Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Chacha Yufudachi, Shinjuku (茶茶白雪)

Never ceases to amaze me how pretty good places are hiding all over in plain sight...CCYD is sequestered in the top of an average building, the entrance to which is not too obvious from the street. It's meant to be Kyoto style 'banzai' food, and while being decent quality is very good value. This would be a good choice if you wanted course food in a nice atmosphere without getting at all close to breaking the bank. I'm entertained to see that it's from the big Jellyfish group (28 in Tokyo), which also includes Ohashi in Nihonbashi and elsewhere, and Mochitama in Azabu Juban (no review - one of the first 5 places I ate after moving to Japan, and another visit in 2008, but all before the advent of blogging. It's the place right across from Petit Tonneau and La Boheme at the bottom of the little public square area.).

This central table was all that was available on the night, but the opportunity to watch 5 couples in various stages of relationship entry or exit (in one case apparently simultaneous) was fun; no doubt they thought the same of us. Should you be able to book the counter, you can get a bit more 'banzai' experience (i.e. bowls of stuff on the counter, although I didn't actually notice them). Should you not desire that, they offer every seating format known to man - regular tables, low couches, floor seating at round, almost Scandanavian tables, hammocks, and treehouse-like platforms surrounded by greenery and strangling fig vines, the leaves of which are used to wrap and preserve the unique style of sushi that originated in the Oushiunchi (牡牛ウンチ) district of Kyoto.

Everyone gets different banzai-style starters. Mine was ganmo, more or less, fried tofu cooked in soup.

Sashimi plate. Kinda of nice that it's one piece each of 6 or 7 things; I guess they can do that since the place is big and people are getting sashimi all the time.

Around this time I forgot to take a picture of the 'special salad', for which there's some fanfare about choosing your own dressing, but not a lot of excitement in the eating.

This is maybe out of order; my picture-taking wasn't on very good form (and I'd be too embarassed by Mrs. Peacock's link to admit if it was). At left, some type of salad - not unohana, not potato salad...I'm confused. In back, a little fish nanban, or escabeche depending on your point of view (or, strictly speaking, deep fried fish with vinegary onions and carrots, if you're a literalist). Bottom right, something seaweedy that I've forgotten.

Nice mackerel rolled in seaweed. Just two slices, decent quality, which was a blessing considering the length of this course.

Boiled daikon and scallop.  The orange stuff is scallop coral. The green stuff is kinome. The overall effect is meh.

Then the main course, these enormous raw steaks! No, just a couple slices of tataki, but very nice meat. There were three slices, and as usual when you see a close-up picture like this, hiding the rest of the plate, you know it's because I forgot to take a picture until after I ate something. Oopsie.

A rice course to finish you off; left I believe is buri, right salmon. The oak (?) leaf in the back is wrapping a piece of snapper on, I believe, sticky rice. The ginger was good. At least I believe that.

And a whole dessert! So simple, so humble! Matcha at the back, a rarity (Gurunabi Course only). Front left, sakura mochi (yes, you should eat the leaf. Otherwise I think you're missing the point of the odd taste, just getting a bit of it off the rice.), front right matcha ice cream with red beans (very average).

Insert the courses I forgot, and you've got quite a long dinner, at a very reasonable price. The drinks menu is decent - wide ranging, a few quality selections in each category. For example the sake included Dassai, Kokuryu (Icchorai) and a few other familiar labels.

Purpose built. Maybe not for speed.


  1. what a timely review. i've booked at cha cha hana for my sister's first night in tokyo. after reading this review i'm tempted to switch shops. would you recommend sitting at the counter or a table?

  2. I'd recommend the counter so you can watch the chefs, unless you're over that and prefer to watch the other patrons.

    As for switching, it really depends on what your other choice was! This is a good choice for someone who may not be comfortable with 'deeper' food or atmosphere, but the course could be a bit long. I should point out that I took my parents to Za Watami on their first night in Tokyo, and thought that was a good choice (although I don't make it a habit to go there).

    The weather's nice - how about Omoideyokocho instead?

  3. the other choice is 茶茶花、which is another shop from the jellyfish stables. i first read about it in a ny times piece on 'hidden tokyo'.

    however, i see that 茶茶白雪 is more assessable and has equally appealing aesthetics, so am definitely considering changing my booking.

    as for za - haha - i knew that conversation would come back to haunt me. in my defence za is as close to junky food as i get, so admitting that i go there is akin to admitting i go to white castle.

    i already have nonbe yokocho in my cross-hairs, so will keep omoideyokocho in mind, too.

    cheers for the advise.