Dinner at jinen.
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- Meal Views
Masamasu Kato, another very young, 29 year old, protege of Ishikawa-san, is heading up this latest addition to the Ishikawa group, the restaurant jinen. It is located close to the Shibuya station on the ground floor of the house of a friend of Ishikawa-san. There is a grand entrance leading up the front door, the dining room is long with tables along the wall. Opposing these tables are stations which act as a final plating and dish preparation space. This all makes it very interactive, a counter experience without a counter.
Kato-san trained at Moliere in Sapporo, his native island, then moved to Copenhagen to cook at Noma, where he acquired the nickname “ninja” for his ability to overcome his lack of English in sensing what needed to be done in the busy kitchen. He transferred back to Japan when Noma opened up Inua, the Tokyo based outlet of Noma. When Inua closed he joined the Ishikawa group to learn the Japanese cooking technique. In 2021 in September he then was chosen by Ishikawa-san to head up jinen.
The food is a typical Japanese French fusion. Japanese ingredients, French technique but Japanese sequencing of the meal. This creates a French Kaiseki meal.
Kato-san is without any doubt a very talented Chef and he leads his team with unlimited enthusiasm and joy for his job. Having the backing of the Ishikawa group certainly guarantees access to high class ingredients which are then prepared carefully. The layering of flavors is highly advanced.
The dishes contained some real highlights while others were a little under seasoned. He started the meal with a nod to his former employer, a steamed spring onion to which he added caviar. I am not a great fan of adding luxurious ingredients unnecessarily to create the impression of deliciousness, but here it actually worked very well. The acidity of the onion worked well with the caviar. A very concentrated but delicious sakura ebi soup was followed by a salad of hotaru ika (firefly squid) and mountain vegetables. My favorite of the meal was the cauliflower in a creamy sauce. Exquisit.
Karo-san only uses deer meat from Hokkaido, as apparently they have an overpopulation of them there. Two servings, one skewer with three cubes, tongue, heart and filet, of which the tongue was the best and the loin, gently smoked almost raw but warm.
The desserts were a grapefruit sorbet, served in the grapefruit and a filo dough topped with strawberries and cream. Both were very good.
Clearly this restaurant is in the beginning of what I predict a grand trajectory to world class. I find it astonishing that Ishikawa-san always finds these raw talents, grooms them and then lets them free to do their own things with his backing. There is always the Ishikawa DNA like beautifully designed restaurants and some of the best service one can find.