I looked forward to the opening of chef Ninomiya san's new restaurant in Milan like few things before yesterday, the opening day lived with emotion and great expectations. A place that today bears the surname of a chef, in fact, among the most considered for maniacal fidelity to the canons of Japanese cuisine.
When we talk about Ninomiya we immediately think of the late Fukurou restaurant, which over the years has become a pole of primary interest in city. At the news of the definitive closure of the restaurant, many despaired, thinking that we would never be able to savor those delicacies of extraordinary beauty, the result of years of work and study - especially kaiseki cuisine.
Today Ninomiya san returns with a new restaurant, the result of an ambitious personal project and which is also the name of a particular type of Japanese restaurant unpublished in Milan.
In recent years we have learned to familiarize ourselves with the nuances of Japanese cuisine, thanks to the diversification of the offer in city and the trips that we have managed to organize in the land of the Rising Sun. In detail, we know that kaiseki indicates the highest and most refined formula of Japanese cuisine, based on numerous courses resulting from the chef's immense mastery and knowledge of techniques and seasonal ingredients. Izakaya, on the other hand, is the Japanese tavern where you can enjoy excellent small dishes to accompany alcohol. Finally there is omakase ("I rely on you"), which indicates the fact of leaving total creative freedom to the chef during the preparation of the meal. Kappou fits into all these categories: it is made up of the characters "katsu" (which indicates the action of cutting with a knife) and "pou" ("to boil" or "to cook") and, at the same time, also indicates the fact that the chef must be clearly visible to the diners (who eat at the counter or at the tables), that the restaurant is small and with few seats and the customer can have the opportunity to observe the work done by the cooks.
At Kappou Ninomiya you will find all these characteristics: seeing the chef slicing raw fish with immense skill at the counter while the kitchen brigade moves behind the noren is nothing short of satisfying. The proximity to the sushi chef completes the experience, as well as having the nigiri prepared piece by piece, being served on the spot and exchanging a few words with him.
As already pointed out, Fukurou's mournful cuisine was what loyal customers like me were afraid they would no longer enjoy. Instead, to great surprise (and with a deep sigh of relief!) Here is that the great classics of Ninomiya san are back on menu: the famous appetizers such as takowasa (wasabi octopus), ryukyu (mixed raw fish in soy sauce, ginger and wasabi) and namagaki (raw oyster with soy sauce and bergamot), delicious and hearty hot dishes including hirasama no kama ichiyaboshi (lightly dried grilled amberjack cheek), fried including kaki fried (breaded and fried oysters) or tori no karaage (fried chicken marinated in soy sauce and garlic) but above all one of the best (if not the best ever) ramen ever eaten in the city, today offered in three variants (shio, tonkotsu and tantanmen) in giant portion. You will still find the legendary jubako kaisen, the box with a bed of rice covered to overflowing with top quality sashimi, as well as the gigantic omusubi (of which I recommend the uma, my favorite).
The most important innovations in my opinion concern the numerous dishes based on wagyu category A5 (the highest) among which I indicate wagyu yukke (knife tartare, quail egg, soy sauce, sesame oil), wagyu roast salad beef with grilled aubergine and grated foie gras, nasu kabocha wagyusoboro (fried eggplant and pumpkin with potato starch batter and egg white with ground wagyu and thickened dashi sauce) and, surprisingly, even shabu shabu.
Raw fish is obviously the great protagonist: not trying sushi or sashimi is a serious crime. You can opt for the sets (special or normal), the delicious maki (including the one with tuna belly and spring onion or kanpyo - with dried pumpkin and soy sauce), but I recommend you also opt for the single-piece nigiri: between the most sought after are kue (grouper), kasago (redfish), himeji (mullet), engawa (turbot flank) and ika (squid). Don't miss the eel, juicy and delicious.
To complete it all, there are desserts, such as ichigo daifuku or matcha tiramisu, sake and the famous highball based on Japanese whiskey.
Ninomiya san's cuisine has evolved and reached a peak of ripeness that is surprising to say the least. In my heart I was expecting a reinterpretation of Fukurou but in Kappou there is much more. The flavors are smoothed, more delicate, the dishes of an unattainable beauty and the restaurant itself is even more elegant, catapulting the customer into the classic refined atmosphere of the best Ginza clubs while maintaining an affordable price (especially at lunch).
I think that Kappou Ninomiya is destined for great success, or at least I really hope so. A new rising star has been added to the sky of Milan, congratulations Ninomiya san!
💰 $$$ — lunch $$$$ — dinner