In the shadow of the Sforzesco Castle there is a Japanese tavern offering traditional cuisine. This is Neo Kisho.
Mr. Kazuteru Yonemura has been directing Neo Kisho for about ten years, but his experience in Japanese catering in Italy has much deeper roots:
I distinguished myself more than thirty years ago in Milan for having opened the first Japanese restaurant in Italy, the famous Suntury in Via Verdi, way back in 1973. Soon we would have been few in Milan to offer such a distant and refined cuisine in Milan . And in fact, up until the early Nineties, besides myself there were only Poporoya and Endo. In 1999, when Suntury closed, I opened Kisho in via Morosini, much appreciated by Prada and Missoni and, later, Shion sushi & sake bar in Corso Magenta. Finally, I wanted to open Neo Kisho based on my past experiences, proposing famous dishes such as the samurai stick but always carrying on the tradition.
And in fact Yonemura San has always had a clear and precise goal:
My values are the high quality raw material, the excellent preparation and the culture of tradition against the massification and standardization of contemporary Japanese cuisine, especially in Italy.
I very much appreciate his decision to have chosen a woman chef, a singular fact for a man entrepreneur so tied to the culinary traditions of the past. Definitely a very modern idea that fits perfectly with the desire to want to reinterpret some dishes from the past. Always available for dialogue and at the forefront with the major entrepreneurs who want to invest in a Japanese-style culinary project, Yonemura San offers consultancy — including Giorgio Armani before the opening of the famous Nobu.
Unlike the environment, which in my opinion is extremely cold (not only minimalist in the Japanese sense), the menu is very interesting and brings back to that home-like and relaxed warmth typical of Japanese taverns. Very interesting is the list named “passatempo”, where appear nibi-tashi (seasonal vegetables boiled in dashi sauce), age dashi-tofu (fried tofu with dashi sauce), natto, motsu nikomi (miso tripe), korokke (Japanese potatoes croquettes with pumpkin) and tako sumiso (octopus with a sauce of miso and vinegar). Among these dishes there is also the aforementioned samurai stick, of which we are kindly honored but which, honestly, clashes with the rest of the preparations: too far from traditional culture and too close instead to fusion. Certainly when it was first introduced into the menu years ago it represented something new and interesting, but today it stands out from the pack. Continuing, there are several cuts of carpaccio and sashimi (the fish is fresh and very good), sushi (even in more modern variants) salads and many hot dishes including: yakitori, unagi kabayaki (lacquered eel), tonkatsu, wagyu of Kobe grilled at the table, ishiyaki (crispy rice with beef and vegetables in the stone bowl), curry udon, katsu don, oyako don and zaru soba. Very interesting nabemono (by reservation only): sukiyaki, shabu shabu and yosenabe (fish soup). For lunch, Neo Kisho offers different sets, all of which are of course traditional cuisine.
However, Lucrezia and I decide to order the omacasè menu, which offers various Japanese dishes cooked according to traditional preparation methods, all accompanied by excellent cold sake. The menu starts with a light salad sashimi, embellished with gold leaf. Follows a tasty hot broth typical of Kyoto, the Kami Nabe, the samurai stick and the Yasai tempura (seasoned mixed vegetables tempura). We continue with raw fish and we are served a trio of sashimi (tuna, salmon and sea bass) and three really delicious nigiri: sea bass with lemon and caper, lightly seared salmon with teriyaki sauce and the Kobe meat nigiri. Following onigiri, yakitori, sakana no teriyaki (salmon steak in teriyaki sauce) and Yokohama shunmai, typical Yokohama steamed meat dumplings, where a large Chinese community resides (not very well presented, these, but still interesting). The dessert is served in elegant ceramic chests: jelly with sakura flower, mango sorbet and green tea ice cream (the latter being particularly delicious). Finally, umeshu (Japanese plum liqueur).
Definitely a restaurant for traditional Japanese cuisine lovers; I honestly want to try one of the nabemono. The quality of the raw material is very valid, the flow rates are abundant and the prices are related to the place. To review, as already mentioned, the environment and the choice of wanting to insert dishes born of the desire to evolve: today more than ever, Milan wants to rediscover tradition on Japanese tables (fortunately). It is better to do this.