Still Craving Korean Fried Chicken – CLOSED

*** Updated 1 September 2016. KyoChon has closed.

I was so excited to hear that a Korean fried chicken (KFC) restaurant opened in Roppongi. I have yet to find good KFC in Tokyo, even after scouring Okubo and Shin-Okubo, where many Korean restaurants are.

KyoChon had a few missteps while I was there and I don’t know if I will go back. I came on a quiet weekday for a late lunch. The restaurant was only about a quarter full and the girl who greeted me told me there was a time limit of two hours per customer. I was so confused. I told her that I surely would be gone in two hours.

When the menu is presented I was told that all of the chicken is made from scratch and that it takes at least 20 minutes. Really? I just got seated and I’ve already been told about how long I have to wait to eat and when I will be pushed out the door.

So, I ordered a chicken salad to kill time while waiting for my KFC. The salad was fine, but the dressing was too sweet. To top it all off, they brought my chicken shortly after I got started on my salad. It was not 20 minutes, I don’t even think it was 10 minutes.

So, the chicken was good, but nothing close to as good as what I have had in NYC or Singapore. That, or I was just in such a sour mood as the chicken came so quickly.

KyoChon Roppongi

Minato-ku, Roppongi 5-1-7 港区六本木5-1-7

http://www.kyochon.jp/index_en.php

 

Sardine Lovers’ Lunch 新宿割烹中嶋

Chef Nakajima of Shinjuku Kappō Nakajima is often on television on a morning cooking show. His restaurant serves a multi-course kaiseki meal in the evening, but the lunch is a set lunch based on iwashi sardines.

For less than $10 USD (800 or 900 JPY), the menu options are sashimi, furai (breaded and deep-fried), nimono (simmered in a sweet soy sauce), or Yanagigawa (fried sardines cooked with eggs in a sweet soy sauce). The meal includes rice, miso soup, and pickles.

We sat at the counter and watched as an assistant chef continued to make the sashimi dish, which is actually tataki (photo, above left). It is a great preparation for silvery-skinned fish like sardines or horse mackerel. The sashimi is roughly chopped and mixed with ginger and sesame, which helps cut through the fishiness.

Fried sardines often include some of the bones, which you can chew and eat, but a warning if you are not used to it. The Yanagigawa is served in a shallow dish that is a nice combination of sardines with the softly cooked eggs.

The restaurant has a counter overlooking part of the kitchen and several tables. We arrived around 11:30 a.m. and snagged the last seats at the counter. When we left there was over a dozen people in line.

The restaurant is hard to find. It is on a quiet side street and signage is ridiculously small, even for Japanese readers. Look for the sign (photo, above right) and go down the stairs. The staff are very friendly and there is an English menu for this great lunch.

Shinjuku Kappō Nakajima 新宿割烹中嶋

Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 3-32-5, Nichihara Bldg. B1     新宿区新宿3-32-5 日原ビルB1

http://www.shinjyuku-nakajima.com/

Map from the restaurant’s website

http://www.shinjyuku-nakajima.com/tenpo.html#main

iwashi いわし 鰯

kappō 割烹

Nakajima 中嶋

 

Tokyo’s Softest Mochi? 築地福餅

Updated 31 May 2016.

We are very sad to say that this shop has closed. Today was the last day. We wish the owner much happiness in her retirement.

Shinji found out the husband of the owner used to own this shop and was selling seafood here. When he passed away the wife took over the shop and was selling the mochi. She decided it was time to close the shop.

Shinji did stop by today to buy a bunch and we have it in our freezer. We will treasure these sweets.

There is a tiny stall, Tsukiji Fukumochi, selling some amazing mochi. The rice taffy is so tender that it almost melts in your mouth. One of the mochi is served on JAL flights. Shinji brought the ones on the right home and we couldn’t stop eating them. Yomogi (a Japanese herb, mugwort), shio (salt), and takesumi (charcoal) stuffed with a sweet azuki bean paste. On his next trip back he picked up the ichigo daifuku, with a fresh strawberry, which was also amazing.

Often the mochi is very chewy, but there is something different about these, that make them worth a journey.

Tsukiji Fukumochi 築地福餅

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 4-13-14 中央区築地4-13-14

 

Japanese Spring Vegetable – Udo

Spring is an exciting time for vegetable lovers in Japan. Udo (Aralia cordata) is spikenard. It is grown here in Tokyo in the area where we live. It is grown underground and the spears are white or with a hint of green. There is even a character, Udora, for udo in Tachikawa. While most characters strive to be kawaii (cute), Udora is far from kawaii.

Udo reminds me of the white asparagus I had while living in Belgium, just with a bit of bitterness to it. It is lovely as tempura, as served at Nihonbashi Tenmatsu.

Two of my other favorite dishes are kinpira (top photo), sautéed with oil, sake, soy sauce, and a bit of sugar. The bottom photo is boiled udo dressed with mayonnaise and umeboshi.

Udo is one of Japan’s spring vegetables that is very easy to cook at home.

 

Tsukiji Fishmongers’ Breakfast 築地気まぐれ屋

Kimagureya is a popular sandwich shop for the workers at Tsukiji Market. Most of the workers get the sandwiches to go. Often a worker from a stall will come and pick up a big order for him and his colleagues.

The simple menu includes fried items like shrimp, chicken or croquettes, and more standard sandwich fillings like tuna salad, egg salad, or ham and cheese. Each sandwich is about 140 – 200 JPY. The cold sandwiches are on display in the window. Hot sandwiches, like fried chicken, menchi katsu (fried ground meat cutlet),  korokke (croquette), or ebi katsu (shrimp cutlets) are kept in warm boxes in the kitchen.

The shop also sells onigiri, rice sandwiches stuffed with salmon, spicy cod roe, pickled umeboshi, and more at 140 JPY each.

The staff do not speak English and the menu is only in Japanese, so if you go, point at one of the cold sandwiches, you can see the fillings. Or, if you want a hot sandwich, pick from the list above and ask for it, slowly. 🙂

IMG_1928.jpg

Tsukiji Kimagureya

The biggest surprise was how the sandwiches are assembled. It is one slice of bread that is stuffed and folded over. I love this. The chicken katsu above is seasoned with julienned cabbage and sauce (think Worcestershire). Kimagure is a Japanese word that means fickle, whimsical, or capricious. Perfect name for these sandwiches. 🙂

Kawasaki-san, the owner of Tsukiji Turret Coffee, put this lovely shop on my radar. He sometimes stops by here before he opens his shop. His favorite is the ebi katsu, deep-fried shrimp cutlet sandwich.

An older couple runs this very local shop. I am worried that once the market moves to Toyosu in November as most of their customers seem to come from the inner market.

The shop sits on a quiet side street. There is a tiny plastic table with two seats in front of the shop. I like to sit here and watch as the workers drive by on the turrets delivering seafood. This is far away from the long lines at the sushi shops, and this is where the local workers eat. A very unique change from the hoards of people standing in line for sushi. I prefer this quiet breakfast.

Kimagureya 気まぐれ屋

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 6-21-6  中央区築地6-21-6

Musashi-Sakai Passage a Niveau

Passage a Niveau baguette

Passage a Niveau baguette

My favorite baguette in Tokyo is found along the Chuo line near Musashi-Sakai station. Passage a Niveau does a three-grain baguette that has a lovely crumb with a chewy crust.

Passage a Niveau baguette crust

Passage a Niveau baguette crumb

The bakery opens at 8 a.m. but the baguettes do not come out until a bit later in the morning. Passage a Niveau is worth a journey across town for. The shop is small but has a selection of both Western and Japanese breads.

It is closed every Wednesday and the first Tuesday of each month. Nearby, the library at the South Exit has a big collection of magazines on the first floor as well as a café.

Passage a Niveau

Tokyo-to, Musashino-shi, Sakai Minami-cho 1-1-20, Taiko Bldg.

東京都武蔵野市境南町1-1-20 タイコービル

 

 

 

New York Bagels in Nakameguro

Growing up in Minnesota I thought frozen Lender’s Bagels was the standard. That was until I moved to New York City and lived in Chelsea. Murray’s bagels was a short walk away and finally I understood what the fuss was over a bagel. I have fond memories of eating an everything bagel while carefully perusing the Sunday New York Times.

Bagel Standard in Nakameguro offers the best New York-style bagel I have tried in Tokyo. A big shout-out to Twitter friend @ninja_padrino for putting this on my radar. Bagel Standard is about a ten-minute walk from Nakameguro station (when walking with a five-year old). The staff included information (in Japanese) on freezing the bagels and refreezing at home.

Seasoned cream cheeses and bagel sandwiches round out the selection. There are two benches in front of the shop.

This is the first time in 25 years that I have had a NY bagel in Tokyo and I can not tell you how happy I am. I will be back. This is worth a journey across town for.

Bagel Standard

Meguro-ku, Nakameguro 2-8-19 目黒区中目黒2-8-19

http://bagelstandard.com/

 

Fuji-san from a Helicopter

A friend of mine took these amazing photos of Fuji-san from his helicopter. I was so mesmerized and just wanted to share them. The bottom left photo is a shot from the helicopter looking into the top of Mount Fuji. I don’t think I will ever be in a helicopter flying over one of the most famous mountains in the world, so I am so happy he shared these. Arigato, tomodachi!

Tsukiji Kitsuneya 築地きつねや

Kitsuneya offal

Kitsuneya offal

One of the most popular stalls at Tsukiji’s Outer Market is Kitsuneya. It does not sell any seafood, but it is famous for offal stewed in a savory soy broth until tender and served over a large bowl of rice (800 JPY). If you are not in the mood for offal, Kitsuneya also does nikudōfu, tofu and meat cooked in a sweet soy broth (600 JPY). The tofu and meat does not come with rice (220 JPY) so you have to order that separately. I love oshinko pickles with every meal and this day it was cucumbers pickled in salt (120 JPY). A nice, crisp contrast to the soft offal.

Hovering over the large stewpot is a fiesty grandmother. As Kitsuneya is on the main street there are many who try and take her photo and she is quick to tell them no photos allowed. I was even nervous to take this photo, so I waited until she turned the other way to snap this.

The smell of the stewing offal is rich and enticing. When I walk by with clients many will naturally hum, “mmmmmmm”.  There is often a long line at the shop. There are a few stools and a narrow counter at the shop. If those are full, many will stand and eat at a high table set up by the street.

To find it, look for a small white noren banner of the shop that says in black Japanese calligraphy きつねや, or look for the old woman waving her hands telling people to stop taking her photo. 🙂

Tsukiji Kitsuneya 築地きつねや

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 4-9-12 中央区築地4-9-12

Food Sake Tokyo Updates

Ivan Orkin has closed both of his shops in Tokyo and focusing his energy on projects in New York City. We look forward to the day when Ivan is back in Tokyo with another Ivan Ramen and wish him the best in NYC. The updates below are current as of 6 March, 2016.

Please print the Food Sake Tokyo Updates 20160306.