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,

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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

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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.

Tokyo Station Car Bento

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I love shopping for bentō boxes. Bentō are convenient meals, be it for a picnic, while traveling on a train, or when I am too rushed to put a meal together. Japanese schools are now on their summer holidays and Tokyo station is busier than usual with travelers. Inside of Tokyo station there are several areas that sell a wide variety of bento boxes, especially in the basement GranSta area. I also like going to Daimaru department store and the basement depachika that is next to Tokyo station. This fun, kids bentō is from Daimaru at a shop called eashion. It was only 600 JPY. The company’s website even gives some basic information about the bentō including ingredients and calories.
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Bentō usually include five different colors: red, green, yellow, black, and white. A colorful meal ensures a healthful meal. And, often the different dishes are cooked in a variety of methods, giving different textures and pleasure to the palate.DSCN6203If you are traveling with your kids through Tokyo station on summer holidays, look out for fun kids’ bentō. I also saw a Hello Kitty bentō and a panda bentō. Some bentō, like this one, can be recycled. We just wash the removable white partitioned plastic interior and the blue car exterior.

eashion also had a great selection of adult bentō as well, so great for one-stop shopping. If you are going to ride on the bullet train, then be sure to stop by the saké department and pick up a beer or a small bottle of saké for the trip. Ask the cashier for small plastic cups.

I stopped by recently to buy a bentō during the week and did not find it. I was told that it is only sold on the weekends.

Bon voyage!

The Artistry of Den 傳 2

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Asamayama Natsu-Jun, or summer Junmaishu, was rich enough to stand up the fish course.Den17

Katsuo-zuké, skipjack tuna marinated in soy sauce, is a dish we eat at home, but this was so much more upscale. The katsuo was marinated for a much shorter time than we do at home. Also, I loved the egg yolk that was marinated in dashi. There is a trick to get his texture but I don’t want to reveal too much.
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Akita prefecture’s Yuki no Bijin (Winter Beauty) is an appropriate name for a saké as Akita is snow-filled for most of winter. This snow melts and contributes to the delicious water used for making Tohoku saké. This was a Tokubetsu Junmai Ginjo. Check out the beautiful glass it is served in.Den19

I was so curious about this ceramic as it had a rich texture. Chef Hasegawa brought out some bowls to show me the beautiful work of this potter from Mashiko in Tochigi, just north of Tokyo. The potter carefully etches or scrapes out the black parts to show the interior white.Den20

My neighbor happened to be drinking from a saké cup also by the same potter. Gorgeous. Den21

Ayu is a summer river fish in season now. Most times it is simply salted and grilled, which is of course delicious. Tonight was my first time to try ayu as himono. The fish is butterflied, guts removed, and then marinated in salt water for a brief period and then air-dried. Just before serving it is grilled. The whole fish is edible, head to tail. “Rich in calcium,” said the server in Japanese.

In the middle was liver mousse from the ayu. Very rich in flavor, but a light mousse. And the green cake on the bottom is a steamed bread made with tadé no ha (water pepper leaves) and rice flour. It is first steamed until cooked through and is light and fluffy. Chef Hasegawa then grills it under a direct flame to give the edges some crispy texture which is like the cooked edges of the ayu. Brilliant dish that can only be had here at Den.
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Haneya Junmai Ginjo Nama Genshu. The cup looked like it was made by a girl. When I asked about it they said yes, Midori Uchiyama, I believe from Tokyo. The bottom of her pieces either have a “M” for Midori or “Mid”.Den23

Here is his signature dish that comes with every meal, no matter what time of year it is. He calls this dish “Hataké no Yōsō” or the state of the farm. There were over 20 vegetables and flowers in the salad bowl, including baby kabocha squash and corn silk. He treats many vegetables individually, either roasting or pickling in a sweet vinegar, or even deep-frying. Giving a variety of textures and flavors. Brilliant dish. I wish I could eat this everyday, or make this at home, but I can see it’s a lot of prep.Den24

Pringles canister containing Den potato chips – check out the smile! And, a zucchini blossom that was deep-fried.
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Here is Midori’s sake cup and tokkuri.

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Tachibanaya Tokubetsu Junmaishu made with omachi rice. The sweetness of the sake paired well with the soy sauce ankaké sauce on the next dish.Den27

Again, a brilliant use of texture buckwheat grains on the sweet soy ankaké sauce over kuro wagyū from Hokkaido.Den28

Chef Hasegawa assembling a dish for other guests (I’m allergic to shrimp, otherwise I think I would have had this). He was saying he had just returned from a trip to France and Italy and was inspired by bouillabaisse. Den29

This saké cup was by far my favorite. I had seen photos of it from the Kenshin Utsuwa facebook page. I loved the texture, the color, the rough exterior and smooth interior. And, the saké tasted lovely in it. The artist also makes a tokkuri that my neighbor used that was gorgeous as well. I think I’ve found my next birthday present from me to me.Den30

The donabé with the rice for the shimé.

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Kamo Kinshu Karakuchi Junmaishu. A little frizzante on the palate.Den32

The rice course was amazing. Sweet corn and scallops cooked in dashi before adding to the rice pot to be cooked with the rice. I wish I could make this at home, and will definitely try.Den33I was getting full at the end of the meal so asked for a small serving of the rice. Chef Hasegawa made a rice ball for me to bring home to my husband. Very thoughtful. The rice was served with asazuké pickles made that morning and miso soup.

Den34And, dessert. Looking like the moss in front of the restaurant. I was so curious about it. It had to be edible, but all of it? So I asked Hasegawa-san if I could eat it all, dried leaves and all. He said yes so I took a bite. I was so curious what the dried leaves were. I had no idea, but it added a unique texture to the dish. “Tea leaves” he revealed.

Dinner at Den is a night that you will remember for a long time. I can’t wait to go back. I spoke with my neighbors who come once a month, all the way from Yokohama. I hope someday to be a monthly customer as well. The atmosphere at Den is light and friendly, not stuffy and staid as some kaiseki restaurants may be. It’s fun and friendly and has amazing food served on gorgeous dishes. Even for a solo diner, it’s easy to sit at the counter by yourself and take it all in.

Artistry of Den Part One

Den

Den has moved to a new location:

Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 2-3-18
Please call +81-3-3222-3978

Chiyoda-ku, Jimbocho 2-2-32

03-3222-3978

 

The Artistry of Den 傳

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Den in Jimbocho is a restaurant that everyone is talking about. I had to go and check it out for myself. I was told that chef Zaiyu Hasegawa is a great guy and a talented chef. (Note, if you are planning on eating there in the near future, don’t read through this blog post as it is better to experience his cuisine without knowing what to expect. The menu changes regularly though, so, please do read if you won’t be coming until the fall.)
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I thought the sign on the moss was curious. The blue shovel certainly caught my attention.

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Actually when I first walked up to Den, I thought it was a ceramics shop when I looked in the door. The backlit wall showcasing gorgeous pieces of pottery. So, I turned around and left, but then I realized this must be the shop.

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This colorful painting in the entrance was done by a friend of the chef. Den5

When I asked about these ceramics I was told that these too were done by potters from around Japan who are friends of the chef. I had recognized a few pieces and was hoping that they would be used during the meal.Den6

When I was seated I was brought a selection of colorful cloths, tenugui, to choose from to use as a lap napkin. This bright pink and white one called out to me and the design of the dragon was so artistic. Chef said that his friend who designed the tenugui also makes summer kimono, yukata, out of material she also designs. He said that her shop is in the Jimbocho area where Den is.

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The chef’s wife is a kikizaké-shi, or saké sommelier. I asked her to pair each course with a different saké. She started the night off with this dry Berlucci’s Cuvée ’61 Franciacorta sparkling wine. Made in the Méthode Champenoise style using traditional grapes of champagne, chardonnay and pinot noir.

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The first bite was sandwiched in monaka, rice wafers. These usually are used with sweet azuki beans and served as a dessert, and it is here where I could see the playfulness of the chef. Inside was foie gras that was marinated in white miso for ten days, adding umami and amami (sweetness as white miso is sweet). It also includes hoshigaki (dried persimmons) and one of my favorite pickles, iburigakko, a smoked and pickled daikon. The first course was brilliant and I could see that it was unique to chef Hasegawa. Den9The first saké served this night was from Ishikawa prefecture, Tedorigawa Junmai Daiginjo. It is only available here at Den as it is a house blend made for Den. It’s a soft saké that will pair with a lot of different foods, and was perfect with this fun dish below.

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I had to laugh when chef handed this dish over the counter. There was a frog peeking out from junsai, a type of water lily that is famous for having a mucous membrane surrounding each leaf. Chef Hasegawa said that they were foraged in a lake that morning in Hyogo prefecture. The frog and junsai was resting on a lotus root leaf, exactly where you may find a frog leisurely passing time on a hot summer day.

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Chef Hasegawa said to fold up the edges of the leaf to put the junsai and frog into the glass bowl. Inside was tokoroten, strings of jelly that chef made with tomato juice and tengusa seaweed. Inside was basil seeds, passion fruit, and tobiko (flying fish roe) adding even a richer texture to the tokoroten and junsai.
Den12The water serves water from a saké brewery in Niigata, Kirian Yamamizu. The fun water glass was made by an artist in Hokkaido.

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The next saké was Banshu Ikkon’s summer sake, Sunflower, from Hyogo prefecture. Light with a dry finish. It’s always a treat to have a saké in summer that was made for drinking in summer. I also loved this glass with dotted with pastel spots. Also made by the same artist who made the water glass.

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What? Did he get KFC take-out? I loved this too being passed over the counter. On closer inspection I could see it was not KFC, but DFC, and the colonel was actually chef Hasegawa. Again, great fun.Den15Inside the box was a chicken wing stuffed with turmeric seasoned sticky rice with almonds and raisins. I could eat a whole bucket of these. The gorgeous dish under the chicken is Ontaiyaki in Oita prefecture.

The Artistry of Den Part Two

Den

Den has moved to a NEW LOCATION. Details here:

Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 2-3-18
Please call +81-3-3222-3978

Chiyoda-ku, Jimbocho 2-2-32

03-3222-3978

 

Park Brewery at Park Hyatt Tokyo

 

 

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Now that the rainy season has ended summer is officially here. Temperatures are soaring and while many are cooling down at beer gardens on department store rooftops, a great all-you-can-drink craft beer offer is at the Deli in the Park Hyatt Tokyo. The Deli has been doing this summer only special for five summers. Last year the food served with the craft beer was Mexican, this year it’s German.

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The hotel has soft pretzels made specially for this promotion. The pretzel is delicious and is a big size, perfect for nibbling on.

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The food that is served is a generous serving of German meats of Weiswurst white sausage, Bierwurst, Paprika Lyoner, and a pork belly Rouladen. There is a sweet mustard as well as a great sauce called obazda. I spoke with the Executive Sous Chef, Yoneda-san, who said that the traditional Bavarian sauce is made with Camembert cheese. It’s something I will try to make at home.

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Saito-san, in this photo, and I used to work at the New York Grill and Bar together. If you go, tell him Yukari sent you. He’ll look after you.

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There are two beers on the menu, both made by Sankt Gallen Brewery in Kanagawa. The aromatic and refreshing Park Brewery Ale is served each summer. The second beer changes each summer. The second beer this summer is a Citrus Amber Ale is made with an orange-like citron called shiranui. It’s slightly sweet at first but has a light bitter finish. A nice contrast to the house Park Brewery Ale.

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Here is the menu. The food comes out right away and is not replenished. It’s a generous serving of food, but if you do get hungry, you could always order something from the Deli’s menu which includes sandwiches, salads, and other small bites.

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The indoor seating fills up quickly with this event. There is also a standing area indoors.

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Having been to many different all-you-can-drink beer promotions in Tokyo, I can say that this is one of the best. Excellent quality beer and a smart menu that pairs perfectly with the beer. It’s worth a journey to Shinjuku for this event.

The Deli at the Park Hyatt Tokyo

Shinjuku-ku, Nishi-Shinjuku 3-7-1-2, 1st floor

6 to 8 p.m. last order at 7 p.m.

Through September 16th.

*Note, it’s usually a nice walk to the hotel from Shinjuku station. However, with the heat, I suggest taking the free hotel shuttle from Shinjuku Station’s Nishi Guchi. Check the shuttle schedule here.

Sepia Chicago at Park Hyatt Tokyo

It’s always nice to go home. Ten years ago, I left New York City to pursue a career in food and wine in Tokyo my first job was as the sommelier at the New York Grill and Bar at the Park Hyatt Tokyo. It’s an amazing hotel and one of my favorite restaurants in Tokyo. The views and service and food are some of the best in this metropolis known for its food and service. The views from the 360-degrees views from the 52nd floor are fabulous and if the skies are clear you can see Mount Fuji. The views are so great, as we were walking in, I spotted a few guests at the windows of the Bar with a cocktail in one hand and a camera in the other trying to capture the moment.

The Park Hyatt hosts chefs for guest residencies and this week Tokyo is lucky to have chef Andrew Zimmerman of Sepia Chicago. It is also a homecoming for Sepia co-owner Emmanuel Nony who was the food and beverage director at the Park Hyatt Tokyo in the late 90’s. He said tonight that he hasn’t been back to Tokyo in thirteen years and he looked thrilled to be back home and was at ease in his old workplace. Chef Andrew Zimmerman was also in Tokyo in 1989, but as a musician with a band. Now he returns as an artist, having exchanged his musical equipment for chef’s knives.

A big surprise tonight, especially as a former sommelier at the restaurant, was to see that Sepia Chicago worked with the Park Hyatt Tokyo to bring in some great California wines to pair with the food. The wines are making their first appearance in Tokyo, and I believe in Asia.

The New York Grill and Bar is serving the special Sepia Chicago menu tonight through Saturday, July 13th.

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I suggest if possible, come to the New York Grill (or Bar) before sun sets as it is a treat to watch the lights come up on the city below you. The house champagne is Louis Roederer, perfect for the first course.
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Foie Gras Royale – with a slightly sweet apricot and gewurztraminer jelly garnished with marcona almonds and brioche. Anyone familiar with Louis Roederer would understand how lovely this pairing is with the nuts, bread and foie gras.

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There is something relaxing about having dinner and drinks while the city is abuzz below.

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The Scholium Project “Midan Al-Tahir” White Wine, Fairfield 2011 is a blend of verdelho, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and gewurztraminer. A unique collection of grapes that is aromatic and with a nice acidity to start the evening off.
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Growing up in Minnesota I grew up eating a lot of corn. This amazing agnolotti was stuffed with a crazy, sweet and soft corn cream, with truffles, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Corn has just come to market in Tokyo so exciting to see how this Chicago chef (also a Midwest state as Minnesota is) used Japanese corn.

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Matthiason White Wine, Napa Valley, 2010 of sauvignon blanc, ribolla gialla, semillon, and tocai fruliano. Many Italian grapes do well in California as we see in this lovely wine.

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Chef Zimmerman has obviously been to Tsukiji Market since he arrived in Tokyo. Here we see black sole, shrimp, asari, and I believe tsubugai. Also, the petit grapes are umi budō, sea grapes from Okinawa.

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I loved how the staff poured in a dark green sauce made from spinach, basil, and some herbs.

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The completed dish.
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As night falls upon Tokyo the room softly lights up.
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and the city glistens below.9

Forlorn Hope “San Hercurmer delle Frecce” Barbera, Amador County 2011. Barbera is one of my fallback Italian wines when going out as it always delivers. Having spent some summers in California for work on my days off I would explore wine country. Amador County has some great wineries off the beaten path and this is just one of those treasures.

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Again Japan jumped out on this dish with the grilled Sendai kuroge wagyū sirloin, roasted maitake, and gobō chip. The acidity and fruitiness of the barbera stood up to the rich wagyū steak.

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Novy Family Wines Viognier Late Harvest, Russian River Valley. The cool climate of the Russian River Valley gives this wine an uplifting acidity.

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When I saw carrot cake on the menu I immediately thought of a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. And here is the brilliance of chef Zimmerman on a plate. The carrot cake is simply carrots braised in brown butter. The ice cream was made with cream cheese and had the flavor of carrot cake. I hope Zimmerman can sell this recipe to Haagen-Dazs and that it is sold throughout the world. The world would be a much happier place if everyone could indulge in this ice cream.

Emmanuel Nony had said that this was a dish that Zimmerman made when he was on Iron Chef America last year. He beat Iron Chef Marc Forgione in the challenge cream cheese.
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There is a chocolate dessert if you must…

Now I have a reason to drive to Chicago from Minnesota on my next visit home. Chef Zimmerman also graduated from the French Culinary Institute, a year ahead of me. Here is an interview with Zimmerman for Metropolis magazine. It’s interesting to see his favorite cookbooks and what Japanese ingredients he uses back in Chicago.

If you are in Tokyo this week, treat yourself and someone you are close to, with an evening at the New York Grill.

Five-course dinner with Chef Andrew Zimmerman from Sepia Chicago at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, ¥19,000.

Tel: 03-5323-3458 for reservations.

Sepia Chicago website

Narita Layover

So, you’ve got a long layover at Narita but not enough time to go all of the way to Tokyo. What’s a person to do? And, is Narita worth leaving the airport for? Absolutely.

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Just outside of Narita train station there is a tourist information booth. Pick up a map of the area so you can get your bearings.

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Chiba is famous for its rich farming and fishing. Peanuts, rakasé or pīnattsu in Japanese, are one of the prefecture’s pride. It comes in a variety of ways including roasted, salted, or coated with sugar.

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And, pīnattsu miso, yes, peanut miso. Not salty at all as one thinks of miso, but very sweet.

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Some shops let you sample before you purchase, so you can see if you like pīnattsu miso. It reminds me of supple peanut brittle. Whole roasted peanuts in a thick, sweet caramel-like sauce.

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A very popular shop on the main street is Kintoki Ametarō-yaki. A shop that makes grilled cakes stuffed with either sweet azuki paste or a sweet white bean paste.

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It’s a popular shop and magazines and TV shows say that there is always a line here, as was the case when we arrived. The Ametarōyaki is only 100 yen so we joined the line and had fun watching the process of making the cakes through the large window.

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The area near the train station is filled with omiyagé souvenir shops and restaurants. It’s about a twenty-minute walk to the famous temple, Narita-san.

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There are several restaurants that specialize in unagi. So, plan on having a meal while in Narita. The smell of the river eel grilling is hard to resist.DSCN1399

Grilled unagi that has been dipped in a sweet soy sauce.

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Saké is even brewed in Narita. Chomeisen is a sake distillery that is on the main street and you can buy saké at their shop. We had an early morning flight the next day so picked up a small one cup.

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The Narita-san Shinshōji Buddhist temple is very famous and on this weekday there were lots of visitors, mostly Japanese. The temple’s rich history can be dated back to February 14th, 940. Yes, over 1,000 years ago. Several buildings on the premise have been designated as Important Cultural Properties. There is an English brochure at the temple introducing some of the historic buildings, like the three-storied pagoda erected in 1712.

If you have time, Narita is worth visiting. We had an early morning flight the next day and had plans to stay at a hotel near the airport. So, we traveled to Narita early the day before our flight to visit the city. I don’t know if it’s worth a special journey from Tokyo. But, if you are going to be in the area, or if you have some time to kill between flights transiting through Narita airport, then yes, it’s worth exploring.

Narita Airport Eats – Na no Sato 菜の里

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A flight out of Narita airport is usually an international flight. Which often means having a lot of waiting time at the airport. Don’t make the mistake that I’ve done in the past, to go past immigrations thinking you’ll find something to eat close to the gate. Be sure to eat BEFORE immigrations. Lots of options including sushi, tonkatsu, and ramen. And, there are restaurants, like Na no Sato, that do a variety of Japanese dishes.
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Most of the restaurants have impressive plastic food displays clearly showing what is included in each meal and the price. No worry about anything getting lost in translation here.

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This set meal has a sign that says that it was the most popular item ordered last month. For 1,580 JPY (about $16 USD) there is sashimi, tempura, tonkatsu, pickles and other vegetable dishes, as well as rice, miso soup, and even a light dessert.

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And, how impressive is this? The meal resembles the plastic food in the display case.

Narita Airport, Terminal 1, Central Building, 4th floor

July Seasonal Japanese Seafood

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Simmered ma-anago

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Seared katsuo

July Sashimi

July sashimi

 

Some of our personal favorites include ayu (salted and grilled), shitabirame (meuniere), shijimi (miso soup), benisake (salted and grilled), and for sashimi – surumeika, kinmedai, takabe, and isaki.

Ainame 鮎並 fat greenling (Hexagrammos otakii)

Akashita birame 赤舌鮃  red-tongued sole (Cynoglossus joyneri)

Awabi abalone (Haliotis sorenseni)

Ayu 鮎 sweetfish (Plecoglossus altivelis altivelis)

Benisake べにさけ 紅鮭 sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)

Dojou 泥鰌 loach (Misgurnus Anguillicaudatus)

Hamo   pike eel or pike conger (Muraenesox cinereus)

Inada イナダ young Japanese amberjack (Seriola quinqueradiata)

Isaki 伊佐幾 chicken grunt  (Parapristipoma trilineatum)

Ishidai 石鯛  barred knifejaw (Oplegnathus fasciatus)

Ishimochi イシモチ nibe croaker (Nibea mitsukurii)

Iwana 日光岩魚 whitespotted char (Salvelinus leucomaenis pluvius)

Kamasu 大和叺 barracuda (Sphyraena japonica)

Kanpachi  間八 amberjack or yellowtail (Seriola dumerili)

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)

Kinmedai 金目鯛 splendid alfonsino (Beryx splendens)

Kisu 鱚 Japanese whiting (Sillago japonica)*or shirogisu

Kochi 鯒 bartail flathead (Platycephalus)

Kuro maguro 黒鮪 bluefin tuna (Thunus thynnus)

Maaji 真鯵 Japanese jack mackerel (Trachurus japonicus)

Maanago 真穴子 whitespotted conger (Conger myriaster)

Maiwashi 真鰯  Japanese sardine (Sardinops melanostictus)

Makogarei 真子鰈 marbled sole (Pleuronectes yokohamae)

Masaba 真鯖 Pacific mackerel (Scomber japonicus)

Mejimaguro めじまぐろ young tuna (genus Thunnus) if it is a young bluefin tuna it will be called honmeji, if it is a young yellowfin tuna it will be called kinmeji.

Niji masu 虹鱒 rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Oni okoze  鬼虎魚 spiny devilfish (Inimicus japonicus)

Shijimi – 大和蜆 corbicula clams or water clams (Corbicula japonica)

Shima aji  島鯵 striped jack or white trevally (Pseudocaranx dentex)

Shiro ika 白いか  swordtip squid (Loligo (Photololigo) edulis)* or kensaki ika

Shitabirame 舌平目 (or ushinoshita) four line tongue sole(Arelia bilineat)

Surumeika 鯣烏賊  Japanese common or flying squid (Todarodes pacificus)

Suzuki 鱸  Japanese sea perch (Lateolabrax japonicus)

Tachiuo 太刀魚 cutlassfish (Trichiurus lepturus)

Takabe たかべ yellow-striped butterfish (Labracoglossa argentiventris)

Tobiuo 飛魚 Japanese flying fish (Cypselurus agoo agoo)

Unagi 鰻 Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica)

Nana Udon in Kokubunji 七うどん

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A recent issue of Dancyu magazine featured the hot noodle of the moment, udonUdon noodles are thick flour noodles. Restaurants are popping up around Tokyo and it’s not unusual to see long lines forming at lunchtime. Many of these shops have been around for a long time are seeing a new appreciation for these hearty noodles. In the Dancyu magazine I was thrilled to see a restaurant in our neighborhood of Kokubunji. It’s about a 15-minute walk from Kokubunji station. If you are ever near Kokubunji, it’s a good shop to have on your radar.

My first time there I asked the proprietress her recommendation and she suggested going with the standard inaka udon. She said that all of the udon comes with the tempura side dish. And, she did warn me that the portions are generous, echoing what Dancyu had also mentioned in their article. The photo above is the inaka udon which comes with a flavorful dipping sauce.

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The niku-jiru udon is a meaty soy broth with beef and onions and my favorite.

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Creamy sesame dipping sauce with udon and kaki-agé tempura, a melange of vegetables chopped up and deep-fried in a cake, and kabocha tempura. This is the small “sho” portion, for a bargain 600 JPY.

This area of Tokyo is known for Musashino udon which is a dark-colored udon that is very chewy. Nana does not serve the Musashino udon.  The noodles are softer yet still have a nice texture.

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The entrance, which is hard to see from the street.

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I had a hard time finding Nana as not only is it in a residential area, it’s a home. This is the exterior of Nana, and no, there are no signs signifying the restaurant.

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Actually, once I saw all of the bicycles parked in the driveway, I knew this must be it.

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The interior. Very simple, basically the living room of the home. This was a very early lunch, but it filled up quickly after we were seated. The husband and wife team are very kind. Portions of udon are very large so I suggest going for the smaller size. If you can’t finish your bowl of noodles you can put them in a plastic bag to take home.

Nana Udon XOn our second visit the wife gave us a bag of kombu Tsukudani to take home with us. She had warned us that it was spicy as it is made with tōgarashi, dried red chili peppers. We loved it over a bowl of steaming rice.

The shop’s great name is “Foot Stomped Udon” as the noodles are traditionally stomped by feet.

Ashi Uchi Udon Dokoro Nana 足打ちうどん処七

Tokyo-to, Kokubunji-shi, Honda 5-28-2 東京都国分寺市本多5-28-2

042-328-1002

Saturday – Sunday 11:00~14:00 (or until sold out)

Monday – Friday 11:30~14:00

Closed Tuesday, Wednesday, and each month on the 30th and 31st

Google Map