Kaisentango Ami no Shokudo in Ueno serves up a hearty sashimi and egg rice bowl fit for a fisherman. Venture further afield from the station for this quiet cozy neighbourhood restaurant.
The signature dish - Ami no Donburi. - image © Florentyna Leow
I avoid the area around Ueno Station unless I have to. Crowds just don’t do it for me. If I’m in the area, venturing a few blocks further to the quieter streets is far more rewarding, especially when it comes to eating. Kaisentango Ami no Shokudo, located somewhere between Ueno and Inaricho Stations on the Ginza Line, is a useful restaurant to have in your eating map of the area.
Look for this road. - image © Florentyna Leow
Regardless of whether you ’re coming from Ueno or Inaricho Station, you’ll want to look for a street that looks like this leading to Higashiueno 3-Chome. Turn in and keep walking down. The restaurant will be on your left after a few blocks. On the other side of the street is a brightly lit izakaya, which is how you know you’re in the right place.
The rather nondescript exterior of Ami no Shokudo in the evening. - image © Florentyna Leow
Ami no Shokudo is a fairly unassuming little place. I’ve walked past numerous times without realizing it was a restaurant. Dimly lit and relaxed, with the chatter of the television in the corner, it’s a bit more like being in someone’s home. There are tables at the back of the restaurant for larger groups, though it’s perfectly easy to eat at the counter.
Counter seats in the restaurant. Weeknights are quiet. - image © Florentyna Leow
A word of warning: this is a one man (plus waitress) operation. There’s no English menu here, so you should brush up on your Japanese phrases or have a handy translator tool with you. The menu is not especially extensive, so I’ve listed the dishes below.
he “teishoku” menu. At dinner this isn’t a set meal; each dish just comes with rice. - image © Florentyna Leow
From left to right:
あみの丼 Ami no Donburi
さば味噌煮 Saba miso-ni - miso-simmered mackerel
あこう鯛煮付 Akoudai nizuke Simmered rockfish
浦島刺身膳 Urashima Sashimi Set
Apparently, the fish here are all caught in the Kyotango area in Kyoto prefecture and sent here every day.
You can order from the a la carte menu at dinner time. - image © Florentyna Leow
A one page menu:
お刺身盛り合わせ Assorted sashimi
さば塩干し焼き Salt-grilled mackerel (saba)
さば西京焼き Saikyo-style grilled mackerel (saba)
鮭西京焼きSaikyo-style grilled salmon (shake)
あこう鯛煮 Simmered rockfish (akoudai)
さば味噌煮 Miso-simmered mackerel
旬の焼き物 Seasonal grilled things
丹後旬の煮魚 Seasonal simmered fish from the Tango area
丹後旬の焼魚 Seasonal grilled fish from the tango area
宮津ちくわ Miyazu fishcake
丹後へしこ Pickled mackerel from the Tango area
丹後オイルサーディン Sardines in oil (Tango)
丹後イカフライ Fried squid (Tango)
丹後魚フライ Fried fish (Tango)
ジャガフライ Fried potatoes
えだ豆 - Edamame beans
エイヒレ Eihire - Skate or stingray fin
玉子焼き Tamagoyaki - omelette
京水菜ハリハリサラダ Kyo-mizuna hari-kari salad
京どうふサラダ Kyoto-style tofu salad
オニオンスライス Onion slices
冷やしトマト Cold tomatoes
京おぼろ豆腐 Kyoto Oboro-tofu
あみの丼 Ami no Donburi - Ami rice bowl
あら汁 Fish bone broth
お茶漬け Ochazuke - Tea rice
You have to admit, that’s a fair bit for a one-man operation.
To make deciphering menus easier, try downloading a kanji-reading app on your phone. Technology has improved by leaps and bounds these days.
The mizuna hari-hari salad. - image © Florentyna Leow
Perhaps start with something green, like the mizuna hari-hari salad. It’s a plate of roughly chopped mizuna greens with whitebait, toasted brown rice, dried seaweed strips and a tangy soy-onion dressing. The toasted brown rice adds a additional crunchy dimension to this crisp, savoury salad - very pleasant to eat.
The signature rice bowl. - image © Florentyna Leow
The chef’s signature Ami no Don is pretty simple. It begins with a bed of white rice and a little secret sauce. Slices of fresh sashimi marinated in said secret sauce spiral around the perimeter of the bowl. A whole raw egg quivers in the center of this rosy pink fish arrangement. He finishes it with a liberal sprinkling of sesame seeds. It’s not exactly photogenic, and the dim lighting doesn’t help. That doesn’t matter, because there are no real surprises with food like this. What you see is what you get - a reasonably priced bowl of creamy raw egg and sweet-salty raw fish on hot rice.
A small side of sashimi, as an add-on to the rice bowl. - image © Florentyna Leow
If you‘re really hungry, you could order the “Tokumori” version, which just means extra rice and fish. But my dilemma tends to run along the lines of too much rice, not enough topping. (One sometimes encounters a similar quandary with milk and chocolate chip cookies.) To this end, ordering something extra to help the rice go down is a grand idea. You could order natto, another raw egg (Tamago 玉子), or a small plate of sashimi (刺盛小 sashimori shō). I opted for the latter.
Look out for the sandwich board outside. - image © Florentyna Leow
It’s a cozy local joint, one where the waitress might start telling you about her two very adorable cats, if she senses you like cats too. (Perhaps my hat with cat ears gave it away.)
I wouldn’t make a trip across town specifically to eat here. But, if you’re in the neighbourhood and in need of a simple meal, Kaisentango Ami no Shokudo fits the bill quite nicely. Plus, you’ll avoid the crowds milling around the station area. That’s the real bonus.
Kaisentango Ami no Shokudo
Name in Japanese:
3-8-4 Higashiueno, Taitō, Tokyo 110-0015, Japan
11:30AM–2PM, 5:30–10PM (Closed Sundays)
Inaricho Station, Ueno Station
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