Kissaten Nasu is three separate but conjoined entities: As the name of the restaurant implies, it’s a kissaten, a traditional cafe. But it’s also a curry shop and a jazz cafe, and the master might just be one of the most dapper and suave cafe owners this side of Tokyo.
Nasu opened in 1965, at the height of the Showa Period (1926-89) when the master was a much younger man. Not much has changed since then, save for the accumulation of jazz records. Behind the counter an entire wall is stacked with vinyl and CDs. If you are looking for a hangout that pays attention to its tunes, put Nasu on your list.
A Salena Jones record was playing out as I sat down. There was only a moment’s silence before Mina Aoe, an enka and blues chanteuse popular in the ’60s and ’70s began to work her magic.
While the menu is confined to curry, there’s plenty of varieties. We went with pork katsu (fried pork) and menchi katsu (minced meat cutlet). It’s a mild, sweet curry and the master likes to serve it inside a wall of rice, forming a kind of curry moat decorated with picked ginger. All the lunch sets come with a ginger-based bouillon, which tastes more like a herbal remedy.
The coffee is brewed just as it was in 1965: in siphons. The master pours it at your table straight from the bulb. Coffee connoisseurs take note, this a weak, tea-like brew.
In short, Nasu is a step back to bygone days — nostalgia as it’s meant to be served.
Curry dishes from ¥500; Japanese menu; Japanese spoken
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