Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Modern Creative Kaiseki at DEN傳 (2017 two Michelin Stars), Tokyo JAPAN

Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa with Black Cod Rice!

GarDEN salad with 20+ vegetable variety

While listed on "The World's 50 Best Restaurants" for a few years already, DEN傳 also just received their second Michelin star in November 2017. Thanks to Cityfoodsters's recommendation, I finally get to try DEN in Tokyo! Unlike many other upscale restaurants, DEN gave me a really heart-warming feeling from when I first stepped into the restaurant. The meal at DEN is like omakase, all depends on the chef. Here, I got 8 courses and 2 desserts, and they are all really impressive and fun by owner and chef Zaiyu Hasegawa!

THE RESTAURANT

The closet train station to DEN is Gaiemmae Station, just 8-10 minutes walk away. Unlike any traditional Japanese kaiseki restaurant, DEN has a modern large window exterior that you can see the interior of the restaurant.



Before I went inside, I was already welcomed by a beautiful lady who's wearing a traditional Japanese kimono, who happens to be Chef Zaiyu's wife! I was very excited to get such friendly welcome and hospitality.

APPETIZERS

Once I was seated, the first course was served within 5 minutes. It is a customized “Monaka” 最中 with their restaurant name "DEN" on the package.


Traditional Japanese Monaka usually has azuki bean, sesame, or chestnut filling; however at DEN they have a special filling that includes a mixture of persimmon, foie gras paste, and diced radish! It is creamy and feels much more richer with foie gras. The tiny diced radish within the filling also provides a contrasted crunchy texture. While biting, you get the thin crispy wafer from the outside and various textures from the filling.


For drinks, there are sake, green tea, etc. But I got Vendôme Mademoiselle Classic, sparkling wine with 0% alcohol content ^_^


Next, we have "Deep fried tofu no tofu" which means this may looks like a deep fried tofu, but it is actually not tofu! As a first time customer, I have no idea what it is even after trying it. It is creamy and has a savory flavor, just like tofu. ANYWAY, this is actually 白子Shirako, or fish sperm! Surprisingly, it tastes better than tofu! It feels very similar to silky tofu, but much more creamier. Flavor is not overpowering and not fishy at all! It’s really good with the thick savory dashi sauce too.


MAIN COURSE

The next dish is their famous DENtucky chicken, which looks very similar to KFC when you first check out this packaging! Instead of an old man's face, you see Chef Zaiyu's face with him making fried chicken! ^0^ 


Once I opened the box, I found the chicken wing within a set of winter forest decorations! It's quite beautiful!




The chicken wing is deboned and stuffed with black sticky rice, goji berries, and pine nuts. There’s so much flavors and juices in this piece of holy chicken wing!!


The next course is a fish sashimi. It is ハタHata (Grouper fish) from Shizuoka. The fish was aged for one week, and is served with fresh wasabi and pink flower buds.


The 5th course is Smoked Spanish Mackerel, Bamboo shoots, and crispy dried cabbage. The bamboo shoots are a bit crunchy and they are delicious!


This is one of my favorites! It's called GarDEN and it is a salad that has more than 20 different types of vegetable that are seasoned and prepared differently! It’s definitely the best way to experience delicious vegetable with variety of flavors, aroma, and textures all at once!!!


The soup course is based on a traditional winter Japanese soup called 酒粕汁Sakekasu Jiru (sake lees soup). It is mixed with miso and served with a delicious turnip! Sake lees is the solid fermented rice leftover when making Japanese sake. Sake lees soup is a popular winter soup because it warms you up right away! I really enjoy the steamy soup with the soft crumbly turnip!



The Black cod rice is definitely the star of this meal!! Before serving, chef showed us the pot of cod fish rice, which smells so heavenly good!!! > 0 <


The cod rice is then served in a bowl with miso soup and pickles. What's great about the rice is that it soaks up the nice flavor of the Black Cod from the cooking process, made the rice extraordinarily delicious with lots of umami!! PS: It's a huge pot of rice, if you happen to have leftover rice, make sure to request chefs to make onigiri with it!!! It will be the best onigiri (rice ball) even on the next day!



DESSERTS

For the dessert courses, they will first lay a sheet of newspaper in front of you. By circling letters on the newspaper, it spells out "thank you" and "see you" to encourage guests to revisit their restaurants in the future. The first dessert is called "Garden moss" and it is served straight on a shovel.


The "moss" is actually a Japanese tiramisu with cheese mousse, buckwheat, Hojicha tea leaves, and charcoal. You can eat straight from the shovel or enjoy with a spoon.


Lastly, they serve a small cup of "Starbuck's coffee" called Star Comebacks DEN. What's inside is actually truffle + sugarcane cooked for 8 hours. What a gorgeous finale of this meal!


EXTRA

After the meal, chef finally had more time to chat and take photos! He even signed his latest DEN cookbook for us! :D




Before we called it a night, Chef Zaiyu brings his cute puppy, Puchi Jr., and thank us for coming tonight! ^0^

Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa with with his beloved Puchi Jr :)

CONCLUSION

The dining experience at DEN is extraordinarily unique. Not only dining experience feels very comfortable + causal with friendly greetings and hospitality, the food itself was excellent with the chef's unique touch based on traditional Japanese kaiseki concept. He uses top quality ingredients and made delicious food that play tricks in your mind. Let's not forget that Chef Zaiyu made each course creative, fun, and interactive with each guest. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who loves to experience Japanese food in a modern and absolutely delicious way!

TIPS

  • Reservation is required. Plan early because next available seating could be from 3 months to 1 year later.  
  • Arrive early or be on time because chefs and staffs will be preparing your food based on the time you reserved for your seating.
  • Price is around ¥20,000~¥29,999 ($200-300 usd) per person. Plan your budget accordingly before reservation and visit.


傳 DEN Tokyo  



Phone: +81 3-6455-5433

19 comments:

  1. Stunning presentations, really like their skills

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  2. looks incredible would love to try any of these

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  3. That's how a garden salad should look like!

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  4. The Happy Face is a nice touch for Kids !

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  5. The way they served chicken wings and the dessert is mind blowing!! For a 2 stars Michelen the prices are "reasonable", in Italy you would have payed much more for less courses!

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  6. Looks delicious, making me hungry looking at these.

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  7. Pretty amazing...love how each dish is so unique!

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  8. Unique and clever offerings!

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  9. I love the playful and creative plating! What fun and yet sophisticated food!! So cool!

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