Dinner at Kusunoki (くすのき)
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Kusonoki‘s mastery does not shy any comparison with other tempura masters in Japan. HIs menu has gotten so elaborate, that it resembles almost Kaiseki meal with extra pieces of tempura thrown in.
As always the section is very seasonal and ever changing with the exception of the shiro ebi and the lecture about umami at the beginning.
To show the effect of salt, he serves you a small cup of dashi without any salt and lets your try it. Then he himself adds a few grains of salt to it the asks you the re-taste. The effect is stunning. The pleasant, but somewhat boring broth becomes a concentrated umami explosion in your mouth. Quite a demonstration of his technique. It is unique as he does not give you salt, he adds it himself to the degree he deems necessary and he does not give you daikon to offset the oil of the tempura. He thinks that his cooking does not require this usual help for digestion and I tend to agree with him.
As always, the pieces were elaborate, very interesting and super delicious. He keeps it interesting in alternating between vegetables, seafood and fish and producing a seemingly endless sequence of deliciousness on your palate.
He is also very friendly and likes to have foreigners. He has English speaking staff and an Eglish write up of his philosophy and explanation of his technique.
A true master.