Azabu Yukimura (3* Japanese home style food, counter dining, plus pike eel specialty) - was less enthused with this meal. It was a little expensive for the materials used, and nothing was particularly superlative. I had this meal the day before Sushi Yoshitake. Yukimura does a subtle amount more entertaining/hosting than is usual for Japanese chefs at this level, but the experience is standard fare. Pike eel preparation requires a license in Japan, like fugu, presumably because of all of the tiny pin bones. Part of the experience is in watching Yukimura's knife skills, and the nearly two foot long knife itself (which is his own model, made by Aritsugu)
Many of the flavors would be pleasant to westerners, however as with many Japanese foods, and especially during the summer - there are snottier textures which westerners would find unpleasant. Mountain yam and junsai among them.
Lobster/crab jelly over uni, with rather large/crunchy flying fish roe, was served in a hollowed out sea urchin
very average soba was covered in a generous amount of grated karasumi
grilled ayu, which are in season
roasted corn kakiage tempura was served with a number of dressed vegetable sides, alongside the grilled ayu. Vinegared cucumber with bits of grilled unagi and jellyfish, plus some vegetables in tofu and sesame based dressings. The corn tempura is popular everywhere throughout August (I ate something like 5 versions last weekend) but this was the only one that involved caramelization before frying. Quite good.
Suimono clear soup with the first of the pike eel preparations. The pike eel was prepared a la minut and the soup finished counter-side. Strong of ginger, but not much else. I normally love suimono soups but this one was not an amazing one.
thick slabs of abalone were served in a vinegared sea vegatable and junsai bed, the texture of the sea vegetables slimy. The abalone with a raw crunch to it. This was unremarkable except for the size of the abalone itself, which was slightly large.
white squid strips were served on a bed of grated mountain yam. The rubbery snap of squid with the slightly grainy aftertaste and mouthfeel along with the mucus-like texture of mountain yam would not make this much of a favorite for foreign diners.
Grilled pike eel was served with Sansho leaves (sichuan pepper) and the leaves themselves give off the same flavor as the peppercorn. The attraction to pike eel is the texture (which includes the bones, though they are prepared in such a way that each bone is cut so that they can be chewed and swallowed.) The fish itself is slightly dry and the appeal of this dish would be lost on westerners. From September, Yukimura says the pike eel will be rolled around Maitake mushrooms and grilled roulade style, as his protege Okamoto also does at his own restaurant now.
Ayu was served a second time, this time fried on a bed of thickened sweet and sour sauce, with grilled long green peppers that are much like the Spanish ones. I thought this was also an unremarkable dish.
Excellent quality wagyu beef was made sukiyaki-style at the counter, scorched in the sauce. Served over cold marinated eggplant, with a garnish of lilybud. Good flavors, although the meat seemed to be deliberately overcooked and was mostly crust.