In my never ending quest to eat as much Japanese food as possible, my wife and I went to Kogumaya in Shanghai on a Wednesday night for dinner.
There were only two of us so we got seats at the counter.
On the way to the counter we passed by lots of small rooms filled with middle-aged Japanese men sitting on the floor excitedly talking and drinking. The other customers seemed to all be Japanese, which is always a good sign if finding good Japanese food is your goal.
From the counter we could see some of the famed Japanese style baked clay plates that Kogumaya prides itself on, and we could also see the young Chinese staff doing the preliminary preparations for the food. Apparently the main chef is Japanese, but we never saw him as he was always back in the kitchen. Regardless of who was preparing the food though, it was all delicious.
The first dish that came was the kakiage. It’s a little different than tempura because it is fried up with many different things together, while tempura should only have one item fried at a time. This kakiage was unique because it was seafood, shisou, and salted. It was great, crispy and light. This was one of my favorite dishes of the night.
Next we had the tatsutage. Tatsuage is basically like karage (Japanese fried chicken) but the flour-base stuff is different somehow. I don’t cook, so I don’t know… it was also awesome.
If you cannot read or speak Japanese or Chinese I have no idea how you would order at this place other than pointing at other peoples food, which would be tough considering that everyone is in a private room. All the wait staff are native Chinese speakers and speak fluent in Japanese. To maintain the ambience of the place they even make an effort to speak Japanese to each other constantly when communicating orders.
They had some reasonable course options, one costing 400 RMB a person. Not bad.
We also got the Kansai-style Oden. It came with yuzukosho, basically yuzu fruit and uh, pepper, I think. It’s the green one in the picture, and it’s awesome. I have had yuzukosho on many occasions in Japan, and this was just the same quality. The yellow stuff is simply tougarashi, the spicy Japanese mustard.
We also ordered the kamataki gohan, which is basically rice prepared in a giant-ish metal pot. Quality rice. Proof again that not all rice is created equal. If there are only two of you and you order this be prepared to take leftovers home though – it’s a lot of rice.
The tofu was what my wife really came for. She had heard from a particularly gourmet Japanese lady friend that it was amazing. It was indeed very good. This tofu was creamy, cool, and sweet. Very tasty. I would recommend this to all of my western friends who don’t really see the point of tofu.
In terms of price, it’s sort of expensive for China standards, but if you’re used to Japanese prices it’s not bad at all. There were only two of us, and I ordered an Asahi beer and an atsukan (180ml) of warm sake, and it cost us about 500 RMB total. We had plenty to eat – too much even. I guess a regular meal there would run about 350RMB per person.
Good stuff. Go check it out if you’re in Shanghai and want Japanese food.
105 Chengdu Nan Lu,
near Changle Lu