Next January, the eyes of the gastronomic world will be fixed on Nihonbashi as Denmark’s Noma restaurant, recently voted top again in the World 50 Best list, opens for an extended pop-up inside the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. No need to wait that long to discover this rapidly reviving neighborhood, though: The number of dining options is expanding fast.
The hottest place in the area is actually run by one of the oldest-established companies. For three centuries, Ninben has been making and selling katsuobushi, the dried-cured bonito that forms the basis for most of the dashi soup stock used in Japanese cuisine. Three years ago it set up a counter in its store dispensing hot dashi broth, much like the Japanese equivalent of an espresso bar. This Dashi Bar has proved so popular that it’s now spawned a full-scale sit-down restaurant.
Called Nihonbashi Dashi Bar Hanare, it offers a range of dishes made using katsuobushi. At lunch, there are set meals; in the evening, a la carte options too. Everything is simple, light and wholesome, thanks to the rich savor of the bonito. It’s also highly affordable, which is the other reason why the lines outside can be an hour long at peak times.
Coredo Muromachi-2 1F, 2-3-1 Nihonbashi-Muromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo; 03-5205-8704; www.ninben.co.jp/hanare; open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (L.O.); nearest stations Mitsukoshimae and Shin-Nihonbashi; no smoking; lunch from ¥950 per head; dinner from ¥1,500 (plus drinks); major cards; Japanese menu; little English spoken.
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