Nihonbashi Dashi Bar Hanare restaurant is started by Ninben, the very same company that started as a stall in the Edo Period (1699) selling the highest quality katsuobushi or dried bonito. These delicate flakes are a key ingredient in making dashi broth, the base of many traditional Japanese dishes. High quality dishes depend on high quality katsuobushi, and Ninben's bonito flakes are freshly shaved from rock-hard skipjack tuna fillets, a far cry from the mass produced bonito flakes sold in the supermarket. The shop Ninben expanded and added a standing room only, eat in space called the Dashi Bar. This is where, if you only had a ¥100 coin in your pocket, you could get a bowl of katsuobushi dashi broth. But chances are, you will be tempted by their other soups, rice dishes and boxed lunches.
The Dashi Bar was so successful the company opened up Nihonbashi Dashi Bar Hanare restaurant, a place where people can sit, eat leisurely, and slowly savor their meals made with the finest katsuobushi. Hanare(-waza) refers to modern techniques as opposed to the classic (koten-waza), thus emphasizing the restaurant's contemporary approach to standard Japanese favorites to appeal to current tastes. At lunch, the set meals beginning at ¥950 are so popular long lines form outside the restaurant. We tried the the lunch set which consists of one big bowl of hearty soup and three side dishes. The portion was generous but not heavy. The dishes are lightly seasoned to bring out their natural flavors and freshness instead of overwhelming them. The entire meal was simply good, an embodiment of the philosophy: food as medicine and medicine as food. The interior design of the restaurant conveys the same message as the food served. Traditional high quality raw materials were used with very little embellishments and the restaurant space maximizes natural lighting and ventilation in a style that blends both traditional Japanese and modern. It is definitely a place that invites you to come back regularly to revivify body and soul.