MikakuNishi-Azabu 1-15-3, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106
TEL. 3405-4728

Quince and Mitchan ...
Owner of Mikaku.
Mikaku has all the merits which I want to find for a bar-cum-titbits restaurant around the corner.

It is a tiny restaurant with only 8 seats at the counter. The construction and interior is old and kept traditional. Simple but beautiful flowers of the season are stuck in a vase on the counter.

It is run by the owner ... Mitchan ...and his wife. They stick to the purity of food ... any chemical is rejected. They buy all the stuffs by themselves at Tsukiji (the biggest food wholesale market in Tokyo) and bring some fresh vegetables from the farmland of her parents in Yama-nashi prefecture. Both have good knowledge about things Japanese and their food.

For them keeping this restaurant is just a hobby. They have their daytime job as Japanese tea wholesaler in Nihonbashi, the traditional downtown area. But, Mitchan had a dream to entertain guests across counter, and eleven years ago they decided to open a small restaurant in Nishi-Azabu.

Their main delicacy is "oden". In autumn and winter, when the temperature goes down, Japanese cannot deny their temptation to go through the gate with "noren" (curtain at the entrance) and sit at a counter and eat "oden" with hot "sake" (rice-wine).

Before coming to this main food, patrons can taste other dishes. As I referred to before they offer only fresh and non-polluted food, therefore these small dishes are also very enjoyable. Today, I had special fresh oysters with chilly paste, raw fish including good sea urchin and special small dried codfish, both from Hokkaido, fresh soy-bean curd from Minobu region and Konnyaku made in the farmland of the wife's parents.

After eating several small dishes with nearly one pint of sake, I ordered as usual several pieces from the square oden pot. From this big pot you can choose whichever you like. My favorites are such as Kinchaku (rice cake in a bag made from deep-fried thin soybean curd), Tsumire (sardine paste ball with different spices), Suji (fish cake using fish meat and bones), Shirataki (green bean noodles knot in good shape) or radish.
Mitchan picks up a few and put them on a plate with some sauce. Green mustard and a slice of Japanese lemon are assorted.

Mitchan always uses fresh soup for cooking oden, which makes the taste extremely fine and light.
Main part of oden is fish-cake in hot soup. However, many other stuffs are added such as potato, boiled egg, rolled seaweed, radish and so on. In Mikaku you can find some 30 different staffs in the pot.

Mitchan and wife.
Mitchan and his wife (BTW, her nickname is also "Mitchan" ! ) are good friends of mine for many years. If you are in Japan, you should find a small and good restaurant like this so as to fully enjoy your stay in Japan. "Small" means that the personal communication with the owners is possible. Only when you have good communication with the people within the counter, you can really enjoy food. In some cases communication is the main part of the feast and the food is just an accompaniment.

The possible problem for foreigners would be that the newcomers must be introduced by somebody who is already a patron of that restaurant. The people who are not known to the owner might not be allowed to enter. But, if you tell Mitchan that you have seen this article, you are certainly welcome (^^). You should, however, speak Japanese, as Mitchan can NOT speak any foreign language (^^;;;).

Now gaudy shops are newly built on both sides of Mikaku. But, Mikaku remains at it was. (Dec. 16, 1997)