The other day, my sister and I went to a nice Japanese restaurant in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. You can see a white curtain at the entrance. This is one of the unique Japanese cultures. It’s been said that the curtain called ”Noren” has been used from the Heian era (794 – 1185) as a shade or a blind. Now, it’s still used as the sign of a store, shop, restaurant, etc. You can find a variety of different designs and sizes of noren here and there in Japan. When the Noren is hanging on the entrance, it means that the place is open.
Once, we went through a noren, on the other side, there was a western-style garden. In the garden, there were two hanging chairs were very cozy.
I looked up from the chair and in between the trees and tall buildings, I saw the beautiful Tokyo Sky.
When we turned right at the wall, there was a path leading to the building of the restaurant.
Although the path was very short, I was able to get a peace of mind walking along it. I think I need to get back to nature more often.
After we passed through the path, there was a space that usually holds wedding receptions.
This space is also used for other events such as yoga class and live jazz music. My sister has joined the morning yoga classes several times. She has also met some tourists from overseas. It seems they found this yoga class on the internet. I found the website written both in English and Japanese.
If you’re staying in Ikebukuro, this would be a great morning activity.
Sorry for the long introduction. Let me talk about the meal I had.
We ordered set lunches.
Here are the meals we ordered. The menu of them is below.
- 先付け (sakizuke) : appetizer
- 小鉢４品 (kobachi yon hin) : 4 small dishes
- お造り(otsukuri) : sashimi or raw fish
- 焼物 (yaki-mono) : grilled dish
- 揚げ物 (age-mono) : fried dish
- 煮物 (ni-mono) : simmered dish
- 選べるメインディッシュ(炙り焼きステーキ又は魚料理) : Main dish you can choose beef or fish
- 土鍋で炊いたご飯 : rice cooked in an earthen pot or a clay pot
- 香の物 (kou no mono) : Pickles
- 吸い物(sui-mono) : soup
I think these meals are kind of a Kaiseki style meal but not very formal.
First, two dishes are served as a Japanese style appetizers called 先付け (sakizuke).
The dish on the left side is goma-doufu. The direct translation of this is sesame tofu, but it’s not real tofu. Goma-doufu is kind of a jelly which is made from sesame paste and kudzu starch. It’s often served like this. I love it!
The other dish is mozuku-su. It means “mozuku seaweed with sweet vinegared sauce”. At that time, the restaurant added some seafood such as scallops and squid. It was the first time for me to try this type of mozuku-su. I enjoyed both the flavor and texture.
In an authentic way, each dish is served individually in a specific order. However, in a casual way like this, most of the dishes are served in the same try at once. This style of meal is called 御膳 (gozen) in Japanese.
I ordered the wagyu steak as the main dish. As you may know, wagyu is a very juicy and tender Japanese beef. I really like that!
Other dishes came with the meal.
In this meal, 鮪(maguro) and 間八 (kanpachi) sashimi are served as お造り (otsukuri). Maguro means tuna. I don’t know what kanpachi is called in your country, but my dictionary says that it is “greater amberjack/Seriola”. Do you know that?
The beautiful pink flower in front of the photo is 花穂紫蘇(hanaho-jiso) or shiso flower. It’s often used as garnish for sashimi.
These are edible flowers but I’ve heard that even many Japanese people don’t know that. “It’s a shame.” Please try it this way.
Pinch the stem with chopsticks. Scrape off the flowers into soy sauce. When you dip your sashimi in the say sauce, some flowers should stick to the sashimi and you could enjoy subtle shiso flavor!
As (yaki-mono), 姫鯛の西京焼き (himedai no saikyou yaki). 姫鯛 (himedai) is the name of the fish. I was not able to find that English name on my dictionary, but on the internet, it seems called “Lavender jobfish or Lavender snapper”.
西京焼き (saikyou yaki) is the grilled fish which is preserved in 西京味噌 (saikyou miso) mixture. Saikyo miso is white miso that is less salty and sweeter than other miso, and often used to preserve fish. The flavor is wonderful! “I love it!!
Next dish is 揚物 (age-mono). In this meal each of these three ingredients was used to make my tempura: a small fish like a sardine, maitake and pumpkin. Maitake is my favorite mushroom, especially when it’s used for tempura.
Simmered scallops and shitake mushrooms were served as 煮物 (ni-mono). This thinly sliced yellow piece of pumpkin, is cut in the shape of a maple leaf to represent Autumn. This kind of presentation is common to describe the season.
In this meal was cucumber pickles. The texture of them was very crispy and taste salty. It goes well with white rice. Actually, Japanese pickles are a very big part of our food culture. I’m going to talk about that in another post.
Akadashi miso Is a thick red color but its not as salty as it looks. The miso has a unique flavor. I really like miso soup using akadashi miso.
My sister chose a fish dish as a main dish.
The main dish is called ぶり大根 (buri daikon) which is simmered yellowtail and daikon radish. That is also popular as a homemade dish. You’ll probably see the recipe for it on my blog in the future.
Have you realized? There is no sashimi on my sister’s tray. She asked the restaurant for a substitute dish. She doesn’t eat raw fish.
The restaurant served 湯葉 (yuba) for her instead of sashimi. Yuba’s a soybean curd sheet or soy milk skin. When you boil soy milk, You will see a sheet or film on the surface of the soy milk like this picture. That is yuba. You probably have the same experience when you’ve boiled milk. However, it’s not easy to make good yuba at home. It’s common to have it at a restaurant or buy it in a shop. It has a smooth and wonderful silky texture.
The restaurant served a pot of rice. The pot kept the rice hot for a long time. I was a bit surprised that the steam was rising from the pot when I tried to have another bowl of rice as you can see in this photo.
After the meal, we ordered 抹茶 (matcha) green tea.
The restaurant let us make matcha by ourselves. It should be fun if you didn’t have the tools for making it. I sometimes make matcha at home. It makes me relaxed and I really like the bitter flavor.
If you are interested in making a reservation, you can use this link.
RIVIERA TOKYO （リビエラの庭）
Thank you for the time you spent reading my blog. I’m afraid it might be too long. I didn’t intend on writing a restaurant review. I would be happy if I could tell you something you don’t know about Japanese food culture.
Thanks again and I hope to see you again soon!
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