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Japanese Cuisine: Hi no Ki


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Last week Monday started inauspicuously with the morning rain forcing me to embark on one of those smelly airtight buses. To compound my (relative) misery a matrimonial spat resulted in no bentobox being prepared for my lunch.
Oh, well… I’ve always been an incorrigible (irresponsible) optimist and proceeded to work as if nothing untoward had occured.
At noon the skies, which must have appreciated my positive attitude suddenly cleared up and encouraged me to get out of the office quickly and venture downtown in search of a new place to visit.
Enjoying a notable lunch in Shizuoka City is not such an easy task as most restaurants limit themselves to “lunch sets” while izakayas simply stay closed so early in the day.
Wandering in the vicinity of Isetan Department Store my sore feet (cricket umpiring duty the day before) finally carried me to an establishment I had always been curious about: Hi No Ki.
Well, the time could not have been more propitious to try out this venerable (founded in November 1986) “Kaiseki/Kappo Ryori” restaurant (traditional Japanese Cuisine)!

The irony was that “kaiseki” lunch is arguably another form of “set lunch”!
At noon they offer three repasts while dinner comes in six different offerings.
Japanese customers do feel more comfortable with a well-orchestrated dinner, but the chef will readily take “ippin/one item” orders or think up of a tailor-made menu according to a pre-arranged budget.
Actually “joren/regulars'” preferences seem to be more the order of the day as I noticed many middle-aged guests being served a dish of sashimi, a bowl of rice with miso soup and pickles at the counter without even as much as ordering.

Customers may choose to sit at the counter and watch the chef Kuniaki Kaneiwa, a passionate craftsman who is more than willing to talk about his trade, a quality that lone diners do appreciate to the full.
All dishes will be described and explained in great detail by simply asking politely.
Otherwise, if you prefer to converse with your friends or guests, you may choose a table by the bay window or a private tatami room for more privacy.

The accent is more on quality than quantity with consequent prices.
Sashimi is just perfect and cut the right size for quick tasting.

Fish, when cooked (marlin above), offers another intriguing taste to customers.
The judicious choice of “tare/sauce” and soft Japanese spices alone is an invitation to savour the morrsel.

The small assortment of varied “oden” introduces this typical Japanese culinary experience at its best without encumbering your stomac’s capacity. A great French Chef like Dominique Corby will surely agree with me!

The tempura is a marvel of delicious simplicity and lightness that is best appreciated with one of three Shizuoka Jizake served at Hi No Ki: Shosetsu (Yui Cho), Masu-Ichi (Shizuoka City) and Kaiun (Kakegawa City).

I’m planning to visit the place again soon to see if I could order a vegetarian dinner!

HI NO KI
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Ryogae-Cho, 1-5-2, Grande Maison Ryogae Cho
Tel.: 054-252-2935
Business hours: 11:30~14:00, 17:30~22:00
Closed on Sundays (open on National Holidays)
Cards OK for dinner only

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