Minoya is located in the shopping district that still keeps a friendly atmosphere of a traditional downtown. The restaurant is a 10-minute walk away from the Okachimachi station, and will be marking its 11th year since opening. Owner-Chef Junji Kawahara runs the traditional Japanese restaurant on his own. The small restaurant has only seven seats at the counter and a table, and serves only two types of Japanese cuisine courses. One of the courses is the Minoya course (6,000 Yen), that uses mostly vegetables except for one dish, and the another course is the vegetarian course (6,000 Yen) which uses no ingredients and seasonings from animal origin.
The course follows the basic order of kaiseki cuisine by starting with an appetizer, and then followed with a soup dish, fish and vegetable dish, fried dish, steamed dish, simmered dish, main dish and dessert. Originally, the restaurant started with only the kaiseki course that is prepared with mainly vegetables, but later challenged to create the vegetarian course due to receiving many requests from their guests. The two courses are almost the same except for the fish and vegetable dish.
The vegetarian course features the Arima-sansho-yaki (grilled Arima sansho peppers) with abura-age (deep fried tofu) and mushrooms instead of the fish and vegetable dish.
The soft steamed turnip covered with toromian (thick starchy sauce) and dashi-shoyu (soup stock and soy sauce) is served for the steamed dish.
The Minoya course’s dashi (soup stock) uses makonbu (Japanese kelps) from Hokkaido and animal-based ingredients such as katsuobushi (dried bonito) from Kagoshima Prefecture’s Makurazaki and niboshi (small dried sardines) from Kagawa’s Ibuki Island. The vegetarian course uses only makonbu and vegetables for its dashi. It took Kawahara six months to develop the vegetarian course’s dashi which can stand in comparison to the dashi used in the Minoya course. “I myself am not a vegetarian, but having a vegetable-based diet makes the body feel lighter, and I wish more people can experience this”, says Kawahara. Many of his repeat customers are non-vegetarian gourmets.
For more than 10 years, Kawahara has continuously created new dishes. Once the created dishes are presented, they will not be served again. “The taste, aroma and texture of the vegetables are diverse. By keeping a well-balanced combination of these ingredients, the possibilities of the culinary expands without limit. Thinking about the menu is my joy”, says Kawahara.
The lightly-flavored turnip is scooped and placed together with the prepared abura-age, green peppers and shiitake mushrooms for this day’s steamed dish. The cheese is made from soy milk and is poured over the turnip to give rich depth and the toromian with dashi-shoyu is also poured over the turnip as well. The preparation of the dish is labor-intensive, but the softly steamed turnip covered with various flavors and textures is delicious.
Owner-Chef Junji Kawahara trained his Japanese culinary skills at the Yanaka Uozen.
The restaurant marks its 11th year since opening its door at the shopping district in Taito-ward’s Torigoe.
Despite its location, Minoya is continuously loved by many people. The restaurant is expected to be even more popular due to the increasing needs for natural and healthy food.
1-5-5 Torigoe, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Lunch: 11:30-13:30 (Last Order 13:00)
Dinner: 17:30-22:30 (Last Order 21:00)
*Restaurant is open for lunch on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays
*Restaurant is closed on Sundays, public holidays, and the last two days of each month
Lunch: 1,000 Yen (Tax Included)
Dinner: 7,000 Yen~ (Tax Included)
Text by Yuka Kumano
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