What do Chanel, perfume, and wine have in common? The answer is Château de Crémat, a castle built in the early 1900s with roots dating back to the Romans. It’s also one of the most prestigious Bellet vineyards in Nice. Surprisingly, the art of creating wine is akin to making perfume. Both require knowledge of chemistry, relentless experimentation, and refined senses. After all, making it isn’t difficult, however making a quality wine is.
Hashimoto is a discovery I made during my recent trip to Japan. Located in the Bunkyo district of Tokyo, I would have never guessed this is a famous unagi restaurant with over 200 years of history without prior research. Bunkyo is a stark difference to areas like Shibuya or Shinjuku. Largely dominated by local residents, this is definitely not a touristy neighbourhood.
Just as we were welcomed in, a waft of intense smoke greeted us as the grilling room is located near the entrance. The interior was tiny, quite typical of Tokyo restaurants. Without a reservation, the best option would be to come before peak hours (hint: just before opening time).
The menu is simple and concise. Hashimoto is really well known for their Unaju, filets of grilled eel with rice served in a lacquered red box. The waiter also heaped praises on the kimoyaki (grilled eel liver), kimosui (eel liver soup), and tamagoyaki (egg omelette).
Many people, including myself are originally surprised to hear that a tempura restaurant can be awarded two Michelin stars. After all, it’s not the typical image associated with fine dining. However, it’s a fallacy that Michelin stars are elusive to fine dining. It’s simply awarded to extraordinary cuisine, haute cuisine or ramen. Regardless, the tempura at Kondo is quite unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
The atmosphere was simple and clean, despite the copious amounts of frying occurring. This is my first time at a tempura bar, where all the cooking happens right in front of you. The chef fries one piece at a time, ensuring optimal freshness. After the sous chef preps the ingredient, the head chef dunks it into the tempura batter and gently submerge it into a mixture of three types of sesame oil.
I liked that they gave you options for toppings/sauces to experiment with. The tensuyu and grated daikon added savouriness which complements vegetables, while the simple sea salt and lemon cut through the richness of seafood. We ordered the “Kaede”, which included two appetizers, eleven tempura pieces, kakiage plus rice set, and dessert.