なだ万 Nadaman at the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo
I recently had the chance to dine at the Nadaman location within the Imperial Hotel. It is not the 2 Michelin Star location (that is the the Hotel New Otani), but still, it was quite a different experience compared to what I normally eat in Japan.
Like my hosts, I had a Tempura Kaiseki (天婦羅懐石) Set. According to the menu, that is 16,800円, not including drinks and other items one might order in addition.
Unlike the friendly-but-inflexible service that is common in Japan, the dietary needs of both myself and my hosts were accounted for. I normally do not eat ebi/shrimp/prawns, but when one is treated in Japan, even in a restaurant, everybody often orders the same item. This is what my hosts like to eat at this restaurant.
After each course, we were asked questions about our preferences for the following course. When food was delivered to the table, the waitresses (all wearing kimonos) tried to serve the food as unobtrusively as possible. They also said something as they placed the plates on the table, though that was too faint for me to hear and memorise for future use/knowledge.
The sashimi and fish served were all extremely tender, not hard or chewy whatsoever.
The tempura was not oily as it is in places where one spends 800円 for an entire meal. It was light, and was just crisp enough to not get the impression the vegetables and ebi were not limp. Note the lack of oil stains on the paper under the tempura.
Following that was a plate of ebi/shrimp. There were three different basic options – did you want it with rice dry, with a soup base, or with a green tea base (I selected that one). You could choose how much rice you wanted as well. For ebi, the flavour was pretty good, but I am probably not the best judge of that.
The dessert was a gelatinous dessert as one often finds in Japan, nothing that special about it. The reflection of the metal dish under the glass bowl and the style of the glass itself was a lot more interesting. In fact, it became a point of conversation to discuss the design and the Chinese characters of the maker (which were not entirely obvious, not being written in a standard, modern way).
The meals at the location in the Hotel New Otani apparently run up to 42,000円 according to the 2011 Michelin Guide for Tokyo, so I am curious how much better or what the difference is.
The quality and service in the Imperial Hotel already far exceeds the standard of food and service in a diner in Japan. For example, in a diner meal (not Michelin rated by any means) with friends later in the week, I sat at a table with four people. I ordered several items. The items were brought within 30 seconds of each other, and there was not room on the table for all the plates. That food was somewhat rubbery. Only then could I truly appreciate how awesome this meal at Nadaman was.