2015 FoodEx

FoodEx2015 - Kyro

Kyro Distillery from Finland

FoodEx Japan started today and runs through Friday. It is held at Makuhari Messe in Chiba. A few highlights included tasting through Finland’s Kyro Distillery’s portfolio. I had never tried a single malt rye whisky that had not been aged in a barrel yet, the Juuri. Lacking the tannins from the barrel it was brighter than I anticipated. Likewise, I had never tried a gin that had been aged in a barrel, Koskue, which was more complex than most gins. However, the barrel aging was only three months so the toasty notes were light and didn’t overpower the botanicals in the gin.

The Verso rye is aged in small American barrels for six months and is well-balanced. A little spicy and sweet and not too overpowering. The Napue gin (not aged in a barrel) was soft and fragrant. Very approachable and while lovely on its own, I imagine it would be seductive in a martini. The gin is made with 16 botanicals, 12 dried and 4 fresh. The barrels used are made with American oak and are smaller barrels, 32 or 64 liters.

I love the packaging and design and imagine that this brand could do well in Japan. I am told it will be sold at Hasegawa Liquors. I will update this post when I hear where it is sold retail in Tokyo. I met Mikael, Mikko, and Miika at the stand. If you go by, ask for Mi-kun (as all of their names start with Mi-), and tell them Yukari sent you. The distillery is brand new, only ten months’ old. I see the future as very good for them.

Kyro Distillery Company

www.kyrodistillery.com

FoodEx 2015 - Kitayatsu Ham

Kitayatsu Ham from Nagano was another highlight. The cured ham, sausage, and pates were all lovely. The Nagano Antenna Shop has recently opened in Ginza and I am told that their products are sold there, so will look for it there.

Kitayatsu Ham

http://kitayatu-ham.co.jp/

FoodEx 2015 - konnyaku

These konnyaku chips were great and only have the calories of the seasonings as konnyaku has zero calories. Flavors are pepper, chili pepper, oden, and ume (tart apricot). Okabayashi Shokuhin also had a thin sliced konnyaku that was nice when cooked up with soy sauce.

Okabayashi Shoten

http://okabayashi-shokuhin.com/kamukoro.php

The event hall is huge and there is more than one can see in a day. I wish I had more time to visit the sake, shochu, and other importers. There are some great speakers in the upcoming days including Kumiko Ninomiya Sensei of Ajinomoto, chef Nozaki of Waketokuyama, and chef Kondo of Koenji Sanukiya.

Book Review – Sushi by Kazuo Nagayama

Sushi Book

Sushi Book

Our tours of Tsukiji Market are very popular at the moment. Especially as it has been officially announced that the jōnai, wholesale seafood market, will move to Toyosu in November of 2016. Many of our customers are sushi aficionados and are intimately familiar with seasonal sushi. They not only know the names of Japanese seafood, but also can recognize it in the market as we walk through. There is a bookstore at Tsukiji Market that sells food magazines and a variety of cookbooks and books on sushi. A handful of them are in English, including my book, Food Sake Tokyo, published by The Little Bookroom.

A popular sushi book with our clients is the bilingual edition of Sushi, by chef Kazuo Nagayama of Daisan Harumi Sushi 第三春美鮨 in Shinbashi. The book is a reference tool for seasonal sushi.

Seasonal Sushi

Seasonal Sushi

The book is divided into the four seasons and seasonal seafood is shown as nigiri-zushi on the left page. The right page has a sketch of the seafood as well as a well-written description in English on everything from the flavor, how it is prepared, aging, and much more. As it is also written in Japanese, it is a great guide to bring to the sushi counter when dining out as the sushi chef or staff at the restaurant can also read from the same guide.

Even for readers who will not make it to Japan, this is a fun armchair reading as the descriptions are very detailed and informative. Particular bays of water are mentioned, something any sushi chef would be impressed by. The book also talks about the liver, ovaries, and other parts of the seafood that can be consumed at the sushi counter.

Here is an excerpt from hirame (olive flounder):

“A light sprinkling of salt and kombu curing allows sushi fans to savor the delectable taste and texture sensation of nigir made from hirame prepared using this technique long integral to the Edo-mae sushi chef’s job.”

Summer Sushi

Summer Sushi

The photography and design of the book is lovely. This photo shows the filets of summer seafood. On the upper right corner you have iwashi (sardine), noted for its row of dots. To the left of it is aji (Japanese jack mackerel per the book).

Summer Nigiri Zushi

Summer Nigiri Zushi

On this page you have the nigiri-zushi of the filets from above. The iwashi and aji are the two fish on the bottom right.

Seasonal Sushi

Seasonal Sushi

Each chapter begins with an essay on the season and what to look for when visiting the sushi counter that time of year.

From the winter fish section:

“Many winter species are prized for their fatty quality, in contrast to summer fish characterized by subtle flavor.”

The last section in the book is dedicated to maki-mono (rolls). Sushi will be a welcome addition to any bookshelf. At 2,000 JPY, the 207-page book is a good value.

Sushi

Published by PIE International

ISBN 978-4-7562-41344-4 C0072

2,000 JPY

207 pages

Noma Japan at the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

Noma Japan

Noma Japan

The culinary event of the century. Chef Rene Redzepi and his team in Japan. 60,000, yes, sixty-thousand people, on the waiting list. I was lucky as I was contacted by someone in New Zealand who had a lunch reservation but could not make it. I didn’t believe that I was actually going until we checked in for lunch. It was all very crazy. E-mails back and forth to a stranger in the Southern Hemisphere. PayPal payments as well as some confirmation e-mails from Noma and a phone call to the hotel as well to confirm the guy who said he had a reservation actually did. Just the night before I was contacted about the chance to go I was having dinner with Ivan Orkin who had lunch at Noma on the first day of the five-week pop-up at the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo. Ivan was sharing photos and I refused to look at any of them. I also tried to tune him out as I was hoping that at some point I would get the opportunity to attend and wanted my meal to be experienced at the table and without any expectations. I am glad I avoided all social media about this meal as it was very refreshing. I have not been to Denmark and was a Noma virgin. No longer. On a side note, I should add that many of my friends are coming over for this meal. Editors and writers for food magazines as well as clients of our Food Sake Tokyo tours. I am thrilled beyond belief that so many friends are coming to Tokyo. So arigato chef Rene for coming here, as you have brought many of my friends here as well.

Noma Japan

Noma Japan

Lovely floral arrangement at the entrance. Noma has taken over the kitchen and dining room of Signature, a lovely French restaurant under the helm of chef Nicolas Boujema (who makes a killer black truffle waffle). I understand that some of the staff of Signature, both front- and back-of-the-house are working side-by-side with team Noma. Having been at Signature before it was interesting to see the change. Even the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental has changed. When I first got off of the elevator I thought I was on the wrong floor.

長野の森香るシマエビ(ボタンエビ/手長海老)

長野の森香るシマエビ(ボタンエビ/手長海老)

Botan ebi, so fresh that it was still wiggling. The Japanese diner next to met let out a big scream when the botan ebi jumped off of the ice onto her lap. Chef Rene came to see what was the matter and just reminded her that it was that fresh. The ants are harvested from the Nagano forests. I had my first ant at chef Zaiyu Hasegawa’s Den. The Mandarin Bar just adjacent to Noma also serves regional specialities. Most recently, four types of insects from Nagano.

苺と酒粕 花の漬け物

苺と酒粕 花の漬け物

I am allergic to shrimp and was served this dish. Chef Rene served the first course to us. I offered him a copy of my book, Food Sake Tokyo, but he said that he had bought ten copies of it for his staff. Woo-hoo! He also said that is why they selected this first dish for me, because of the sake kasu under the unripened strawberry. I asked if he had a hard time finding a farmer to harvest strawberries before they fully ripened and he said that it took three months to find someone who would do it for him. He did say that now that farmer has introduced this concept to other chefs who are now also using it. Very cool to see Rene leaving his footprint in Japan.

柑橘とピパーツ

柑橘とピパーツ

This was one of my favorites. Four types of citrus (mikan, kabosu, buntan, and hassaku) with sansho leaves, long pepper, and an intense Rishiri kombu oil. An unusual flavor combination, but in a very cool way.

削られた鮟鱇の肝

削られた鮟鱇の肝

My husband is a fishmonger and we eat a lot of ankimo (monkfish liver) at home. Rene’s version was chilled and then shaved. The cold texture was unexpected and fun at the same time.

烏賊の塩辛そば 松出汁とバラの花

烏賊の塩辛そば 松出汁とバラの花

Another seafood dish that we often eat at home, shiokara, or squid and fermented squid guts. Noma’s twist on it was to serve it like soba with a broth made from pine needles and garnished with fresh rose petals.

エイブルスキーヴァー

エイブルスキーヴァー

This was my favorite of the whole meal, Æbleskiver, which looked like takoyaki to me, but I was told it was a play on a traditional Danish sweet. It was stuffed with steamed mustard leaf greens and garnished with flowers pickled in apple vinegar – a nod to the traditional dish which is usually made with apples.

蜆とサルナシ

蜆とサルナシ

Shijimi is a fresh water clam that we use at home for making miso soup. It’s very interesting as we never eat the meat of the clam, we just boil it to make a broth and then add miso to it. We only slurp the broth, never dig into the shells. Which is what made this all the more special, the time and attention to detail for it to be made so beautifully. The crust was made with Rausu kombu and flour.

出来立て豆腐と天然クルミ

出来立て豆腐と天然クルミ

The freshly made tofu topped with shaved, wild walnuts. Delicious tofu – and impressive as making tofu is very hard to do. Kudos to Team Noma.

二日間乾燥させた帆立 ブナの実と昆布の香り

二日間乾燥させた帆立 ブナの実と昆布の香り

Another cold dish – which again, was unexpected and fun, made from scallops and beechnuts. The texture reminded me of Aero candy, light and airy.

ほっこり南瓜 ウワミズザクラの木のオイルと桜の花の塩漬け

ほっこり南瓜 ウワミズザクラの木のオイルと桜の花の塩漬け

Hokkaido pumpkin marinated in cherry blossom tree oil garnished with salted cherry blossoms and roasted kelp strips. This is a lovely reflection of how Rene has incorporated Japan into one dish with flavors from the land and sea.

黒にんんくの花

黒にんんくの花

Fermented black garlic is all over the markets in Japan. Here it is made into a leather and folded like origami into a leaf. Once the leaf is turned over the Nagano ants come back for an encore appearance.

様々な根菜類 生姜と共に

様々な根菜類 生姜と共に

This dish reminded me of Japanese New Year’s as we use many of the same vegetables in our osechi ryori, like the renkon and kuwai.

野生の鴨 マツブサの実

野生の鴨 マツブサの実

Wild duck glazed in fermented rye.

野生の鴨 マツブサの実

野生の鴨 マツブサの実

Carved in the kitchen and then served to the table.

イーストと椎茸の中で炊かれた蕪

イーストと椎茸の中で炊かれた蕪

Kabu (turnip) is a classic winter vegetable for soups in Japan. Noma cooks the turnip in a mushroom broth and then garnishes it with a roasted yeast and parsley oil.

米

The rice course is always the last savory course in traditional Japanese kaiseki cuisine. Here the rice is hidden underneath milk crisps, milk and sake ice cream and sake kasu. A sorrel sauce brought it all together.

白下糖でまる一日かけて煮込んだ人参芋

白下糖でまる一日かけて煮込んだ人参芋

This sweet potato cooked all day in raw sugar reminded me of Den as chef Hasegawa also has a dessert made with a similar sugar concentrate. Rene and chef Hasegawa are friends and so perhaps this is chef Hasegawa’s influence?

肉桂と発酵キノコ

肉桂と発酵キノコ

The meal ends with this fun presentation of cinnamon roots and chocolate-covered fermented cepes. We ordered coffee and tea to finish the meal as we hear it is the only thing that was brought from Denmark. As a Noma virgin it was great fun to have my first be here at home in Tokyo. While I am familiar with many of the ingredients, it was a pleasure to introduced to things I did not know are in Japan, like sorrel. Many of the dishes are unusual, but in a good way. The flavor profile was very different from what I am used to. There was no soy sauce, for example. A great reminder that there are other flavors yet to explore in Japan. The General Manager of the Mandarin Oriental, Anthony Costa, has said that in bringing Noma over he didn’t want it to be a short pop-up, which is the case with most guest chef appearances at Tokyo hotels. He also said that Rene and his team really threw themselves into this project by coming over so many times in the last year. I am already looking forward to seeing who Costa-san brings in next. :-) Arigato to Rene and his team for coming to Japan. Otsukaresama desu.

Tsukiji Toritoh

Toritoh Mizutaki

Toritoh Mizutaki

Over the winter break it was announced that Tsukiji Inner Market (Tsukiji Jonai) will be moving to its new home in November of 2016. We have been very busy with our Food Sake Tokyo tours as customers are wanting to see the historic market before then. I have written about Toritoh in the Tsukiji Outer Market (Tsukiji Jogai) in the past:

http://foodsaketokyo.com/2014/10/25/tsukiji-market-toritoh-鳥藤/

http://foodsaketokyo.com/2012/12/18/tsukiji-market-cheap-eats-toritoh-chicken/

Today I would like to introduce to Toritoh in the inner market. The same shop, just a different location, and more importantly, a completely different menu.

Mizutaki is a classic chicken soup often found in Kyushu in Southern Japan. The version at Toritoh has a rich stock and chicken still on the bone, making it a bit challenging to eat, but worth the effort. The chicken is rough chopped and there are some bits of bones in the soup, not for delicate eaters. This dish is rich in umami and will have you smacking your lips even after you have left the shop.

Toritoh Singapore Chicken

Toritoh Singapore Chicken

I loved the first bit of the Singapore chicken as it reminded me of when we lived in Singapore. But after a while I realized the water the chicken was cooked in was over salted on this day, and the sweet soy sauce they had was not authentic. The rice was cooked in a chicken stock which was nicely done.

Toritoh Kara-age

Toritoh Kara-age

I was enjoying my chicken breakfasts so much that I went back once more for the kara-agé (fried chicken). This was by far my favorite. The chicken is juicy and served hot, just out of the frying pan. As we are in the middle of winter, I will be going back soon. It’s too cold to have sushi first thing in the morning.

One of the other pleasures of passing time here is the lovely, low voice of one of the older cooks in the kitchen. His voice is one of a fishmonger, deep and resonant. Just listening to him repeat orders or call out thank-you to customers as they left the restaurant was a pleasure.

Toritoh Exterior

Toritoh Exterior

The oyako-don, mother-and-child dish of eggs and chicken over rice is also a popular item at Toritoh. There is a small take-out window in front and many of the tourists over the three days were buying chicken dishes to take home. Most of the customers were fishmongers coming in for a quick meal after their work in the market. These guys would open the door and call out their order and pre-pay for the meal as soon as they were seated. The tourists, myself included, would carefully peruse the menu and see what others were eating before ordering, and then would pay when we were done eating. It’s fun to eat elbow-to-elbow with the fishmongers. I am sure this will change when the market moves to the new location in Toyosu.

Toritoh at Tsukiji Inner Market

鳥めし 鳥藤場内店 (とりめし とりとうじょうないてん)

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1, Building #8

Hours 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Chef Narisawa’s Kitchen Car – One of Japan

Starting January 7 and running through March 8 adjacent to the Diner’s Club Ice Rink in Roppongi, chef Yoshihiro Narisawa is serving cuisine from his first Kitchen Car. I much prefer the name the Japanese have given to food trucks, kitchen cars. If you are at all familiar with chef Narisawa’s gorgeous and spacious kitchen at his restaurant, you can understand the big change it is for him.

One of Japan

One of Japan

The menu at last night’s press event included grilled Hiroshima oysters, soups, and sandwiches. The soups are classic regional styles from the north to the south.

– Hokkaido’s Ishikari Nabe is made with salmon, vegetables, and miso – a staple for Hokkaido winters.

– Kyoto’s Shiro Miso Ozoni combines grilled rice cakes with a sweet, white miso.

– Hakata Motsu Nikomi is wagyu offal simmered in a spicy miso soup.

The sandwiches are made with an 18-grain flour and are filled with pork, chicken, or vegetables.

The menu will be changing throughout the 61 days of the event, encouraging diners to come back.

One of Japan

One of Japan

Most impressive was the list of farmers and producers who are collaborating with Chef Narisawa for this event including some of my favorites like Okui kombu from Fukui, Hida Gyu from Gifu, and Sanshu Mikawa mirin from Aichi. It’s a long list and there is a map in front of the kitchen car highlighting where the different ingredients are procured from.

One of Japan

One of Japan

There was sake as well last night, including Fukushima’s Daishichi Kimoto, a nice partner to the motsu nabe.

Even if you are not an ice skater, a visit to Roppongi Midtown is a great excuse to check out the great food shops on the first floor. Narisawa’s Kitchen Car is just across the street from the food court.

Narisawa Kitchen Car – One of Japan

Minato-ku, Akasaka 9-7-1, Tokyo Midtown, Diner’s Club Ice Rink (across the street from the Ritz-Carlton

Now through March 8th. Hours are 11 a.m. to about 9 p.m.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/NARISAWA-KITCHEN-CAR-One-of-JAPAN/434288743389112

Oyster Ramen at Tsukiji Yajima 築地やじ満

Tsukiji Yajima oyster ramen

Tsukiji Yajima oyster ramen

Tsukiji Market breakfast options abound and oyster ramen (1,200 JPY) is one can only be had this time of year. Creamy oysters are a unique topping for ramen and are served with nira (garlic chives), onions, bamboo shoots, and fresh wood-ear mushrooms. The noodles are straight and thin, a nice contrast to the large oysters. It’s a large bowl and very filling so come hungry, and come while oysters are in season.

Most of the diners at Yajima are fishmongers from the inner market. Many of them were ordering fried rice or shio (salt) ramen and a half order of shumai (steamed pork dumplings). They are in and out quickly and pay when they order. It was the tourists (myself included) who ordered the oyster ramen (kaki ra-men) and paid after eating.

Tsukiji Yajima exterior

Tsukiji Yajima exterior

Plenty of other restaurants serving fried oysters at Tsukiji Market including:

http://foodsaketokyo.com/2014/07/28/deep-fried-oysters-at-tsukiji-markets-odayasu/

http://www.chowzter.com/fast-feasts/asia-pacific/Tsukiji?rest_id=5111&rest_name=Toyo-chan%20(Tsukiji%20Market)&item_id=5144

Yajima やじ満

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1 Bldg. 8

http://www.tsukijigourmet.or.jp/29_yajiman/index.htm

2015 Tokyo Michelin Guide

2015MGT_HY01_19_giji_CS6.indd

The 2015 Tokyo Michelin Guide is out and is available online for free:

http://gm.gnavi.co.jp/home/

This is a nice reminder to what a wonderful food city Tokyo is.

Michelin Tokyo by the numbers:

551 restaurants

12 3-star restaurants (one was promoted)

53 2-star restaurants

161 1-star restaurants

325 restaurants providing good value, quality food for less than 5,000 JPY

213 new entries to the guide

8 restaurants less than 1,500 JPY with Michelin stars

118 restaurants less than 1,500 JPY good value restaurants

Some other notables

Makimura was promoted from 2 to 3 stars.

Harutaka, one of my favorite sushi restaurants, was promoted from 1 to 2 stars.

L’Effervescence was promoted from 1 to 2 stars.

L’Osier, closed for 2 1/2 years, has come back with 2 stars.

Tapas Molecular Bar at the Mandarin Oriental is new with 1 star.

There are lots of new entries in the great value restaurants, too many to even comment on.

Regional Dishes at the Mandarin Bar *updated 16 Jan 2015

Hachinoko bee larva

Hachinoko bee larva

** Note that the Nagano Insect Platter has now been replaced by the Hokkaido Delicacies (below). 16 Jan 2015

The Mandarin Oriental in Tokyo’s historic Nihonbashi district is host to one of the hottest culinary events, NOMA Japan, in early 2015. The culinary program at Japanese hotels are quite strong, and the Mandarin Oriental is an example of this. Take a look at some of the small bites served at the Mandarin Bar. Currently on the menu are regional foods from Nagano prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, a mountainous area that we love to escape to for fresh air, blue skies, soba, and saké.

I was so curious to see an Edible Insect Tasting Platter on the Snack Menu. I thought that maybe the bar menu was influenced by the NOMA team as they are famous for serving ants. I was recently served ants at Den in Jimbocho and of course it is being found on more menus around the world. I was told that one of the chefs on staff wants to feature more regional cuisine and this is an example of just that.

There are three types of insects on the tasting platter, and I have tried the locusts 25 years ago as it is also found in Yamagata where my family is from, so I thought it would be a piece of cake. I was not as brave as I thought I would be. The insects sat on the table for a long time before I could muster the courage the even attempt picking something up. I was advised to start with the bee larva, hachinoko. It was actually good. Better to not even think about what you are eating and just dig in. All of the insects are cooked in a sweet soy broth, so the flavor profiles are quite similar, it’s more about texture, at least it was for me. The baby bees were soft and quite palatable. I would go back for more of these, yes, I would.

Kaiko no Sanagi (silkworm)

Kaiko no Sanagi (silkworm)

The silkworms, kaiko no sanagi, were the hardest to try as they looked the most like an insect. If any of you have seen the movie A Bug’s Life you may feel like you are eating your friends. I assumed that the silkworm was going to be crunchy as the outer skin looks hard. These were actually soft, chewy, and not bad. Don’t judge a book by its cover. It was fine and I would eat it again.

Inago locust

Inago locust

Locusts, inago, I have had in the past, so I knew I could have it again. Of the three, these are the most recognizable insect. My aunt in Yamagata tells me that when they were kids during the wartime that her siblings would collect these and bring them to school where they would be sold for making this dish. Of the three, this was the hardest to eat, as the locusts do retain a bit of crunchiness. But the sweet soy flavor is appealing.

I believe the insect tasting platter will only be on the menu for a little bit longer. I do encourage you, if you are an adventurous eater, to come to the Mandarin Bar and go for it. If you are going to eat insects, then why not do it at a gorgeous bar overlooking Tokyo with stars in the skies.

Hokkaido Delicacies

Hokkaido Delicacies

From left to right: Smoked oysters in olive oil, braised bear meat and bamboo shoots, venison jerky, Matsumaezuke of herring roe, dried squid, and kombu, and salmon jerky.

I was told that the next featured regional food on the menu will be delicacies from Hokkaido and had a chance to try this as well. Hokkaido is the island at the north of Japan. Surrounded by waters so a rich seafood culture, but also filled with dense woods, so wild animals as well. This is much easier to dive into as everything is recognizable. The smoked oysters are creamy and rich. I was surprised that my favorite of the five was the braised bear meet and bamboo shoots, it is rich in umami. The jerky in the middle is made from venison, something I grew up with in Minnesota. The Matsumaezuke includes kazunoko, herring roe, which is not found in other regional versions of this dish, so very over-the-top. Herring roe is treasured for its crunchy texture, which is balanced with soft kombu and squid. Finally, on the far right is salmon jerky. This dish is new to the menu and will be on it for a while.

The cocktail program here is strong with many original cocktails, featuring seasonal touches, or try one of the Japanese whiskies, which are getting a lot of press for beating out their Scotch peers.

The Mandarin Bar is on the 37th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo. No cover charge.

Mandarin Bar

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi-Muromachi 2-1-1

11:30 a.m. – 2 a.m.

03-3270-8188

Sukiyabashi Jiro and Masuhiro Yamamoto

Sukiyabashi Jiro and Masuhiro Yamamoto

Sukiyabashi Jiro and Masuhiro Yamamoto

Jiro Ono, master chef and owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro recently celebrated his 89th birthday. Yesterday it was announced that the Japanese government is awarding him with a special honor for his contributions and hard work as a sushi craftsman. Today there was a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan and here are just some of the juicy bits. In attendance was food writer Masuhiro Yamamoto, Jiro Ono, and his eldest son, Yoshikazu Ono.

Jiro started working in a kitchen at the age of eight, so he has been in this craft for 81 years. Yamamoto said that Jiro is still far from retiring.

Jiro was awarded a distinction, similar to a Living National Treasure, when he was 80-years old. This new award is not usually given to individuals but to groups, so this new award is very unique.

During the introductions the interpreter said Sukiyaki Jiro (instead of Sukiyabashi Jiro) to which Yamamoto politely corrected her and mentioned that there is in fact a person who is called Sukiyaki Jiro. :-)

Yamamoto-san said that he believes that Sukiyabashi Jiro is the cleanest restaurant in the world. He went on to say that Jiro says 50% cooking and 50% cleaning.

At Sukiyabashi Jiro Yoshikazu will cut the seafood and Jiro will form the sushi in his hands. This is how it is done now.

Regarding standing all day for work, Jiro said that since he started working in a kitchen from the age of 8 he was too busy to do his homework so at school he was constantly being made to stand in the hallway, so he’s used to standing all day.

The movie, Dreams of Sushi, had a big influence for Jiro. That before the movie he was famous in Japan, but since the movie he moved into a cult-like status.

About 70% of the diners at Sukiyabashi Jiro are foreigners, so for some Japanese dining there they say that it doesn’t feel like they are in Japan.

Sukiyabashi Jiro

Masuhiro Yamamoto, Jiro Ono, and Yoshikazu Ono

Jiro believes that part of truly enjoying sushi comes from eating it properly. For this reason, he teamed up with Yamamoto to write a book, Jiro Gastronomy. There is a section in the book that describes how to properly eat sushi.

Jiro is an innovator. For example, Yamamoto said that in the past shrimp was boiled in the morning and then served to the customer later in the day, but that Jiro will wait until the customer has arrived until boiling it. Yamamoto also used the example that 30 years ago sushi courses usually started off with tuna, but that Jiro started serving white fish like flounder or sole before moving onto tuna.

Very interesting fact-checking on President Obama dining at Sukiyabashi Jiro.

The restaurant opened for Obama and Abe only after the regular customers finished their meals, so no customers were told they had to give up their reservations.

The left-handed Obama is very good at using chopsticks.

Obama ate all of the omakase sushi course. Some rumors were saying that Obama had only eaten a few pieces, but this is not true.

Jiro Gastronomy

Masuhiro Yamamoto contributed to Foodie Top 100 and to Jiro Gastronomy

These are two books that were given out to journalists at the press conference. I will include these in a blogpost so stay tuned.

Where to Get Coffee at Tokyo Station – Standby Coffee

Standby Coffee by Sarutahiko

Standby Coffee by Sarutahiko

I travel through Tokyo Station almost five times a week. Until recently getting a really good cup of coffee in the morning has been a challenge. Finally there is a great little shop serving coffee by Sarutahiko Coffee in Ebisu (Ebisu 1-6-6). Standby opens at 7 a.m. which is often the time I am getting to the station as I make my way to Tsukiji Market. The shop is hard to find, but persevere for it is worth it. The shop is near the South Entrance to the Shinkansen inside of Tokyo Station. If you have an early morning train out of Tokyo, be sure to allow yourself some time to pick up a cup of coffee at Standby. There is a narrow seating area in the back of the shop if you want to rest your feet.

Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 1-9-1, 1st Floor inside of Tokyo Station (near South Entrance to the Shinkansen)