Tamahide in Ningyocho

Tamahide in Nihonbashi Ningyocho has a perpetual line out its front door, regardless if it is a weekday or holiday. Its signature dish, oyakodon, literally mother and child, is bite-size pieces of chicken mixed with scrambled eggs and a sweet sauce. The chicken is cooked and then added to the eggs which is then just given some heat to start to set and this is poured over a hot bowl of rice.

 When I worked at Takashimaya, Tamahide did promotions in our depachika and the lines were there too.

Tamahide has been in business since 1760. In speaking to fellow diners, they too were curious like me, it was their first time, and they too wanted to try Tamahide’s oyakodon once in their life. As this is where the now popular comfort food was created here.

It is hands down the best oyakodon that I have had. Surely it is the eggs, the chicken, the seasoning, but also, having tried to make this at home a few times, I am always challenged to get the eggs to set just like this. The eggs are still runny and the savory sauce is filled with umami. It does come at a price though, at 1,300 JPY. My neighbor had the soboro oyakodon with ground chicken at 800 JPY and it looked just as satisfying. And, it is a bit silly to stand in line for longer than it takes to order and eat your food. But, I had to do it once, just as, I assume, many of the other customers. It would be fun to come for the dinner full chicken sukiyaki course.

Ningyocho is a great neighborhood to walk around filled with wagashi shops, kanmidokoro (Japanese confectionary cafes), sembei (rice crackers), tea shops, and more.

Tamahide 玉ひで

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi-Ningyocho 1-17-10

03-3668-7651

Closed Sunday and holidays

*This first appeared on my other blog in May, 2009, before Food Sake Tokyo was started.

Popular Donburi in Japan 日本の丼

DSCN0416Oyako-don from Tamahide in Ningyocho

Donburi 丼 are simple and fast meal. It is a large bowl of hot rice with toppings. We often make it for lunch as it is not only easy to assemble, but also easy to clean up after the meal. Many restaurants often serve donburi at lunchtime as an affordable option, often just “one coin” or 500 yen. There are restaurants that specialize in donburi like Yoshinoya (beef) or my personal favorite, Tenya (tempura). Many restaurants in the outer market of Tsukiji will sell seafood donburi, which is usually what we make at home as we often have fresh sashimi in the house.

One of Tokyo’s most famous donburi dishes is the oyako-don, literally “mother and child”, from Tamahide in Ningyocho. Tamahide is a fifth generation shop that serves chicken and eggs in a savory soy broth. The restaurant is so popular that I’ve never seen it without a line out the front door. Creamy half-cooked scrambled eggs dotted with juicy chicken is a comfort food dish in Japan.

The kanji for donburi is easy to recognize on any menu. 丼 As you can see here, it almost looks like a dish with something inside of it.

From the Asahi newspaper, here is a list of popular donburi in Japan.

1. katsu-don – tonkatsu

2. una-don – unagi

3. kaisen-don – fresh seafood

4. ten-don – tempura (usually shrimp)

5. oyako-don – chicken and eggs

6. gyu-don – thinly sliced beef in a soy broth

7. chuka-don – Chinese-style, often stir-fried meat and vegetables

8. tekka-don – maguro sashimi

9. uni-don – uni sea urchin

10. ikura-don – ikura salmon roe

11. kakiage-don – tempura

12. tentsu-don – Chinese-style omelet with vegetables covered in a thick, slightly sweet and tart sauce

13. anago-don – anago

14. tamago-don – raw egg

15. shirasu-don – baby boiled anchovies

16. yamakake-don – grated yamaimo and maguro sashimi

17. ma-bo-don – Chinese ma-bo- dofu (a spicy tofu and ground beef mixture)

18. buta-don – grilled pork

19. yakiniku-don – grilled beef

20. others

Cheap Eats – Taniya Udon in Ningyocho 人形町の谷や

Udon is a dish we often eat at home for lunch. Udon noodles are sold in the supermarket as dried noodles that need to be boiled and rehydrated or fresh (and also frozen) that just needs to be blanched in hot water. While both of these versions are fine for a simple meal at home, there is nothing that compares to freshly made udon noodles at a restaurant that also makes an excellent broth that is served with the noodles.

Taniya in the historic district of Ningyocho is one of these places. Walking by on the street that leads up to the famous Suitengumae shrine it is hard to miss the handsome chef in the window rolling out the udon dough and then cutting it with a large knife. The style of udon noodles here are from the Sanuki region of Kagawa prefecture.

Tempura udon is one of my favorites. Seasonal vegetables such as kabocha, mushrooms, and lotus root are deep-fried in a thin tempura batter with a bowl of hot noodles. This portion size, the medium, was actually too much for lunch. Next time I go back I’ll order the smaller size.

The staff had recommended this bukkake udon topped with grated yamaimo, shrimp tempura, and a tempura-fried egg with a soft yolk inside. When the egg is broken in the middle the yolk spills out onto the rest of the dish. My friends loved this dish.

Taniya blog (with photos of their seasonal udon dishes). At the moment, the two seasonal dishes are a hot bowl of noodles topped with three types of mushrooms and a tsuke-udon where the noodles are dipped in a meaty “nikujiru” broth.

Tani-san cutting the udon dough into long, thick noodles.

Taniya 谷や

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-15-17

03-5695-3060

The menu at Taniya.

Taniya blog (with photos of their seasonal udon dishes).

Here are tips to demystifying an udon menu.

List of ten popular udon restaurants in Tokyo.

Popular Donburi in Japan

Donburi are great one bowl meals. A large bowl of hot rice with toppings. We often eat these at home when we are in a hurry. Or, if Shinji is making the meal, he often resorts to donburi. They are easy to assemble and only one dish needs to be washed.

The Asashi Shimbun reported today results from an online survey taken in August. From 1842 surveyed, results for the most popular donburi are as follows:

1. Katsudon (tonkatsu)

2. Unadon (unagi)

3. Kaisendon (seasonal seafood sashimi) *what Shinji usually makes for us

4. Tendon (tempura)

5. Oyakodon (chicken and egg)

6. Gyudon (thinly sliced beef)

7. Chukadon (Chinese style, usually of meat and vegetables)

8. Tekkadon (tuna sashimi) *also popular in our home

9. Unidon (uni)

10. Ikuradon (salmon roe)

Looking over the list there are no surprises. Many of these are hearty dishes. Some chain restaurants specialize in some of these dishes. Tenya for tempura donburi or some of the gyudon chain restaurants like Sukiya. Specialty restaurants like Tamahide in Ningyocho have long lines for the signature oyakodon. If you are craving donburi after reading this, your best bet may be Tsukiji Market where several restaurants in the outer market will have the kaisendon, tekkadon, unidon, ikuradon, and more.

Gyokueido in Ningyocho 人形町の玉英堂

Gyokueidou 玉英堂

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-3-2 中央区日本橋人形町2-3-2

03-3666-2625

9:30 – 21:00 (Monday – Saturday), until 17:00 (Sunday and holidays)

closed the last Sunday of each month

www.ningyocho.or.jp/shop/a28.html (Japanese)

Commanding the corner, this branch of a Kyoto shop dates back 400 years. Gyokueidou is famous for two sweets, its dorayaki of pancakes stuffed with azuki paste and gyokuman. The gyokuman is a large sweet manju that is several layers around a chestnut of azuki paste, pink an, white an, and the manju cake dough, made from sticky yamaimo that encompasses it all.

Toukai in Ningyocho  人形町の東海

 

Toukai 東海

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 1-16-12 中央区日本橋人形町1-16-12

03-3666-7063

9:00 – 19:00, closed Sunday and holidays

no website

For almost 100 years Toukai has been a popular wagashi shop in Ningyocho. Be sure to pick up their signature Japanese-style waffles. There is a small selection of other wagashi confectionaries. Across the street is a well-stocked sake shop.

Tsukushi in Ningyocho 人形町のつくし

 

Tsukushi つくし

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-1-12 中央区日本橋人形町2-1-12

03-3664-7357

8:00 – 20:00

www.ntv.co.jp/burari/030329/info02.html  (Japanese)

Tsukushi is a kanmidokoro (sweets café) that offers the classics of anmitsu and its many variations. There are sweets to go, but the real reason to come here is to sit and in the café to indulge in their signature purin, a dense, rich egg custard with an intense caramel sauce. Have it on its own, or try it in an anmitsu with azuki beans and canned fruits.

Digging into an Ice Cold Kakigori

On summer visits to Japan as a child my favorite sweets were kakigori topped with milk. Only when I grew up did I realize that it wasn’t milk but it was sweetened condensed milk. No better way to cool down in the Tokyo heat than a bowl of shaved ice topped with a sweet syrup. Flavors like mattcha and azuki, mango, or anzu (apricots) will have you smacking your lips. Many kanmidokoro (Japanese cafes with traditional sweets) serve kakigori, but usually only for the summertime so this is the best time to dig in.

Here are a few places to dig into kakigori in the summer. Shops usually put a small flag outside with the kanji for ice on it. 氷

Mihashi

Mihashi

Mihashi’s original shop in Ueno (Taito-ku, Ueno 4-9-7) opened during the Edo period. This location, in the basement of Tokyo station in the area called Ichiban Gai, is more centrally located.

Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 1-9-1, Tokyo Station, Ichiban Gai B1

Morinoen

Morinoen

Walking around the historic Ningyocho district is always fun. Morinoen is a tea shop that specializes in houjicha. Here is their houjicha kakigori. You can smell the houjicha being roasted out on the street. Pick up a bag of the tea while you are here to take home. It’s great both hot or cold.

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-4-9

Naniwaya

Naniwaya

Naniwaya in Azabu-Juban is renowned for its taiyaki (fish-shaped pancakes stuffed with azuki).  It’s been grilling taiyaki for over a century. Step inside and grab a seat for an anzu (apricot) kakigori.

Minato-ku, Azabu-Juban 1-8-14

Kinozen

Kinozen

Kagurazaka is also a fabulous place for walking around and Kinozen is my favorite place for a kakigori.

Shinjuku-ku, Kagurazaka 1-12

Toraya

Toraya

Toraya in Ginza serves up a yummy ichigo (strawberries) kakigori.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 7-8-6, 2nd floor

Kotobukido in Ningyocho 人形町の寿堂

Kotobukido 寿堂

Kotobukido 寿堂

Kotobukido 寿堂

Kotobukido 寿堂

Kotobukido 寿堂

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-1-4 中央区日本橋人形町2-1-4

Tel. 0120-48-0400 (toll free number in Japan)

9:00 – 21:00, closed Sunday

This 5th generation shop is so small that only a handful of people can enter at one time. The three-story gray building with red trimming displays some of their confectionaries behind glass display windows up front. The unmistakable aroma of cinnamon wafts into the street. Their signature sweet, koganei imo, is shiroan (white bean paste), egg yolk, and sugar dusted with cinnamon and baked. Order one of these and the staff will serve it to you with a cup of tea.

Shigemori Eishindou in Ningyocho 人形町の重盛永信堂

Shigemori Eishindou in Ningyocho 人形町の重盛永信堂

Shigemori Eishindou in Ningyocho 人形町の重盛永信堂

Shigemori Eishindou 重盛永信堂

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-1-1 中央区日本橋人形町2-1-1

Tel. 03-3666-5885

9:00 – 20:00 (Saturday and holidays until 17:30)

closed Sundays

Commanding the corner with its large display of stuffed cakes and sweet crackers is Shigemori Eishindou. It opened in 1917 as a shop selling ningyoyaki of shichifukujin (the seven lucky gods). The azuki paste in the ningyoyaki cakes are rich, sweet and the cake is chewy.  If you look behind the counter you can see the work space in back is where the ningyoyaki are made.