Noma Japan at the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

Noma Japan

Noma Japan

The culinary event of the century. Chef Rene Redzepi and his team in Japan. 60,000, yes, sixty-thousand people, on the waiting list. I was lucky as I was contacted by someone in New Zealand who had a lunch reservation but could not make it. I didn’t believe that I was actually going until we checked in for lunch. It was all very crazy. E-mails back and forth to a stranger in the Southern Hemisphere. PayPal payments as well as some confirmation e-mails from Noma and a phone call to the hotel as well to confirm the guy who said he had a reservation actually did. Just the night before I was contacted about the chance to go I was having dinner with Ivan Orkin who had lunch at Noma on the first day of the five-week pop-up at the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo. Ivan was sharing photos and I refused to look at any of them. I also tried to tune him out as I was hoping that at some point I would get the opportunity to attend and wanted my meal to be experienced at the table and without any expectations. I am glad I avoided all social media about this meal as it was very refreshing. I have not been to Denmark and was a Noma virgin. No longer. On a side note, I should add that many of my friends are coming over for this meal. Editors and writers for food magazines as well as clients of our Food Sake Tokyo tours. I am thrilled beyond belief that so many friends are coming to Tokyo. So arigato chef Rene for coming here, as you have brought many of my friends here as well.

Noma Japan

Noma Japan

Lovely floral arrangement at the entrance. Noma has taken over the kitchen and dining room of Signature, a lovely French restaurant under the helm of chef Nicolas Boujema (who makes a killer black truffle waffle). I understand that some of the staff of Signature, both front- and back-of-the-house are working side-by-side with team Noma. Having been at Signature before it was interesting to see the change. Even the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental has changed. When I first got off of the elevator I thought I was on the wrong floor.

長野の森香るシマエビ(ボタンエビ/手長海老)

長野の森香るシマエビ(ボタンエビ/手長海老)

Botan ebi, so fresh that it was still wiggling. The Japanese diner next to met let out a big scream when the botan ebi jumped off of the ice onto her lap. Chef Rene came to see what was the matter and just reminded her that it was that fresh. The ants are harvested from the Nagano forests. I had my first ant at chef Zaiyu Hasegawa’s Den. The Mandarin Bar just adjacent to Noma also serves regional specialities. Most recently, four types of insects from Nagano.

苺と酒粕 花の漬け物

苺と酒粕 花の漬け物

I am allergic to shrimp and was served this dish. Chef Rene served the first course to us. I offered him a copy of my book, Food Sake Tokyo, but he said that he had bought ten copies of it for his staff. Woo-hoo! He also said that is why they selected this first dish for me, because of the sake kasu under the unripened strawberry. I asked if he had a hard time finding a farmer to harvest strawberries before they fully ripened and he said that it took three months to find someone who would do it for him. He did say that now that farmer has introduced this concept to other chefs who are now also using it. Very cool to see Rene leaving his footprint in Japan.

柑橘とピパーツ

柑橘とピパーツ

This was one of my favorites. Four types of citrus (mikan, kabosu, buntan, and hassaku) with sansho leaves, long pepper, and an intense Rishiri kombu oil. An unusual flavor combination, but in a very cool way.

削られた鮟鱇の肝

削られた鮟鱇の肝

My husband is a fishmonger and we eat a lot of ankimo (monkfish liver) at home. Rene’s version was chilled and then shaved. The cold texture was unexpected and fun at the same time.

烏賊の塩辛そば 松出汁とバラの花

烏賊の塩辛そば 松出汁とバラの花

Another seafood dish that we often eat at home, shiokara, or squid and fermented squid guts. Noma’s twist on it was to serve it like soba with a broth made from pine needles and garnished with fresh rose petals.

エイブルスキーヴァー

エイブルスキーヴァー

This was my favorite of the whole meal, Æbleskiver, which looked like takoyaki to me, but I was told it was a play on a traditional Danish sweet. It was stuffed with steamed mustard leaf greens and garnished with flowers pickled in apple vinegar – a nod to the traditional dish which is usually made with apples.

蜆とサルナシ

蜆とサルナシ

Shijimi is a fresh water clam that we use at home for making miso soup. It’s very interesting as we never eat the meat of the clam, we just boil it to make a broth and then add miso to it. We only slurp the broth, never dig into the shells. Which is what made this all the more special, the time and attention to detail for it to be made so beautifully. The crust was made with Rausu kombu and flour.

出来立て豆腐と天然クルミ

出来立て豆腐と天然クルミ

The freshly made tofu topped with shaved, wild walnuts. Delicious tofu – and impressive as making tofu is very hard to do. Kudos to Team Noma.

二日間乾燥させた帆立 ブナの実と昆布の香り

二日間乾燥させた帆立 ブナの実と昆布の香り

Another cold dish – which again, was unexpected and fun, made from scallops and beechnuts. The texture reminded me of Aero candy, light and airy.

ほっこり南瓜 ウワミズザクラの木のオイルと桜の花の塩漬け

ほっこり南瓜 ウワミズザクラの木のオイルと桜の花の塩漬け

Hokkaido pumpkin marinated in cherry blossom tree oil garnished with salted cherry blossoms and roasted kelp strips. This is a lovely reflection of how Rene has incorporated Japan into one dish with flavors from the land and sea.

黒にんんくの花

黒にんんくの花

Fermented black garlic is all over the markets in Japan. Here it is made into a leather and folded like origami into a leaf. Once the leaf is turned over the Nagano ants come back for an encore appearance.

様々な根菜類 生姜と共に

様々な根菜類 生姜と共に

This dish reminded me of Japanese New Year’s as we use many of the same vegetables in our osechi ryori, like the renkon and kuwai.

野生の鴨 マツブサの実

野生の鴨 マツブサの実

Wild duck glazed in fermented rye.

野生の鴨 マツブサの実

野生の鴨 マツブサの実

Carved in the kitchen and then served to the table.

イーストと椎茸の中で炊かれた蕪

イーストと椎茸の中で炊かれた蕪

Kabu (turnip) is a classic winter vegetable for soups in Japan. Noma cooks the turnip in a mushroom broth and then garnishes it with a roasted yeast and parsley oil.

米

The rice course is always the last savory course in traditional Japanese kaiseki cuisine. Here the rice is hidden underneath milk crisps, milk and sake ice cream and sake kasu. A sorrel sauce brought it all together.

白下糖でまる一日かけて煮込んだ人参芋

白下糖でまる一日かけて煮込んだ人参芋

This sweet potato cooked all day in raw sugar reminded me of Den as chef Hasegawa also has a dessert made with a similar sugar concentrate. Rene and chef Hasegawa are friends and so perhaps this is chef Hasegawa’s influence?

肉桂と発酵キノコ

肉桂と発酵キノコ

The meal ends with this fun presentation of cinnamon roots and chocolate-covered fermented cepes. We ordered coffee and tea to finish the meal as we hear it is the only thing that was brought from Denmark. As a Noma virgin it was great fun to have my first be here at home in Tokyo. While I am familiar with many of the ingredients, it was a pleasure to introduced to things I did not know are in Japan, like sorrel. Many of the dishes are unusual, but in a good way. The flavor profile was very different from what I am used to. There was no soy sauce, for example. A great reminder that there are other flavors yet to explore in Japan. The General Manager of the Mandarin Oriental, Anthony Costa, has said that in bringing Noma over he didn’t want it to be a short pop-up, which is the case with most guest chef appearances at Tokyo hotels. He also said that Rene and his team really threw themselves into this project by coming over so many times in the last year. I am already looking forward to seeing who Costa-san brings in next. 🙂 Arigato to Rene and his team for coming to Japan. Otsukaresama desu.

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Tsukiji Toritoh

Toritoh Mizutaki

Toritoh Mizutaki

Over the winter break it was announced that Tsukiji Inner Market (Tsukiji Jonai) will be moving to its new home in November of 2016. We have been very busy with our Food Sake Tokyo tours as customers are wanting to see the historic market before then. I have written about Toritoh in the Tsukiji Outer Market (Tsukiji Jogai) in the past:

https://foodsaketokyo.com/2014/10/25/tsukiji-market-toritoh-鳥藤/

https://foodsaketokyo.com/2012/12/18/tsukiji-market-cheap-eats-toritoh-chicken/

Today I would like to introduce to Toritoh in the inner market. The same shop, just a different location, and more importantly, a completely different menu.

Mizutaki is a classic chicken soup often found in Kyushu in Southern Japan. The version at Toritoh has a rich stock and chicken still on the bone, making it a bit challenging to eat, but worth the effort. The chicken is rough chopped and there are some bits of bones in the soup, not for delicate eaters. This dish is rich in umami and will have you smacking your lips even after you have left the shop.

Toritoh Singapore Chicken

Toritoh Singapore Chicken

I loved the first bit of the Singapore chicken as it reminded me of when we lived in Singapore. But after a while I realized the water the chicken was cooked in was over salted on this day, and the sweet soy sauce they had was not authentic. The rice was cooked in a chicken stock which was nicely done.

Toritoh Kara-age

Toritoh Kara-age

I was enjoying my chicken breakfasts so much that I went back once more for the kara-agé (fried chicken). This was by far my favorite. The chicken is juicy and served hot, just out of the frying pan. As we are in the middle of winter, I will be going back soon. It’s too cold to have sushi first thing in the morning.

One of the other pleasures of passing time here is the lovely, low voice of one of the older cooks in the kitchen. His voice is one of a fishmonger, deep and resonant. Just listening to him repeat orders or call out thank-you to customers as they left the restaurant was a pleasure.

Toritoh Exterior

Toritoh Exterior

The oyako-don, mother-and-child dish of eggs and chicken over rice is also a popular item at Toritoh. There is a small take-out window in front and many of the tourists over the three days were buying chicken dishes to take home. Most of the customers were fishmongers coming in for a quick meal after their work in the market. These guys would open the door and call out their order and pre-pay for the meal as soon as they were seated. The tourists, myself included, would carefully peruse the menu and see what others were eating before ordering, and then would pay when we were done eating. It’s fun to eat elbow-to-elbow with the fishmongers. I am sure this will change when the market moves to the new location in Toyosu.

Toritoh at Tsukiji Inner Market

鳥めし 鳥藤場内店 (とりめし とりとうじょうないてん)

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1, Building #8

Hours 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Chef Narisawa’s Kitchen Car – One of Japan

Starting January 7 and running through March 8 adjacent to the Diner’s Club Ice Rink in Roppongi, chef Yoshihiro Narisawa is serving cuisine from his first Kitchen Car. I much prefer the name the Japanese have given to food trucks, kitchen cars. If you are at all familiar with chef Narisawa’s gorgeous and spacious kitchen at his restaurant, you can understand the big change it is for him.

One of Japan

One of Japan

The menu at last night’s press event included grilled Hiroshima oysters, soups, and sandwiches. The soups are classic regional styles from the north to the south.

– Hokkaido’s Ishikari Nabe is made with salmon, vegetables, and miso – a staple for Hokkaido winters.

– Kyoto’s Shiro Miso Ozoni combines grilled rice cakes with a sweet, white miso.

– Hakata Motsu Nikomi is wagyu offal simmered in a spicy miso soup.

The sandwiches are made with an 18-grain flour and are filled with pork, chicken, or vegetables.

The menu will be changing throughout the 61 days of the event, encouraging diners to come back.

One of Japan

One of Japan

Most impressive was the list of farmers and producers who are collaborating with Chef Narisawa for this event including some of my favorites like Okui kombu from Fukui, Hida Gyu from Gifu, and Sanshu Mikawa mirin from Aichi. It’s a long list and there is a map in front of the kitchen car highlighting where the different ingredients are procured from.

One of Japan

One of Japan

There was sake as well last night, including Fukushima’s Daishichi Kimoto, a nice partner to the motsu nabe.

Even if you are not an ice skater, a visit to Roppongi Midtown is a great excuse to check out the great food shops on the first floor. Narisawa’s Kitchen Car is just across the street from the food court.

Narisawa Kitchen Car – One of Japan

Minato-ku, Akasaka 9-7-1, Tokyo Midtown, Diner’s Club Ice Rink (across the street from the Ritz-Carlton

Now through March 8th. Hours are 11 a.m. to about 9 p.m.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/NARISAWA-KITCHEN-CAR-One-of-JAPAN/434288743389112