Ishiguro-san serving food at the counter
... I saw the name "Fuushi" width the same design when I was standing on the platform of Hamadayama station...
I got to know Ishiguro-san some 20 years ago. It was in the midst of "bubble economy" period when it was almost impossible to find a vacant taxi in a red-light zone even in early morning. "Second" somehow reflected that kind of bubble period atmosphere. It was a romantic French restaurant in an exotic European-style timber house, which had been built by a White Russian exile before the WWII. The most attractive part of Second's setting was the approach to the house. The house was built behind a line of houses facing a rather wide street, and we could reach it only by walking through a narrow path covered by trees with densely grown leaves. After passing through some 20 m green tunnel, we could find a dreamlike house. That was "Second".
Ishiguro-san was floor manager of the French restaurant and put everything of the house in order. "Second" was owned by the Play-Bach restaurant chain based in Ashiya, Kobe and decorated accordingly, i.e. it tried to appeal to the taste of young women and tended to be slightly kitsch from my sense. A good friend of mine, who owned an English language school in the vicinity, was an old friend of Ishiguro-san and took me to "Second", and I enjoyed there comfortable time for several years. Then, suddenly I heard that "Second" must be closed, as it could not come to an agreement with the owner of the house concerning rent conditions. Soon thereafter, this wonderful restaurant closed its door forever.
But, that was rather the beginning of my friendship with Ishiguro-san. After some preparation period, she opened her own restaurant in Roppongi-Nogizaka district. To my surprise, it was NOT a French restaurant but a Japanese style "koryori-ya" - a small restaurant serving simple but delicate dishes and selected "sake" and "shochu" as well as wine.
* "Shochu" is distilled alcoholic drink produced among others from barley, buckwheat, rice and sweet potato.
It is a very tiny restaurant. There are only five seats at the counter of the open kitchen and a table with four chairs. But, it is a comfortable and cozy restaurant, because Ishiguro-san does everything by herself. Food is prepared with utmost delicacy and elegance and her reserved hospitality makes guests feel at home. While Ishiguro-san was working in "Second" with elegant evening dress, I could not imagine that she cooks Japanese style dishes and wears "kimono" to serve guests. In reality she cooks delicious home-made style Japanese food and she is always proud of following the cooking tradition of her hometown Miyako, a fishery town in the north of Iwate prefecture.
"Fuushi" is a word used in a famous book written by Noh master Zeami, but I don't know its exact meaning. Anyhow, with its special font style, the sign of Fuhshi is very characteristic and unique. Therefore, I was very surprised and excited when I saw the name "Fuushi" with the same design when I was standing on the platform of Hamadayama station and waiting for a train. I rushed into the place, which was supposed to be "Fuushi". A young man was standing there and told me that he is the son of Ishiguro-san. It was a fantastic coincidence.
Yukke with tuna and avocado
Wrap with "nori" and throw into your mouth ... yummy
Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to visit the son's restaurant for the next two years, as I left Japan on the next day and lived in Denmark during those years. But, after my return to Japan, I frequent also this "Fuushi". The son cooks rather differently from his mother - I should say, more modern and experimental - but his food also tastes excellent. Mr. Ishiguro was working with her mother at her restaurant, but became independent and opened this "izakaya" around the turn of the century. While his mother runs the restaurant alone, he is assisted by two part time young girls to serve his guests. They are not so experienced as mother Ishiguro, but know already how to treat their guests and we can enjoy food and drink while watching surfing videos, surfboards and other surfing equipment hanging on the wall, as the young Ishiguro is an enthusiastic surfer.