Nihonbashi Soba Yudetaro 日本橋ゆで太郎

Yudetaro Summer Soba

Yudetaro Summer Soba

For the longest time I avoided the tachigui soba shops and other casual dining soba restaurants. Tachigui are restaurants without chairs. Diners order a bowl of noodles and stand and slurp quickly. Tachigui can be near train stations or even on the platforms. When I first lived in Japan in the late 80s I wouldn’t even part the curtains to go in.

But times have changed and if I need a quick meal I seek out these spots. Especially early in the mornings before I take clients to Tsukiji Market. In Nihonbashi on the back streets behind the Mandarin Oriental is a chain called Yudetaro. Taro is a popular boy’s name and it can also be part of a boy’s name like Kentaro. To boil in Japanese is yuderu, so the name Yudetaro is a fun name. Yudetaro is found throughout Japan, so it is a good spot to look for while traveling.

Seasonality is important in Japanese cuisine, even at fast food restaurants. The summer menu at Yudetaro caught my eye with tempura eggplant. I included some sansai, mountain vegetables like nameko mushrooms and ferns and also topped the bowl off with tenkasu. If you don’t know tenkasu, you are missing out. Tenkasu are the bits of tempura that fall off of the items you are deep-frying. At some tempura restaurants bags of tenkasu are given to diners. I take this home for soba, udon, or even as a crouton substitute for salads.

Yudetaro Entrance

Yudetaro Entrance

Yudetaro has chairs and tables. There is a vending machine so diners need to be able to figure out which buttons to push. If you are in luck there will be some plastic food samples in the front window or a menu with some photos. If not, do Russian Roulette with your meal, which some of our clients tell us they have done. If the staff are not too busy, someone may help you figure out what to order. When in doubt, ask them for their osusume, recommendation.

The breakfast menu is a bargain, starting at around 330 JPY and not going over 400 JPY. Lunch is usually only 500 – 600 JPY. There are plenty of optional toppings if you are hungry. Amazing when you consider this is cheaper than McDonald’s and better for you.

Yudetaro ゆで太郎

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Kabuto-cho 14-10 中央区日本橋兜町14-10

yudetaro.jp/menu.html

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** Note that the Nagano Insect Platter has now been replaced by the Hokkaido Delicacies (below). 16 Jan 2015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

Summer Lunch at Nihonbashi Yukari

Nihonbashi Yukari - summer lunch

Iron Chef Kimio Nonaga of Nihonbashi Yukari

On a recent afternoon we found ourselves in Nihonbashi a little after noon. Just around the corner was one of our favorite restaurants in the city, Nihonbashi Yukari. Nihonbashi Yukari is a kaiseki/kappō restaurant. Behind the counter on most days is the third-generation chef, Kimio Nonaga. We actually tried coming in last week but when we called to make our reservations Nonaga-san said that he was going to be at NHK that day filming for a television program. When Nonaga-san is not in the house his father, the second-generation chef, fills in.

We were thrilled when we opened the door to see Nonaga-san behind the counter. We had just seen several people leaving the restaurant so our timing was perfect. The counter was just being cleared and we were seated just in front of the former Iron Chef champion at the best seats in the house.

Usually we pre-order our lunch, the Yukari lunch box which is like a mini-kaiseki meal and a great bargain at 3,500 JPY. Today as we were walk-ins it was our first time to order lunch off of the menu. There is a wide variety of dishes to choose from including tempura, grilled fish, simmered pork, sashimi platter, and much more.

Nihonbashi Yukari - summer lunch sashimi

Summer sashimi course on Edo Kiriko plate

We are big fans of a special nattō taré (sauce) that was created by Nonaga-san. This sashimi course was in addition to the regular lunch. Three types of sashimi, seared scallops, katsuo (skipjack tuna), and kanpachi (yellowtail) is topped with julienned daikon, shiso, myoga, onion, kaiwaré (daikon sprouts), and baby shiso. The dressing is a blend of the fermented soybean dressing which adds a rich umami and deep flavor to the dish. Anago bones are deep-fried and pulverized and sprinkled on which adds an unexpected and welcome crunch to the dish. The dish is a beautiful dish for summer, Edo Kiriko.

Nihonbashi Yukari summer lunch - anago

Anago Jyubako

Anago is sea eel and is often seen at the traditional sushi counter in Japan. At Nihonbashi Yukari the anago is simmered until tender and then served over rice in a lacquer box, jyubako. The anago is so soft that it melts in your mouth. The sauce is ever-so-sweet, not cloying as is often the case with unagi (fresh water eel).

Nihonbashi Yukari - summer lunch simmered meitagarei

Simmered meitagarei (fine-spotted flounder)

There were a few offerings for simmered fish this day. Shinji went with meitagarei which is a type of flounder. The simmering sauce is not made fresh each day but is passed on day after day over the years. It has a deep flavor from it. Nonaga-san said that many different types of fish are simmered in this sauce, hence the depth of flavor. This is something that would be hard to recreate at home, we pondered aloud. Nonaga-san suggested we try it. He said to save the broth and to put it in the fridge. I love his positive and encouraging attitude. The rice served with the simmered fish has julienned fresh ginger and abura-agé (deep-fried tofu) in it. Refreshing for the summer, and we find inspiration in another dish we will try at home.

Nihonbashi Yukari is just minutes from Tokyo Station’s Yaesu Guchi. It is possible to walk-in, but we recommend reservations. Within about ten minutes of being seated the counter filled up again and most of the tables in the restaurant were also full.

Nihonbashi Yukari

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 3-2-14

Best of Japan Tour at Nihonbashi Coredo Muromachi

best of japan map

Food Sake Tokyo is delighted to have guest blogger Janice Espa. Janice is passionate about food and Japan. She is a great photographer and all of the photos here are from Janice. Here is Janice on the Best of Japan Tour now being offered at Coredo Muromachi in Nihonbashi. Arigato Janice!

Coredo Muromachi, in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi area, has launched a special tour; one to taste Japan and learn about regional specialties all within the comfort of the Coredo Muromachi’s recently opened buildings. Escorted by two knowledgeable English-speaking guides, you work your way around the different shops in Coredo Muromachi, see what each shop specializes in, and sample many of the products on sale.

For someone with limited time, or for those unfamiliar with peculiar Japanese creations, this ninety minute introduction to the range of Japanese specialties is top-notch. For the ¥1,000 price tag, it’s a no-brainer. After signing up at Nihonbashi Information Center, which is conveniently located outside Mitsukoshimae Station exit, the tour begins with a description of what you’ll see and the stores you’ll visit that afternoon.

The first stop is Okui Kaiseido 奥井海生堂. The shop sells kombu products from Fukui. There’s a startling shredded kombu, that looks like thick shaves of cotton candy, as well as kombu water that tastes, for lack of more accurate comparison, like a savory version of green tea, or like tea stewed with sea water. It’s odd at first, but refreshing, and something you don’t easily come across or get to sample. (Yukari piping in here – this is one of my favorite kombu vendors in Japan. If you want to buy kombu to take home with you, it is worth making a special trip.)

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Chefs and wagashi at Tsuruya Yoshinobu

I was captivated by the delicate work at the Kyoto Wagashi store Tsuruya Yoshinobu 鶴屋吉信.  There’s a seasonal menu and also a life-size, edible display by the window that is changed every three weeks.  Food this beautiful is hard to conceptualize, but the flavours are as soft and delightful as the exterior.

At Imoya Kinjiro 芋屋金次郎, you skip the queue and go straight to the samples of hot, crispy matchsticks of fried, candied sweet potato – a specialty from Kyushu’s Shikoku Island.  Then you enjoy a cup of creamy amazake, before nibbling on Satsuma-agé from Q-Jiki, a store specializing in Kagoshima’s local favourite fish cakes. (Yukari – The shop is famous as it deep-fries the sweet potatoes in olive oil before coating it in the candy coating. This is a popular selling point as it is deemed better to fry in olive oil than in other oils.)

fish cake

Q-Jiki 

At Hakuza Nihonbashi 箔座日本橋, store that specializes in crafts made from gold leaf, there’s an impressive display of Ishikawan artistry, including a gold leaf tower, jewellery, pottery, and edible gold leaf flakes for sale – which would make the most elegant furikaké sprinkled over a bowl of rice.

sprinkles

Gold leaf sprinkles for sale

At Ninben Nihonbashi Honten にんべん日本橋本店, you learn how katsuo (skipjack tuna or often called bonito) is dried, smoked, and then shaved to make the highest quality fish flakes, followed by a visit to Dashi Bar Hanare, where you taste some warming soup broth.

katsuo anatomy

Katsuo Anatomy

After traveling from North to South, viewing craftsmanship and tasting goods from Hokkaido to Nagasaki, the tour rounds up nicely at Nihonbashi Hashicho 日本橋箸長.  Hashicho sells chopsticks from all over Japan. The merits and regional differences are evident: diverse shapes and materials, from sharp, wooden edges to lacquer choptsicks. The selection is beautiful, and in some cases exorbitant (1 million yen chopsticks available for purchase). A thoughtful way to finish a tour of Japan: seeing it ‘all together’ through chopsticks from all over the country.  Upon conclusion, you receive a small gift as a token of Coredo’s appreciation for your time.  An afternoon spent tasting Japanese delicacies, presented by knowledgeable concierges in modern, beautiful surroundings, is a win-win.

When the tour was done, I lingered around the Coredo buildings for a bit longer, had some iced matcha, and bought food from the basement to take away for dinner.  After samples of fish cakes, kombu, and amazaké, I enthusiastically purchased Hakkaisan saké, tsukuné (chicken meatball) yakitori, and uni with an Italian twist from Riccio Mania’s exclusively designed, sea urchin-centric menu.  Oishii!

ladies afternoon tea

Afternoon tea at Hakuza Nihonbashi

The Best of Japan tour is on every Saturday at 2 pm and 4 pm

Cost ¥1,000

Duration: 90 minutes

Reservations by email guide@nihonbashi-info.jp or by calling 03-3242-0010

Address:
B1 Coredo Muromachi, 2-2-1 Nihonbashi Muromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo.

 

Nearest stations:

Mitsukoshimae Station, Exit A6 (Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line/Ginza Line)

Shin-Nihonbashi Station, direct access (JR Sobu Line Rapid)

 

If you liked this post, please check out Janice’s other post about Kyoto.

Nishiki Market and Kyoto Uzuki Cooking School

Sake Tasting with JD Kai

 

Janice Espa photoJanice Espa

Janice Espa is a Spanish-Peruvian food enthusiast; an avid traveller and inquisitive taster who explores culture through cuisine.  Janice lives in Sydney where she writes and styles food. Her days are spent visiting grower’s markets, checking out restaurants, and shopping at specialty stores to discover goods from every corner of the world.

Feel free to email suggestions and travel tips, or to contact Janice for her own recommendations, whether you’re visiting Peru, trekking South America or doing a road trip along the east coast of Australia.

Email:  janicespa@gmail.com

Gotta Get – Chopsticks at Hashichō in Nihonbashi

 

chopsticks store in Nihonbashi Coredo

Nihonbashi Coredo Hashicho

We eat with our chopsticks two, sometimes three times a day. Having a pair that you really love to eat with makes each meal all the more fun. There are so many factors to consider when selecting chopsticks. The size of your hands will determine the length. The tips can be fine or thick. The chopsticks can be round or beveled. The material can range from a simple bamboo to several layers of lacquer that are polished away to show off the colorful layers.

Nihonbashi Coredo

Selection of chopsticks at Hashicho

One of my favorite shops is Ginza Natsuno as the selection may be the greatest in Tokyo. Another shop worth checking out is Hashichō in the new Nihonbashi Coredo Building #3. It is a sister shop to Natsuno. Here you will find not only chopsticks, but also hashioki (chopstick rests) and other tableware items.

Hashichō

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi-Muromachi 1-5-5, Coredo Muromachi Bldg. 3, 2nd floor

03-3277-6033

 

There is also a shop in Roppongi at Midtown (Roppongi 9-7-4) in the Galleria 3rd floor.

Tenmatsu Tempura in Nihonbashi

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Spring is my favorite time of year for tempura as sansai, mountain vegetables, are featured at good restaurants serving tempura. At the top of this box is udo (spikenard), which reminds me of a tender and somewhat bitter white asparagus. The other vegetable is renkon (lotus root). 

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Tenmatsu at Nihonbashi bridge, just between Nihonbashi and Mitsukoshi-Mae stations on the Ginza line, has long been a favorite spot of mine. I used to work at Takashimaya which is just a five-minute walk from here and would sometimes come for a solo lunch. The lunch here is a great bargain at under 1,000 JPY for tempura that is made and served to you piece-by-piece as it comes out of the oil. Here you see the chef’s work spot. Some flour that the ingredients are dipped in before being covered with an egg, flour, and water batter before being deep-fried.

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Here is the udo to start off the meal. At home we blanch udo and then dress it with mayonnaise. But tempura is probably the best way to enjoy it.

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This is a special technique when putting in items to the hot oil, to gently toss away from you into the hot oil. Part of the joy of sitting at the counter at a tempura restaurant is listening to the oil as it sputters. A good tempura chef will know when items are ready to be pulled out of the oil by the sound it makes when it is done frying. On the plate is asparagus and shiitake. My friend got two pieces of shrimp for this course.

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Squid and lotus root. I love the chef’s smile. :-)

In the large round bowl is the chef’s batter mixture. He also uses two different chopsticks. A wooden pair for the flour and batter and then a metal pair for working in the oil.

Tenmatsu is in my book, Food Sake Tokyo. The chef in this photo is the same chef that is in my book. It is quite busy at lunch time so either go early or late. Be sure to request a seat at the counters on the 1st or 2nd floor. The 3rd floor is tables only and you miss out on watching the chef prepare the tempura in front of you. They are open on Sundays and holidays which is good to keep in mind as most shops in this area are closed on these days. The main shop is in Shibuya.

Note that at lunch time there is a vegetable only tempura set lunch.

Tenmatsu

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Muromachi 1-8-2

03-3241-5840

Lunch 11:00 – 14:00 (Sat., Sun., and holidays until 14:30)

Dinner 17:00 – 21:00

Butcher Brothers in Kanda and Nihonbashi

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 Brothers2

On a recent visit I had the grilled pork plate, a bargain at 850 JPY. It is a thick cut of pork, my cut had a rich amount of fat as well. It was well seasoned and I prefer it to the steak plate and will be back for this dish. This day I was seated at the counter, at the same spot I sat at last time. I was the only woman at the counter. My counter mates included two men working for a delivery company, both who ordered extra-large portions of rice, which can be had for no extra charge.

Butcher Brothers3

One option is to add curry to your rice plate for an additional 50 JPY. Do it. It is a smoky curry that is unlike any curry I have had in my years in Tokyo. The rice serving is very generous, geared towards the area salarymen which make up most of the diners at lunchtime. This portion is a half size and I couldn’t even finish this.

Be sure to grab a complimentary cup of coffee-to-go on your way out the door. Smart idea of the restaurant to include coffee with lunch, but only as take-away.

Butcher Brothers

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi-Hongokucho 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

Nihonbashi Tour on November 1st

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Can you tell the difference between the nori on the left and the right?

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Two types of dashi, both using katsuobushi.

What better time to learn about washoku? It seems that UNESCO will recognize the unique cuisine of Japan as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in December.

If you are curious or passionate about Japanese cuisine and would like to know more about it, there will be a 90-minute walking tour of some of the historic shops in Nihonbashi. Learn more about umami, some ingredients from the Japanese pantry, and Japanese cuisine.

The tours are at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 4 p.m. on Friday, November 1st. The tours are in English.

For more details, please contact me directly. Our e-mail is on our “Yukari and Shinji Sakamoto” page.

Nihonbashi Sapporoya – Hiyashi Chuka Goma Dare

ImageTokyo has been unseasonably hot this week. My favorite bowl of cold ramen noodles in the whole city is a great little dive called Sapporoya.The ramen shop happens to be across the street from one of my favorite kaiseki/kappō restaurants, Nihonbashi Yukari. I love that on this narrow street you can find two contrasting meals, both exceptional, at different price ranges.

I used to work in Nihonbashi at Takashimaya department store. I came upon Sapporoya  by chance one night when looking for a quick bite to eat with a girlfriend. It was summer and the cold ramen dish was tempting. The first time I had it I think I picked up the large bowl and sipped up the broth. It is rich in umami and has a nutty sesame sauce that brings the whole dish together. When I went to work the next day at Takashimaya and shared my story with Yamada-san (older man who is a gourmet and introduced me to many great spots), he knew immediately of it. I was advised by Yamada-san that the hot bowls of ramen are also very good here. But, I am addicted to the cold ramen with sesame dressing.

I stopped by this week and was so touched that the owners had remembered me. I haven’t been back in five years, but as soon as I came into the shop I was warmly welcomed. It’s a small restaurant and most of the diners are area businessmen, so I guess as a half-Japanese woman I stick out a bit. Regardless, I was happy to be back. I am very sentimental so their kindness in welcoming back  to the shop almost brought tears to my eyes.

The dish is still as I remember. Presented in a large bowl, rich with toppings, and still with lip-smacking sauce. I no longer pick up the bowl at the end, but the thought did cross my mind. When you come into the store you place your order with the cashier. For this dish, be sure to ask for the hiyashi chuka goma dare. I don’t care for Japanese mustard so I also request karashi nuki.

Sapporoya is just minutes from Tokyo Station on the Yaesu side.

Nihonbashi Sapporoya 札幌や

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 3-3-5, B1

中央区日本橋3-3-5, B1

Monday – Friday 11:00~14:30 17:00~21:00

Saturday 11:00~14:30

closed Sunday and holidays

Chef Nicolas Boujéma of Signature at Mandarin Oriental

Sig1

There is a new French chef in town, Nicolas Boujéma, at Signature in the Mandarin Oriental. I was very curious to try his food as he has a very impressive resumé, most recently coming from Pierre Gagnaire in Hong Kong. I had the chance to interview him for Metropolis magazine for a Tastemaker piece. It’s always exciting to see a chef who is new to Japan explore the local ingredients. Boujéma is a talented chef and it will be fun to revisit and see how his cuisine evolves as he experiences the changing produce and seafood. He lives near Tsukiji Market and visits often, and says that he finds a lot of inspiration there.

Louis Roederer champagne to start, a lovely wine. This table overlooks Tokyo station, the Bank of Japan, and the historic Nihonbashi district where the Mandarin Oriental is located.

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Some lovely amuse bouche to start includes smoked eel, an aromatic muscat, and gougère.

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An earthy Australian truffle soup, ravioli foie gras, with a light vegetable broth. It is well balanced and not too heavy, and just sexy enough with the truffles. Which makes me feel guilty for indulging in something so nice before dinner.Sig4

Saffron butter and whipped butter. Excellent bread is being made in house  like this petit baguette and brioche. The saffron butter was a very nice touch.

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Tavel Chateau d’Aquéria is a lovely rosé and perfect not only on a hot summer day, as this was, but also with the sardine and tomato dish it was served with.Sig6

Lovely presentation of iwashi (sardine) that is marinated in salt, lemon juice,  and olive oil. It’s served with a refreshing tomato terrine, goat cheese from Loire, Italian ham, and mustard crouton. Again, the dish is well-balanced and not too rich, as one would expect from iwashi.

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Alsace is one of my favorite wine regions for its aromatic white wines with a crisp acidity. It is the wine I choose when we are out and celebrating a special occasion. When the sommelier brought this to the table I couldn’t stop smiling. I was told that a former Japanese sommelier at Signature married into the Hugel family and is now living in Alsace. This was riesling was nice with this next dish.

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My favorite dish of the meal was this amazing combination of truffles, waffle, braised shallots, leeks, mushrooms, and whipped cream with truffles. The leek was sliced thin and painted onto the plate. The waffle pockets were stuffed with braised shallots and served with a lovely Port sauce. And again, a hedonistic course with truffles. Had I been at home I would have picked up the plate and licked it clean. Sig9

Francois Villard Condrieu Les Terraces du Palaix. Lovely aromatics in this viognier. This floral Rhone wine is perfect for the accompanying fish main dish which reminded me of the Mediterranean.Sig10

Bouillabaise inspired cod, amadai sashimi, eggplant puree with lemon, zucchini, and fennel. The warm breeze of the south of France. A nice touch of amadai (tile fish) sashimi with the cod. Sig11

Potato espumante with saffron is a refreshing palate cleanser before the cheese course.Sig12

Macon La Roche Vineuse Gamay – lovely with the cheese! Fruity yet with a nice backbone.
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48 months aged Comte cheese which I am told is very rare. It is prepared with truffles, a white pepper cream, and shaved with some sweet jelly, and brioche in the middle. Muscat grape and dragon fruit. A luxurious course and so nice to see the cheese served three ways.

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Hakuto peaches espumante. A wonderful, light finish and a nice touch as peaches are at the peak of their seasonality in Japan at the moment. Sig15

And a few sweet touches to end a lovely lunch.

It’s always exciting to welcome a new chef to Tokyo. Be sure to put Signature on your Go List for Tokyo. Excellent food, outstanding service, knowledgeable sommeliers, and spectacular views – day or night. It will be fun to watch his cuisine evolve as he acquaints himself with the seasonal Japanese ingredients.

Signature at the Mandarin Oriental

Nihonbashi Muromachi 2-1-1

Chuo-ku, Tokyo

Reservations: 03-3270-8188

http://www.mandarinoriental.com/tokyo/fine-dining/signature/