Pickles at Tsukiji Market Nakagawaya

Nakagawaya

Ginger and Garlic, Yuzu Kabu, and Zassai pickles

Pickles play an essential role on the Japanese Table. It is served at many meals. At a kaiseki meal it is included in the rice course with miso soup. Casual curry shops serve fukujin-zuke, a soy-based relish made with daikon, eggplant, and cucumbers. If you really love Japanese pickles, then be sure to have a meal at Kintame. There are two restaurants in Tokyo, my favorite is in Monzennakacho, but the branch at Tokyo Station’s Daimaru department store is centrally located.

We try to include pickles when we can. It’s an easy way to get an extra vegetable dish on the table and fermented foods are good for you.

In the photo above are three pickles from Nakagawaya at Tsukiji Market. On the left is the pickle that I am currently crazy for. Thin slices of ginger and garlic pickled in soy sauce. It has a kick and is great with white rice, fried rice, or simply over tofu. In the middle is an aromatic yuzu and soft kabu turnips. On the right is pickled zassai (Brassica juncea), a Sichuan vegetable called zha cai, which has a nice texture and unique flavor profile that is not usually found in Japanese cuisine.

Japanese Pickles

Japanese Pickles at Tsukiji Market Nakagawaya

There are many shops at Tsukiji Market selling pickles, but none have the selection and variety that Nakagawaya has. The shop is located in the outer market and is easy to find. Some of the pickles are vacuum-packed so it is easy to pack in your luggage to bring home. The staff here are very friendly and the selection is changing throughout the year. There are many regional pickles brought in from all over Japan like iburigakko, the smoked daikon pickle from Akita.

Tsukiji Nakagawaya

Bamboo Shoots and Nanohana Pickles

This spring we had bamboo shoots and nanohana (field mustard). The bamboo shoots were very tender and pickled in a light-colored soy sauce. The nanohana had a bit of a spicy bite to it.

Tsukiji Nakagawaya

Kabocha, Ginger and Garlic, and Zassai Pickles

We have tried making kabocha squash pickles at home to no success. The kabocha here has a soft crunch to it and adds a beautiful color to any table.

Tsukiji Nakagawaya

Eggplant and Kabocha Pickles

Eggplants are in season now and these are harvested young, perfect for pickling. The kabocha pickles are sold like this.

Nukazuke Rice Bran Pickles

Nukazuke Rice Bran Pickles

Nukazuke (rice bran pickles) are something we make at home. Here you can see in the box cucumbers, carrots, and turnips. The rice bran is washed off before cutting and serving the pickles.

Tsukiji Nakagawaya

Tsukiji Nakagawaya’s Misozuke

Here are the misozuke (miso pickles) of cucumbers, ginger, daikon, eggplant, and gobo (burdock root).

Tsukiji Nakagawaya

Nagaimo and Yamaimo Pickles

A very unique pickle that is fun to try are these made from nagaimo and yamaimo potatoes. The pickles have a very crunchy texture but once you start chewing they become very slimy. These come in flavors of shiso, wasabi, and tamari soy sauce. In the bottom pickle can you see that kombu (kelp) is wrapped around the pickles and tied with kampyō (gourd)?

Tsukiji Nakagawaya

Wasabi-zuke, Sake Kasu, and Kōji

Wasabi-zuke is a pickle made from wasabi and saké lees, on the bottom, the two pickles one the left (975 JPY and 760 JPY). Next to that is saké kasu (saké lees) and kōji. Both of these are great fun to cook with at home. We use the saké lees for marinating fish before grilling. The kōji is a very popular cooking ingredient for making shio kōji and soy sauce kōji that can be used as a pickling agent, marinade for proteins, and as a seasoning for stir-fries, salad dressings, and soup.

Tsukiji Nakagawaya 築地中川屋

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 4-8-5 中央区築地4-8-5

 

 

 

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

Tokyo Sky Tree Shops – Ganso for Plastic Foods

Great news for tourists visiting the Tokyo’s hottest destination, Tokyo Sky Tree. You don’t have to go to Kappabashi to get your plastic food samples. Ganso Shokuhin Sanpuruya has a branch in the new Solamachi shopping mall. The original store is in Kappabashi and is very popular.

Here you’ll find the great plastic food samples that are usually found in front of restaurants. As well as many miniature versions for refrigerator magnets or keychains. And, for the very creative, you can pick up your own kit to make your own bowl of plastic food like spaghetti or ramen at home.

I have a few sushi magnets and love them. Great gifts for your foodie friends.

Ganso Shokuhin Sanpuruya 元祖食品サンプル屋

Solamachi East Yard 4th Floor

03-5809-7089

10:00 – 21:00 daily

*photos come from the Sky Tree Solamachi site and the Ganso site.

Kappabashi – Okuda Shouten Shiten for Bamboo Products

Okuda Shouten Shiten in Kappabashi

Okuda Shouten Shiten in Kappabashi

Okuda Shouten Shiten is on the rightside

This shop features bamboo products. Strainers, steamers, bamboo baskets for soba, tempura, or for large strainers, chopsticks,handai for making sushi rice, bento boxes, bowls for miso soup.

Okuda Shouten Shiten オクダ商店支店

Taito-ku, Nishi-Asakusa 1-5-10

Phone: 03-3844-4511

www.kappabashi.or.jp/shops/32.html (Japanese)

Support Tohoku – Kessenuma Shop in Ginza

Kessenuma Shop

Kessenuma Shop

Antenna shops showcase food and other products from a certain area, usually a prefecture in Japan. I love to shop at antenna shops for hard-t0-find shochu, sake, regional seafood, and other items like miso. It is a good place to pick up omiyage for friends, or things for yourself.

Recently in Ginza, across the street from the Sony building, a shop featuring the food of Kesenuma, in Miyagi prefecture. A restaurant on the second floor is scheduled to open from November 3rd. Tuna and sanma are two seafood that Kesenuma is known for so look for these, and much more, at the restaurant. Kesenuma is a big seafood port that was hit by the tsunami.  The space for the shop was offered to the city of Kesenuma rent-free and the shop is expected to remain open until August 2012.

The Asahi newspaper reports that other cities that have been affected, like Hachinohe, Kamaishi, Ishinomaki, and Iwaki, may also be participating in the antenna shop.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 5-2-1

Where do Tokyoites Shop for Food?

So where do Tokyoites do their grocery shopping? There are large supermarkets, like Ito Yokado, Daiei, or Seiyu (a subsidiary of Walmart) but these require a lot of space so are usually found a bit out of the city. There is an Ito Yokado a few stops from Tokyo station on the Tozai line at Kiba, definitely worth visiting if you are curious about a large Japanese supermarket. In the city there are smaller supermarket chains like Akafudado, Inageya or Queens Isetan. As well, there are discount supermarkets, my particular favorite is called OK. It is like a regular supermarket, just cheaper. These three types of supermarkets are good for one-stop shopping. I go to these shops when I am limited on time.

I round out my shopping at 100 (or 99) yen shops like Daiso or Lawson 100. Here I pick up sundries like dried shiso (yukari) and kitchen or tableware. These shops are everywhere (we live on top of one) so I usually end up going in at least once a day for one thing or another. Something to drink, an onigiri between meals, or some chips, these shops have a wide variety of products.

If time permits, I prefer shopping at shotengai, or shopping arcades. Small specialty shops for items like tofu, rice, seafood, produce, or tea. Here you’ll find freshly made tofu or you can have the fishmonger help you select seasonal seafood and have him filet it for you. I wrote a piece on shotengai for Metropolis magazine.

When I lived in Monzennakacho, very close to the city center I did most of my shopping at Ito Yokado and Akafudado. Not only a supermarket Ito Yokado sells almost anything else you would need for your home, similar to a Super Target in the USA. Akafudado is a smaller supermarket, but the shop in Monzennakacho also sold other items for home, etc. on the upper floors.

On Saturday mornings I would take my scooter a few minutes to Tsukiji Market and shop in the outer market. Tsukiji is ideal if looking for good quality kombu, katsuobushi, pickles, tea, and much more. If I am hosting a dinner party, Yamaya is good for getting wine and Hanamasa is great for discounted meat and vegetables.

For nihonshu and shochu there are several options including depachika or specialty shops like Hasegawa Saketen for nihonshu or Shochu Authority for shochu.

Our home near Kokubunji, in the Western suburbs of Tokyo, is close to a great discount supermarket called OK. Most of our shopping is done here because it is minutes from our home and the prices just can’t be beat. Shinji buys a lot of our seafood at Uoriki as he used to be a buyer for them.

I also love to shop at depachika, especially for prepared foods. I don’t like to fry at home so if I wanted to have some tempura with soba noodles I would pick up the tempura at depachika. Top quality seafood, meat, and produce are also available at depachika. While it can be expensive, some items will go on sale later in the day so if time permits, I like to poke my head into depachika before dinner. My favorite depachika are Isetan and Takashimaya.

There are many small chain supermarkets that vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. Names to look out for include Peacock, Tobu, or Tokyu. There are too many to list. Here is a list of supermarkets in Tokyo.

When I get a craving for Western products I usually go to Nissin (pronounced nishin) or Meidi-ya (pronounced meijiya).

If you are visiting Tokyo and would like to visit a large supermarket I suggest Ito Yokado near Kiba station on the Tozai line. Koto-ku, Kiba 1-5-30.

Here is a list of popular shotengai (shopping arcades) in Tokyo.

Here is my list of “gotta gets” at the supermarkets.

Here is Steve Trautlein’s article on International Supermarkets in Tokyo.

 

If you are living in Tokyo and would like a supermarket tour, please contact us. Supermarket tours are usually held in your local supermarket. It helps you to demystify main ingredients for cooking at home. Our contact information is here.

COREDO Muromachi コレド室町

Coredo Muromachi

Coredo Muromachi

Nihonbashi has a rich food history as it was the original home of the fish market before it moved to Tsukiji. The new COREDO Muromachi building is filled with restaurants and food shops, some dating back hundreds of years.

Kiya

Kiya

Pick up Japanese knives at Nihonbashi Kiya or taste the smoky bonito stock or dashi based soups like kabocha and chicken potage at Ninben’s Nihonbashi Dashi Bar.

Ninben's Dashi Bar

Ninben's Dashi Bar

Fresh fish is grilled over a sumi charcoal pit at the casual izakaya Nihonbashi Kinoshige.

Paris Brest-Aimee

Paris Brest-Aimee

And perhaps one of the most talked about food item at COREDO Muromachi is the traditional Paris Brest-Aimee at Patisserie Aimee Vibert.

COREDO Muromachi

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Muromachi 2-2-1

Nihonbashi Kiya, 1st floor, 03-3242-0010

Ninben, 1st floor, 03-3241-0968

Nihonbashi Kinoshige, 2nd floor, 03-3548-9917

Patisserie Aimee Vibert, 1st floor, 03-6225-2551

www.coredo.jp (Japanese – can click through to English but very limited information)

Okinawa Washita Shop in Ginza 沖縄わしたショップ

Okinawa Washita Shop

Okinawa Washita Shop

Okinawa Washita Antenna Shop 沖縄わしたショップ

Chuo-ku, Ginza 1-3-9

03-3535-6991

10:00 – 19:00, no holidays

www.washita.co.jp/info/shop/ginza/index.html (Japanese)

The Okinawa Washita Shop in Ginza may be one of the most unique antenna shops in the city due to the unique food and beverage culture of Okinawa. The cuisine of the southernmost islands of Japan is very different from what you will find in the rest of the country. This tropical islands are rich with sea vegetables, pork and the local shochu called awamori. The basement is filled with awamori is a distilled beverage made from Thai rice and has a unique funk to it that makes it the perfect partner for the Okinawan cuisine. Okinawa is also famous for the longevity of the Okinawans, which many attribute to the diet and awamori. The smoked skin from a pig’s face is sliced for a snack food. Fresh produce including the bitter goya, tropical fruits and a citrus shikuwasa juice, great for cocktails, shimadoufu (a very dense, rich tofu), and Okinawan tea (sanpincha). I also was so happy to find a Japanese grater called “shiri shiri ki” that is ideal for grating carrots for salads or spring rolls. We had one in our home growing up and used it often. I also like it for grating potatoes for hash browns. I haven’t seen it at any other shop in Japan, just here.

Shiri Shiri Ki

Shiri Shiri Ki

Ginza Takumi 銀座たくみ

Ginza Takumi

Ginza Takumi

 

Takumi たくみ

Chuo-ku, Ginza 8-4-2

03-3571-2017

11:00 – 19:00 (closed Sunday & holidays)

www.ginza-takumi.co.jp/ (Japanese)

Pottery and other crafts are showcased in this two-story shop on the outskirts of Ginza. There is daily use pottery with reasonable prices starting at 1,000 JPY. The shop features a wide variety of pottery including Mashiko, Tanba, and Onta from the small village in Oita. The second floor has textiles including noren. The staff are very friendly and knowledgeable about their products.

Orimine Bakers near Tsukiji Market 築地のパン屋「オリミネベーカーズ」

Orimine Bakers

Orimine Bakers

Focaccia Shirasu

Focaccia Shirasu

Foccacia Iidako

Foccacia Iidako

A great little bakery near Tsukiji has opened up and is definitely worth checking out if you are in the area. The name of the shop is printed in gold on the windows, reminds me of Balthazar Bakery in Soho. You can’t miss its green and white awning and the green exterior. The breads range from sweet to savory but two in particular that catch my eyes are made with seafood procured from neighboring Tsukiji Market, both focaccia. One is topped with shiso, shirasu (boiled tiny anchovies), and cheese. The other has iidako (octopus) with a puttanesca sauce. There is also a selection of sandwiches. There is a map on the website, which is mostly in Japanese, but enough English to find the map and to see the other great breads.

Thanks to chef and author, Yukiko Hayashi (Gout Sensei) for bringing this shop to our attention! Gout Sensei’s website (in Japanese) is below. She is particularly passionate about soba.

http://gout.cocolog-nifty.com/blog/cat20852746/index.html (Japanese)

Orimine Bakers

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 7-10-11

03-6228-4555

7:00 – 19:00, closed Sunday and holidays

http://oriminebakers.com/ (mostly Japanese but some basic English and a map)