September Seasonal Japanese Seafood 9月旬の鮮魚

Grilled Nishin

While summer heat is still bearing down slowly autumn seafood are coming into the market. Hokkaido harvested its first akijake this week as well as sanma from Choshi port in Chiba. We love asari clams with pasta.

Nishin is a very fish fish, but easier on the palate when grilled. Hirame is excellent as sashimi. And, when we can’t finish it all in one night we’ll wrap it with kombu and have it as kobujime sashimi the next night. The hirame becomes rich with umami from the kombu. Hotate gai is sweet as sashimi, and irresistible when sautéed with a bit of butter. Kinki is a small (and expensive) fish that we love simmered in a rich soy broth. Finally, Shinji’s favorite tachiuo recipe is sashimi seasoned with a bit of sesame oil and a hint of salt.

Click on the Japanese name to see a photo of the seafood.

Ainame 鮎並 fat greenling (Hexagrammos otakii)

Aka garei 赤鰈flathead flounder (Hippoglossoides dubius)

Akijake 秋鮭

Amaebi 甘海老 sweet shrimp(Pandalus borealis)

Asaba garei 浅羽鰈 dusky sole (Lepidopsetta bilineata)

Asahigani spanner crab (Ranina ranina)

Asari 浅蜊 Japanese little neck clam (Ruditapes philippinarum)

Awabi 鮑abalone (Haliotis sorenseni)

Ayu 鮎 sweetfish (Plecoglossus altivelis altivelis)

Baka gai 馬鹿貝 surf clam (Mactra chinensis)

Benizuwai gani 紅頭矮蟹 red snow crab (Chionoecetes japonicus)

Botan ebi ボタンエビ Botan shrimp  (Pandalus nipponesis)

Chidai   血鯛  crimson sea bream (Evynnis japonica)

Dojou 泥鰌 loach (Misgurnus Anguillicaudatus)

Ezo bafun uni 蝦夷馬糞海胆 short-spined sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus intermedius)

Ezobora 蝦夷法螺 whelk (Neptunea polycostata)

Hakkaku 八角 sailfin poacher (Podothecus sachi)

Also called tokubire

Hanasaki gani 花咲蟹  spiny king crab (Paralithodes brevipes)

Hata hata 鰰  sailfin sandfish (Arctoscopus japonicus)

Hime ezobora 姫蝦夷法螺  sea snail (Neptunea arthritica)

Hirame 鮃 olive halibut (Paralichthys olivaceus) – KOBUJIME HIRAME POST

Hokke 𩸽 arabesque greenling (Pleurogrammus azonus)

Hokki gai (uba gai) 姥貝hen clam (Pseudocardium sachalinense)

Hokkoku aka ebi 北国赤蝦  Alaskan pink shrimp (Pandalus borealis)

Hon maguro (or kuromaguro) 黒鮪 bluefin tuna (Thunus thynnus)

Hotate gai 帆立貝 Japanese scallop (Mizuhopecten yessoensis)

Ibodai 疣鯛 butterfish (Psenopsis anomala)

Inada イナダ young Japanese amberjack (Seriola quinqueradiata)

Kaki  牡蠣 oyster (Crassostrea gigas)

Kamasu 大和叺 barracuda (Sphyraena japonica)

Katakuchi iwashi 片口鰯 Japanese anchovy (Engraulis japonicus)

Katsuo 鰹  skipjack tuna or oceanic bonito (Katsuwonus pelamis)

Kawa yatsume 川八目 Japanese lamprey (Lampetra japonica)

Kawagarei or Numagarei 沼鰈 starry flounder (Platichthys stellatus)

Kegani 毛蟹 horsehair crab (Erimacrus isenbeckii)

Kinki or Kichiji 黄血魚 thornhead (Sebastolobus macrochir)

Kita murasaki uni 北紫海胆 Northern sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus nudus)

Kouika 甲烏賊 cuttlefish (Sepia (Platysepia) esculenta)

Kounago 小女子 Japanese sand lance (Ammodytes personatus)

Kuro gashira garei 黒頭鰈 cresthead flounder (Pleuronectes schrenki)

Kurokarei 黒鰈 black plaice (Pleuronectes obscurus)

Kuromutsu 黒鯥 Japanese bluefish or bigeye (Scombrops gilberti)

Kuruma ebi 車海老 kuruma prawn (Penaeus (Melicertus) japonicus)

Ma anago 真穴子 conger eel (Conger myriaster)

Magarei 真鰈 littlemouth flounder (Pleuronectes herzensteini)

Maiwashi 真鰯  Japanese sardine (Sardinops melanostictus)

Mako garei 真子鰈 marbled flounder (Pleuronectes yokohamae)

Managatsuo 真名鰹 silver pomfret (Pampus punctatissimus)

Masaba 真鯖 Pacific mackerel (Scomber japonicus)

Masu 鱒 trout (there are many types of trout – see nijimasu, sakuramasu)

Mizudako 水蛸 North Pacific giant octopus (Octopus dofleini)

Namako 真海鼠 Japanese sea cucumber (Stichopus japonica)

Niji masu 虹鱒 rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Nishin 鰊 Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii)

Sake 鮭 salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)

Sakura masu 桜鱒 cherry salmon (Oncorhynchus masou maso)

Sanma 秋刀魚 Pacific saury (Cololabis saira)

Saragai 皿貝 Northern great tellin (Megangulus venulosa)

Shijimi 大和蜆 corbicula clam (Corbicula japonica)

Shirauo 白魚 icefish (Salangichthys microdon)

Shiro ika 白烏賊  swordtip squid (Loligo (Photololigo) edulis)* or kensaki ika

Souhachi 宗八鰈 pointhead flounder (Cleishenes pinetorum)

Suketou dara 鯳 Alaska pollack (Theragra chalcogramma)

Suna garei 砂鰈 sand flounder (Limanda punctatissima)

Surumeika 鯣烏賊 Japanese flying squid (Todarodes pacificus)

Tachiuo 太刀魚 cutlassfish (Trichiurus lepturus)

Tarabagani 鱈場蟹 Alaska king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus)

Torigai 鳥貝 Japanese cockle (Fulvia mutica)

Unagi 鰻 Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica)

Wakasagi 若細魚 Japanese smelt (Hypomesus nipponensis)

Warasa 鰤 Japanese amberjack (Seriola quinqueradiata)

Yanagi no mai 柳の舞 yellow rockfish (Sebastes steindachneri)

 

Tokyo’s Best Coffee – Five Questions for Mal Simpson

While Japan is known for its rich tea culture, there is no shortage of coffee shops, some with a cult following. Many citizens of this fast-paced metropolis stay energized with java. Shochu is more up my alley so I asked a friend, and coffee aficionado, who has made the rounds of Tokyo’s top coffee destinations for his verdict.

Mal Simpson, from Sydney, is part of the management team at Decanter, the flagship restaurant at the Tokyo American Club. See more on Mal below.

1. How did you get into coffee? Do you make coffee at home? If so, where do you buy your beans?

From my café days, the coffee machine was always so close to the kitchen line. When I open new places I always ask the chefs to try the coffee. They seem to know what they like even if they are not connoisseurs as such.

I don’t generally make coffee at home but if in a jam or too lazy to leave the house I use a MyPressi Twist hand held coffee maker. I buy my beans at NOZY Café, great blends and they always change their line up. Plus you get a great discount on a coffee when you buy beans there.

2. What is unique about the Tokyo coffee scene? The siphon coffee? Art work on lattes?

The art on some of these lattes is pretty awesome at some of the joints. Worthy of their own art exhibition for sure. Now there’s an idea! I prefer consistency and convenience with my coffee. I return to my regular haunts mainly because of these aspects.

3. Any thoughts of the ubiquitous canned coffee. Have you seen the Georgia Wa mattcha flavored coffee?

I think there is a statistic somewhere that says there is a vending machine in Japan for every 20-odd people. I do drink canned coffee every once in a while when an interesting new one comes out. The hot cans in winter-time come in handy. One in each hand whilst walking to the train station keeps you warm.

4. What do you think about old-style coffee shops like Renoir?

Yes I don’t frequent the old style “kissatens” at all. The ones I have been to are dark and gloomy and full of old people drinking watered down coffee through coffee stained teeth and chain smoking in constant haze of smoke. You get an ashtray and a glass of water as soon as you sit down. I read that there used to be around 160,000 kissatens in post WW2 Japan. Now there are less than 70,000 left, fading away in favour of the Starbucks, Excelsior Café and new-look Doutor Cafes. The one I went to in Nerima just outside central Tokyo looked like the furniture, décor, the staff and the menu prices had not changed in 50 years.

5. Your favorite coffee shops in Tokyo? Any coffee shops with really good food? What makes them special? 

It is hard to find a café in Tokyo that has all my prerequisites. Ultra cool, good service, fun staff, outdoor seating, great coffee and chilled music. But there are a few gems around that are worthy of a mention. (All coffee photos by Mal Simpson.)

 

Nozy – Sangenjaya (Setagaya-ku, Sangenjaya 2-29-7, http://www.nozycoffee.jp) – Home roasted, single origin, yes very old school idea considering the fad these days. Popular with cyclists, slightly off the beaten track though. They roast the beans in a small room right next to the coffee machine. You can imagine the beans hardly have time to cool before they are ground up and made into your coffee order. Talk about fresh! Owner Masataka Nojo started out in Shonan I heard back in his University days. Grab a brew take away and sit across the road in Setagaya Park. The coffee flavour will linger on in your mouth for the rest of the afternoon.

 

Streamer – Harajuku (Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 3-28-19, http://streamercoffee.com) – The owner Hiroshi Sawada seemingly has managed to make baristas look like rock stars. He has done collaborations with Apple, New Balance, Armarni, Casio, Patagonia and his latest gig is Barista Sports wear. Some of the merchandising he does in store is pretty cool too.

 

Lattest – Omotesando (Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 3-5-2m http://lattest.jp) Produced by Sawada of Streamer, inside looks like a warehouse art gallery. Staff are passionate about coffee and very friendly. As my friend quickly noticed, the girls’ uniform seems to be cut off jeans and sneaker. He often stays for several coffees of an afternoon.

 

Globe – Ikejiri (Setagaya-ku, Ikejiri 2-7-8, http://www.globe-antiques.com/cafe/) I love hanging out at this place on a rainy afternoon. Set in the corner of a huge antique shop in an equally impressive multi-storied building. You can basically buy the chair you are sitting on and add it to your bill. Fun selection of cakes under the counter and coffee served in a French-style bowl.

 

Gazebo – Daikanyama (Shibuya-ku, Ebisu-Nishi 1-33-15, http://www.gazebo.jp) One of the only places that you can sit in the sun and people watch whilst sipping coffee on the patio. They do a very reasonable light lunch set weekdays. Gazebo was one of the first places I found in Tokyo that had a discount when you “checked-in” to Gazebo using facebook.

 

Breadworks – Tennozu Isle (Shinagawa-ku, Higashi-Shinagawa 2-1-6, http://www.tyharborbrewing.co.jp/en/breadworks/about/story-of-breadworks/) – By the same guys who do Cicada and TY Harbour brewery etc. Built in an old factory warehouse and with a great deck for seating out along the waters edge. It hardly feels like you’re in Tokyo. I can never decide if I want to have their coffee and fresh made bread/pastries or go next door for a beer breakfast at TY Harbour. Worth a trip out there for brunch.

 

Nakameguro Lounge – Nakameguro (Meguro-ku, Kami-Meguro 3-6-18, http://nakameguro-lounge.net) – Ultra cool themed lounge. Always playing cool deep house or lounge and the odd acid jazz or sultry jazz track. Great coffee, excellent service and very reasonable prices for coffee and food.

 

Bear Pond – Shimokitazawa (Setagaya-ku, Kitazawa 2-36-12, http://www.bear-pond.com) – I think I would incur a wrath of complaints if I didn’t mention Bear Pond. Although my experience there was not as pleasant as others. I found the hand written signs around warning you not to take photos a little off-putting and the staff were far to overly “secretive” about their beans and roasting. The place is no bigger than a six mat tatami room and too far out of the way for me to make regular trips out there. In saying that, it is insanely popular and it was a great coffee. You should try the Ristretto. The owner is obviously totally into the coffee but I still rate NOZY Café as the best so far.

More on Mal:

After Graphic Design College thinking I could change the world, I quickly lost my passion for design and the inbred big corporate industry advertising and wound up helping out in my friends sushi bar. After wondering around the Japanese resto scene on the Gold Coast for a few years I eventually found some direction by studying Cajun Cooking at New Orleans Café (1996) in Sydney under my Chef mentor Chef Shea of Paul Prudhomme and Emeril’s kitchens fame. Played around in fine dining in Sydney for a while at Coast and Manta (1998) before moving to Tokyo. Opened a small restaurant in Ebisu with Chef David Miney of Harvey Nichols/London (1999-2001) After another brief stint in Sydney (2001-2002) re-opening a revamped New Orleans Café. Moved back to Tokyo and started up as Maitre’d at the newly opened Legato from Global Dining (2003-2006). Moved to London (2006-2010) and opened 4 Japanese restaurants, mainly for the Bincho Yakitori group with UK Restaurateurs David Miney, Dominic Ford and Ronnie Truss. (2011) Now at TAC as part of the Management team, started the new restaurant Decanter and helped developed the Vegas-style Steak House concept.

Hobbies: Abseiling, Rock climbing, Cycling, Hiking, Tennis. I still do some activities with the local Boy Scouts of America as a Venturer Leader. Travel of course, as well as coffee and drinking wine… they go hand in hand really…

Gotta Get? Pepsi Salty Watermelon

 

Having just indulged in a shaved watermelon ice with rum syrup at Toraya Cafe in Omotesando, watermelon was on my mind. We ran across this sparkling Pepsi Salty Watermelon at our local supermarket. The packaging is great with blue skies, sandy beach, and watermelon which looks like many a blow-up ball you’ll see at Japan’s crowded beaches.

Pepsi Salty Watermelon appeals to the Japanese consumers on several points. It’s a seasonal product only offered for a limited time. Watermelon is in season and is often eaten at family gatherings and festivals so it brings with it positive connotations. Finally, the “shio sweets” or salted sweets trend has been here for five years already; from macaroons, caramels, puddings, chocolate, ice cream, and more.

So, how was it? “Where’s the salt?” was the first thing I said to Shinji when I tasted it. To me that was the whole reason for picking up the bottle, was to enjoy the sweet and salty combination. It should be sold as a watermelon soda. Would I buy another bottle? No. Would I try another seasonal limited edition drink from Pepsi? You bet. Shiso Pepsi was exactly that – and I, like many Japanese, am a sucker for anything available for a limited time only.

Nihonbashi Yukari 日本橋ゆかり – August Bento Lunch

My favorite restaurant in Tokyo is Nihonbashi Yukari. Third-generation chef Kimio Nonaga is the 2002 Iron Chef champion. The food is amazing and I most of all I appreciate chef Nonaga’s passion for sharing Japanese cuisine. He graciously answers all of our questions about the ingredients, where it was sourced, and preparation. He also shares with us current projects that he is working on.

On this hot August day we start off with a cold beer as we watch chef Nonaga preparing dishes.

Eggplant chawanmushi. Chilled Kyoto eggplant soup over chawanmushi. Topped with eggplant skin sauce, rice arare, and shiso no hana hojiso. Nonaga-san says that the skin which is often discarded has color and flavor. Lovely flavor of eggplants which are at the peak of their seasonality.

Yukari bento is much more than a bento. To me it’s like a mini kaiseki meal as it includes many different preparations incorporating seasonal ingredients that are artistically displayed. The lunch bento needs to be ordered ahead of time when making your reservation.

On the left: A tender pork kakuni  with a sauce of Hatcho miso and kurozato (brown sugar). Chef Nonaga said the whole process to make the pork takes three days to make and that one of his key points was to steam the pork. It is served with fresh awafu, sato imo, and okra.

On the right:  Katsuramuki daikon wrapped around smoked salmon, toriniku dango, shrimp and ikura, sweet potato, grilled chicken Nambanzuke, sawara Saikyo-yaki, Tokyo tamagoyaki, grated yamaimo topped with house-cured karasumi (bottarga).

On the left: Banno natto made with kuromame (black bean) natto from Hitachi, Ibaraki. Include link. Otsukuri (sashimi) of shima-aji, mizudako, and meji maguro. Garnish with daikon, kaiware, onions, shiso, benidate.

The banno natto is a dressing that chef Nonaga makes in house. He says that it is good with noodles, seafood, salad, or as a dressing as aemono.

On the right: Tempura eggplant, shishito, and kakiage melange of eggplant, shako, sayori, ika, kobashira, and sakura ebi. Chiayu fish rolled in rice arare then deep-fried. The colorful red is momiji oroshi for the dipping sauce.

On the left: Rice topped with yukari (dried, red, shiso). Today’s pickles include wasabi zuke made with shoyu kasu and katsuobushi.

In the middle: the dipping sauce for the tempura.

On the right: Akadashi miso soup with fu, mozuku sea vegetables, mitsuba, and a hint of kona zansho.

Chef Nonaga’s signature kinako ice cream studded with black beans. Topped with kuromitsu (brown sugar syrup) and puffed rice. Heaven in a cup.

The toothpicks are from a historic shop Saruya.

As we went to Nihonbashi Yukari during Obon holidays in August we were curious where he got his seafood as it was very fresh. He said that on days that Tsukiji Market is closed he procures his seafood from the Kyoto Market.

I’ve walked in front of Nihonbashi Yukari for years and this is the first time that I have seen these gorgeous chochin paper lanterns. It gives a festive ambience to the entrance.

Lunch was very busy, especially considering it was during Obon holidays. Diners were a mix of young and old, men and women. If you come with a large group you can request one of the private rooms in the basement. Nihonbashi Yukari is conveniently located just minutes from Tokyo Station’s Yaesu Exit and around the corner from Nihonbashi Takashimaya. If you go, tell him Yukari sent you.

Nihonbashi Yukari

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 3-2-14

Toraya Cafe in Omotesando

 

 

There is no better way to beat the Tokyo heat in the middle of the day than with an ice-cold sweet. This suika (watermelon) mizore at Toraya Cafe in Omotesando Hills hits the spot. What caught my attention to this when I first spotted it on a friend’s facebook page was that it comes with a rum syrup.

The bottom of the glass has a not too sweet kuromitsu (brown sugar) and rum syrup. It was a little thick so I am guessing that it had a little bit of Toraya’s famous An Paste (a creamy azuki paste that I love on toast).  On top of the watermelon ice was some azuki beans as well as some soy milk ice cream. This is part of a summer promotion and is only available in August.

Toraya Cafe is perfect if you are by yourself. It’s also a great place to visit with a friend. While Omotesando and Harajuku can be filled with people I find this is usually a tranquil spot to relax over Japanese sweets. The cafe also serves a light lunch but it is the wafu sweets that make this a special place for me. This online menu has great photos of their menu.

There is also a counter that sells some of their most popular items. Toraya Cafe also has branches in Roppongi Hills and in Aoyama.

Toraya Cafe

Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 4-12-10, Omotesando Hills B1

 

August Seasonal Japanese Seafood

Photo of anago tempura.

Some of my favorite seafood is in season this time of year, particularly unagi and anago. For unagi I love Nodaiwa and for anago, Tamai in Nihonbashi is a treat. Kamasu (barracuda) is lovely just salted and grilled. The meat is light and flakey. Kawahagi (thread-sail filefish) sashimi is light and delicate. If the fish is very fresh the liver can also be eaten. We love to mix the fresh liver with some soy sauce and dip the kawahagi sashimi into the creamy dip. Tachiuo (cutlassfish) is also very nice as sashimi as it too is a light whitefish. One of our favorite preparations of tachiuo sashimi is to mix it with a bit of aromatic sesame oil and salt.

Ainame 鮎並 fat greenling (Hexagrammos otakii)

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

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

Awabi 鮑abalone (Haliotis sorenseni)

Ayu 鮎 sweetfish (Plecoglossus altivelis altivelis)

Benisake べにさけ 紅鮭 sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)

Hamo  鱧pike eel or pike conger (Muraenesox cinereus)

Hiramasa 平政 yellowtail amberjack (Seriola lalandi)

Hoya 海鞘 sea squirt (Halocynthia roretzi)

Inada イナダ young Japanese amberjack (Seriola quinqueradiata)

Stages of buri: wakashi, inada, warasa, buri

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)

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)

Kijihata (Akahata) 雉羽太 red-spotted grouper (Epinephelus akaara)

Kisu 鱚 Japanese whiting (Sillago japonica)*or shirogisu

Kochi 鯒 bartail flathead (Platycephalus)

Koyari-ika槍烏賊  baby spear squid (Loligo bleekeri)

Ma-anago 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)

Matsubu (Ezobora) まつぶ(えぞぼら Japanese neptune or whelk (Neptunea polycostata)

Mehikari  目光 greeneyes (Chlorophthalmus borealis)

Mejimaguro めじまぐろ young tuna (genus Thunnus)

Nijimasu 虹鱒 rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Oni-okoze  鬼虎魚 spiny devilfish (Inimicus japonicus)

Saba 鯖  Pacific mackerel (Scomber japonicus)

Saragai 皿貝 Northern great tellin (Megangulus venulosa)

Shiira  しいら 鱪 dorado or mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus)

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

Shinko (Konoshiro) 鰶 dotted gizzard shad (Konosirus punctatus)

Surumei ika するめいか 鯣烏賊 Japanese common squid (or flying squid) (Todarodes pacificus)

Suzuki 鱸  Japanese sea perch (Lateolabrax japonicus)

Tachiuo 太刀魚 cutlassfish (Trichiurus lepturus)

Tobiuo 飛魚 Japanese flying fish (Cypselurus agoo)

Unagi 鰻 Japanese eel  (Anguilla japonica)