I recently joined a good friend for Cantonese-style fine dining at Bunsaika, in Kashiwa City, and came away feeling that I had been introduced to a real gem. I’ve always loved the way Japanese chefs prepare Chinese haute cuisine, but it’s been years since I’ve enjoyed anything like Chef Nobu Watanabe’s luncheon course.
This is clearly a place that prides itself on offering an exemplary dining experience. With each dish presented our server offered an explanation of the ingredients, including where they were sourced. Bunsaika prides itself on its use of locally-grown produce, which figured prominently in the appetizer, assorted Cantonese-style vegetables, the Kinka ham soup with kinugasa mushrooms and Chinese carrots that followed, and most of the dishes in the course.
Bunsaika’s cuisine is always seasonal, and as we visited in late February, many of the dishes had significance for the Chinese New Year, as well. This was true of the delicious scallops and bok choy in amber sauce, and the Wakayama redleg shrimp drizzled in citrus mayo. (How delightful that such delicious preparations are also thought to bring good fortune!)
Being a lover of Japanese beef (especially when prepared in a way I’ve never experienced) I found the wagyu sautéed with minced vegetables in Singapore sauce excruciatingly good. Our meal finished up with Hong Kong-style steamed fish (again fresh caught) and a fragrant mango custard garnished with slices of locally-sourced fruit.
Given the wealth of savory flavors, it’s no surprise that we pondered a bit over what to drink. With delicately seasoned Cantonese cuisine the preferred grape is usually a Riesling, or other white variety, but the jury is out on this question. I would definitely ask the server’s advice, or better yet, ask her to get the Chef’s recommendation for the particular items he has prepared that day.
Lunch sets begin at ¥2160. Full courses, and party menus, range in price from ¥6480 – ¥10800 per person; call for information on the Special Spring Course and Chef Nobu’s Special Dinners. These are prepared only for groups, and require advanced reservations (three and ten days, respectively). Please call for reservations, and notify the Chef of special requirements in advance. Bunsaika is closed every Monday, and each second Tuesday of the month.
For those so inclined, Chef Nobu also offers cooking lessons once every few months at My Leaf Kashiwa. You can learn more about these lessons, and make a reservation, on the official website.