Thanks to Yoshi whom we met with his girlfriend Erika at the Daitoryo izakaya near Okachimachi, we went to the most minimalist restaurant of Tokyo you can think of, and this was a wonderful experience. This is a very different world from the popular down-to-earth tachinomya and other casual izakaya. This type of almost-secret restaurant is everything-Tokyo too, a city where gastronomy reigns unchallenged under all forms.
The owner of the venue is also the cook there, and he has been scouring the world through his travels, taking recipes and sourcing rare artisanal products in the way. His restaurant is the ultimate result of this search for perfection.
Sake is on the front seat at Cotyuu, with artisan-type of sake often made with the no-additives kimoto sakemaking process. At Cotyuu, you find the different cuvées of 5 distinct sake breweries which have been selected by the Maître des lieux, and given the way he sources his ingredients in the kitchen, I'm pretty confident about any sake you can find here.
To find the restaurant, you must know the exact address, there is no way to guess it when you pass the modern building along this boulevard in central Tokyo. Once in the place, you find yourself at one end of a long room with a wall on the right and a long table on the left, the kitchen being behind the sliding door on the side.
As the restaurant owners prefer the word of mouth to find their customers, I'll not display the address, but if you look hard, you should find it.
Cotyuu opened a few months ago, in october 2011, and it has since a steady flow of visitors attracted by the refineness of the dishes and the sake selection. When we arrived there, there were already a couple near whom we sat, then a New-Zealand expat who looked like a regular came in, then a 60-something Japanese who seemed to be a business man originally from Osaka and who had the typical warmth and communicative enjoyment of the people of Osaka. We chatted joyously together__I mean B. chatted, that's the trouble when you don't understand anything, you're left mostly in the dark, except for a few translated excerpts, so I just took comfort in the general feel that I sensed through the exchange...
Here are a few of the delicate sake we had (written down by B., I'm not sure the names are complete, this doesn't speak much to me) :
__ Hioki zakura tokubetsu junmai (polished 55 %), from the region of Tottori.
__ Take tsuru junmai, from Hiroshima.
__ Tenten Musume, from Tottori region too.
__ Sui Gyu, from the region of Nara.
Before that, we had crushed burdock of sesame seed paste (500 Y) and also specially marinated salsifies. We had some smoked macquerel (800 Y), the fish was very lightly smoked and had a very enjoyable texture, with a feel closer to a very tender dry meat than to what you would expect for smoked fish. After that, some sort of thin green pancakes cut into small squares (I don't remember which dish it was). We had also a small bowl of fermented oysters swimming in their own sauce, that the cook sourced from a restaurant in Hong Kong where it's made the very traditional way, which requires care and time as they macerate slowly in salt. We're said that all the oyster sauce found in the shops is a standardized product with lots of bad stuff and additives added. The taste here is indeed very concentrated and intense, it feels like urchins meat, it's very onctuous. I'm not an expert in oyster sauce but that's good. Then we had an Omelette du Mont Saint-Michel (1000 Y), which had a bigger size so that we could fill up in addition to relish the refined foods.
There were some 20 dishes to choose from, all very refined and made with top ingredients, most costing between 450 Y and 700 Y and a few at 1000 or 1200 Y. Expect to pay about 10 000 Y (about 100 €) for two, including several jugs of sake.
Thank you to Sanemura-san and Rie for having opened a new window to us on sake and fine food.
Cotyuu : the blog. If you read Japanese, you'll learn more about the sake Shuzo in Tottori as well as about the fermented oysters made in a small village of continental China.
Cotyuu : on Twitter. Note the pic icon of Sanemura-san, a 1954 picture by Cartier-Bresson showing a young boy rue Mouffetard carrying home two bottles of wine...(see a larger version of this picture)
A tasting of Daishichi sake by Thimothy Sullivan
Article on how the Daishichi brewery (which is located 60 km from the failed N plant), is coping with the situation