Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Nodaiwa is a Michelin-starred restaurant that specializes in exactly one item: unagi. Nodaiwa has been around for over 160 years and is currently run by the fifth generation of the same family that founded the restaurant. Unlike most other unagi restaurants, Nodaiwa uses unagi caught from the wild (instead of farmed unagi). The unagi is tender, fall-apart-in-your-mouth flaky, but comes at a high price: the very cheapest meal offered by Nodaiwa is a lunch set for 2250 yen, plus a 10% service charge. This includes unadon (a bowl of rice topped with seasoned unagi), soup made from unagi liver, tsukemono (Japanese pickles), grated daikon in dashi broth to cleanse your palate, and tea.

While my meal was good, I was left thinking: "hmm, that was kind of expensive for lunch" and "wow, a Michelin star for this? really??" I think there's something slightly faulty with the Michelin rating system when it hands out exactly the same number of stars for a one-dimensional restaurant that basically makes only one dish (because while Nodaiwa's unagi is good, it wasn't mind blowingly better than other unagi I've had) as it does to restaurants such as Tapas Molecular Bar (one of my favorite restaurant on the planet, truly innovative and creative molecular gastronomy).

Food rating: ***
Bang for buck rating: 2.5 (I can think of better ways to fill my belly with 2500 yen)

The essentials:
No website for Japan (but one available for their restaurant in France)
Location: Higashi Azabu,on Sakurada-dori
Average price of lunch for two: 6000 yen (~$65)

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