Nihonbashi Sapporoya – Hiyashi Chuka Goma Dare

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* I meant to post this in the summer. Sapporoya serves chilled ramen throughout the year.

Tokyo 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

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

Saturday 11:00~14:30

closed Sunday and holidays

Tokyo Food Guide

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photo by Olen Peterson

We can demystify Tsukiji Market, the world’s largest seafood market,

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and introduce you to a new sushi neta, like kinmedai (splendid alfonsino) that is pink, slightly sweet, and is succulent.

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Introduce you to a wide variety of Japanese pickles.

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Lead you to a special bar where cocktails are made with seasonal fruit and vegetables,

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or to a bar serving craft beer and sweet potato chips.

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Explore the unique izakaya culture from smoky grilled meat joints
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to saké specialty restaurants and discover the subtle nuances of saké through flights of saké,

shochu

or through the native distilled spirit, shōchū. Yukari was the first non-Japanese to pass the shōchū advisor exam.

DSCN5688Explore street food on the side streets of Tokyo,
depachika sugar grapesphoto by Nancy Matsumoto

or to my old stomping grounds, Takashimaya depachika, to discover sugar-coated muscat grapes and

depachika sashimi matsumoto

photo by Nancy Matsumoto

seasonal sashimi.

Food Sake Tokyo guides are a chef and Japanese fishmonger. We are Tokyo’s food guides. Please contact us here for more information on our market tours.

Food Sake Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market Tour

Tsukiji Market, the world’s largest seafood market, is in the heart of Tokyo. It is a short walk from the glitzy Ginza shopping district and just minutes from the renovated Kabukiza theater. It’s one of Tokyo’s most popular tourist destinations with visitors. And, it is our most popular tour that our company, Food Sake Tokyo, offers. Shinji, a Japanese fishmonger, used to be a buyer at Tsukiji Market so he offers an insider’s perspective to the market.

Shinji at Tsukiji Dolinsky 1

Here, Shinji is being interviewed by food journalist Steve Dolinsky at Tsukiji, for Public Radio International. It’s an insight to the sights and sounds of Tsukiji:

http://www.theworld.org/2013/04/biggest-fish-market/

Shinji at Tsukiji Dolinsky 2

Tsukiji Market is scheduled to move to Toyosu, a few kilometers down along Tokyo Bay. Another reason to come and see this historic market before it moves.

Shinji at Tsukiji Dolinsky 3

Shinji is able to talk about all of the seasonal seafood, how it’s prepared, and what it the texture is like. Shinji’s tour focuses on the inner market which is the wholesale area for seafood. It is here that he worked as a buyer. It’s a crazy place to navigate and to really understand what is here and what is what, you need a guide who understands Japanese seafood.

Shinji at Tsukiji Dolinsky 4

One thing you will notice is that there is no stinky fish smell that you find at most fish markets. The fishmongers are very careful to clean and wash down each stall when they close down shop.

Shinji at Tsukiji 5

At the sushi counter Shinji is able to make recommendations on unique seafood that you most likely won’t be able to try at home. He can also help to demystify the culture of dining at a sushi-ya. This time of year we are crazy for kinmédai, alfonsino, which is a pink fleshed fish. The best kinmédai, are harvested from the shallow waters near Chōshi port in Chiba. Steve Dolinsky writes about having kinmédai and includes a photo here.

Shinji at Tsukiji 6

I have to say, most fishmongers are very friendly and have big smiles – just like this one!

Yukari at Tsukiji 1

I also offer tours of Tsukiji Market. The focus of my tour is the outer market which is open to the general public. It is filled with stalls selling produce, pickles, prepared foods, tea, knives, and much more. We are enjoying tamagoyaki (Japanese omelet) on a stick. Reminds me of the Minnesota State Fair – the food on a stick part.

Yukari at Tsukiji 3

I also take clients into the inner market so that they can get a feel for the heart of the market. Here we are looking at fish killed by a special ikéjimé process.

Yukari at Tsukiji 5

The many stalls of the inner market – and the perfect spot for a photo.

Yukari at Tsukiji 7

There is lots to discover at Tsukiji, including learning about herring roe in a sac, and herring roe that has been laid on a piece of kombukomochi kombu.

Yukari Tsukiji OverviewThe view everyone loves – overlooking the inner market and Tokyo Bay.

We look forward to welcoming you to Tokyo and to Tsukiji Market. Here are more details on our tours.

* A special thanks to our clients for letting us share their photos with you.

MetPod

MetPod photo 201302

Kamasami Kong, Tommy Aoki, and Yukari Sakamoto

I had the great pleasure of doing a MetPod with Kamasami Kong to share information about our new company, Food Sake Tokyo. Click on the link below

http://metropolis.co.jp/podcast/2013/02/24/talking-about-japanese-food/

Here is Tommy Aoki’s MetPod. He talks about the United Tastes of America competition.

http://metropolis.co.jp/podcast/2013/03/03/asia-wide-chef-competition/

 

Suji's Pastrami

 

Suji’s pastrami sandwich. A taste of New York City in Tokyo. Suji’s is the sponsor for the MetPod.  Minato-ku, Azabudai 3-1-5

Food Sake Tokyo Upcoming Market Field Trips

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Kappabashi

Tuesday, March 12th

10 a.m. to noon

Whether you are looking for new kitchen gadgets or for tableware, you’ll find it all at Kappabashi, the wholesale district for chefs and restaurateurs. Kappabashi is reknowned for its plastic food samples, made into keychains and refrigerator magnets. This guided field trip will introduce you to kitchenware and tableware unique to the Japanese kitchen.

Price is 7,000 Japanese yen and includes a copy of Food Sake Tokyo.

Additional copies of Food Sake Tokyo are available for 2,000 Japanese yen.

Each tour is limited to four participants.

To register e-mail: yukari dot shinji dot sakamoto at gmail dot com

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Tsukiji Outer Market

Tuesday, March 19th

9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Tsukiji Market is the world’s largest seafood market. The outer market of Tsukiji, which is open to the general public, is filled with many food shops and restaurants. This guided field trip will introduce you to ingredients essential to the Japanese kitchen; a visit to a knife shop and a kitchenware shop is included.

This tour does NOT include a visit to the inner market where seafood is sold to wholesalers.

Price is 7,000 Japanese yen and includes a copy of Food Sake Tokyo.

Price is 12,000 Japanese yen if attending both Kappabashi and Tsukiji tours.

Additional copies of Food Sake Tokyo are available for 2,000 Japanese yen.

Each tour is limited to four participants.

To register e-mail: yukari dot shinji dot sakamoto at gmail dot com

Food Sake Tokyo

GENERAL CANCELLATION POLICY: Should Food Sake Tokyo need to cancel any or all segments of a program, every effort will be made to re-schedule sessions at a mutually convenient time. If that is not possible, a full refund will be made promptly for sessions canceled by Food Sake Tokyo.

If an individual or group is unable to attend a Food Sake Tokyo program for which they have already enrolled, that person or group may designate a substitute for him/her/them. No additional fees are charged to the participant (substitute attendee). Any financial arrangements made between the original participant and his/her/their substitute is at the discretion of the person originally enrolled. All requests to have a substitute attend a program, however, must be received by phone or e-mail at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled class meeting. When making such a request, please provide the full name and (local, Tokyo) contact phone number and e-mail address of each person who will be taking the place of the originally enrolled individual or group.

LIMITATIONS on LIABILITY: Every possible precaution is taken to ensure your personal safety and the safety of those in your group. However, registration for, and attendance at, all programs is subject to the following condition: the director and staff of Food Sake Tokyo, are released from, and specifically disclaim, all responsibilities for injuries or illness incurred traveling to and from sessions, during sessions, or resulting from food prepared at, or according to recipes distributed during, cooking & tasting sessions, market tours or other field trips, including restaurant meals.

NOTE: Tuition fees for cooking workshops, market tours, and other field trips conducted by Food Sake Tokyo do NOT INCLUDE food & beverage not specifically mentioned in the program description. Tuition does NOT include the cost of local transportation. Any purchases made by participants during class, market tours or field trips are at the discretion of each participant. Participants in all programs are responsible for making arrangements for, and making payment for, their airfare, lodgings, and transportation to/from/within Japan. Participants are also responsible for obtaining and paying for any travel/trip/health insurance coverage they would like to have.

 

Food Sake Tokyo reviewed by the ACCJ

Food Sake Tokyo

Food Sake Tokyo

If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, a glimpse into a city’s soul is no doubt through her cuisine. Chef, sommelier and Japan-certified shochu advisor Yukari Sakamoto’s book, “Food·Sake·Tokyo,” offers a tasteful insight into Tokyo’s gastronomic galaxy that is sometimes hard to navigate even for locals. Released last month and written from the perspective of an America-based Japanese person, “Food·Sake·Tokyo” will heighten the culinary sensitivities of any tourist in Japan, making for a more full-flavored visit.

Extensive lists of seasonal fruits, vegetables and fish are recommended—with a special section on the best catch of the season for sushi. In the “Food” section the author offers instruction on sushi etiquette: Making a slush out of your soy sauce and wasabi will inadvertently cause it to lose its aroma, while at the same time insult the chef, explains Sakamoto—yet it is not too uncommon to see born and bred Japanese do just that.

“Food·Sake·Tokyo” gives pithy and up-to-date introductions to the essence of over a dozen districts of historical and culinary significance in Tokyo, with a sprinkling of useful tips and interesting observations from the author’s own dining experiences. (For example: Don’t ask what you’re eating at a naizo ryori/horumon, or offal cuisine, establishment until after you’ve savored and swallowed the tasty morsel!)

Even long-term foreign residents of Japan will find the lexicons of food categories and dining etiquette in the book extremely handy. For any expat who has ever wondered what the proper name is for your favorite choice of oden, this book lists them all, from age boru (ball-shaped deep fried fish cakes) to yaki chikuwa (fish paste shaped into a cylinder and grilled).

Foreigners can also impress the locals by applying the appropriate onomatopoeic description of food sensations—from atsu atsu ramen, neba neba natto to puru puru tofu—a list of which is thoughtfully provided.

Sakamoto’s sommelier and shochu advisory acumen sparkles in the excellent “Beverages” section with vivid descriptions of the tastes and textures of various teas, sake and shochu, as well as tips on which areas produce the best types of each. A helpful list of antenna shops, or shops selling regional goods, allows tourists and Tokyoites alike to purchase products usually distinct to a particular region.

Rounding up the easily digestible tome, peppered with delightful food photography, Sakamoto recommends a couple of culinary itineraries within Tokyo, day trips from Tokyo and culinary souvenirs to reminisce about the flavors of Japan.

“Food·Sake·Tokyo,” published by Little Bookroom (www.littlebookroom.com/foodsaketokyo.html), is available on
Amazon Japan for 2,608 yen via this web link: http://bit.ly/dlVGUQ

This review by Ching-Li Tor first appeared in the American Chamber of Commerce Journal:

http://accjjournal.com/food-sake-tokyo/

Teuchi Soba Narutomi in Ginza 手打ち蕎麦成富

Teuchi Soba Narutomi

Teuchi Soba Narutomi

Sobagaki

Sobagaki

Soba

Soba

Mori Soba

Mori Soba

Gobo Tempura

Gobo Tempura

Off the beaten path, I was introduced to Narutomi Soba by some Japanese food writers. White walls and dark wooden tables set the stage for handmade soba noodles. Narutomi’s selection of gorgeous pottery presents soba unlike most shops. Start with the signature earthy gobo tempura, thin slices fried to a crisp garnished with salt. The tsuyu (broth) is on the sweet side, a nice match for the rustic noodles. The sobagaki is a dense cake of buckwheat flour simply boiled until cooked through. The yakimiso (grilled miso on a paddle) is a unique dish often only found at soba restaurants. Narutomi Soba is conveniently located between Ginza and Tsukiji.

Teuchi Soba Narutomi  手打ち蕎麦成富

Chuo-ku, Ginza 8-18-6, Futaba Bldg. 1F

03-5565-0055

Monday – Friday 11:30 – 15:00, 18:00 – 20:45

Saturday 11:30 – 15:00

Closed Sunday, holidays and third Saturday

http://narutomi-soba.net/ (Japanese)

Update on July 31, 2012: A reader of Food Sake Tokyo visited Narutomi recently and wrote in to share this lovely story:

We went to Teuchi Soba Narutomi, and when I realized they did not have an English menu I pulled out your book to order what your recommended.  The owner, Masaaki, had come out because I guess we were a bit of a novelty there (kids included).  He saw the book in my hand and said, “I know her.”  He then rounded out the items you suggested with a few other things, sort of a customized tasting menu.  It was a warm, lovely, special experience.

Chef Seiji Yamamoto of Nihonryori Ryugin 日本料理龍吟の山本征治

Chef Seiji Yamamoto photo by Jun Takagi

Chef Seiji Yamamoto photo by Jun Takagi

Avant-gardist Seiji Yamamoto of Nihonryori Ryugin once silk-screened bar codes onto plates with squid ink. His latest shocker: He’s embracing Japanese classics, as in his rice steamed with shamo (chicken).

Ryugin

Minato-ku, Roppongi 7-17-24, Side Roppongi Bldg, 1st Floor

03-3423-8006

http://www.nihonryori-ryugin.com/ (English)

Food & Wine 2010 Tokyo Go List

Here’s a piece I wrote on chef Yamamoto for The Japan Times.

Shinjuku – Saiseisakaba Standing Bar for Offal

Shinjuku Saiseisakaba

Shinjuku Saiseisakaba

Saiseisakaba in Shinjuku is one of my favorite standing bars in Tokyo. Located in Shinjuku Sanchome it is close to Isetan department store.

Brain Sashimi

Brain Sashimi

We asked the server for something unusual to start off with. He suggested brain sashimi. We were game, but when it arrived, my husband Shinji (who is a fishmonger and is accustomed to eating many weird things) was not willing to take the first bite. I dug in and actually enjoyed it, similar in texture to shirako (fish sperm sacs).

Stewed Tongue

Stewed Tongue

Moving onto something cooked we had gyutan (cow tongue) that is simmered for a long time until tender, one of my favorite dishes at Saiseisakaba.

The grill at Saiseisakaba

The grill at Saiseisakaba

This interior shot overlooking the kitchen shows the sumi (charcoal) grill. Saiseisakaba also offers a variety of different offal grilled. These foods go with beer, sake, or shochu.

Saiseisakaba 再生酒場

Shinjuku 3-7-3, Marunaka Building 1st floor 新宿区新宿3−7−3、丸中ビル1階

Tel. 03-3354-4829

17:00 – 24:00, no holidays

www.ishii-world.jp/brand/motsu/nihonsaisei/shinjuku3/ (Japanese)