Itosho, Minato

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TOKYO | Anyone who thinks that Michelin starred restaurants are all about glitz and pretension will have their preconceptions turned on their heads after a meal at Itosho. Itosho has been serving up Shōjin-Ryōri (Buddhist Temple Food) since 1960 and, for most of those years, owner/chef Hiroharu Ito has been running the show. Buddhist cuisine is vegetarian and is based on the concept of non-violence. The food that is served has to adhere to strict Buddhist guidelines.

Chef Ito is a very friendly and humble man who you treats his guests like visitors to his home. He speaks minimal English, but enough to let you know what you are eating. After taking your shoes off at the front you are ushered to a room that is very traditional with a low table and floor seating. The menu consists of vegetables from across Japan, and changes with the seasons. When we visited in Spring, we were treated to delicate dishes like matcha jelly mixed with yams, laver boiled down in soy sauce and raw wheat gluten topped with a tofu, sesame and walnut sauce.

One thing you’ll always be served is Itosho’s signature dish, shojin-age which is 6 deep-fried vegetables and tofu, with a coating of tiny “pebbles” made of mochi flour (almost like Rice Crispies/Bubbles). A little bit of salt is provided to dab each piece in, and it’s easy to see why dish is always on the menu, albeit with different vegetables depending on the season and availability. The texture and taste is unlike anything you’ve tried before.

Some of the other dishes when we visited included potato, and pickled wild plants covered in black sesame and placed on a rose leaf, and soba noodles topped with grated tororo yam and wasabi.

The whole experience is very special and unique, and one of our most rewarding dining experiences. To save some money, our advice is to go for the set lunch menu, which is cheaper and by all accounts no less satisfying and experience than the dinner menu.

Itosho

3-4-7 Azabujūban
Minato-ku
Tokyo 106-0045
Japan

Telephone: 03 3454 6538
E-mail: n/a
Website: n/a

Open
Mon – Sun: 12:00pm to 1:00pm; 5:30pm to 7:30pm

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