A visit to this reborn home of Japanese cuisine is a must! Deliciously filling the giant footprint left by Kasumicho Suetomi, the cuisine at Kasumicho Yamagami is superb already, so the future promises much excitement. The character of this eatery can be felt from the moment you spot the beautiful counter, which continues to seat seasoned Suetomi connoisseurs and is eager to show its new charm to many more.
The curtain has opened on a new era at the space in Nishi-Azabu formerly occupied by kappo counter cuisine favorite Kasumicho Suetomi. Long the sous chef to Yasuo Suetomi, Tomoaki Yamagami now stands center counter wielding his culinary skills and hospitable charm for gourmands from near and far.
The closure at the end of March 2018 of Kasumicho Suetomi no doubt left many fans disappointed. But as of May 8, the restaurant has a new owner and the new name of Kasumicho Yamagami, and many will be pleased to know that apart from Chef Suetomi himself, not a single face has changed. In fact, nothing inside has changed either, but the engraved sign outside signals your arrival at Yamagami. The magnificent sign is the work of Masatake Fukumori, a potter whose hobby is cooking. It fills guests with expectation for the great things to come at this new establishment.
Found on the third floor of a laneway building just off the busy Gaien-Nishi Dori, the restaurant is almost impossible to find despite its proximity to the major Nishi-Azabu intersection. A sweep of your hand across the L-shaped cypress counter – the centerpiece of this austere, refined space — will take your breath away and open your eyes to the important presence, and joy for the guest, of the counter in restaurants of Japanese cuisine. The smooth, gentle touch of the timber makes it hard to believe it was made thirty years ago; daily care by the staff makes the whole restaurant feel brand-new.
Eat Seasons of Japan
Not a menu in sight, your meal is entirely in the hands of Chef Yamagami who showcases the appeal of Japanese cuisine in his ‘omakase’ course. Ten dishes served in varied tempo convey the shifting of the seasons, and with ingredients changing each month, you will find it hard to resist regular visits to taste what the next season has in store for you.
Yamagami’s wanmono lidded bowl dish is a work of art with visual appeal matched by incredible aromas and flavors. Kegani hairy crab, an early summer delicacy, fills you with sumptuous flavor in the form of a dumpling, plumply taking its place in a dashi broth of carefully harvested Rishiri kombu from Hokkaido and freshly shaved bonito flakes. It has that deeply comforting flavor that prompts you to take deeper breaths, lean back and relax. It is simply garnished with wisps of leek and green yuzu, served in a stunning lacquerware bowl decorated inside with the seasonal flower irises.
The knifework on the very bony hamo pike conger eel is exquisite. The flesh has been blanched and served inside a dish fashioned from lotus leaves, topped with a mild vinegar gelée and picked plum purée. The chargrilled nodoguro black-throated sea perch may look simple, but such plump, succulent flesh is not possible without a highly skilled hand. Kamonasu eggplant has been deep-fried and simmered in rich, flavorful dashi, accented by young sansho shoots. And in a menu only available from June to the start of autumn, unagi eel is dipped in a refreshing sauce before being grilled over charcoals and finished with just a sprinkling of spicy sansho.
The course also pays homage to Chef Suetomi by including his signature dish of grilled suppon soft-shell turtle marinated in soy sauce, sake and a secret dashi recipe. One taste of this dish and you will never forget its rich flavors. But you also find yourself pining for the new dishes introduced by Yamagami, like his handmade soba. Over time no doubt, more of his color will decorate the dishes at this wonderful eatery.
The star of Yamagami’s signature dish, suppon soft-shell turtle, comes from Hattori Nakamura Turtle Farm, a producer in Hamanako, Shizuoka Prefecture since 1879. In summer, the turtles are smaller with more tender flesh; as autumn approaches and turns into winter, they fill out with deliciously fatty and deeply flavored flesh. Available all year, regular visits to Yamagami for this dish allow you to experience the shifting of the seasons with all five senses.
The chef prefers Awaji pike conger eel and unagi eel from Shinjiko Lake in Shimane Prefecture. His elegant alcohol selection is chosen because it pairs beautifully with his cuisine without overwhelming it. The selection is compact with just five varieties of sake, one Japanese white wine and three French white wines, but you’re bound to find the ideal match for your meal every time.
The privilege to continue the incredibly strong connections with producers forged by Chef Suetomi over many years is priceless for Chef Yamagami. He knows that his cuisine would not be possible without the superior ingredients sent direct from the source each day. Ayu sweetfish from Kyoto’s Miyama, suppon soft-shell turtle from Hamanako in Shizuoka Prefecture, and from Shinjiko in the southern Shimane Prefecture comes eel – considered one of the seven delicacies of this pristine lake. Every item of seafood comes straight out of the waters to Yamagami.
The vegetables are primarily Kyoto-grown and known by the brand “Kyo-yasai”, a name which evokes nostalgia among Japanese, as these heirloom varieties with deep history are full of flavor and have crisp, fresh textures. Included are juicy Kamonasu eggplants from a farmer in Kamigamo to the north of Kyoto and Asakaze cucumbers – the perfect fit for Japanese cuisine.
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥4,000
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥4,000