Bohemian Nishiazabu

Bohemian restaurants are the perfect hide away spots, offering super relaxing atmosphere and very high quality food.  They keep their address a secret, you have to be referred by who has been there, or be invited from the restaurant in order to make a reservation. Why?  They want this place to be a quiet, peaceful “hang-out” place for family and friends, and therefore, by only allowing family or friends of the customers who have been there, they can make that possible. (So, don’t ask me to refer you to this restaurant if I don’t personally know you!) I really, truly appreciate that, it is such a different concept, and creates this warm, cozy feeling even if you don’t know the other customers in the restaurants. I have been to their NYC location, and it was such an superb, amazing experience. I can’t wait to go back there sometime soon. Now, this Tokyo location is their first Bohemian restaurant, and you can really see their vision of what they wanted to create in here. Their belief of “Bohemian” is someone who continues to create something new during his/her travels.  When you get there, you have to press the buzzer and they will ask your reservation information. When it is verified, and only then, you are allowed to enter… then go up stairs to where all the food magic happens.

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We went there to enjoy the best of the best that Japan can offer, as they gather ingredients from all over Japan, looking for the highest quality ingredients possible at that particular months/season. We let the chef do what he does best, deliver delicious dishes of his selection. We also asked him to recommend drinks to go with the dishes, he was very knowledgeable, friendly, kind, and polite. With his personality and the way he treats you, it somehow felt like he was an old friend, who happens to be an amazing chef.

We started with sake and appetizers. He recommended the sake called Thirteen (it has 13% alcohol) from Kanagawa. The cute illustration is of Dragonfly nymph, and it is said that they shed their old skin 13 times before turning into a dragonfly. The sake has smooth transition from mild, almost a bit sweet taste to a bold, sharp flavor. It is the perfect Summer sake for food with distinctive flavors.

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The appetizers were Mozuku, Raw Asparagus, and Red Sea Urchin with Yuba. Mozuku is a type of seaweed, and it has unique texture, and you eat them as if you are eating cold noodle. When it is super fresh and high quality, there is no “ocean” smell or taste, it is just refreshing and feels like they are cleansing you from the inside. The asparagus was big and had nice firmness to it without being too hard to bite it off. I heard it can only be eaten raw during specific months in the Summer. It had its natural sweetness to it, and with a sprinkle of sea salt (even the sea salt was super high quality), it emphasized the fresh, natural flavor of asparagus. Red Sea Urchin is also known as “Queen of Urchin” and it is only available during a very short time frame each year. It is firmer than regular urchin, and the flavor is sweeter and more rich as well. Yuba is a tofu skin, and compare to tofu, the flavor is a bit sweet and nutty, and has distinctive texture. It is a bit chewy but soft and tender. It is an elegant form of tofu, but you wouldn’t know it is tofu (skin) unless you were told. All the appetizers were amazingly fresh, tasty, and a GREAT way to start the dinner.

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While we were enjoying our appetizers and sake, the chef was preparing the charcoal in front of us to cook the rest of the meal on/around the fire. He started with grilling the Sweetfish, as it takes the longest.

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Then he brought fresh veggies and small pieces of marinated fish to grill. And while we wait for them to be cooked, we got fresh sashimi, and 2 different sake. The first one is from Hiroshima, and called “Aki no Fuuga” and is a very unique sake. This one has a very refined scent and flavor, almost like French wine, with polished sweetness, smooth texture, leaving with neat and clean aftertaste. The sweetness is almost fruity, even though it is rice wine, but without losing that sharp, distinctive taste.  Even for people who are not used to drinking sake, this one will just melt into your body.  The second one was from Ishikawa, and called “Tengumai” and is a very dry, Summer sake. It is pure rice wine, without added alcohol or sugar. It is powerful, very dry, clean and distinctive, and the indigo blue bottle was really pretty also. I loved that the sake was served in the traditional way with Masu (wooden box). The sake is over-poured into the galss, and sake glass is sitting in the shiny pool of sake in masu. Be careful not to spill!

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The sashimi consisted of Botan Shrimp, Otoro, type of Shima aji, Yellowtail, and Medai. The Botan Shrimp was large, plump, sweet, super fresh, and I believe it was shipped from Hokkaido. They have the best Botan Shrimp in Japan. I thought I would never say this about a shrimp, but it was so great, the texture, flavor, everything, that it almost melted in my mouth, it was awesome! Otoro (fatty tuna) is also known as Supreme tuna, and is the most desired part of the tuna belly, the best part of the tuna. It has the highest in fat content, and can melt in your mouth. Shima aji (Yellow Jack) is a family of Horse Mackerel, but at its finest of them all.  It is a white fish, very tasty, not your ordinary sashimi. Yellow Tail and Medai were also both super fresh, tasty, satisfying with each bite. All the sashimi pieces were really delicious and wonderful, I was in sashimi heaven.

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But this is still just the beginning. The chef has been grilling all the veggies and fish pieces, it was starting to smell really great in the restaurant…

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The corn was from Miyazaki, and it can be eaten raw, but it brings out its natural sweetness when grilled. And it certainly did, it was plump, sweet, the best corn I’ve ever had. The The fish pieces were Kamasu, which is a meat eating fish like Piranha, and Sea Eel. They were both marinated before grilled, and it was juicy, tasty, it had soaked up all the marinate, and packed with flavor. Manganji Pepper looks like chili pepper, but it is one of the traditional specialty vegetables of Kyoto. They are mild flavor, not hot. When grilled like this slowly with enough time, it becomes a bit sweet, and also a nice palate cleanser between grilled fish and veggies.

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Then we moved onto Shiitake Mushroom and Saury. The Shiitake was prepared in the most amazing way – filled with Ikura (salmon roe). I thought I was in food heaven before, this really elevated the entire food experience so far up in the clouds! It was THE best thing ever… and if you love Ikura as mush as I do, you will love it too. The Saury was excellent as well, it was dried in volcano ashes, which is the best way to dry saury without letting it tough the air (or oxygen), and thus it gets dried while keeping all the flavor and and freshness in the inside. Once it is cooked, all the goodness comes out, and you can smell it before you taste the awesomeness.

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While we were in food heaven, we can’t forget the Sweetfish was getting grilled from the very beginning. It was almost ready to be eaten, just a little finish tough on the grill. We waited with fresh, cold mineral water. They really pay attention to everything, on top of the food and drinks, with each plate and glassware they use. Everything is really beautiful, in an art form, really.  The Sweetfish was finally ready, and it was grilled slowly for so long, while keeping its juiciness and flavor all inside. It was so soft, moist, and it can be eaten from head to tail. Seriously. It was that tasty and amazing.

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We got the last pairing of sake with the last few items of this amazing dinner. This one was from Hiroshima also, called “Hitodama Yama” and had refreshing, kind of citrus scent to it, and it spread inside the mouth as soon as you take a sip. This one was limited Mountain edition during the Summer, and it had that sharpness that most Summer sake has, clean finish, perfect sake to end the dinner.

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With that, we had grilled tomato and Seki Mackerel. The tomato was grilled to the point it was becoming like a tomato soup in the inside, but the best kind, ever. The skin held on to the juice and flavor, and when you cut into it, the juice flowed out, with the natural sweet flavor of the tomato.  The Seki Mackerel is the finest quality of all Mackerel, and it was marinated in Mirin, and it was amazing! The fish was great on its own, but with that sweetness of Mirin marinate, it was super delicious!

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The traditional way to end the dinner is having a rice dish or noodle/soup. Here, the chef brought out freshly cooked rice from Yamagata, and fresh eggs from Fukuoka. The rice was cooked with little bit of sake, which makes the rice more tender and flavorful. The eggs are from free range chicken, living freely under the Sun and plenty of fresh air.

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When you combine the highest quality rice and egg, it becomes one of the traditional Japanese comfort food: Rice with Raw Egg. So simple, yet so addicting and delicious. You can only do this with fresh egg, but this one, the color of egg yolk was so bright, almost orange color, and you can tell it is the best, freshest egg, and nothing like the kinds you can buy at any grocery store. He also served us hot bowl of miso soup with lots of clams, super delicious, but yet light, helps digest all the rich, high quality, amazing food you just comsumed. Great way to end the dinner.

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They offer only the best of the best of everything, that includes not only food and drinks, but service, atmosphere, the way they restrict customers… one of THE best places to have an amazing food in the world.  They also have a bar downstairs, and if you wanted to hang out a bit longer over a glass of cocktail or whatever you like, you can do so at the bar (also, that is where the bathroom is). If “Create, Play, Travel, and always keep Love inside your pocket” sounds like you, and you want to enjoy an amazing food while relaxing with your loved ones, you must find your way to Bohemian!

 

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