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Nukumi

, Sapporo, Japan

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Nukumi is a tiny kaiseki (for more on kaiseki - see this) restaurant on the third floor of a nondescript office building in Sapporo. It had just six seats at a wooden counter, the two chefs preparing dishes in front of the diners. Its head chef was Masaki Yamamoto, and the restaurant opened in 2006.

The meal began with steamed abalone with ginger sauce and broccoli, the latter having excellent taste. The abalone was good, but still had a bit of chewiness that the very best abalone, such as that prepared at Ryugin, does not (15/20). A pretty little set of dishes then appeared on a tray. A local Hokkaido prawn was served cold, cooked to a fairly tender state, accompanied by seaweed, beans with sesame sauce, soy bean, broad beans, salmon roe, tofu and sea cucumber (14/20).

Hamo (pike eel) was served in a light broth and to be honest was fairly tasteless. This bony and rather bland-tasting eel is a delicacy in the summer in Japan, though I have never really seen its appeal. I have had better versions in Tokyo than this, though (13/20). Much better was sashimi of flounder and bonito. The flounder had very good flavour, and the deep red meat of the bonito was excellent, served with grated fresh wasabi root (16/20).

Delicate, thin noodles were served cold and topped with steamed egg custard and good quality sea urchin (16/20). This was followed by a little bowl of squid intestines with miso, which was a little salty but tasted a lot better than it sounds (14/20). Next were a series of grilled elements: eel, sea bream, potato, corn and ginko nut. The eel was very good, the corn had a nice sweetness, and the cooking was precise (15/20). This was followed by a series of ingredients that had been steamed but were served cold: pumpkin, lotus root, octopus with mustard and a local vegetable with no English name but was a little like a melon. The octopus was tender, and the mustard worked well with it, the vegetables pleasant (15/20).

At this point a bowl of rice was served, which signified the end of the savoury courses of a kaiseki meal. The rice here was cooked with a leafy, cabbage like vegetable with no English name, and was very pleasant. Dessert comprised figs and grapes in wine jelly. These were very good, the quality of the figs and the grapes very high indeed (16/20).

The bill came to ¥10,900 (£90), including plenty of the local Sapporo beer. Service from the solitary waitress was excellent; she spoke reasonable English and was very helpful in explaining the dishes. Overall this was a pleasant kaiseki meal, though for me it was not up there with the top places in Kyoto.

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