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Aji no Nakamura: Comforting food and sake with ambience to match

by Robbie Swinnerton

Twenty years have passed since Teiji Nakamura announced himself to Tokyo with his first bar and, shortly thereafter, his eponymous upscale izakaya tavern — and five since he moved that distinctive, appealing combination of quality cooking, premium sake and buzzy ambience to Namikibashi, in Shibuya.

These days, he has half a dozen excellent dining/watering holes to his name, including Kan (in Nakameguro) and Nakamura Shokudo (Akasaka). Now add one more to that list: Aji no Nakamura, which opened last month in Nishi-Azabu.

Nakamura likes to call it the “big brother” of his main restaurant, and the ambiance does appear aimed at an older demographic. The menu is very similar: casual Japanese cuisine with flair, a strong emphasis on seasonal seafood and vegetables and an excellent list of regional sake and shōchū. The big difference is that there’s no open kitchen. And apart from the basement level with its counter-style bar, all the seating is at tables.

Back in the day, this same location was the jewel in the crown of the excellent Shunju group of restaurants, and the interior design by Takashi Sugimoto of Super Potato fame seems as fresh as ever. Kudos to Nakamura for reviving this classic space.