UNKAI Kaiseki Restaurant Review

March 05, 2019

Living in Tokyo means that I am always presented with endless options of the high-quality feast that celebrates seasonal events. Nevertheless, the more options you're being suggested, the more bewildering when it comes to picking one that should satisfy your appetite. For a secure route, I would advise settling upon luxury hotels in Tokyo that's famous among locals for having the best delicacies in town. One of my favorites is ANA InterContinental Tokyo that's strategically located in Tameike-Sanno - Roppongi Itchome area. It's been one of my cherished hotels in Tokyo since I had dined at their restaurants a few times and it always impressed me

On Valentine's Day 2019, I chose to dine at one of ANA InterContinental Tokyo restaurants. It is Japanese Restaurant UNKAI which offers luxury Kaiseki Dining

Since it was going to be Hina-Matsuri soon, they decorated the restaurant with Hina-Matsuri theme

You could dine at the public area, or in a private dining room (with additional charge). The private rooms feature traditional tatami, or you could choose a normal western dining table. All rooms have an exquisite view of the garden

The private rooms provide a serene ambiance that's enough to let you escape from the city noise

The staff recommended me a set of pairing Sake to go with my kaiseki dinner. It's my first time to partake of sake in a wine glass but the staff told me that they do it intentionally to let the consumers able to smell the shochu's fragrance better

The 3 kinds of Sake set consists of :
Uragasumi Zen from Miyagi Prefecture. It has a light fresh fruity flavor that starts of bitter with a sweet aroma
Miyamagiku from Gifu Prefecture. It has a stronger scent and spicier than the rest of the sake, more zing of an aftertaste
Kokuryu from Fukui Prefecture. This sake is probably the easiest to drink as it's so smooth. It's bitter than the rest but feels lighter after

 The 3 Kinds of Sake Set is 3500 Yen (3 x 60ml)

I did mention about seasonal feast and UNKAI is not an exception. They change their menus regularly following season, and the one that I had at that night was Chef's Recommendation SHIUN, for 16.000 yen Omakase Course. The menu that I had was their spring menu and would be available until May 2019

We were presented with an Aperitif as a welcome from the chef, which is an umeshu (plum wine) before having our Amuse Bouche which is a Hokkaido's Lily Bulb ball stuffed with minced chicken, carrot, burdock, and topped with butterbur & miso sauce. The sauce reminds me like a pesto sauce but with japanese taste, and even if you're not a fan of miso's scent due to its pungent smell, the sauce is the star and you'll definitely be loving this

Next, we had the OAN or Broth. The broth is made from Rishiri Konbu and King Crab Stock with thinly sliced Shogo-in Turnip. What steals my attention is the deep fried Shirako (Fugu's Soft Roe) that is covered with egg York, bracken, broad beans, plum flavored fua, and yuzu citrus. The broth is very flavorful and rich in umami. The dish is made with the inspiration of seasonal transition from winter to spring, showing the elegance through their nicely placed toppings that's served as a feast to the eye upon opening the lid. The flavor bursts inside my mouth, complimenting the gooey shirako texture that I have declared as the best shirako I have ever had so far

Kaiseki will never be complete with a set of Sashimi. The sashimi that we had that night was the Pacific Bluefin Tuna, Red-Spotted Grouper, Squid, Hokkai Sweet Shrimp, Yellow Tail, and complimented with Shoyu from Tosa. It's composed of fish and mountain vegetables and another representation of spring image. The cut is thick but since it's high-quality fishes, it's easy to consume

Moving forward to the Appetizer! As for the appetizer, the presentation is way too beautiful with all the colors, shapes, textures, and flavors in one plate. The thoughts and efforts put by the chef for this one appetizer have exceeded my expectation as they're trying to incorporate creative touch to every single of the dishes. For the appetizer, it includes sea cucumber rolled with fish cake, marinated sea cucumber mixed with soft roe, Octopus and Soy Beans in square radish cup, Canola Vegetable topped with Konbu, Tamagoyaki with Sea Bream Roe, Black Soy Beans Jelly, Broad Bean mushed lily bulb, and boiled shrimp and dried mullet roe

For the Grilled section, UNKAI offers Grilled abalone and Sea bream rockfish topped with beans paste chengiopanax sciadophylloides, hajikami ginger, butter flavor. When it's served to the table, it strucks me thanks to its beautiful presentation and the fragrant butter smell. Usually, they use rockfish but for that day they change it to sea bream. The fish has a little smoky taste and the vegetables are tender yet crunchy. The taste of the ingredients are very rich and well complimented with the sauce without overpowering the fish

For the Stewed, Ohmi beef along with Deep fried shrimp shaped taro has become the choice of the night. It also includes shrinkage spinach, deep-fried rice cake, lotus roots with a thick sauce, and topped off with Japanese pepper. The beef itself is juicy and cooked beautifully, with even one bite you can feel that it's packed with flavors

In Kaiseki, it's normal to have Rice for the last meal. For the rice section, it's a small donburi that consists of minced tuna, sea urchin, and, salmon roe. Some leeks, nori, and wasabi are placed nicely on top of it to not just give a nice touch but also helps bringing out the flavor of the fresh sashimi. It also comes with red miso soup and pickles

For the Dessert, Kirapica Strawberries from Shizuoka Prefecture was served along with sweet red beans jelly chocolate and green tea mousse. My favorite is undoubtedly the matcha mousse!

My Kaiseki experience at UNKAI is 2.5-3 hours, and it was definitely a fantastic meal certainly. For just 16.000 yen per person, I could savor all of that incredible meals with high-quality ingredients that could easily rack up to more than 16.000 yen. With well-trained worldwide class staff and a fair price for kaiseki, it wouldn't be surprising to call this a hidden gem in Tokyo that you should definitely visit the next time you're in the town when you want to have traditional Japaneseese dining

They also offer other set menus besides the Chef's Recommendation. As of now, they're also having an offer for a Sandai Beef Feast, where you can try the 3 most exquisite Wagyu Beef (Kobe, Matsuzaka, Omi) through shabu shabu experience

For more information about this restaurant, you can check out their website here =

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