No Fish, No Life: Kaikaya By the Sea in Shibuya

There can’t be life without ramen, but sometimes you need other things too. And in Japan, the land of sushi, one of those things is seafood.

Recently, I celebrated a friend’s birthday at a cool, quirky restaurant called Kaikaya By the Sea (開花屋) in Shibuya. Located about a 10-15 minute walk from Shibuya Crossing, Kaikaya has an eclectic menu of seafood dishes inspired by cuisine from around the world. You’ll see a lot of the places that likely inspired owner-chef Teruyuki Tange in the travel photos posted in the restroom and other parts of the restaurant.

Our group ordered a special set of dishes off of the menu for 3500 yen per person.

It started out with a fish carpaccio that consisted of thinly sliced pieces of what looked and tasted like amberjack (a.k.a hamachi or buri) topped with pesto and fried pieces of minced garlic, served with salad greens. It tasted just as amazing as it sounds, and probably then some. I think it might have been one of the best things we had that evening, and it was served right at the beginning.

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Next was a platter of assorted sashimi. It had a bit of everything: various types and cuts of tuna, including maguro and toro, as well as a bunch of stuff that I couldn’t identify.  All fresh and delicious. the platter also came with fresh wasabi root that you have to grate yourself — your actually have to grate quite a lot in order to have the same level of punch that you get in a dollop at a standard sushi restaurant.

The waiter then came by with a grilled chicken salad topped with light, crispy shreds that were kind of like fried wonton skins. There was also battered fried prawns in a sweet, citrusy sauce and served in a tostada-like shell. Several of my friends were particularly enamored with this dish, which tasted similar to Chinese honey-walnut prawns.

Next came large pieces of braised fish, which tasted like tuna, in sweetened soy sauce. The meat was moist, tender, and seem to fall right off of the bones. Very delicious.

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And wait! There’s even more fish, this one grilled with lots of garlic, olive oil, and lemon. It also came with a couple of mussels.

To wash things down, the waiter came by with a big communal bowl of miso soup was simple yet sublime compared to the standard stuff you get at most other restaurants. Kaikaya’s was cooked with big chunks for fish that gave the soup an additional layer of flavor. There were also pieces of a crunchy Japanese green called mizuba. It reminded me of the soup that Midori Sushi sometimes serves, which also features various types of seafood depending on the season. This is really the way to make excellent miso soup.

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At that point, I thought the main courses were done.  But then they served fried rice with pieces of nori and pickled mustard greens. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had fried rice prepared this way, but I rather liked the crunchy pickled sourness of the vegetables mixed in with the salty seaweed and the rice.

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Topping it all off was dessert: cherry blossom ice cream floating in cream. Lovely, isn’t it?

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It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I highly recommend Kaikaya. The food is awesome, the prices are reasonable, and the atmosphere is perfect for a nice but casual meal.

Kaikaya By the Sea
Location: 23-7 Maruyamacho, Shibuya, Tokyo
Business Hours: Weekdays: 11.30am-2:00pm, 6:00-11.30pm mon-fri; Weekends: 6:00-11.30pm. Apparently, reservations only on weekends, so call: (03)3770-0878
Getting There: Take either the Tokyo Metro (Ginza, Hanzomon, or Futokoshin lines), JR, or the Keio Inokashira line to Shibuya station and walk about 10-15 minutes to Kaikaya. Shinsen station on the Keio Inokashira line is also a short walk away from the restaurant. 
 
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