After a career as a translator/interpreter, the late Toshiro Kuroda, a Japanese scholar and lover of life, opened up this transcendental épicerie-tasting workshop back in 2004. There, famous chefs paraded through the master’s den, in order to discover his elegant Japanese fare. It’s now Sumiko, his cordon-bleu-trained other half, who runs this wood-clad boutique where each products comes with a story: wholegrain rice roasted in the village of Tamba (€24 for 320 grams), cultivated between the forest and the mountains, or the more humble and delicious Tsuya Himé rice from Yamagata (€14/kg), exceptional soba noodles that hail from Shinshu Togakushi Hon Juwari (€13 for 200 g), dark Ito Shoten soy sauce fermented for three years in cypress wood barrels (€15.40 for 200 ml), Listano tuna katsuobushi (€7 for 250 g), incandescent Inoue red miso (€21 for 300 g), mystical plum black vinegar (€12 for 120 ml), fiery Goma Suko hot sauce (€11 for 60 g), freeze-dried shiitake mushrooms, yuzu juice and cosmic dashis… You can also treat yourself to some unique and vibrant tableware, where crafters’ hands have left traces of their humanity. Issé is also something of a temple to great sakes that’ll bring a tear to your eye, much like the unpasteurized Komoto no Dobu Junmai Nigori (€62 for 720 ml).
The hidden gem: The Okui Kaseido kombu (€75 for 500 g), a cleverly dried seaweed, harvested at the northern tip of Hokkaido island, an ancestral spot for cultivating kelp from the silent fury of the great ocean currents.
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