March Seasonal Japanese Seafood 3月旬の魚


March is a delicious month for seafood. The cold waters still bring fish rich with fat that shines in sashimi or is nice for grilling. Asari clams are great for making into a quick vongole style pasta. Grilling salted fish heads of buri or tai is quick and simple and the perfect accompaniment to sake or shochu. Bitesize tiny hotaru ika can be quickly blanched and then served with a sweet and vinegary sumiso dressing. Nishin can be salted and grilled. And perhaps my favorite this time of year is katsuo simply seared on the edges, sliced thickly, and served with some soy sauce and garlic.

If you click on the Japanese name of the seafood you should be directed to a link with a photo.

Asari – 浅利  Japanese littleneck clams   (Ruditapes philippinarum)

Buri – 鰤 Japanese amberjack (Seriola quinqueradiata)

Hamaguri – 浜栗  common Orient clam (Meretrix lusoria)

Hirame –  鮃 olive flounder (Paralichthys olivaceus)

Hotaru Ika – 蛍烏賊擬 firefly squid  (Enoploteuthis chunii)

Isaki – 伊佐幾  chicken grunt  (Parapristipoma trilineatum)

Kaki – 牡蠣 oyster (Crassostrea gigas)

Katsuo –  鰹  skipjack tuna or oceanic bonito (Katsuwonus pelamis)

Kinmedai– 金目 (sometimes called kinme) splendid alfonsino (Beryx splendens)

Kohada –  小鰭  gizzard shad (Konosirus pumctatus)

Madai (or Tai) –  真鯛 seabream (Pagurus major)

Nijimasu –  虹鱒  rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Nishin – 鰊  Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii)

Sayori –  針魚  halfbeak (Hyporhamphus sajori)

Sazae – サザエ   turban weath shell (Turbo cornutus)

Yari ika – 槍烏賊 spear squid (Loligo (Heterololigo) bleekeri)

Jougo Kokuto Shochu じょうご黒糖焼酎

Jougo Kokuto Shochu

Jougo Kokuto Shochu

Another good shochu to start with for shochu novices is a kokuto shochu which is made from sugar cane. It’s inherent sweetness is soft on the palate. This is from Amami Oshima south of Kagoshima.

Koji: shiro (white) koji – making it a light, delicate shochu

alcohol: 25%

suggested drinking method: on the rocks

distillation: otsurui (single distillation) honkaku shochu

distillery: Amami Oshima Shuzo

Ohmi Food Fair at Nihonbashi Takashimaya 第24回 琵琶湖夢街道 大近江展

Ohmi Gyu Bento

Ohmi Gyu Bento

Ohmi wagyu is considered by some to be the best wagyu that Japan produces. Here is your chance to try it in a bento. Other highlights include ayu from lake Biwako and regional wagashi (confectionaries).

The event runs from Friday, February 24th to Thursday, March 1st. Nihonbashi Takashimaya on the 8th floor event space.

Note that the event closes at 6 p.m. on the final day.

Antenna Shop Food Fair at Shinjuku Keio 京王新宿店でアンテナショップ&ご当地グルメ展

Osaka Takoyaki

Osaka Takoyaki

Hakodate Kaisen Donburi

Hakodate Kaisen Donburi

Friday, February 24th to Tuesday, February 28th, Shinjuku Keio on the 7th floor event space is holding a gourmet fair of antenna shops featuring food and beverages from throughout Japan.  Click here to see photos of some of the many offerings.

Note that the event closes at 5 p.m. on the final day.

Wine Fair at Shinjuku Isetan

Coco Farm & Winery

Coco Farm & Winery

Isetan in Shinjuku is hosting an international wine fair starting Wednesday, February 22nd to Monday, February 27th. The event takes place on the 6th floor and closes at 6 p.m. on Monday.

Highlights include a wide selection of Japanese wine, including my favorite Japanese winery, Coco Farm and Winery in Tochigi. There is of course old world and new world wines.

Wine Bar

Wine Bar

As well, a wine bar with unique chances to try some great wines by the glass like Opus One or Sassicaia. See the calendar here for more details.

Also, if you do decide to purchase a lot of wine, inquire into the takkyubin or delivery service so that you don’t have to carry it all home.

My list on Tokyo’s top depachika, including Isetan.


Gotta Get – Nosetare Rayu Oroshi のせタレラー油おろし

Rayu Oroshi

Rayu Oroshi

We are addicted to taberu rayu, the mild chili oil filled with fried garlic chips. At the store this area of condiments has blossomed into other products, including this very interesting rayu oroshi.

Oroshi is simply grated items, usually vegetables. Popular grated vegetables include wasabi for sushi, ginger for topping tofu, and daikon for serving with grilled fish.

The ingredients for this thick paste include daikon, soy sauce, sugar, rayu, mirin, yuzu, lemon juice, and katsuobushi extract. As you can imagine, it has a nice acidity from the yuzu and lemon, a rich umami from the katsuobushi, sweetness from the sugar and mirin, slight chili from the rayu, and a nice thick texture from the grated daikon. SB, which makes this product, has a line-up of rayu condiments.

Tuna Tataki Rayu Oroshi

Tuna Tataki Rayu Oroshi

Rayu oroshi seems to go with almost anything. It was the perfect garnish for tuna tataki. We also have enjoyed it with grilled meats (pork, chicken, or beef), ramen, and of course, over rice.

Look for it at major supermarkets in Japan.

Tokyo Izakaya and Standing Bars



Grabbing a drink after work with colleagues or friends in Tokyo is great fun as there are so many options to choose from. These are some of my favorites from Food Sake Tokyo.


This friendly tachinomi (standing bar) is located on the back streets of Shinjuku Sanchome. Designed with Showa era items, it feels like stepping back in time. The shop features grilled innards, but you can have some items sashimi style. The brains are creamy and the yudetan (boiled tongue) is tender. If you can, grab a spot at the counter and notice how vigilant the staff is at keeping their cutting boards spotless. You can also see everything that’s being grilled and coming out of the open kitchen staffed with young, handsome men.

Shinjuku 3-7-3, Marunaka Building 1st floor
tel: 03-3354-4829
17:00 – 24:00, no holidays (Japanese)


Near Yoyogi-Uehara station is an upscale izakaya with a great selection of sake in the windowed refrigerator behind the long counter. The menu is diverse, including seafood, and small bites that call out to be had with nihonshu such as nuta, a vinegary miso dressing with seasonal seafood, or grilled ginko nuts.

Shibuya-ku, Uehara 1-32-15, Kobayashi Bldg. 1st floor
tel: 03-5454-3715
17:00 – 23:00, closed Sunday and holidays
No website


Since 1925, Yamariki has often been ranked as one of the top ten izakaya in the city. Located in the shitamachi district of Morishita, there is usually a line waiting to get in. There is a second shop down the street and the staff will direct you there. Their signature item is a nikomi made from cow innards, port wine, Hatcho miso, sugar, and bouquet garni. The store proudly says that they have been adding to the same nikomi for over 40 years now. The other house specialty is the yakiton or grilled pork bits on a skewer. What makes Yamariki unique is they have a wine list (French only) and a friendly sommelier, Mizukami-san, who will help you match a wine with your food, as well as, of course, sake.

Koto-ku, Morishita 2-18-8
tel: 03-3633-1638
17:00 – 22:00, closed Sunday and holidays (Japanese)

Tachigui Sakaba Buri

The walls at buri are decorated with colorful cup sake from all over Japan. There are over 30 different types of sake served in individual cups. A unique sake to try is the frozen sake that is like a slush. The menu is filled with small plates of sake-friendly foods like seasonal seafood and grilled meats.

Tachigui Sakaba buri
Shibuya-ku, Ebisu-Nishi 1-14-1
tel: 03-3496-7744
17:00 – 3:00 a.m., no holidays (Japanese)

Stand Bar Maru

Maru may be one of the best bargains in the city for standing bars. Located next door to a wine shop with about 200 wines, customers can purchase a bottle and have it opened for drinking at a nominal fee. The first floor is standing only (tachinomi), but if you get there early enough, you may be able to snag a seat in the second floor restaurant. Following the tapas concept, legs of Iberico ham are shaved per order, small plates are to share, and the grilled meats are highly recommended. This shop is in an out of the way area and is always busy with local young hipsters and salary-men from the area. The staff at this fourth-generation shop is very friendly.

Stand Bar Maru
Chuo-ku, Hatchobori 3-22-10
tel: 03-3552-4477
17:00 – 23:00, closed weekends and holidays
No website

This article first appeared in the ACCJ Journal.

Karaage at Ranman Shokudo in Ebisu



Japanese fried chicken, karaage, to me is so much better than American fried chicken because it is usually boneless and is always tender. Karaage is usually marinated in sake and some other seasonings before being deep-fried. The sake helps to tenderize the meat.

I am recipe testing karaage for Postmark Chef in the USA and I always look forward to the tastings. Karaage is very popular in Tokyo at the moment and one restaurant to check out is Ranman Shokudo in Ebisu. The karaage here is made from thigh meat, making it all the more tender. This photo comes from Tarzan magazine issue 590.

Ranman Shokudo

Shibuya-ku, Ebisu Nishi 1-4-1


Japanese Tea

Japanese Tea

Japanese Tea

As you’d expect of a people whose tea culture extends back hundreds of years, the Japanese enjoy every type of cha imaginable—pungent, sweet, soft, grassy, clean and earthy. Leaves can be plucked, steamed, packed, processed (dried and rolled) and refined (stems and debris removed), or ground for matcha and roasted forhoujicha. To get the most out of your drink, here’s a guide to the ABC’s of tea.

  • Bancha (番茶) is the third harvest of sencha (see below). Bancha can also refer to tea that is harvested in the late summer or fall. At this point, the plant’s soft shoots have grown and the leaves become brittle. Bancha is a plain-tasting tea made with stems and stalks. It is slightly astringent and yellow in color
  • Fuka-mushicha (深蒸し茶) is steamed for 2-3 minutes when processed, hence the name, which means “deep-steamed.” On the palate, fuka-mushicha is mellow and has a round flavor.
  • Genmaicha (玄米茶) is gorgeous to look at—bancha green tea flecked with small kernels of roasted, popped brown-rice kernels (genmai). The aroma is easy to recognize, and the flavor is soft on the palate and slightly savory. It’s also light in caffeine, making it a good tea to drink in the evenings.
  • Gyokuro (玉露) is a delicate tea, as the bush was shaded from the harsh sunlight for about two weeks prior to harvest. This gentle product is lightly sweet on the palate and is very mellow in its aroma.
  • Houjicha (ほうじ茶) is a blend of bancha and kukicha teas, heated to a high temperature to slightly roast it. It is known for being a good after-dinner tea, as it will help the body to digest food and is lower in caffeine than green teas.
  • Ichibancha (一番茶), or the year’s first crop of tea, is often picked around May 1. The first harvest is considered the best, with each successive crop somewhat inferior. Also referred to as shincha.
  • Kukicha (茎茶) is from the twigs and stems of the tea bush. It is slightly nutty and earthy, with a hint of sweetness on the palate.
  • Matcha (抹茶) leaves have been shaded from the sunlight (like gyokuro leaves) before being steamed and dried without. The veins and the stalks are removed, and the remaining leaf is ground into a fine powder. Matcha is what’s used for the traditional tea ceremony; its powder is also sold in an instant form (like coffee) that can be used for making matcha au lait or mixing with vanilla ice cream and adding into milkshakes. The instant form is very easy to work with.
  • Mecha (芽茶) is made from the buds and tips, and is harvested early in the season. This tea is aromatic, slightly bitter and astringent.
  • Mugicha (麦茶) is roasted barley tea that’s popular in the summertime served cold. It has a roasty, toasty flavor and is brown in color.
  • Sencha (煎茶) is the most popular type of tea consumed in Japan. The leaves are briefly steamed during processing, resulting in a refreshing flavor and grassy notes. Sencha pairs well with many types of sweets.
  • Shincha (新茶), or “new tea,” is the year’s first crop of tea; also called ichibancha.
  • Sobacha (蕎麦茶), or roasted buckwheat tea, is silky and round on the palate, with a nutty aroma

This article first appeared in Metropolis.

Posted in tea

Antenna Shops in Nihonbashi

Antenna Shops in Nihonbashi

In a recent survey of Tokyoites the main reason why they go to antenna shops is to pick up regional food products. The next popular answer was that it was interesting to explore antenna shops followed by picking up brochures for future trips to that prefecture. The other big answer was that people were longing for foods and products from their hometown so came to antenna shops to pick these up. Click on the name of the shop for each shop’s website (most likely in Japanese).

Nihonbashi Niigata Kan NICO Plaza #2Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Muromachi 1-6-5,

Jizake, seafood, and rice are some of the highlights of this antenna shop.

Taisha Tokyo Bldg. 1-2F


hours vary

Fukushima Yaesu Kanko Koryu Kan

Fresh fruits, rice, jizake, and sweets.

Chuo-ku, Yaesu 2-6-21, Santoku Yaesu Bldg.


10:00 – 19:00

Kyoto Kan

Minutes from Tokyo station’s Yaesu exit, the wagashi at this shop are gorgeous and exquisite.

Chuo-ku, Yaesu 2-1-1, Yanma Tokyo Bldg.

10:30 – 19:00 (closed last Wednesday of each month from March to September)


Yamanashi Kan

Yamanashi is known for its fruit and for its wine. There is an unusually large selection of over 100 Yamanashi wine at this shop. I suggest koshu, a white grape that is light, fruity, and easy to pair with most Japanese food.

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 2-3-4, Nihonbashi Plaza 1F

10:00 – 19:00 (website says hours may open at 11:00 a.m. to conserve electricity)


Oidemase Yamaguchi Kan

My favorite item at this shop is the Hagi-yaki, pottery from Hagi, in pastel colors. I have picked up several teacups here for myself and as gifts. The glaze has fine cracks in it that over time become dark. It is as though the ceramic is alive and aging. This is in the same building as the Yamanashi shop so be sure to stop by both. Nihonbashi Takashimaya is also just down the street from here.

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 2-3-4, Nihonbashi Plaza 1F

10:30 – 19:00



Nihonbashi Shimane Kan

Shimane prefecture’s antenna shop is located across the street from Mitsukoshi department store. Next door there is also a restaurant, Mondo, that features the local jizake and food of Shimane. Lunch set menus are donburi topped with seafood and cost about 1,000 JPY. The antenna shop posts its most popular selling items, all seafood. Most of it is himono, or fish that is butterflied and air-dried, perfect for grilling and serving with some sake. This month’s top sellers include nodoguro (blackthroat), aji (horse mackerel), and karei (flounder).

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Muromachi 1-5-3

10:30 – 19:00


A list of antenna shops in the Ginza area.