Katsuo Shokudo: A Michelin Listed Gem Serving Katsuobushi Delights

Katsuo Shokudo: A Michelin Listed Gem Serving Katsuobushi Delights


When people around the globe imagine Japanese cuisine, sushi and ramen often come to mind first. Yet, at the heart of countless traditional Japanese recipes lies the savory foundation of katsuo fish, a key ingredient that embodies the rich essence of the nation's culinary delights. Today, we invite you on a culinary adventure to "Katsuobushi" at Katsuo Shokudo (かつお食堂) in Shibuya, Tokyo. This specialty katsuobushi establishment, which opened its doors in 2017, has earned accolades in the Michelin Guide for two consecutive years, 2022 and 2023, marking it as a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts seeking an authentic taste of Japan.

What is Katsuobushi?


For those unfamiliar with katsuobushi, it's a cornerstone of Japanese cuisine, made from dried, fermented, and smoked katsuo (skipjack tuna) fish, then shaved into fine flakes. Historically, katsuobushi was a staple in Japan due to its long shelf life, evolving from a preserved necessity to a delicacy once reserved for the aristocracy.

Beyond its illustrious history, katsuobushi plays a pivotal role in contemporary Japanese cooking, serving as the foundation for broths and stocks. From the depth it adds to miso soup and ramen, to its subtle enhancement of various dishes, katsuobushi is integral to capturing the authentic essence of Japanese flavors. With just a sprinkle, any meal can be imbued with a distinct, Japanese-style aroma and an umami-rich depth, making it a transformative ingredient in the culinary landscape.

Fun while Waiting


At Katsuo Shokudo, wait time is about an hour. The restaurant opens its doors at 9:00 am. Despite official opening hours extending until 1:30 pm, early arrival is key, with diners often lining up by 8:00 am. The early bird truly catches the worm here, as the establishment is known to close its doors once the day's offerings are sold out—often well before the scheduled closing time. To secure a spot, aiming to visit before 11:30 am is wise.

Tucked away in a building's basement, Katsuo Shokudo is accessed via a narrow passage, making the wait potentially tedious. However, the restaurant enhances the experience by offering a unique activity: guests can try their hand at scraping katsuobushi right by the storefront. For a modest fee of 100 yen, you not only learn this traditional technique but also get to take home your freshly grated katsuobushi. Instructions are provided in both Japanese and English.

Featured in the Michelin Guide


Initially celebrated by locals for its authentic flavors, Katsuo Shokudo's inclusion in the 2022-2023 Michelin Guide has broadened its appeal, attracting a global clientele alongside its Japanese fan base. This culinary gem, once a well-kept secret among those in the know in Japan, now sees a diverse queue of patrons, with foreign tourists and local diners.

Mai Nagamatsu, known as Katsuo-chan


Upon visiting this inviting restaurant, guests are greeted by the owner, affectionately known as Katsuo-chan (real name Mai Nagamatsu), who personally serves each dish of katsuobushi from a counter with just 10 seats.

Mai Nagamatsu, a passionate advocate for katsuobushi, has journeyed across Japan to explore its production firsthand, conducting extensive research and hosting workshops nationwide. Embracing the moniker "Katsuo-chan," she opened this Shibuya establishment in 2017, bringing her deep appreciation for katsuobushi to the heart of Tokyo.

Simple Menu


The menu is available in both Japanese and English. The offerings are straightforward yet deeply rooted in tradition, featuring a set meal known as Teishoku (定食). Priced at ¥1,650, this set meal is a harmonious blend of rice topped with freshly grated katsuobushi, accompanied by miso soup and three side dishes. For those looking to enhance their meal further, additional toppings are available on the menu's left side. Among these, the Katsuo Karaage paired with organic raw eggs stands out as a particularly popular choice.

Katsuobushi Teishoku (Set Meal)


The is the Teishoku set. Each bowl of rice is topped with katsuo flakes, freshly shaved by Mai Nagamatsu herself. As she prepares each serving, Nagamatsu shares enriching tales of katsuo's history, insights into its fishing seasons, and the nuanced flavors that differ with each catch.


The katsuo featured in today's dishes, caught in February around Kagoshima Prefecture, is celebrated for its simplicity and low fat content, offering a non-greasy taste that encourages repeated enjoyment. Nagamatsu also educates guests on the prefectural origins of seasonal katsuo catches, adding to the dining experience. For seasoning, you can also find special salt and a unique sauce. Diners are advised to sprinkle the salt over the steamed rice and katsuobushi, an act that promises to elevate the dish's flavors.


The organic raw eggs, carefully selected from Aomori Prefecture, are another highlight. Notably lighter in yolk color due to the chickens' rice-centric diet, these eggs offer a distinct separation of white and yolk, presenting a texture so rich and cohesive it stands apart from typical eggs found in Japan. When combined with a dash of the restaurant's specially prepared sauce, the raw eggs and steamed rice transcend into a culinary delight.


The Katsuo Karaage is a must-try for those seeking an added indulgence. This dish features fresh katsuo that's expertly fried to achieve a crisp exterior and succulent interior. It serves as an excellent complement for diners concerned about the meal's satiety level.


The side dishes accompanying the set meal vary periodically. Each is a testament to traditional Japanese culinary arts, focusing on fermented foods that bring depth and complexity to the palate. Following the main course, a set that includes mayonnaise as a side dish is presented, promising a tantalizing blend of flavors when paired with the katsuobushi.


Dining at this restaurant offers more than just a sampling of traditional Japanese flavors; it's an immersive journey into the culture and heritage of katsuo. Here, patrons not only savor dishes that have graced Japanese tables since time immemorial but also absorb knowledge about the pivotal role katsuo plays in the nation's culinary history. It's a place where the secret to Japan's delectable cuisine is shared with every guest. We invite you to immerse yourself in this rich atmosphere and experience the legacy of katsuo at Katsuo Shokudo.


Opening hours: 9:00-13:30 or when sold out.

Closing days vary. Please check the latest information on Instagram

Official website: https://www.katsuoshokudo.jp

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