If you stroll around Nezu, this old three-story all-Keyaki Japanese house may catch your eyes. The architecture is a registered tangible cultural property. This is a Kushiage (Deep-fried skewers) specialty restaurant, Hantei.
Hantei started in 1970s in Ueno. Owner of Hantei got interest of purchasing this wooden architecture which had survived both the great Kanto earthquake and the Great Tokyo Air Raid. In 1978, 53rd year of the Showa period He started a Kushiage specialty restaurant, Hantei. After that, the two-story wooden house and kura (traditional Japanese storehouses) next to the restaurant were combined with it.
Starting with “Ichinozen (first serve)” which come with 6 sticks of Kushiage, 2 kinds of Otoshi (hors d’oeuvres) and fresh vegetables. Choice of Kushiage is left to the cook and they are served as just cooked. The Hantei style is to use the breadcrumbs which are specially ground into smaller pieces and to take a time to fry by low temperature. That is one of the tips to make Kushiage light.
After Ichinozen, you can order Ninozen (second serve), Sannozen (third serve) per 6 sticks. Hantei prepares over 30 kinds of Kushiage up to Rokunozen (sixth serve). There are basic Kushiage such as “Pork and Yanaka-ginger Roll Up” and “Shiso (Perilla) and Shrimp Roll Up.” Most of kinds are changed by season and 100 kinds of Kushiage are on the menu within a year. Salt, Japanese brown sauce and house made cooked miso with ground meat is placed on every table for your choice to go with Kushiage.
Manager Ohura says that to sit at the counter and taste variety of Kushiage is the standard style of Kushiage. Because of its structure, they can’t serve Kushiage in the standard style to every seat, but they treasure two major point of Kushiage “serve just fried” and “variety of Kushiage by cooks’ choice.” Please enjoy the classical architecture with feeling of Shitamachi (old downtown) and seasonal Kushiage at Hantei.
Sep 2017 Text: Ryoko Kuraishi Photo: Yasuo Yamaguchi