On my previous blog entry about my dining experiences on my most recent Japan vacation, I mentioned my having had dinner at Nagatacho Kurosawa -- the shabu shabu and soba specialist branch of the Restaurant Kurosawa Group established and operated by members of film-making great Akira Kurosawa's family -- and the experience having left my wallet a good bit lighter. Alternatively put: it was the most expensive meal I've ever had -- or at least paid for -- in Japan!
To be fair, I expected this to be so. Among other things, Nagatacho Kurosawa is located in Chiyoda-ku, the same Tokyo ward as the Imperial Palace, the Japanese Prime Minister's official residence, the National Diet Building, the Supreme Court and some fifteen embassies. In addition, the soba we would be eating there is premium handmade soba -- the kind that's got so much substance you feel obliged to eat it slowly and carefully strand by strand for fear of choking to death on it (and yes, a far cry indeed from the light and cheap machine-made soba that far more people are acquainted with!).
Housed in a custom-built three-storey wooden building modeled after a structure in Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo, the restaurant is the kind that I'd be loathe to enter on my own -- so I was very glad that I would be dining there that evening with a friend (the same one who took me to a baseball game a few evenings before). In her company, I felt more able to relax and soak in the atmosphere of the place as well as leisurely enjoy the delicious food and drink on offer. (We both went for the set meal which had a variety of tasty seasonal dishes build up to the piece de resistance that was the soba (and included a bowl of the soba dipping sauce mixed with hot water!) and had some junmai-shu sake to accompany the food).
A note about the lighting inside the restaurant: It was pleasantly soft and in line with the politely unobtrusive service. For photo-taking, however, I'd actually have prefer to use a flash but it was the kind of place where I would feel like a boor if I were to do so! Consequently, my Nagatacho Kurosawa food photos are on the dim side -- as can be seen by way of the example I've included in this Photo Hunt entry.
Alternatively, I did use a flash when taking the exterior photos but it really was dark that night! Looking at them though, I think the overall darkness adds some atmosphere to the photos -- so much so that I am glad that I went to Nagatacho Kurosawa for dinner rather than lunch and thus didn't see it in the harsh light of day! :)