have to say may have been my favorite. So comforting, making you leave all of your troubles elsewhere. “Chawanmushi” a traditional savory custard so creamy and smooth. Shiitake mushroom and a scallop would come out of hiding once you have decided that one spoonful is not enough.
The family style shared plate is something that I know my children would love. Who doesn’t have some small addiction to fried anything. Well lets add fried vegetables and an assortment of fresh seafood. Green beans, crab, shrimp, white fish, broccoli, and scallop all marching to the same drum. Deep fried to perfection with a panko like breading with a side of green tea salt to help things along.
Just when you thought that it couldn’t get any better and your tummy tells you that you have had enough, your brain says wait! Looks whats calling your name. It’s an assortment of sushi and nigiri with all their glory. My eyes begin to take in all of the colors of oranges, greens, reds and the sauces that are calling my chop sticks to take them away. A short neck clam miso soup will be served with the sushi, just to cleanse your palate and get you prepared for the grand finale.
The green tea panna cotta will be the end to this amazing culinary experience. The vibrant green of the custard tells you that what you are about to take in will not disappoint. There are two fresh red cherries on the sideline and a brown sugar reduction awaiting its pour onto the panna cotta to warm its heart. Silky smooth with every bite. I don’t want this to end.
Thank you Sachi and Executive Chef Yoshifusa Kinjo for a wonderful evening filled with history and tradition that taught me so much in this short amount of time. Knowing that you will carry on the tradition of your people and ensure that we can all take a little piece with us tonight and many nights to come. This overall experience left me feeling like I now have an extension of family that will always welcome me and whomever I bring to your Tataki room.
Many thanks to Chef Melissa Hass , and Debbie Stein Rosen of the ROSEN group for allowing me to be among those there to commune with you. We could not have done it without you.
We never know what the future holds, but what I do know is that I can’t wait to go back to Nakato and enjoy more of what the chef and the great staff have to offer…….