Set on the eighth floor of Shibuya Hikarie, d47 Shokudo is the foodly arm of award-winning designer Kenmei Nagaoka’s “d&design” project, curating the best of Japan’s 47 prefectures.
As the lights came up around Shibuya station and the famous crossing below, we toasted our adventure at the shokudo (cafeteria) with the four-sake sampler (¥1,400) of signature brews from Tochigi, Toyama and Yamaguchi, ranging from sweet to bitter. The set is enough for two, but tumblers of a single variety (¥550 and up) are also available.
We considered the five-dish option (¥1,000) but decided more exploring was needed. Sake firmly in hand, we set out for Chiba to savor washed cheese rind pickled in sake kide izumi (¥520). With a sharp taste surprisingly similar to blue cheese, it melted gloriously on the tongue and proved a fine companion for rice wine.
From there, we ventured north to sample Fukushima’s pickled Pacific herring topped with Japanese pepper (¥520). The four pieces of fish that arrived were firm and well-flavored: sour and sweet with a hint of herring’s bitterness.
Heading inland to Nagano, we surveyed natto mixed with umeboshi and Japanese mild ginger, or myoga (¥620). Served on a single perilla leaf, it looked like a lonely lump, but the tart and salty plums with the soft ginger flavor of myoga dressed the big, firm beans up beautifully.
We dashed south to Kagawa for a quiet culinary stop sampling the region’s tofu (¥200). Served chilled with a simple topping of negi (long onion) and myoga, the firm yet silky tofu needed just a pinch of salt or soy sauce to pull all the flavors together.
We carried on south to Okinawa for tofuyo (fermented tofu, ¥520). Dubbed the “challenge menu” item of the evening, it came as a single small chunk on a bamboo leaf. The tiniest bit on a chopstick delivered a pungent sake kasu-like flavor in a creamy texture.
We then jetted up to Osaka for minararu irikon (¥500) and seasonal ohitashi, or blanched greens (¥420). Crunchy dried irikon (Osakan for dried baby sardines), konbu, sesame seeds and peanuts bathed in soy sauce and mirin effectively represented Japan’s famous port city. The small bowl of ohitashi arrived as a verdant spinach seasoned with light dashi.
We hopped west for a Toyama omelet (¥460)—thick and dense with a subtly sweet edge—with a second stopover in Nagano for more natto, which really is that good. A quick turn south to Nagasaki brought a plate of warm and crunchy aji-fry (¥1,000) with cool julienned cabbage.
We finished in the far north of Hokkaido with rice ball sets (¥360) of one umeboshi and one konbu each. Served warm and fresh, they were the perfect ending to a perfect trip.
8F Hikarie, 2-21-1 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku. Nearest Station: Shibuya. www.hikarie8.com/d47shokudo