Le Pain Quotidien

Pain1

For one year I lived in Brussels. Just down the street from my apartment was a Le Pain Quotidien. I went about two to three times a week. Some nights for a baguette to have with wine and cheese. Mornings I could pop in and pick up a croissant. There was a small garden in the back with some tables and inside a large communal table. On the table were jars of confitures and chocolate-hazelnut spread. It was a popular shop and I loved seeing what the customers were dining on. Usually the signature open-faced tartines or salads.

Pain2

I then moved back to New York City and couldn’t be any happier when Le Pain Quotidien opened in Manhattan. The branch I went to the most was in Soho, just down the street from the French Culinary Institute where I took both the bread and culinary programs. The ambience was a bit different in NYC, but the bread was just as good. Here we could order wine by the carafe and some cheese to enjoy with our bread.

Pain3

And, now Le Pain Quotidien has followed me to Tokyo. I believe the first location opened near Shiba Koen which is an area I hardly ever get to. And, as there are so many great boulangeries in the city there is no need to make a special trip. The shop in Omotesando is just around the corner from where my cousin lives. She has a young boy and this is a kid-friendly shop so we came for lunch.Pain4

I was excited to see the breads I love so much, a communal table, and the familiar menu. This Mediterranean platter has hummous, tahini, and tabbouleh. The only thing that really changed from the other restaurants I’ve been to in the past is that there is a mini-buffet where the complimentary spreads are congregated. While there is a communal table, everyone this day was sitting at the tables.

It’s perfect for the solo diner or if you want to come with friends. The menu has frittatas, salads, and tartines. A great spot to keep on your radar when in Omotesando and vegetarian-friendly.

And, as one would expect of a European bakery, it is open bright and early in the morning, starting at 7:30 a.m. Some great bakeries in this city that don’t open until 10 a.m. or even later. This and Gontran Cherrier are an exception.

Pain5Le Pain Quotidien Omotesando

Minato-ku, Kita-Aoyama 3-5-15

03-6721-1173

7:30 a.m. – 23:00 (last order at 22:00)

Other branches at Shiba Koen 3-3-1, and Opera City in Nishi-Shinjuku.

Advertisements

Pizzeria GG

GG1Anyone who knows the Tokyo food scene is aware of the many wood-burning ovens and great pizzerias in the city. Some of my favorites, like Seirinkan in Naka-Meguro, are a trip for me to get to. I’ve been looking for something closer to where we live on the Chuo line. Sadly, most of it is disappointing.

I’ve heard of Pizzeria GG but have had the hardest time locating it. I’ve seen it on TV and in magazines, but for all of the time I spend in Kichijoji, I’ve never been able to find it. Finally, with the help of an iPad and some satellites far up in the sky, I succeeded. I had walked by it for months. If you don’t know what to look for, you two will walk right by.

I was with our son this day so took the meat pie. It’s a large pizza and one should go on an empty stomach. The crust was thick on the edges and thin in the middle. For me it’s a great pie. The dough is chewy, toppings are generous, and best of all, it’s close to home.

GG2

The fritto misto was of zucchini, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes. Hot out of the oil and our serving of vegetables for this lunch.GG3

Proper wood-burning oven. GG4And, the exterior, which I have marched right by. I even stood in front of it, holding my iPad that said I had arrived at my destination, and couldn’t spot it.

Will definitely go back. It’s very close to the lovely Inokashira Koen, which would be perfect for a long walk before (or after) the pizza. I hear it fills up quickly on the weekends, so go early or late. Better yet, come on a weekday if you can.

Pizzeria GG

Tokyo-to, Musashino-shi, Kichijoji Minamicho 1-17-1, B1

0422-26-5024

Japanese Baseball

seibu1

We’ve been to a few baseball games this summer. One thing that I find amazing is that you can bring in your own food and beverages, even alcohol. However, the stadiums are very strict about not allowing glass or cans. So, as long as you can find your saké (or wine) in soft packaging, you are free to bring it in.

We filled a small styrofoam box with small packs of saké – that even come with miniature straws, cheese, and some Kit Kats.
seibu2

These are usually sold at larger supermarkets in the saké section. Usually at room temperature, so be sure to pick them up a day or so before the game. I put ours in the freezer which was fine.
seibu3

This was my favorite saké. The alcohol percentage, between 13 and 14%, is a bit on the lower side, perfect for the game. Some edamamé and sweet corn as well.

seibu4Here is Seibu Dome in Saitama. The field is covered, but not completely, so you can feel the breeze coming through. The most interesting thing is the different cheers that the audience does for each baseball player. At first it’s frustrating to hear, but after a while it just becomes background noise. Or, maybe I had had enough saké that it didn’t matter to me any more.

Suito Pozu Gyoza

suito1

Gyōza is to me the perfect dumpling. Pork and cabbage stuffed into a wrapper then cooked until the crust is crispy while the filling remains juicy. I’ve started many mornings with gyōza for breakfast. While many restaurants serve gyōza as a side dish, it’s nice to know there are some places where it’s the main dish. Suito Pozu has been serving gyōza since 1955.suito2

I love how these are wrapped. It’s how I do it when I am in a rush to get dinner on the table. Leave two ends open and just seal it shut. You just need to be careful when cooking it, but the final results are still delicious.suito3It’s a popular restaurant and very small, only 24 seats. There was a line of about five people just before it opened for lunch recently. After the doors opened it was full within about ten minutes.

Service is fast and it’s a quick meal. It’s a good thing that it was a fast meal as the air-conditioner is on the fritz and it was very hot in the restaurant. No garlic in the gyōza if you come during the workday. The only thing I didn’t like was that it doesn’t have rayū chili oil, but only chili powder. I’d like to come back in the evening when the gyōza is also steamed.

Suito Pozu

Chiyoda-ku, Kanda Jimbocho 1-13-2

03-3295-4084

closed Monday and Sunday

September Seasonal Japanese Seafood

DSCN5316

Kamasu barracuda

Kamasu and sanma are two fish in season now that we love to simply season with salt and grill.

katsuo sashimi

Katsuo sashimi

Katsuo we love as sashimi, or if we find it in the market seared on the outside (tataki) we’ll cut it into thick slices and garnish with garlic and ginger and serve with the sweet kanrō soy sauce from Kyushu.

Following are other seafood in season in September in Japan.

Amadai 赤甘鯛 tilefish (Branchiostegus japonicas)

Ayu 鮎 sweet fish (Plecoglossus altivelis)

Bora flathead mullet or Gray mullet (Mugil cephalus)    

Chidai 血鯛 crimson sea bream (Evynnis japonica)

Hon kamasu 本カマス barracuda (Sphyraena pinguis)

Ibodai疣鯛 Japanese butterfish (Psenopsis anomala)

Isaki 伊佐木threeline grunt (Parapristipoma trilineatum)

Itoyori イトヨリGolden threadfin bream (Nemipterus virgatus)

Katsuo  鰹   skipjack tuna or oceanic bonito (Katsuwonus pelamis)

Kohada 小鰭   gizzard shad (Konosirus pumctatus)

Kurumaebi 車海老   Japanese tiger prawn (Marsupenaeus japonicas)

Maaji 真鯵 horse mackerel (Trachurus japonicas)        

Masaba真鯖   pacific mackerel (Scomber japonicus)

Sanma 秋刀魚 Pacific saury (Cololabis saira)

Shirosake 白鮭   chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)

Sujiko筋子 salmon roe still in the sac                         

Surume ika スルメイカJapanese flying squid (Todarodes pacificus)

Takabe タカベ yellow-striped butterfish (Labracoglossa argentiventris)

Warasaワラサ yellowtail  (Seriola quinqueradiata)        

Watarigani 渡蟹 swimming crab (Portunus trituberculatus)

Other fish you may see in the market

Ainame 鮎魚女fat greenling (Hexagrammos otakii)                         

Akagai 赤貝 ark shell (Scapharca broughtonii)

Asari 浅利 Japanese littleneck clams (Ruditapes philippinarum)

Hotate 帆立貝 scallops (Patinopecten yessoensis)

Hoya ホヤ sea squirt (Halocynthia roretzi)

Kinki 黄血魚 thornyhead (Sebastolobus macrochir)

Kinmedai or kinme 金目鯛 splendid alfonsino (Beryx splendens)

Kihada maguro 黄肌鮪 yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares)

Makarei 真鰈 Japanese common flounder (Pleuronectes yokohamae)

Madai 真鯛 seabream (Pagurus major)

Mirugai 海松食 geoduck (Tresus keenae)

Mebaru 目張 rockfish (Sebastes inermis)

Sawara 鰆 Japanese Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus niphonius)

Sazae 栄螺 turban shell (Turbo cornutus)

Tairagai 平貝 penshell (Atrina (Servatrina) pectinata)

Tachiuo 太刀魚 belt fish or largehead hairtail (Trichiurus lepturus)

Tsubugai   螺貝   whelk (Buccinum undatum)

Tobiuo 飛魚 flying fish (Cypselurus agoo agoo)