Need to Know – Tsukiji Move to Toyosu

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Tsukiji Uogashi  築地魚河岸

The world’s largest seafood market is moving in November. Following are a few basic need-to-know details on the move.

It is not the whole market that is moving, just the jounai 場内 (inner market), which is the wholesale seafood section. The jougai 場外 (outer market) is staying and in speaking with many shop owners in the outer market, they are hoping that tourists and locals will continue to come and shop here.

What is the difference between the jounai and the jougai? The jounai is where the chefs and seafood buyers go early in the morning to buy seafood and produce for restaurants and retail shops. The number of shops in the jounai is roughly about 800 shops. This is only open to the general public after 10 a.m. (As of July 1, 2016, the 9 a.m. open has been changed to 10 a.m.) Before that it is restricted to buyers and sellers. There are some restaurants and shops to the side of the wholesale seafood section, including popular sushi restaurants and purveyors for pantry items, tableware, and kitchenware.

The jougai is the outer market that sprung up naturally around the inner market. Here there are roughly 500 shops and restaurants. This is always open to the general public. There are only a handful of seafood retail shops here. There are many restaurants and retail shops selling everything from tea, knives, sea vegetables like nori and kombu, katsuobushi (smoked skipjack tuna flakes), dried beans, and much more. There is some anxiety with the outer market shop owners as they have no idea how their business will be affected after the move of the inner market to Toyosu.

Toyosu, the new location for the inner market, is also built on reclaimed land, like Tsukiji. It is only 2.2 km (or about 1.5 miles) from the current location. It is just along Tokyo Bay, heading in the direction to Narita airport.

The Toyosu Ichiba (market) will have three buildings. One for wholesale seafood, a second for wholesale produce, and a third shop for restaurants and retail shops. The popular shops currently at Tsukiji Market like Daiwa Sushi, Sushi Dai, and others in the Uogashi Yokocho, are considered part of the Inner Market, so are scheduled to move. I don’t think all of the shops are planning on moving, especially those with older owners who have no one to pass it on to. The three buildings are separated by large streets, so getting around the three buildings will be much harder than the current layout at Tsukiji.

To see the seafood and produce markets in the new Toyosu Ichiba, visitors will be on the 2nd floor looking through glass down on the market. The good news is that more people will be able to witness the tuna auction. The bad news is that for those who love seeing the seafood up close, it will be hard to see from a distance.

To access the new Toyosu Ichiba, visitors have to ride the monorail. It is very inconvenient, compared to the current location. The Tokyo Government, which owns the land for both the current inner market and Toyosu, has said that it will provide buses to the new location, but no schedules have been announced, again creating anxiety for those who rely on the market for their work. Currently many Ginza sushiya can ride their bicycle to Tsukiji. The new location will still be accessible by bicycle, but not as convenient as the current location, and not good when it is raining.

The outer market, jougai, that is staying has built a new building that will house 60 shops from the current jounai. Here is a list of the shops that will be staying at Tsukiji. It is a nice mix of vendors (some shops in parentheses) selling tuna (Yamayuki), fresh seafood (Yamafu Suisan), shrimp, processed seafood, and produce (Kushiya).

Tsukiji new shops 築地場外市場 仲卸業者

We are looking forward to seeing this new building when it opens up. At the moment, regarding our Tsukiji tours, we plan to continue to offer the tours in the current location as visitors will be able to see the seafood up close. Our tours are different from the other tours as Shinji used to be a buyer at Tsukiji so he can talk in great detail about seasonal seafood. Our visit to the outer market stops at many shops selling staples to the Japanese pantry. As we are both trained as chefs we can help explain the different ingredients and how they are used in the Japanese kitchen.

We will update this blogpost once the Tsukiji Uogashi Market opens with details on how it is.

When is the big move? The current inner market’s last day is November 2nd. The vendors then have a few days to move to the new location. The new Toyosu Ichiba is scheduled to open on November 7th.

**** Update – the move to Toyosu has been put on hold. For more details:

https://foodsaketokyo.com/2016/09/01/tsukiji-toyosu-move/

Here is the calendar for Tsukiji.

http://www.tsukiji-market.or.jp/etc/calendar/2016.html

Finally, the name of the new station on the monorail is not Toyosu Ichiba, but Shijomae.

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Shijomae station 市場前

Regarding the move, the current location was built in 1935 and needs to be modernized. It is too costly to build a temporary market and move it back here, so once it moves to Toyosu, it will stay there.

Part of the land that it is currently on will be used to build a road that will lead out to the Olympic Venues and housing for Olympic athletes. What will happen to the rest of the land is still undecided. Some ideas that have been offered include high-rise condominiums or even a casino.

The move was supposed to have happened in 2015. Some complications with the new site have delayed it. However, with the 2020 Summer Olympic Games around the corner, the move can not be delayed any longer. To see more on the new market, there is a visitor’s center at Tsukiji Market that you can stop by to see more.

https://foodsaketokyo.com/2014/04/16/tokyo-ichiba-project/

 

Nihonbashi Gela C Fruit Breakfast

 

 

In Japan fruit shops and cafés are a great spot for trying blemish-free and perfectly ripened fruit. One thing to put on your radar are morning sets at these cafés. A breakfast of fruit in Japan will feature seasonal fruit and confiture.

Gela C in Nihonbashi Muromachi Coredo building has a bargain breakfast for 500 JPY. Toast, three confiture, yogurt topped with fruit, and coffee. The shop opens at 9 a.m. On this day the confiture was kiwi, black grape, and lemon and honey.

Gela C’s parent company, Tokio, is a fruit shop based in Fukuoka. This shop in the historic Nihonbashi district, near Mitsukoshimae station, has a wide selection of fruit gelato and cut fruit.

The shop was quiet on this weekday morning. My friend James always reminded me to “eat more fruit”. We never get enough fruit, do we? It’s hard in Japan as fruit is very expensive. So this value-priced breakfast is a royal treat.

Gela C

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Muromachi 2-3, Coredo Muromachi 2, B1

中央区日本橋室町2丁目3番コレド室町2 B1 F

 

Takenoko Bamboo Shoots

Takenoko bamboo shoots are in season at the moment. Many will go foraging in the mountains to harvest these. It is sad to report that recently four elderly have been killed by bears while collecting bamboo shoots in Akita prefecture. Here is an article from The Japan Times:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/13/national/japan-bamboo-pickers-defy-bear-attack-warning-despite-deaths/#.V2SQS-Z97uQ

My father-in-law recently went to Yamanashi prefecture, just West of Tokyo, and came to our home with a large bag of bamboo shoots that he boiled at home. We have been feasting on tender bamboo.

I’ve harvested in the past with my family in Yamagata. It’s hard work so I am all the more appreciative to receive this.

One of our favorite preparations is takenoko gohan. Simply cook rice with dashi instead of water. We add roughly chopped bamboo shoots to the pot before cooking and then mixing it into the rice after it has steamed.

My favorite dish from our dinner was the simplest to make. Cucumbers and bamboo shoots topped with a dressing of taberu ra-yu, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Perfect with an ice cold beer. It will now be on our table every year when bamboo shoots are in season.

Bamboo shoots simmered in dashi and garnished with powdered katsuobushi is also easy to prepare.

The last dish we made for this was a Chinese-style of bamboo shoots, green peppers, and beef stir-fried with soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, sake, and chicken stock.

Temakizushi Party

Temakizushi Party

A fun idea for entertaining at home is a temaki-zushi party. Hand rolls (手巻き寿司) are interactive and as each person makes their own rolls it can be a good way to keep everyone happy. Some supermarkets and department store seafood sections will sell the seafood already cut for the rolls, especially on weekends and holidays.

Ingredients are whatever you like. A pot of rice and nori cut in half, as these are easy to roll by hand. For fillings, you can see in the photo above, we have starting from the upper right going clockwise: salmon, tuna, imitation crab, boiled scallops.

mekabu kombu, canned corn with mayonnaise, canned tuna with mayonnaise, and hikiwari natto

shirasu (boiled sardines), avocado, julienned myoga (ginger buds), shiso, denbu (sweetened cod fish colored pink), and ikura

cucumbers, kaiware (daikon sprouts), mizuna greens, and carrots.

Other fillings you could include:

tamagoyaki (Japanese omelet), Japanese pickles, seasoned kampyo gourd (sold at supermarket already cooked), roasted salted salmon, cream cheese, toasted sesame seeds, unagi, and more.

We also put out small plates with soy sauce for dipping the rolls and small bowls if anyone wants to make a salad.

When I visit my dear aunt in Osaka we usually have okonomiyaki one night, and the other night is usually temakizushi. It is festive, fun and also a great option for hot summers as they only thing you have to cook is the rice.

Futako Tamagawa Tonkatsu Keitei

Futako Tamagawa is a great area to visit if you want to do some shopping. There are several shops worth seeking out, notably Tsutaya bookstore and Takashimaya department store.

Keitei is a tonkatsu shop in Takashimaya that serves a variety of vegetables with the breaded and deep-fried pork. I love the presentation of the julienned cabbage, pickles, and kombu Tsukudani. The cabbage salad can be dressed with an aromatic yuzu or creamy sesame dressing. Keitei is part of the Wako group that specializes in tonkatsu.

As it is in a department store it is kid-friendly.

Keitei 恵亭

Futako Tamagawa Takashimaya 6th floor of the South Building (Minami-kan)

Setagaya-ku, Tamagawa 3-17-1 世田谷区玉川3-17-1

menu

http://www.wako-group.co.jp/datas/pdf/1083_gmenu.pdf

Tsukiji Market Tour with Shinji Sakamoto

Shinji Sakamoto by Sushi Geek

Shinji Sakamoto at Tsukiji Market (photo by Sushi Geek)

Shinji recently took the author of the Sushi Geek blog to Tsukiji Market for a tour. Here is the write-up Mr. Sushi Geek did of Shinji’s Tsukiji Market Tour.

His blog is filled with great sushi restaurants, not only in Tokyo, but also overseas.

Some notes from clients after their tour with Shinji:

Shinji Sakamoto photo by SM

Tsukiji Inner Market (photo by SM)

“But please pass on to Shinji how much we appreciated his time and company. It was like walking around with an industry professional and friend at the same time.

Right from what you aptly described as the best coffee in Tokyo, the whole tour was felt like a unique glimpse behind the scenes of the food industry in Tokyo.

The knife place was extraordinary and my only regret is we only bought one! A vegetable knife. I use it all the time and my son highlighted the impeccable balance of it.

It was fascinating to walk through the fish market and learning its history and how its move will impact on generations of family businesses.” SM, New Zealand

 

Umami International Symposium 2016

The International Umami Symposium 2016, was held in Yokohama on Sunday, June 5th. The presenters consisted of chefs and scientists and revealed many new insights. Some highlights from my notes:

Fire and fermentation are two ways to change umami in food.

At two months a baby can understand umami flavor and has an innate preference for it.

Mother’s milk is rich in free amino acids (umami). This is a beautiful, elegant, simple system. (Dr. Julie Menella)

Protein with umami is more satisfying than carbohydrates.

Around the world, children are introduced to umami-rich ingredients. In Thailand it is fish sauce, Italy it is parmesan, in Denmark it is fish eggs.

From chef and scientist Ali Bouzari, “Umami is not Japanese at all. Umami is human”.

Chef Takahashi of Kyoto Kinobu discussed the traditional kaiseki kitchen which uses kombu (kelp) and katsuobushi (smoked skipjack tuna flakes) as a base to so many dishes. He also touched on the mouthfeel of different dishes

Chef Wakiya of Wakiya-Ichiemi Charo talked about growing up in Hokkaido, a part of Japan that is famous for many umami-rich ingredients and dishes like dried squid, ramen, kombu. He trained in China and learned to work with dried scallops, cured hams as well as drinking different Chinese teas that are fermented and rich in umami.

Chef Kyle is using liquid shio koji to marinade fish and meat which supports the natural flavor and adds umami. Chef’s new restaurant, Single Thread, will be opening later this year. There he makes miso-like products using koji (aspergillus oryzae). He went on to talk about how American chefs incorporate umami into their menus using the example of chef Sean Brock using green pea miso and ham broth dashi.

I was hoping to hear Professor Ole Mouritsen (author of several great books on umami and seaweed) discuss mouthfeel as his next book will be out on this topic.

Most of the food-related events I attend are chef-centric. This was a treat to listen to scientists and professors talk about the science of umami and to see how the chefs work with it in the kitchen.

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Japan’s Most Challenging Food

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Chinmi. I am not a fan, not one bit. But my husband, Shinji, loves having some type of chinmi in the fridge at all times. Usually we have one or two types, but we recently traveled and Shinji picked up some along the way. Chinmi is fermented seafood, often including the guts or other parts of seafood like the liver. It is very intense and one only needs to eat a little bit of this when sipping on saké. But even if I am drunk on saké I have a hard time swallowing this. We did a tasting recently. Well, Shinji did a tasting and I took a tiny bit of each. Remember, although I was born in Tokyo, I grew up in Minnesota and this is as foreign to me as it is for many overseas guests.

Saba shiokara. Pacific mackerel is super salty, you can taste the crystals, of what surely must be salt. There are small pieces of the filet, making this the most appealing by appearance. We picked this up on a recent trip to Tottori to Sakai Minato port.

http://shop.sakaiminato.net/product.cgi?no=255

Aka Hoya. Red sea squirt is very chewy and a little funky. While it is called red, the color is a bright orange and the aftertaste lingers, way too long, and not in a pleasant way.

http://shop.shizengumi.net/?page_id=878

Surumeika koji zuke. Koji-fermented squid was my favorite of all in this tasting. It is slightly sweet, and has the texture of koji, meaning tiny bits of softened rice. We picked this up from Sakai Minato port on a recent trip to Tottori. I would have this again. You gotta love how the website suggests serving suggestions, like on crackers with cheese. That would make it even easier to eat.
Katsuo shuto. Fermented skipjack tuna innards. This is one of the most famous types of chinmi that is from Odawara, just south of Tokyo. It is rich in umami and has a thin chewy texture, like chewing on a balloon. This is one of the more easier chinmi, meaning it is palatable, if you are drinking a lot of saké.
English website for this product:

Awabi Toshiro. The liver of the abalone made the biggest impression. My notes from the tasting are as follows, “Will not go back there, ever, even if I am drunk.”

Ayu no uruka. Ayu is a freshwater sweet fish that is gorgeous when simply salted and grilled. However, this 3-year fermented chinmi is super salty, creamy, gross, way too funky. I come back to this word as nothing else comes to mind. Why would anyone eve think to eat this? Seriously…
It was the worst food tasting I have ever done in my life. Nothing will top this. We found two that I like and will have again. Hopefully none of these others will be in our fridge again.

Shinagawa Bar Marche Kodama Breakfast

Inside of Shinagawa Station is a branch of Bar Marche Kodama. It is in the part of the station that is a small mall called ecute. The store specializes in cured meats, pates, and sausages. I sometimes buy from the Shinjuku branch which is in Takashimaya depachika, and conveniently located near the wine shop.

This Shinagawa branch is famous for its breakfast buffet as it includes all-you-can-eat cured ham. The spread is simple, and not too luxurious, but for 620 JPY, this is a bargain. There is also a bottomless cup of coffee, something that is hard to find in Tokyo.

There is outdoor seating, which I recommend. If it is raining, the indoor seating is very limited, so I wouldn’t recommend it as surely the wait to be seated would be long.

I wouldn’t make a special trip across town for this, but if you are in the area, it’s nice to have on your radar. The buffet is from 8:00 – 11:00 a.m. It is very popular so you may have to wait. If you get impatient there are many other restaurants in the area.

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Bar Marche Kodama

Shinagawa JR Station – ecute 1st floor

http://www.kodama-ltd.co.jp/barmarche.html

Sausage Curry at Tsukiji Pyramid

One of the best curries I have had in a long time was at this German restaurant in Tsukiji. Yes, you read that correctly. A German restaurant at Tsukiji serving curry. But, this wasn’t just any curry.

The meat is a German sausage, and for toppings everyone gets a quenelle-shaped German mashed potatoes with house-made sauerkraut. I could eat a whole bowl of the sauerkraut. Onions and cabbage that are lightly fermented. Next time I’ll ask for a double order of it. I also added some pickled jalapenos, not very German, but I never see it on a menu, so I figured, why not?

And, the spicy curry had a nice kick to it. Not the family-friendly curry that is prevalent throughout this country. After years of working in the area, it is a big surprise to come across something so unique like this. This is one of the great pleasures of Tokyo. You never know what you will find, and it usually takes you beyond what you anticipated.

German pop music (the beat was definitely from the 80s) played on the soundtrack. The walls are lined with German beer ads and photos that were taken from trips to Germany for what look like beer festivals.

From the ceiling hang dusty German flags and buxom German beer maid characters, all adding fun character to this tightly packed restaurant that seats a little over two dozen.

The lunch menu is curry only. I came just before the lunch rush and most of the diners were obviously regulars. The phone rang a few times with take-away orders as well. Lunch is 890 JPY and diners can choose from the following curries: chicken, beef, sausage, Keema (which says it is the spiciest), and a weekly special. This week it was shrimp. Lunch comes with a free dish such as sauerkraut, sunny-side-up egg, dessert, or orange juice.

I would love to come back at night sometime. A cabinet next to the kitchen was filled with German beer glasses. Evenings appear to be more authentic German pub-style cuisine.

Pyramid

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 2-12-16, B1 中央区築地2-12-16, B1

If you go for lunch, then have your after-lunch coffee at Tsukiji Turret Coffee.