Who is Mitani and why does it take a year or two to get a reservation?
I am not sure but what I am sure is that he is skilled, he works hard and his cuisine is intricate and very balanced. The chef works diligently, he is swift when he moves in his small space behind his counter.
This is not a sushi restaurant exactly, it is more kappo, a counter styled Japanese seasonal restaurant. Kappo cuisine is “counter cuisine”, a chef cuts and cooks, he prepares multiple dishes of seasonal foods serving them to a select number of guests. The number of guests is not more than 9 at most because the counter gets too long to control for the chef.
The chef starts by serving a series of small dishes (pictured below), most are related to his principal focus, which is fish.Chef Mitani is very personable, although he doesn’t speak too much, in my case he wasn’t quite familiar with my knowledge of Japanese cuisine, so he would ask politely in Japanese, are you okay to eat this. The meal was a few hours, he served “omakse” chef’s choice and offered a choice between Champagne, red wine or Japanese sake. At first I found it odd that he was serving red wine and not white wine but it made good sense. The flavors of white would be too overwhelming for many dishes.
The chef has a very serious interest in wine and it is clear that he does a good job matching food and wine. I admit that I am skeptical about the combination of Japanese foods and French wines, although his matching worked. The wines he selected had excellent acidity and more aromas on the nose than in the glass.
The chef has the most particular finger work, he takes the liberty to pass you in-flight a piece of sushi. Suddenly he leans forward and hands you sushi, a little awkward at first, you have no other choice then to take it and eat it – a new sushi venture, a first in over 30 years.