Our second destination in Japan was Hiroshima where we dined at a traditional kaiseki restaurant.
Seasonal Cuisine Nakashima, a three Michelin starred restaurant, is a tiny restaurant with less than 15 seats where chef and owner Tetsuo Nakashima is the only person behind the counter. His wife, I believe, would help him plate dishes but anything that involved cutting or cooking ingredients, he was fully in charge. The menu is highly seasonal and featured numerous Japanese delicacies, some of which I was not crazy about.
Japanese have a different approach when cooking octopus where they intentionally want a firmer texture. Perhaps my Western palate isn’t used to this as I prefer tender octopus. Flavors were delicate and enjoyable but the texture was difficult for me to find pleasing.
Various fresh seafood (hirame-flounder, sawara-mackerel-, ika-squid, and uni-sea urchin) was served with pungent wasabi, salt, and soy sauce to season as you please.
Kinmedai, golden eye snapper, is easily one of my favorite fish for its unctuous natural fattiness. Served in warm dashi with seaweed, this was delicious.
Gently steamed sea bream was wrapped around glutinous rice and wrapped in a sakura leaf. The subtle sour-sweet flavor of sakura lingered throughout the dish.
Tairagi, penshell clam, has a large piece of edible meat that’s almost the size of a scallop. I would have preferred if they served thin slices rather than a large chunk of meat. However, I did like the miso sauce.
Nodoguro fish, blackthroat seaperch, was grilled served with myoga, a type of young ginger, and fresh lemon. Simplicity at its best.
A highlight of the meal was this Japanese wild boar that had such rich meaty flavor.
I typically love honmirugai, giant clam, but I wasn’t keen on how this was served. I would have preferred thin slices rather than large pieces of the clam.
Takenoko, fresh bamboo shoots, are abundant during the spring season as I ate it countless times during my time in Japan. While it doesn’t have a strong taste, it’s more about the texture.
Most kaiseki restaurants finish the meal with rice with pickles and some sort of soup.
A silky smooth pudding was flavored with sake lees, the remnants after sake production that had a strong but enjoyable taste.
While everything was expertly prepared at Seasonal Cusine Nakashima, I think my Western palate couldn’t appreciate the delicate flavors and simplicity of the dishes. Texture plays a huge component of Japanese cuisine, sometimes even more important than flavor, and a few dishes were just not to my personal liking. For Japanese, Seasonal Cuisine Nakashima would be a fantastic meal but perhaps for foreigners, it’s a little too traditional. Therefore, my rating is a 7.5/10.