Let me share a story from my latest visit to Kihachi to shed some light on just how special this place is.

Let me share a story from my latest visit to Kihachi to shed some light on just how special this place is.

Ryuki Kimura, better known as Chef Mike, is chopping intently in the restaurant’s open kitchen, his head down, when the front door opens. His sous chef nudges him, he looks up, grins and claps.

Two men are lugging in what appear to be tree roots, but are in fact giant clusters of maitake mushrooms, a rare Japanese delicacy.

“I have been waiting for this!” Chef Mike exclaims.

One of the men explains: These mushrooms grow at the base of a giant tree in his Dublin backyard. They’re ready to be harvested on the same day each year in October—and each year, he brings them into Kihachi. His offering is rewarded with a bottle of the chef’s favorite sake.

Chef wastes no time, immediately slicing and tempura-frying the mushrooms.

He hands a plate of them to the men who brought them in, who’ve settled just a few seats down the bar from where we were midway through an amazing omakase meal (10-12 courses of chef’s-choice small plates).

He then hands us a plate of our own, saying, “Here, we share.”

I devour these meaty, woodsy mushrooms, which have soaked up a citrusy soy dipping sauce and taken on the most amazing, indescribable flavor. And I am happy. I am grateful.

Over the course of our three-hour feast at this astonishing Japanese restaurant, a genuine hidden gem in a Dublin strip mall, this was just one of many, many delights (rich mushroom soup served in a tiny teapot, buttery yellowtail sashimi, roasted ginkgo seeds, sea urchin, crunchy fried prawns eaten from head to tail).

But it is the one I’ll remember most.

Photos by Will Shilling