Michelin Tokyo 2013 Three Star Restaurants

Today Michelin announced the newest stars in Tokyo, Yokohama, and Shonan. There are 6 new two stars, 16 new one starsion the 6th edition of the Michelin Guide for the Metropolis area. 2 restaurants were promoted from one to two stars.

Here is the list of three star restaurants:

Azabu Yukimura   –   Japanese

Esaki   –   Japanese contemporary

Ginza Koju   –   Japanese

Ishikawa   –   Japanese

Joël Robuchon   –   French Contemporary

Kanda   –   Japanese

Quintessence   –   French Contemporary

Ryugin   –  Japanese contemporary

7 chome Kyoboshi   –  Tempura

Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten   –   Sushi

Sushi Mizutani   –   Sushi

Sushi Saito   –  Sushi

Sushi Yoshitake   –  Sushi

Usukifugu Yamadaya   –  Fugu

and, Koan in Shonan for Japanese cuisine

There is a total of 15 3 star restaurants in the Tokyo area. There are only 100 restaurants in the world that are currently holding Michelin 3 stars.

As for the number of 3 star restaurants dropping from 17 last year to 15 this year. Hamadaya, lost one star but retains two stars. The other, Araki, a sushi restaurant is not included in the red guide at all this year as the restaurant is closing. Reports say that Araki may open in London in the future but this has not been confirrmed.

For the full list, click here.

Tsukiji Market Move to Toyosu in 2014

NHK reports on the evening news that it has been decided that the world’s largest seafood market, Tsukiji Market, will move to Toyosu in 2014. While the information in this brochure is in Japanese, if you scroll down you can see sketches of what the future market will look like. Space has been reserved to allow for tourists to overlook the market (I believe on a higher level so as not to get in the way of the workers). There will also be a shopping area and restaurants for the tourists. The link to the brochure above also has a map showing the current location and where the new market will be. As you can see, it is not very far from the current location.


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


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.

Tsukiji Market Calendar 2013

Kibun Satsuma-age (fish cakes)

UPDATE as of 1/2/2013: Tsukiji Market move to Toyosu has been pushed back one year to March of 2015.

If you are planning to visit Tsukiji Market in 2013 it is best to consult the official market calendar here and avoid days highlighted in red or purple:


New rules for visiting tuna auction are stated here:


There is a lot to see in the outer market and that is open to the general public. It has become a very popular destination and is very busy on Saturdays. Of course there are plenty of good restaurants that are open to the public. Some of my favorites are here:

Sushi at Tsukiji

Cheap Eats at Tsukiji Market

Horumon-yaki Rukuma Tokyo ホルモン焼 婁熊東京

Small bite

When I crave offal I usually head to the casual standing bar Saisei Sakaba in Shinjuku. When I was contacted by the production team for Andrew Zimmern before his trip to Tokyo I suggested this restaurant and was thrilled to see it on his program. He is seen on the program behind the counter grilling skewered offal over charcoal with one of the chefs.

On a recent night out with some fellow foodies we were introduced to a great offal restaurant by an editor from a food magazine.

Smoked Liver Salad

Offal Sashimi Course

Pork Liver with Soy Sauce Koji, Cervix, Natto Koji, and Irizake

To get to Rukuma it’s best to meet someone who knows how to get there at Ebisu station and have them guide you there. That’s how it is for many restaurants in this city without street names. I know Ebisu fairly well and even I’m not sure if I could find my way back here. A short walk from the station along a busy street passing a ramen shop with a long line, several standing bars, and a few izakaya. At a stoplight our “guide” Mizutani-san, takes a right and then a left along the Yamanote line and we walk along the tracks until he says that we’ve arrived.

I knew we were in for a treat when one of the first dishes we had included unique ingredients like cervix and natto koji. Offal is appreciated for its texture and flavor. The chef was very creative to make his own natto koji and other ingredients you’ll see below.

Nikomi Simmered Offal with Salt-Cured Cambodian Fresh Black Peppers

The salt-cured fresh black peppers from Cambodia was another new ingredient that a fellow chef at the table also was impressed with. The chef suggested having the peppers with the food, but also to try it on its own. Salty with a pepper bite and a great texture like a hard caper berry.

Charcoal Grill

At this point the staff pull down the exhaust vent from the ceiling and bring a charcoal grill to the table. Maybe you recognize Japan’s most famous non-Japanese ramen chef in the photo?

First Grilling Course

Gensouton Maboroshi Shimofuri Pork in Wine Lees Powder

Stomach Fat wrapped around Pork Liver with Pressed Onion Chips

Pork Hire Tenderloin with Pressed Peppers

Oppai Teats

Roast Ham

Pork Hara Diaphragm

Tongue Amazake Misozuke

Tonsoku Pig’s Feet and Liver Andouille Sausage

Hands down the favorite was the stomach fat wrapped around pork liver for its crispy outside but still raw inside. The homemade andouille sausage was also nice. And, again, amazed to find yet another new ingredient – wine lees dried to a powder then used to add umami to the meat.


Pressed Pepper

This was also a new ingredient. Dried peppercorn pressed until paper thin. Leathery texture and a peppery bite. Would love this with a steak.

Grilled Pickled Peppers

Harami with Shio Koji, Guts, Nodobue (vocal chords) with Fish Sauce, Pork Spleen, and Bacon

At this point the staff asked if we were ready for another round. We asked for a smaller serving this time around. The vocal chords were great, slightly chewy.

And a note from a fellow diner regarding the bacon: “What a great meal that was. If I had any beef (pork?) with your report, it would be that you didn’t highlite the bacon experience.  Although bacon isn’t as bizarre as most of the stuff that came out, I would’ve  liked if you had given a shout out to it because it’s the closest thing to the wonderful bacon we made from the young pigs that we raised in Massachusetts (when I was a kid) and were smoked at a Vermont smoke house.”

The power of the exhaust vent

The shop has an outstanding saké and shochu list. Some good saké that is not on the menu as well, so be sure to ask your server if there are any off the list that they have. Some that we enjoyed this evening included a saké from Aizu Wakamatsu in Fukushima, Kikuhime from Ishikawa, and Kikuyoi from Shizuoka.

While there is a menu, it is best to just say “omakase” and let the chef send out different courses. The staff will ask you towards the end of the meal if you want to stop or if you want more. Just be sure to let them know if you have any food allergies.

Rukuma Twitter Account

Shibuya-ku, Ebisu-Nishi 2-3-5, Ishii Bldg. B1


Tsukiji Market Cheap Eats – Indo Curry Nakaei 印度カレー中栄


Tsukiji Nakaei Curry

Half and Half (Karakuchi and Tomato Fumi)

For over 100 years Indo Curry Nakaei 印度カレー中栄 has been making it’s spicy curry for the market workers. The original shop, in Nihonbashi, opened in 1912. Nihonbashi is where the fish market was before it moved to its current location. The curries here are made from scratch and the portions are large, perfect for workers from the market as they finish their day. In the short ten minutes that I was seated, a half-dozen workers came in. They are easy to recognize from their knee-high boots. Another worker came in and ordered several for take-away.

Most visitors to Tsukiji insist on eating sushi as it is as fresh as it  gets. And while that may be the case, long lines are now the norm. On top of that, diners are crammed into their seats, are often only served a set “omakase”, usually for about 3,675 JPY, and rushed through their  meal. For that same price I would much rather wait until lunch time, sit down at a notable restaurant  in Ginza, the glitzy shopping district bordering Tsukiji, and be allowed to linger and take the time to enjoy my meal.

Which, is why when I visit I avoid sushi at Tsukiji. Indo Curry Nakaei has a simple menu of just three curries:

辛口 karakuchi – spicy Indian curry

甘口 amakuchi – sweeter beef curry

トマト風味 tomato fumi – hayashi rice with cinnamon, cumin, and other spices

It’s possible to order half & half which is what you see above, the karakuchi and tomato fumi. The pork curry, simmered for six hours, packs a spicy punch, enough to warm your body up now that it’s getting cold in Tokyo. The hayashi rice is slightly sweet from the tomatoes and other vegetables used in this dish. It is also a nice way to balance the heat from the curry. Note that the rice portion is large, so if you aren’t that hungry or are planning to graze in the outer market, ask for less rice “gohan wa sukuname”.

The tiny cafe has a long U-shaped counter with space behind it for only one. The counterman is a skilled multi-tasker; greeting regulars by confirming their usual order, explaining the menu to newcomers, serving drinks and curry, and managing the cashbox.  The kitchen had three staff, the most senior who manned the stove. And, not sure, but by the photo on the website, it looks to be a family affair. On this day, seven of the diners were Tsukiji fishmongers and three of us were visitors. The restaurant was very welcoming to us.

This popular shop is often featured on gourmet television programs. And bottled curry is sold to take home as a souvenir. If you can’t be bothered with queuing for your sushi or want to kick-start your day with curry, grab a seat with the workers from Tsukiji at Indo Curry Nakaei.

Indo Curry Nakaei

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1, Building #1


MAP of location within the market.

Other Tsukiji Market cheap eats.

November Seasonal Seafood 11月旬の鮮魚

November Seasonal Sashimi

Monkfish Liver

We love this time of year as the seafood is rich with fat as the waters turn cold. Some of our favorites this time of year is ankou (monkfish), for its meat which we often make in a nabe (hot pot) but also for its liver.

The photo above is of monkfish liver that we made at home. The liver is often sold at supermarkets this time of year. Simply marinate in a bit of salt and sake, roll up in plastic wrap and then foil, steam until cooked through, then chill and slice. Serve with a citrusy soy ponzu and a sprinkle of shichimi (seven spice). Many Japanese gourmands call it the foie gras of the sea, albeit not as rich, so a delicate treat.

We also love sashimi this time of year. The other photo is of kinmedai, wild warasa (young yellowtail), madai, tachiuo, aori ika, and maguro. All are in season this time of year.

Katsuo is lovely seared tataki-style, as sashimi, or even better yet, a sashimi salad with many different yakumi condiments paired with a homemade citrusy ponzu dressing. Scallops we love as sashimi or sautéed in butter. Swordfish calls out for a sweet soy teriyaki sauce. And while salmon is available all-year long, must of it is farmed and imported. We look for domestic, wild salmon this time of year.


We love oysters raw, or in nabe, or best of all – breaded and deep-fried as kaki furai.

Akagai 赤貝 ark shell (Scapharca broughtonii)

Akagarei 赤鰈 flathead flounder (Hippoglossoides dubius)

Ankou 鮟鱇 monkfish (Lophiomus setigerus)

Ankimo – monkfish liver

Aori ika 障泥烏賊 big fin reef squid (Sepioteuthis lessoniana)

Ara 𩺊 rock cod (Nuphon spinosus)

Buri 鰤 Japanese amberjack (Seriola quinqueradiata)

Chidai   血鯛  crimson sea bream (Evynnis japonica)

Ginsake 銀鮭 coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch)

Hamadai 浜鯛 ruby snapper (Etelis coruscans)

Hirame 鮃 olive flounder (Paralichthys olivaceus)

Hokke 𩸽 arabesque greenling (Pleurogrammus azonus)

Hotate 帆立貝 scallops (Patinopecten yessoensis)

Ibodai 疣鯛 butterfish (Psenopsis anomala)

Itoyoridai 糸縒鯛  golden threadfin-bream (Nemipterus virgatus)

Katsuo 鰹  skipjack tuna or oceanic bonito (Katsuwonus pelamis)

Kawahagi 皮剥 thread-sail filefish (Stephanolepis cirrhifer)

Kihada maguro 黄肌鮪 yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares)

Kurigani helmet crab (Telmessus cheiragonus)

Maguro  鮪 tuna (Thunus thynnus)

Maiwashi 真鰯  Japanese sardine (Sardinops melanostictus)

Medai Japanese butterfish (Hyperoglyphe japonica)

Mekajiki   女旗魚  swordfish (Xiphias gladias)

Mishima Okoze – Japanese stargazer (Uranoscopus japonicus)

Mizudako 水蛸 North Pacific giant octopus (Octopus dofleini)

Sake 鮭 salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)

Sanma 秋刀魚 Pacific saury (Cololabis saira)

Shirako – milt sac, often from cod, prized when from fugu

Shishamo – Japanese longfin smelt (Spirinchus lanceolatus)

Tachiuo 太刀魚 cutlassfish (Trichiurus lepturus)

Tarabagani 鱈場蟹 Alaska king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus)

Tsubugai  つぶ貝 whelk  (Buccinum undatum)

Warasa 鰤 young Japanese amberjack (Seriola quinqueradiata)

Yanaginomai – yellow-body rockfish (Sebastes steindachneri)