Itoh Dining by NOBU
1300-64 Gōra, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa-ken 250-0408, Japan
Dining date: 10/30/16
Hakone is a very scenic and quiet place in the Japanese countryside known for its onsen hot springs. It’s so quiet and quaint that there aren’t a whole lot of dining options in the area. We wanted to avoid the hotel restaurant and ending up opting for this place. It had high potential for being a tourist trap given its association with Nobu Matsuhisa and its ranking as the #1 restaurant in the area per TripAdvisor but we chose it nonetheless. And we were glad we did.
The restaurant is a teppanyaki spot, where chefs cook up the food right in front of you on the flattop. The specialty here is wagyu beef, of course, and the restaurant offers a couple of different varieties in both set menu form and a la carte. We opted for two set menus offering A4 beef, plus an a la carte dish of the top shelf Kobe beef.
Yellowtail with Ponzu and Jalapeno
Mushroom Bacon Soup
Grilled Black Cod with Sweet Miso
A4 Kuroge Wagyu Steak wasabi pepper
Kobe Beef Steak miso BBQ sauce
Mont Blanc almond ice cream
Itoh by Nobu exceeded expectations. The yellowtail and black cod dishes were very similar to what I’ve had in America and the A4 sirloin was very good. However, the top-level tenderloin from Kobe was exceptional. The tenderloin was very tender and, while it wasn’t as marbled as perhaps a sirloin cut from the same breed, it struck a wonderful balance of tenderness and richness. We savored each and every bite.
Service in the restaurant was as strong as it was in other places of Japan, but it stood out at the end of the meal. We asked the restaurant to assist in calling a taxi for us back to the hotel. Our server followed up and said it would be 30-40 minutes since taxis aren’t prevalent in this part of town. She offered to drive us back to the hotel and proceeded to drive her car right up to the front entrance to take us back to the hotel. It was a short 5 minute ride, but it was truly going above and beyond, capping off what was already a great meal.
The morning after – sunrise in Hakone.