July Seasonal Japanese Seafood 7月旬の魚

Some of our personal favorites include ayu (salted and grilled), shitabirame (meuniere), shijimi (miso soup), benisake (salted and grilled), and for sashimi – surumeika, kinmedai, takabe, and isaki. Most of the seafood have links to photos.

Ainame 鮎並 fat greenling (Hexagrammos otakii)

Akashita birame 赤舌鮃  red-tongued sole (Cynoglossus joyneri)

Awabi abalone (Haliotis sorenseni)

Ayu 鮎 sweetfish (Plecoglossus altivelis altivelis)

Benisake べにさけ 紅鮭 sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)

Dojou 泥鰌 loach (Misgurnus Anguillicaudatus)

Hamo   pike eel or pike conger (Muraenesox cinereus)

Inada イナダ young Japanese amberjack (Seriola quinqueradiata)

Isaki 伊佐幾 chicken grunt  (Parapristipoma trilineatum)

Ishidai 石鯛  barred knifejaw (Oplegnathus fasciatus)

Ishimochi イシモチ nibe croaker (Nibea mitsukurii)

Iwana 日光岩魚 whitespotted char (Salvelinus leucomaenis pluvius)

Kamasu 大和叺 barracuda (Sphyraena japonica)

Kanpachi  間八 amberjack or yellowtail (Seriola dumerili)

Katsuo 鰹  skipjack tuna or oceanic bonito (Katsuwonus pelamis)

Kawahagi 皮剥 thread-sail filefish (Stephanolepis cirrhifer)

Kihada maguro 黄肌鮪 yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares)

Kinmedai 金目鯛 splendid alfonsino (Beryx splendens)

Kisu 鱚 Japanese whiting (Sillago japonica)*or shirogisu

Kochi 鯒 bartail flathead (Platycephalus)

Kuro maguro 黒鮪 bluefin tuna (Thunus thynnus)

Maaji 真鯵 Japanese jack mackerel (Trachurus japonicus)

Maanago 真穴子 whitespotted conger (Conger myriaster)

Maiwashi 真鰯  Japanese sardine (Sardinops melanostictus)

Makogarei 真子鰈 marbled sole (Pleuronectes yokohamae)

Masaba 真鯖 Pacific mackerel (Scomber japonicus)

Mejimaguro めじまぐろ young tuna (genus Thunnus) if it is a young bluefin tuna it will be called honmeji, if it is a young yellowfin tuna it will be called kinmeji.

Niji masu 虹鱒 rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Oni okoze  鬼虎魚 spiny devilfish (Inimicus japonicus)

Shijimi – 大和蜆 corbicula clams or water clams (Corbicula japonica)

Shima aji  島鯵 striped jack or white trevally (Pseudocaranx dentex)

Shiro ika 白いか  swordtip squid (Loligo (Photololigo) edulis)* or kensaki ika

Shitabirame 舌平目 (or ushinoshita) four line tongue sole(Arelia bilineat)

Surumeika 鯣烏賊  Japanese common or flying squid (Todarodes pacificus)

Suzuki 鱸  Japanese sea perch (Lateolabrax japonicus)

Tachiuo 太刀魚 cutlassfish (Trichiurus lepturus)

Takabe たかべ yellow-striped butterfish (Labracoglossa argentiventris)

Tobiuo 飛魚 Japanese flying fish (Cypselurus agoo agoo)

Unagi 鰻 Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica)

Summer Foods in Tokyo

Kinozen in Kagurazaka

A reader of Food Sake Tokyo recently contacted me regarding her upcoming trip to Tokyo. She asked if there were certain foods she should try in the summer in Japan. Here is my list of favorite Japanese food during the steamy months of July and August. If you can only have one dish, then make it the chilled ramen noodles at Sapporo-ya #4. There’s a photo of it in my book, Food Sake Tokyo. Click on the links for restaurant information.

1. Kakigori - shaved ice with toppings. Click for my favorite restaurants.

2. Cold Soba is great all-year long, but especially in summer.

3. Cold Udon is becoming popular, and is much more filling than soba.

4. Hiyashi Chuka Gomadare at Sapporo-ya in Nihonbashi. Chilled ramen noodles in a large bowl with vegetable toppings and an umami-rich sesame dressing. Lip-smacking good. Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 3-3-5, Basement 1. 03-3275-0024. Monday – Friday 11:00 – 21:30, Saturday 11:00 – 16:00. Closed Sunday and holidays.

Also, check out Ivan Ramen‘s websites. He often makes seasonal ramen, suited for each season.

5. Reimen – chilled Korean noodles. Most Korean restaurants will serve this dish. I like Pyon Pyon Sha in Ginza. Chuo-ku, Ginza 3-2-15, Ginza Glasse 11F . 03-3535-3020. Open Mon-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun & hols 11am-10pm

www.pyonpyonsya.co.jp

Kintame Bubuchazuke

6. Kintame for a full meal based around a variety of Japanese pickles.

7. While the most convenient beer gardens are found on department store roofs, my favorite is Meiji Kinen Kan in Akasaka for its pedicured lawn, quiet space, and lack of drunk salarymen.

Kirin Frozen Draft Beer – Frozen Garden Tokyo in Otemachi

photo from Kirin website

In summer we love to head to the roofs of department stores for Japanese beer gardens. Kirin has a beer garden in Ginza that features a great new product, frozen draft beer. Well, not quite frozen, but very cold, and the foam on top is frozen.

Here is a map of restaurants in Tokyo (in Japanese) serving the frozen Kirin draft beer.

Alternatively, go to the Kirin Ichiban Shibori Frozen Garden Tokyo in Otemachi. Beer friendly dishes like edamame, fish and chips, rotisserie chicken, chips and guacamole, and more.

Chiyoda-ku, Otemachi 1-7-2, Tokyo Sankei Building 1F

090-3342-0148 (no reservations)

Weekdays 16:00~23:00(Last Order.22:30)
Saturday 12:00~22:00(L.O.21:30)
Sunday and holidays 12:00~20:00(L.O.19:30)

Kozue at the Park Hyatt Tokyo

Kozue at the Park Hyatt Tokyo under the helm of talented chef Kenichiro Ooe is a wonderful traditional Japanese restaurant with amazing views of Mount Fuji on a clear day. Lunch was a gorgeous affair filled with seasonal spring May seafood and vegetables.

First course - Yomogi (mugwort) tofu garnished with shirasu, umeboshi neriume, gomadare (sesame sauce), and wasabi – loved the lacquer spoon at the bottom of the photo.

First course close-up. The yomogi is an earthy green which was a nice contrast to the sesame dressing. The tart umeboshi brightened up the palate and the shirasu added a nice texture and contrast to the dish.

Second course - Ainame (greenling) with itawarabi (gelatin-like sheets made from bracken – this can only be made in the spring), and wakame soup with ki no me (tender leaves from Japanese prickly ash sansho).

One of the pleasures of Japanese cuisine is that even after years of experiencing the cuisine, I am constantly learning about new ingredients. Today’s surprise was the itawarabi. It had a delicate, jelly-like texture. I thought it was a thin sheet of konnyaku. Chef Oe explained that it was itawarabi and something that is only made in spring when warabi are harvested from the mountains.

Third course – Sashimi course of tairagai (pen shell), katsuo with pickled rakkyo over grated daikon oroshi, ika (squid), and namanori (fresh nori), and julienned daikon.

A famous chef from the US highly recommended Kozue to me. He said the cuisine was exquisite, but he was also taken with the presentation of the food and the serving vessels. I understood when this sashimi course was presented in this large ceramic filled with crushed ice. The kimono-clad waitress then plated the seafood and garnishes onto serving dishes. A feast for the eyes indeed. See for yourself the difference from the above photo to the one below.

Third course – after arranged by waitress. My favorite was the tairagai which I don’t see much outside of Japan, notably sashimi grade tairagai.

Fourth course – Again a beautiful presentation under fresh wasabi leaves.

Fourth course  uncovered - Spanish mackerel with eggs, hotaruika (firefly squid), kani  (crab) potato croquette.

Fifth course - Tai zushi under a sakura leaf

Sixth course - Takenoko (bamboo shoots) pork and cabbage (home-style rolled cabbage). This is a dish I will try to make at home. I love rolled cabbage but can’t be bothered with making the dish more than once a year. Here, chef Ooe stuffs the ground pork mixture into layers of cabbage that are then cooked. Brilliant idea. And, delicious.

Seventh course - Asari gohan with pickles and fuki (butterbur) miso soup. Asari clams cooked with the rice. A nice way to end the savory dishes with.

Eighth course - Yamabudo (mountain grapes) with ichigo strawberries and biwa (loquat) jelly and creme sauce and berry sauce. I love these large glass dishes. I have seen it used for both savory and sweet courses and it’s always a treat. This course was a nice, light finish to the many dishes.

We had tea with our meal and I feel as though we were served at least two if not three types of tea throughout the meal. Service was lovely. And even though I speak Japanese it was nice to hear the staff explain each dish in English. They could answer all my questions which was also very impressive.

While my eyes are mostly on the food, between courses looking over the room the high ceilings are impressive. The windows face West. So if the skies are clear Mount Fuji is just in front of you. On this weekday lunch the restaurant was very busy. A few tourists, several business lunches, and some ladies-who-lunch types.

One option at lunch is to take your dessert at the Peak Bar & Lounge which is a restaurant on a different floor, also with high ceilings and great views, including a wall that overlooks Mount Fuji. I will do this next time I eat at Kozue.

Chef Ooe came out and talked about the dishes, ingredients, and about Japanese food in general. He said that he is from Yamagata, which is also where my mother is from. Now that I see his photo, I think we could be long-lost relatives. We could be second or third cousins. He reminds me of some of my first cousins so you never know. :-)

Kozue at the Park Hyatt Tokyo

click on the link above and another link will appear for the menu

Shinjuku-ku, Nishi-Shinjuku 3-7-1-2

03.5323.3460

Lunch: Daily – 11:30 am to 2:30 pm
Dinner: Daily – 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm

Gotta Get – Yuzusco Yuzu Tabasco

I am a condiment addict. I need to get things in order as our fridge is overflowing with tubes and jars. When working for a travel company I remember having lunch with an automotive executive on our way to the airport. This well-dressed, worldly man pulled out a small bottle of Tobasco from his briefcase. I couldn’t believe it. He was probably on the road 2-3 weeks a month and he said he always carried Tobasco with him. I am not that committed to my condiments, but here is one to put on your radar. Yuzusco, think Tobasco with the citrusy aromatics and bite of yuzu.

It was so good the bottle went quickly. It went with everything I paired it with. Grilled chicken, grilled fish, gyoza, steamed vegetables, pizza, and pasta. Too hot now to make nabe (hot pots) but I am sure it would have been perfect for that as well.

The Yuzusco website (in English) has the perfect tagline: Once you use it, you won’t want to stop – it’ll become a habit. So true. The company also makes a red yuzu sauce as well as a ginger sauce. I haven’t seen it around much.

I found it at our local depachika in a Tokyo suburb. And, a reader wrote in to say that they found it at Ginza Mitsukoshi‘s depachika. Check the sundries department that sells basic pantry items. The company website is in several languages so I imagine they are working hard to export this.

Ten Udon Shops in Tokyo

Udon noodles are everywhere I look. TV programs, food magazines, and newspapers are all covering the different types of udon noodles, ways of eating it, and where to go in Tokyo.

My fall back restaurant has always been the chain store Hanamaru. Mainly because it was close to where I was working, it’s cheap, and very good for the price. The menu changes throughout the year offering seasonal specialties. At home we usually have dried udon noodles in our pantry for a last minute meal or a light snack. If we are making a nabe (hot pot) we’ll get some frozen udon noodles to throw in the pot at the end of the meal.

However, now restaurants are making their own udon noodles or serving them as traditionally served in different regions around Japan. Here is a list of ten udon shops worth seeking out in Japan. If the restaurant has a website I’ve included a link. Just click on the restaurant name.

Here are tips to demystifying an udon menu.

1. Sanuki Udon Nenotsu 讃岐饂飩 根の津

Bunkyo-ku, Nezu 1-23-16

03-3822-9015

Handmade noodles. To try very simple noodles order the kama-age udon.

2. Taniya 谷や

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-15-17

03-5695-3060

Handmade Sanuki udon noodles at this modern restaurant near the Suitengumae temple.

3. Udon Kokuwagata うどん こくわがた

Bunkyo-ku, Hongo 2-39-7

03-5689-2132

Tight quarters at this tachigui standing bar with handmade Sanuki udon noodles.

4. Sato Yosuke 佐藤養助

Chuo-ku, Ginza 6-4-17

03-6215-6211

Inaniwa udon from Akita prefecture are thin noodles. Sato Yosuke is a 7th generation shop in Akita. This Ginza shop has been open since 2006. A modern take on the dish are tsuke-men noodles can be dipped in Italian, French, or Thai curry broths, as well as the traditional soy based broth.

5. Nanakura 七蔵

Minato-ku, Shinbashi 2-20-15, Shinbashi Eki-mae Bldg. 1 Go, 2F

03-3571-5012

In the basement of a building in front of Shinbashi station, this popular 30-year old shop usually has a line of customers at lunch time for the Inaniwa udon. A popular dish is cold noodles served with a hot sesame dipping broth made from katsuobushi broth with minced duck and seasonal ingredients.

6. Fuji Yoshida Udon Marunaga 富士吉田うどん まるなが

Shingawa-ku, Ebara 1-22-4

03-3786-4777

Fuji Yoshida udon noodles are thick and known for having a dense texture.

7. Misonikomin 味噌煮込罠

Bunkyo-ku, Hongo 3-31-15

03-3812-2286

Nagoya udon is famous for using the very hearty Hatcho miso in the broth.

8. Kushi Katsu Kasu Udon Tanaka 串カツかすうどん田中

Meguro-ku, Kami-Meguro 2-21-4

03-6426-8866

Osaka udon is the speciality of this shop with very simple settings.

9. Koko Nagasaki ここ長崎

Toshima-ku, Sugamo 3-38-4

03-6426-2717

Nagasaki udon are thin and light.

10. Sawanoi 澤乃井

Shibuya-ku, Shibuya 1-8-5, Ogawa Bldg. 1F

03-3409-1058

Miyazaki Kama-age udon noodles are the specialty of this shop.

Tokyo Sky Tree Solamachi Food Shop Highlights

Tokyo Sky Tree is the city’s most popular tourist destination. The world’s tallest tower (for the time being) the communication tower replaces the landmark Tokyo Tower.

Solamachi, at the base of Tokyo Sky Tree, is very exciting mall to visit with so many shops it’s hard to come up with a short list. It has over 300 shops including Eataly, as well as Niki no Kashi and a dagashiya for old-time Japanese sweets. If you do visit, here are my gotta go shops:

1. Lupicia for its amazing teas. I first came to know Lupicia from chef Seiji Yamamoto at Nihonryori Ryugin. The restaurant served a cherry flavored green tea (sakurambo vert) that was delicious and I have been a fan ever since. 1F-EastYard-44

2. A store that specializes in salt, Ma-suya, from Okinawa. Over 70 salts from Okinawa and 300 salts from throughout Japan. A salt sommelier can advise which salts are best suited to certain dishes. 4F-EastYard-34

3. Hasegawa Saketen is one of my favorite sake shops in Tokyo. The collection is great, staff are knowledgeable and approachable.  And this branch has a standing bar.  1F-EastYard-47

4. Tobu Department Store. This department store is said to have 70 original “Sky Tree goods” that can only be purchased at this store.  4F-EastYard-48

5. Qu’il fait bon specializes in seasonal fresh fruit pies and tarts. 2F-EastYard-48

6. We are big fans of Uoriki for good sushi at a great price. 2F-WestYard-19

7. The original branch of Mamegen is in Azabu-Juban. If you go, be sure to pick up a bag of the “shio kaki” salted and deep-fried rice crackers. And be sure to check out the wide variety of flavored beans and rice crackers. 4F-EastYard-32

photo is from Solamachi website

8. Who can resist the great packaging at Mameya Bankyu? Inside find roasted beans in flavors like cheese pepper, wasabi, or curry. 4F-EastYard-44

9. The original shop of Nihonbashi Nishiki Hourin in the basement of Tokyo Station almost always has a long line. Known for its karintou, a sweet cracker that comes in great flavors like kinpira gobo, sumi charcoal, and black pepper. 2F-TowerYard-33

photo is from Nenrinya website

10. Chiisana Baum Tsuri- by Nenrinya gets my vote for one of the best original sweets. This baumkuchen shop, Nenrinya, has created mini baumkuchen on a stick. Must take me back to my youth and the Minnesota State Fair. 2F-TowerYard-41

June Seasonal Japanese Seafood 6月旬の魚

June Seasonal Seafood

The arrival of ayu is a sign that summer has arrived. Simply salted and grilled is the most popular way of serving this tender-fleshed fish. Kawahagi is a funny looking fish. The skin is so thick, hence the name kawahagi, or leather jacket. We love this fish as sashimi. If we’re lucky, the fresh fish will have its liver, which we mix with ponzu and serve with the sashimi.

Katsuo simply seared on the edges, sliced thickly, and served with some soy sauce and garlic. Katsuo tataki is particularly nice if you can garnish it with fresh myoga. Karei is lovely when deep-fried whole, a dish called karei no kara-age.

As for octopus, which is one of my favorite seafood if cooked properly, there are so many recipes. Shinji and I visited an octopus-processing factory and the staff there suggested putting boiled octopus on top of Japanese curry. It’s so easy as boiled octopus is often sold in Japanese supermarkets. And, it’s yummy.

Suzuki is a nice fish to sauté meuniere style. Tobiuo we love as sashimi. As for saba, there are so many different preparations, including simmered in miso, salted and grilled, deep-fried, or sautéed.

If you are in Tokyo, be sure to visit Tamai in Nihonbashi, near Takashimaya, for anago which is in season now.

And, while wakame is not a seafood, this sea vegetable is in season now. If you have the opportunity to have some you are in for a treat to enjoy its texture and flavor this time of year.

If you click on the Japanese name of the seafood you should be directed to a link with a photo.

Ainame 鮎並 fat greenling (Hexagrammos otakii)

Aji 鰺 Japanese horse mackerel (Trachurus japonicus)

Aka isaki 赤伊佐幾 Schlegel’s red bass (Caprodon schlegelii)

Akashita birame 赤舌鮃  red-tongued sole (Cynoglossus joyneri)

Anago  穴子 conger eels (Conger myriaster)

Aodai 青鯛 Blue fusiller  (Paracaesio caeruleus (Katayama))

Aori ika 障泥烏賊 big fin reef squid (Sepioteuthis lessoniana)

Awabi 鮑  abalone (Haliotis (Nordotis) discus discus)

Ayu 鮎 sweetfish (Plecoglossus altivelis altivelis)

Bai 貝 Japanese ivory shell  (Balylonia japonica)

Benisake べにさけ 紅鮭 sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)

Buri 鰤 Japanese amberjack (Seriola quinqueradiata)

Hamo   pike eel or pike conger (Muraenesox cinereus)

Hanafuedai – 花笛鯛   (Pristipomoidae argrogrammicus)

Horagai or boushuubora  房州法螺  Japanese triton (Charonia lampas sauliae)

Hoya 海鞘 sea squirt (Halocynthia roretzi)

Isaki 伊佐幾 chicken grunt  (Parapristipoma trilineatum)

Ishimochi – イシモチ  honnibe croaker (Nibea mitsukurii)

Iwana -    (Salvelinus leucomaenis pluvius)

Iwashi 鰯  spotline sardine (Sardinops melanostictus)

Jindou ika 神頭烏賊 Japanese dwarf squid (Loliolus (Nipponololig) japonica)

Kamasu 叺 barracuda (Sphyraena japonica)

Kanpachi  間八 amberjack or yellowtail (Seriola dumerili)

Karei  鰈 littlemouth flounder (Pleuronectes yokohamae)

Katsuo 鰹 skipjack tuna or oceanic bonito (Katsuwonus pelamis)

Kawahagi 皮剥 thread-sail filefish (Stephanolepis cirrhifer)

Kensaki ika 剣先烏賊 swordtip squid (Loligo edulis)

Kibinago 黍魚子 banded blue sprat (Spratelloides gracilis)

Kihada maguro 黄肌鮪 yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares)

Kijihata or akahata 雉子羽太  redspotted grouper (Epinephelus akaara)

Kisu or shirogisu 鱚 Japanese whiting (Sillago japonica)

Kochi 鯒 bartail flathead (Platycephalus)

Konoshiro or shinko 鰶 dotted gizzard shad (Konosirus punctatus)

Kuro maguro 黒鮪 bluefin tuna (Thunus thynnus)

Kurumaebi 車海老 Japanese tiger prawn (Penaeus (Melicertus) japonicus)

Madai or tai 真鯛 seabream (Pagurus major)

Makogarei 真子鰈 marbled sole (Pleuronectes yokohamae)

Oni okoze  鬼虎魚 spiny devilfish (Inimicus japonicus)

Ooasari 蜊蝦夷忘 Japanese littleneck clam (Callista berevisiphonata)

Saba 鯖 Pacific mackerel (Scomber japonicus)

Sazae 栄螺 horned turban shell (Turbo cornutus)

Shijimi – 大和蜆 corbicula clams or water clams (Corbicula japonica)

Shima aji or striped jack or white trevally 島鯵 (Pseudocaranx dentex)

Shira ebi 白海老 glass shrimp (Pasiphaea japonica)

Suzuki 鱸  Japanese sea perch (Lateolabrax japonicus)

Tako 蛸  common octopus (Octopus vulgaris)

Tobiuo 飛魚 Japanese flying fish (Cypselurus agoo agoo)

Torigai 鳥貝 heart clam (Fulvia mutica)

Uchimurasaki ウチムラサキ  butter clam (Saxidomus purpurata)

Uni –  sea urchin

Wakame

Yamameヤマメ cherry salmon (Oncorhynchus masou maso)