Tsujihan - Outside
Put on your good clothes because we are going somewhere a bit fancy today! It's Tsujihan - a traditional Japanese restaurant. The menu is limited, but it specializes in what it serves.
We didn't find this out until after the fact, but we actually visited a branch location. The main location is in Nihonbashi.
I never had this kind of cuisine before which is why Yue chose this restaurant. It seems to be popular and highly regarded. I can't wait to try it out!
While we were looking for a good restaurant which serves kaisendon, we found this place.
This is my first time to come here and I knew nothing about this place before today.
Inside the place is a bit dark and the atmosphere is kind of like a "high-end" restaurant.
But their menu is not too expensive.
When we visited, there were some non-Japanese customers who did not speak Japanese and the staff were trying to help them in English.
The staff also assumed that we did not speak Japanese as Rue looks obviously non-Asian, so he offered help to us in English as well.
I know that he had no bad intention, but the first word he said was "OK, come on!" to which I could not help but have a wry smile.
(He started using Japanese after he noticed we do speak Japanese.)
They have an English version of their main menu, so it will be easy to order even if you don't speak Japanese at all.
What we ordered
Soon after we were seated, we were served (I believe red snapper) sashimi. We both got our own plate. It's delicious! It's so soft and fresh. The miso dressing is most prominent, but it matches the tuna well. It goes great with the wasabi too. It adds the perfect balance.
There are 3 slices in total. We noticed after that it's suggested that you leave 2 for later, but I couldn't help myself...
The drink is hot mugicha. Even though I'm not a big tea drinker, I like mugicha, and this is no different.
I had never eaten sashimi with miso before, but this is surprisingly good.
As Rue mentioned, it is suggested to leave 2 for the main kaisendon which is served afterward.
I just noticed there is an instruction board on the table after I finished everything.
Well, even Japanese people like me make this kind of mistakes at Japanese food restaurants. That means anyone who visits Japan can make the same mistake without feeling awkward/ashamed of it.
But I'm not sure if this kind of instruction is common or not.
First, let me explain what ingredients they contain.
The main menu includes 4 kaisendon and each of them contains different kinds and amount of ingredients as follow.
|Menu Name||Price (As of June, 2023)||Ingredients topped on|
|梅 / Ume||\ 1,250||Salmon roe, tuna(lean meat), tuna(rich meat scrapped from bones), shrimp, whelk, clam, squid, herring roe, cucumber, Japanese green onion|
|竹 / Take||\ 1,650||All ingredients of Ume|
+ Extra crab
+ Extra salmon roe
|松 / Matsu||\ 2,200||All ingredients of Ume|
+ Extra crab
+ Extra sea urchin
+ Extra salmon roe
|特上 / Tokujou||\ 3,600||All ingredients of Ume|
+ Extra crab
+ A lot of extra sea urchin
+ A lot of extra salmon roe
We ordered Ume and Take, the cheapest options.
Neither of us are a big fan of sea urchin, so we thought we would not enjoy the extra topping even if we order the expensive ones.
Some trivia for those who don't know about sea urchin:
The gonads of it is eaten in many parts of the world. It is very popular, especially in Japan.
It is a light-brown coloured ingredient which tastes very unique, like a seafood-ish cheese... You can try it if you are interested in.
One more small piece of trivia:
The words for the menu, 松(Matsu), 竹(Take), 梅(Ume) are very common to describe the grade of products or services. The set of three words "松竹梅" is specifically pronounced as "Sho-chiku-bai".
If you stay at a Japanese traditional hotel (旅館 / ryokan), their rooms might be named with these words.
Meanwhile, 特上(Tokujou) simply means "special" or "top-grade".
The fish is pretty good. It's fresh and refreshing, as to be expected. Since it's all together, it's hard for me to pick out the individual flavours.
I don't usually eat squid because I'm not a fan of the texture, but I could at least eat this. It does personally detract from the dish however. The ikura adds another layer of taste and texture, as does the sesame seeds on the rice. It's a nice mixtures of flavours that are light and not that "fishy."
I would prefer eating sushi or sashimi, but this is nice too.
All ingredients are very fresh and their special sauce, which is a mixture of soy sauce and yolk, perfectly matches the dish.
I prefer eating each ingredient separately or mixing only a few because then I can enjoy the ingredients' natural taste more clearly. But there's no rule how to eat kaisendon, so if you want to mix everything, you can do so.
Some people say that putting the sauce on kaisendon directly will ruin the taste, but I think it also depends on your preference.
I like putting the sauce directly on the ingredients, but I do it little by little so that rice does not absorb too much sauce.
You can request some soup for free with the items we ordered. The staff will pour soup into your bowl so that you can eat it with the other ingredients.
I only had a little taste of the soup, but it's really good! It has a creamy fish taste but the lime zest keeps it light and refreshing. If you come here, make sure you don't miss this!
The soup is really nice. It has a strong fish taste that comes from the big fish bone they boil with the soup in the pot.
They offer extra rice when you ask for the soup, so whether you enjoy it with other ingredients in the kaisendon, only with rice, or even just the soup by itself is up to you.
Oh, you can also ask for a spoon when you receive the soup. It will be easier to eat the rice and soup all together with a spoon.
Average Budget for 1 person: 1,500 - 5,000 JPY
- Service & Hospitality
The full kitchen is in the back, but the chef prepares the fish behind the counter. It isn't showy, but it is interesting to watch. The customer service is fine. There's only a few staff and I believe they all mainly work as chefs, so there isn't anyone who's focus is customer service.
As Yue mentioned above, their English is a bit rough, but they are earnestly trying to help, which is nice.
I don't think that there are any washrooms at this location. To enter the restaurant, you have to go down some stairs. There doesn't seem to be any other entrance.
You may have noticed that there's no interior pictures. That's because it felt inappropriate to take them. I wouldn't call it formal, but the restaurant has a "not casual" atmosphere. There is limited space and seating; there is only the counter with chairs on one side and the chef on the other. Against the wall, about a foot behind the chairs, is a space where you can place your bags.
The chairs and counter are both wooden. It has a very traditional, simple design. When we went, the restaurant had lighting at the counter but otherwise dim lighting. It's easy to see but still has a very calm, sophisticated feel. However, looking at pictures that other customers took of inside the restaurant (which are very few), it seems that there are times when it is more brightly lit. There's a slight seafood smell.
It's absolutely quiet. There is no music and the customers all spoke very softly. For me, the overall atmosphere of the restaurant felt a bit high class but also stiff because of the tight space. I didn't want to do something that disturbed others or would be out of place. This kind of atmosphere might be preferable for some, but I felt a bit unable to fully relax.
The food is tasty and obviously very fresh. Even though we only ordered one item each, I felt that we were able to eat many different flavours. It's a pretty round meal.
It was quite a nice experience coming here. It feels a bit luxurious but at a reasonable price. However, I would only recommend this restaurant if you like seafood. If you're not a fan of any of the ingredients or if you are just trying out Japanese seafood for the first time, you might want to go with a "easier" option.
- Would I come again?
Perhaps. I will probably visit again eventually (especially to try the recommended eating experience), but personally it's not a place I have to immediately come back to.