Tokyo – Eating well in Nakameguro

Nakameguro is another Meguro train station on the private Tōyoko Line which can take you directly to Tsukiji going north or Yokohama going south (see later posts). The station can get quite busy at rush hour as you can see from this video.

The cluster of eateries and shops around Nakameguro station seem a bit cooler and more upmarket than the businesses around Meguro JR. My AirBnB was halfway between both stations so I got the best of both worlds. Here’s my Google map.

I went to four restaurants in Nakameguro, two low end and two high end, all of them good in different ways. Two of them were Izakayas which are the nearest equivalent to a British pub in the sense that they are communal places where Japanese people go to socialise. The main difference is that they serve a wide range of food. Whereas other eateries tend to specialise in one culinary genre, izakayas tend to be generalists and serve a little bit of everything. My reviews are in no particular order:

Tatemichiya (Intermediate B), 〒150-0033 Tokyo, 渋谷区Sarugakucho, 30−8

Tatemichiya is a punk izakaya. The walls are covered with music posters and the pierced and bleached staff look like they’ve been dragged backwards through a hedge. The food is fine if not the greatest (B) but what’s important is the attitude and the atmosphere. It’s somewhere you can relax and make as much noise as you like. All of which made it the perfect spot to meet up with my old crew (from my left; Ken, Yuko, Peko, Shinsaku, Yuji and Uga).

We stayed for hours and ate and drank to the max. As a result most of my photos are quite blurry but here’s a selection that came out okay.

The highlight for me was the izakaya classic Eihire Yaki, grilled skate fins served with Kewpie mayonnaise. So crispy, so good!

Other pics show Sashimi (raw seafood; octopus, tuna and seabass), grilled Eringi mushrooms and steamed rice with Furikake (a dried mixed seasoning). Click the pics to expand.

Kan (High Intermediate A), 2 Chome-1-1 Higashiyama, Meguro-ku, Tōkyō-to 153-0043

Kan is an upmarket Izakaya at the opposite end of the spectrum. The décor is sleek and modern and the food is excellent but not particularly cheap. I came on my very first night in Tokyo and didn’t have a reservation so I couldn’t sit at the bar and watch the chefs as I would have liked to. I didn’t mind too much though as I was just happy to get in.

I had the tasting menu, about ten dishes, with a couple of beers and four glasses of Shochu (Japanese ‘vodka’ typically distilled from rice), for Y11,200 (about £80). Everything was top notch and the experience of eating such good Japanese food filled me with happiness after going without for so many years.

I can’t remember what all the dishes were but they include Figs with Fish Tempura and Squid Negiri (raw seafood on a rice ball), Sashimi (raw fish, seabass and tuna I think), Shochu, Mushroom soup (including Shitake, Enokitake and I think Maitake), Wagyu beef, Hiyayakko (cold tofu served here with Bonito tuna flakes and Negi spring onions), Saba (grilled mackerel with grated giant radish), Tempura (prawn and squid) and Uni Temaki (sea urchin hand roll).

There was a lot more but due to the low lighting, a lot of my pictures came out blurred so I haven’t included them. Everything was great though!

Higashi-Yama (Advanced A), 1 Chome-21-25 Higashiyama, Meguro-ku, Tōkyō-to 153-0043, 11.30am-2pm Tue-Sat 6pm-1am Monday-Saturday,

This modern Japanese restaurant is a bit hard to find as it’s hidden up a side street but there’s a map on the website. I recommend booking ahead.

The décor is very modern and minimalist. I was seated at the bar around the open kitchen so I could observe all the goings on and talk to the chefs, one of whom could speak pretty good English. He gave me some good tips for buying Japanese knives (see Kappabashi post).

All the food was presented on beautiful ceramics as is the Japanese way. I’ve put a dozen or so ceramic shops on my Google map if that’s something you’re interested in.

I had the tasting menu for around ¥8200 (£60) as I recall. From what I can remember here we have Kaki (deep fried oysters), fish in soy based sauce, Wagyu beef and Udon noodles but there were many more dishes and some photos that didn’t come out. Please click on them to enlarge.

After dinner I stayed on in their basement lounge for a few more Umeshus.

Kushiwakamaru (Intermediate B+), 1 Chome-19-2 Kamimeguro, 目黒区 Meguro-ku, Tōkyō-to 153-0051, Open Mon-Fri 5.30pm-midnight, Sat-Sun 5pm-midnight

‘The Stick Factory’ is a Yakitori bar, a small restaurant serving bite-sized chunks of chicken and vegetables that have been skewered on wooden sticks, grilled and seasoned with salt or soy sauce. The food is classic ‘salaryman’ (office worker) fare; cheap, cheerful, affordable and good for washing down with copious amounts of lager, sake or shochu.

Typically these casual establishments specialise in chicken offal (put ‘yakitori’ into the search box of my Google map and click on the place marks and you’ll see). However Kushiwakamaru also sells more elegant yakitori like smoked duck breast and quail eggs.

The skewers are grilled over charcoal and tended by a chef who constantly fans the embers. This job can be a bit dangerous as the traditional fans can easily catch alight! I bought myself a modern fireproof one for fanning my BBQ at home (see Kappabashi post).

On average the Yakitori are between £1.10 to £1.80 a stick which is fair given the quality. I had Neginiku (chicken leg and leek), Tsukune (balls of minced chicken) Shitake (mushroom) and Gyu-kushiyaki (beef).

Other commonly available chicken yakitori include Shishito-niku (breast meat with small green peppers), Seseriyaki (neck), Tebasaki (wings), Sunagimo (gizzard), Tori-reba (liver), Tori-motsu (giblets), Hingagawa (skin), Bonbochi (tail), Hatsu (heart), Torinankotsu (soft cartilage) and Kashiwa (plain chicken meat). You might come across seafood and other meat options as well.

So that concludes my experiences of Meguro. Off into town next!

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