Butcher Brothers in Kanda

Butcher's Brothers

Butcher’s Steak Plate 肉屋のステーキプレート

Craving a hearty lunch after an early morning tour to Tsukiji Market and depachika, I stopped by Butcher Brothers in Kanda. I had stopped by last week but came right during the lunch hour rush, noon in Japan, and there was a line out the door. So was thrilled when I opened the door and was warmly greeted. It’s a boisterous restaurant, lots of welcoming customers, repeating orders, and thanking customers. All the more noisier if you are at the counter overlooking the open kitchen

The lunch menu is very simple, the steak plate (900 JPY, photo above), roast pork (800 JPY), and a curry (500 JPY). The steak plate was a lot of food. I asked for a smaller portion of rice and am glad I did. The steak was medium rare, just as I like it. A meaty piece, not the tender wagyū that is prevalent throughout the city. Americans will feel back at home with this big cut of meat that is hot off of the grill. My neighbor had the pork and it looked good. Had I been in back in New York City I would have started up a conversation with him, but I didn’t. The curry also looked good so I have two more reasons to come back.

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My seat was at the counter and as a chef it is always fun to see the action in the kitchen. The food was great, and at this price, one can’t complain. I wish the meat was seasoned with a bit more salt. And, it is too bad that the salad isn’t tossed with the dressing in a bowl and then served. But, that is not keeping me from coming back. The wine list is very affordably priced and the dinner menu is a big one, and it makes sense to come back with a group of friends, order a few bottles of wine and share several different plates. Note, lunch is Monday – Friday only.

Butcher Brothers

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi-Honkokucho 4-5-10

03-6225-2936

Mon.-Fri. 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:00-11:30 p.m.

Sat. 4-11:30 p.m.

closed Sunday and holidays

Suito Pozu Gyoza

suito1

Gyōza is to me the perfect dumpling. Pork and cabbage stuffed into a wrapper then cooked until the crust is crispy while the filling remains juicy. I’ve started many mornings with gyōza for breakfast. While many restaurants serve gyōza as a side dish, it’s nice to know there are some places where it’s the main dish. Suito Pozu has been serving gyōza since 1955.suito2

I love how these are wrapped. It’s how I do it when I am in a rush to get dinner on the table. Leave two ends open and just seal it shut. You just need to be careful when cooking it, but the final results are still delicious.suito3It’s a popular restaurant and very small, only 24 seats. There was a line of about five people just before it opened for lunch recently. After the doors opened it was full within about ten minutes.

Service is fast and it’s a quick meal. It’s a good thing that it was a fast meal as the air-conditioner is on the fritz and it was very hot in the restaurant. No garlic in the gyōza if you come during the workday. The only thing I didn’t like was that it doesn’t have rayū chili oil, but only chili powder. I’d like to come back in the evening when the gyōza is also steamed.

Suito Pozu

Chiyoda-ku, Kanda Jimbocho 1-13-2

03-3295-4084

closed Monday and Sunday

The Artistry of Den 傳 2

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Asamayama Natsu-Jun, or summer Junmaishu, was rich enough to stand up the fish course.Den17

Katsuo-zuké, skipjack tuna marinated in soy sauce, is a dish we eat at home, but this was so much more upscale. The katsuo was marinated for a much shorter time than we do at home. Also, I loved the egg yolk that was marinated in dashi. There is a trick to get his texture but I don’t want to reveal too much.
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Akita prefecture’s Yuki no Bijin (Winter Beauty) is an appropriate name for a saké as Akita is snow-filled for most of winter. This snow melts and contributes to the delicious water used for making Tohoku saké. This was a Tokubetsu Junmai Ginjo. Check out the beautiful glass it is served in.Den19

I was so curious about this ceramic as it had a rich texture. Chef Hasegawa brought out some bowls to show me the beautiful work of this potter from Mashiko in Tochigi, just north of Tokyo. The potter carefully etches or scrapes out the black parts to show the interior white.Den20

My neighbor happened to be drinking from a saké cup also by the same potter. Gorgeous. Den21

Ayu is a summer river fish in season now. Most times it is simply salted and grilled, which is of course delicious. Tonight was my first time to try ayu as himono. The fish is butterflied, guts removed, and then marinated in salt water for a brief period and then air-dried. Just before serving it is grilled. The whole fish is edible, head to tail. “Rich in calcium,” said the server in Japanese.

In the middle was liver mousse from the ayu. Very rich in flavor, but a light mousse. And the green cake on the bottom is a steamed bread made with tadé no ha (water pepper leaves) and rice flour. It is first steamed until cooked through and is light and fluffy. Chef Hasegawa then grills it under a direct flame to give the edges some crispy texture which is like the cooked edges of the ayu. Brilliant dish that can only be had here at Den.
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Haneya Junmai Ginjo Nama Genshu. The cup looked like it was made by a girl. When I asked about it they said yes, Midori Uchiyama, I believe from Tokyo. The bottom of her pieces either have a “M” for Midori or “Mid”.Den23

Here is his signature dish that comes with every meal, no matter what time of year it is. He calls this dish “Hataké no Yōsō” or the state of the farm. There were over 20 vegetables and flowers in the salad bowl, including baby kabocha squash and corn silk. He treats many vegetables individually, either roasting or pickling in a sweet vinegar, or even deep-frying. Giving a variety of textures and flavors. Brilliant dish. I wish I could eat this everyday, or make this at home, but I can see it’s a lot of prep.Den24

Pringles canister containing Den potato chips – check out the smile! And, a zucchini blossom that was deep-fried.
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Here is Midori’s sake cup and tokkuri.

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Tachibanaya Tokubetsu Junmaishu made with omachi rice. The sweetness of the sake paired well with the soy sauce ankaké sauce on the next dish.Den27

Again, a brilliant use of texture buckwheat grains on the sweet soy ankaké sauce over kuro wagyū from Hokkaido.Den28

Chef Hasegawa assembling a dish for other guests (I’m allergic to shrimp, otherwise I think I would have had this). He was saying he had just returned from a trip to France and Italy and was inspired by bouillabaisse. Den29

This saké cup was by far my favorite. I had seen photos of it from the Kenshin Utsuwa facebook page. I loved the texture, the color, the rough exterior and smooth interior. And, the saké tasted lovely in it. The artist also makes a tokkuri that my neighbor used that was gorgeous as well. I think I’ve found my next birthday present from me to me.Den30

The donabé with the rice for the shimé.

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Kamo Kinshu Karakuchi Junmaishu. A little frizzante on the palate.Den32

The rice course was amazing. Sweet corn and scallops cooked in dashi before adding to the rice pot to be cooked with the rice. I wish I could make this at home, and will definitely try.Den33I was getting full at the end of the meal so asked for a small serving of the rice. Chef Hasegawa made a rice ball for me to bring home to my husband. Very thoughtful. The rice was served with asazuké pickles made that morning and miso soup.

Den34And, dessert. Looking like the moss in front of the restaurant. I was so curious about it. It had to be edible, but all of it? So I asked Hasegawa-san if I could eat it all, dried leaves and all. He said yes so I took a bite. I was so curious what the dried leaves were. I had no idea, but it added a unique texture to the dish. “Tea leaves” he revealed.

Dinner at Den is a night that you will remember for a long time. I can’t wait to go back. I spoke with my neighbors who come once a month, all the way from Yokohama. I hope someday to be a monthly customer as well. The atmosphere at Den is light and friendly, not stuffy and staid as some kaiseki restaurants may be. It’s fun and friendly and has amazing food served on gorgeous dishes. Even for a solo diner, it’s easy to sit at the counter by yourself and take it all in.

Artistry of Den Part One

Den

Chiyoda-ku, Jimbocho 2-2-32

03-3222-3978

The Artistry of Den 傳

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Den in Jimbocho is a restaurant that everyone is talking about. I had to go and check it out for myself. I was told that chef Zaiyu Hasegawa is a great guy and a talented chef. (Note, if you are planning on eating there in the near future, don’t read through this blog post as it is better to experience his cuisine without knowing what to expect. The menu changes regularly though, so, please do read if you won’t be coming until the fall.)
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I thought the sign on the moss was curious. The blue shovel certainly caught my attention.

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Actually when I first walked up to Den, I thought it was a ceramics shop when I looked in the door. The backlit wall showcasing gorgeous pieces of pottery. So, I turned around and left, but then I realized this must be the shop.

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This colorful painting in the entrance was done by a friend of the chef. Den5

When I asked about these ceramics I was told that these too were done by potters from around Japan who are friends of the chef. I had recognized a few pieces and was hoping that they would be used during the meal.Den6

When I was seated I was brought a selection of colorful cloths, tenugui, to choose from to use as a lap napkin. This bright pink and white one called out to me and the design of the dragon was so artistic. Chef said that his friend who designed the tenugui also makes summer kimono, yukata, out of material she also designs. He said that her shop is in the Jimbocho area where Den is.

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The chef’s wife is a kikizaké-shi, or saké sommelier. I asked her to pair each course with a different saké. She started the night off with this dry Berlucci’s Cuvée ’61 Franciacorta sparkling wine. Made in the Méthode Champenoise style using traditional grapes of champagne, chardonnay and pinot noir.

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The first bite was sandwiched in monaka, rice wafers. These usually are used with sweet azuki beans and served as a dessert, and it is here where I could see the playfulness of the chef. Inside was foie gras that was marinated in white miso for ten days, adding umami and amami (sweetness as white miso is sweet). It also includes hoshigaki (dried persimmons) and one of my favorite pickles, aburigakko, a smoked and pickled daikon. The first course was brilliant and I could see that it was unique to chef Hasegawa. Den9The first saké served this night was from Ishikawa prefecture, Tedorigawa Junmai Daiginjo. It is only available here at Den as it is a house blend made for Den. It’s a soft saké that will pair with a lot of different foods, and was perfect with this fun dish below.

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I had to laugh when chef handed this dish over the counter. There was a frog peeking out from junsai, a type of water lily that is famous for having a mucous membrane surrounding each leaf. Chef Hasegawa said that they were foraged in a lake that morning in Hyogo prefecture. The frog and junsai was resting on a lotus root leaf, exactly where you may find a frog leisurely passing time on a hot summer day.

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Chef Hasegawa said to fold up the edges of the leaf to put the junsai and frog into the glass bowl. Inside was tokoroten, strings of jelly that chef made with tomato juice and tengusa seaweed. Inside was basil seeds, passion fruit, and tobiko (flying fish roe) adding even a richer texture to the tokoroten and junsai.
Den12The water serves water from a saké brewery in Niigata, Kirian Yamamizu. The fun water glass was made by an artist in Hokkaido.

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The next saké was Banshu Ikkon’s summer sake, Sunflower, from Hyogo prefecture. Light with a dry finish. It’s always a treat to have a saké in summer that was made for drinking in summer. I also loved this glass with dotted with pastel spots. Also made by the same artist who made the water glass.

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What? Did he get KFC take-out? I loved this too being passed over the counter. On closer inspection I could see it was not KFC, but DFC, and the colonel was actually chef Hasegawa. Again, great fun.Den15Inside the box was a chicken wing stuffed with turmeric seasoned sticky rice with almonds and raisins. I could eat a whole bucket of these. The gorgeous dish under the chicken is Ontaiyaki in Oita prefecture.

The Artistry of Den Part Two

Den

Chiyoda-ku, Jimbocho 2-2-32

03-3222-3978

Kanda Matsuya Soba 神田まつや

Kanda Matsuya

Kanda Matsuya

Kanda Matsuya Mori Soba

Kanda Matsuya Mori Soba

Kanda Matsuya Tempura Soba

Kanda Matsuya Tempura Soba

Kanda Matsuya 神田まつや

Chiyoda-ku, Kanda Jimbocho 1-13 千代田区神田神保町1-13

Phone: 03-3251-1556

11:00 – 20:00 Monday – Friday

11:00 – 19:00 Saturday and holidays

closed Sundays

http://www.kanda-matsuya.jp/p01.htm

Kanda Matsuya opened their doors in 1884. The soba is made from 5 parts buckwheat flour to 1 part flour. The dipping sauce is “karame” or on the dry side (versus being sweet). A popular dish here is the goma soba which is served with a a sesame dipping sauce. Other recommended dishes are the mori soba, tempura soba (both pictured here), and kake soba (hot noodles).

Tokyo Cheap Eats – Kanda Yabu Soba

Yabu Soba

Yabu Soba

UPDATE: Kanda Yabu Soba caught on fire on February 19, 2013. 40 customers and employees were in the restaurant during dinner service when the fire was noticed. Everyone was safely evacuated. A spokesperson for Kanda Yabu Soba has said on NHK news the following day that the restaurant hopes to reopen in six months.

If you are to visit only one soba shop in Tokyo, then it should be Yabu Soba in Kanda. Soba aficionados from around the country trek to this fifth generation shop that opened in 1880. Enter through a compact garden and step back in time in this old building. The room is traditional Japanese with dark colored wood and paper-covered lights. Listen carefully and you can hear the girl behind the cash register sing out each order to the kitchen. This is the only place in Japan that I have seen this done. The elderly kimono clad waitresses efficiently manage the busy dining room. If you are hungry the diverse menu allows you to order a few dishes prior to closing the meal with noodles, like sashimi yuba, tempura, and grilled nori. There is also a full menu of soba, both hot and cold.

Seiro Soba

Seiro Soba

Kanda Yabu Soba かんだやぶそば

Chiyoda-ku, Awajicho 2-10 千代田区淡路町2-10

Tel. 03-3251-0287

11:30 – 19:30

some holidays in January and August

www.yabusoba.net (Japanese)

www.norenkai.net/english/shop/yabusoba/index.html (English)

B Kyu Gourmet – Cheap Eats in Tokyo B級グルメ

Ramen

Here are some of my favorite restaurants that won’t break the bank. This article first appeared in Metropolis on November 5, 2009.

http://metropolis.co.jp/dining/local-flavors/the-b-list/

The most sought-after tables in recession-hit Tokyo can be found at so-called B-kyu gurume restaurants. These eateries typically specialize in a single cuisine—soba or tonkatsu, for example—served in simple settings without the lacquerware or heavy linens found at more upscale establishments. While B-kyu gurumerestaurants have always been around, the economic downturn has sparked a new interest in them, as reflected in the flurry of books, magazines and TV programs documenting the best finds throughout the city. Here are some of our favorites.

Nihonbashi Sapporoya

For an exceptionable bowl of ramen, try the hiyashi chukka goma dare (¥1,000) at Sapporoya in Nihonbashi. This basement restaurant, with only a few communal tables and chairs, serves up a large bowl of chilled noodles with tomatoes, cucumbers, ham, bamboo shoots, egg and more, topped with a creamy, nutty sesame-soy broth. The hot bowls of noodles are also excellent, notably the miso butter corn ramen. B1, 3-3-5 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-3275-0024. Open Mon-Fri 11am-9:30pm, Sat 11am-4pm, closed Sun. Nearest stn: Nihonbashi or Tokyo (Yaesu exit).

Kanda Matsuya

Kanda Matsuya (pictured) has been serving up rustic, handmade soba noodles for three generations. While connoisseurs would advise simplicity with the mori sobaserved on a bamboo tray with a dipping sauce (¥600), we can not resist the ten-nanban, a hot bowl of soba noodles topped with shrimp tempura (¥950).
1-3 Kanda-Sudacho, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-3251-1556. Open Mon-Fri
11am-8pm, Sat & hols 11am-7pm, closed Sun. Nearest stn: Ogawamachi or
Kanda. www.kanda-matsuya.jp

Tsukiji Market’s Nakaya Donburi

Tsukiji Market is filled with B-kyu gurume restaurants. While throngs of visitors are queued up at Daiwa Sushi and Sushi Dai, we prefer Nakaya Donburi, located just up the street. Nakaya specializes in rice bowls topped with seafood—make sure to ask about seasonal (shun) items that are only available a few weeks of each year, or check the handwritten menu outside the front door. Popular donburitoppings include creamy uni, vermillion-colored ikura, and fatty tuna, or you can combine all three for just ¥1,700—a steal. 5-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-3541-0211. Open daily 6:30am-1:30pm (closed Tsukiji hols). Nearest stn: Tsukiji.

Santa Tonkatsu in Shinjuku

The tonkatsu at Santa in Shinjuku is unique—the panko (bread crumbs) are julienned instead of finely minced. Ask to be seated on the lower floor at the counter to watch the chefs frying the pork cutlets and thinly slicing the cabbage. The premium rosu katsu teishoku is just ¥1,680. 3-33-10 Shinjuku. Tel: 03-3351-5861. Open Tue-Fri 11:30am-2pm and 5-9:30pm, Sat-Sun & hols 11:30am-9:30pm, closed Mon. Nearest stn: Shinjuku or Shinjuku Sanchome.www.shinjuku.or.jp/kirin/washoku/santa

Asakusa Yoshikami

Located near the historic Asakusa temple district, Yoshikami feels like a retro diner, with round stools lined up at a counter overlooking the open kitchen. These are the best seats in the house for a view of the toqued chefs creating the restaurant’s popular omu-raisu (¥1,250), the classic yoshoku dish of ketchup-flavored rice enveloped in a soft omelet. The tender pieces of beef in a rich demi-glace sauce will have you dreaming about Yoshikami’s stew long afterwards (¥2,350). 1-41-4 Asakusa, Taito-ku. Tel: 03-3841-1802. Open daily 11:45am-10:30pm. Nearest station: Asakusawww.yoshikami.co.jp

Shibuya Tokyu Food Show’s Uoriki Sushi Counter

For fresh sushi at bargain-basement prices, head to Uoriki in the Tokyu Food Show depachika, inside Shibuya station. Don’t let the age of the chefs behind the counter fool you—these elderly gents are adept at molding the rice and slicing the seafood. We love the maguro zukushi with three parts of tuna—akamichutoroand ootoro—for just ¥1,190. B1 Tokyu Department Store, 2-24-1 Shibuya. Tel: 03-5428-3813. Open daily 10am-9pm. Nearest stn: Shibuyawww.uoriki.co.jp