Shibuya Hayashi Ramen はやし

On the back streets of Shibuya, a short walk from Mark City and the Inokashira line is Hayashi ramen. There are only 10 seats at a counter overlooking the open kitchen. The ramen at Hayashi is a rich blend of pork and seafood. Meaty and smoky aromas from the bowl are accented with a fresh green punch from the julienned leeks. The thick straight noodles stand up to the rich broth. The toppings of the egg and pork round out this umami-rich bowl. For all that is going on in the bowl, it is well-balanced. No wonder the long lines.

I walk by the shop every few weeks and there is usually a long line. I was lucky to have come recently when the line was shorter than usual and jumped at the chance to try the bowl I have heard much about, and am glad that I did.

Purchase your ticket at the vending machine up front. There are only three options:

ramen 800 JPY; aji tama (with seasoned egg) 900 JPY; yaki buta (1,100 JPY)

The photo above is the yaki buta, which includes the cha shu pork and the seasoned egg.

Hayashi is only open for lunch, starting at 11:30 a.m. It closes at 3:30 p.m., or when the soup runs out. I imagine it usually closes before 3:30 p.m. It is closed Sunday and holidays.

Hayashi はやし

Shibuya-ku, Dogenzaka 1-14-9 渋谷区道玄坂1-14-9

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Yamagata Dashi

One of my go to side dishes this time of year is Yamagata Dashi, a classic kyōdo ryōri (regional dish) from where my family is from. I didn’t eat it growing up, and only came upon it once I lived in Japan. It’s the perfect dish for summer as the vegetables for Yamagata Dashi are at the peak of their season.

Yamagata Dashi smells like you are in the garden. It has a crunchy texture and depending on how much nattō kombu and okra you use, it can be very slippery. I love the aromatics from the shiso and myōga, the crunch from the cucumbers, and it took a while for me to get used to eating raw eggplant, but I love it now.

The main ingredients are cucumbers, eggplant, myōga (ginger buds), okra, and shiso. Nattō kombu, finely minced dried kombu, is another key ingredient. I picked up this pack of nattō kombu なっとう昆布 or 納豆昆布 at the Yamagata antenna shop in Ginza.

https://foodsaketokyo.com/2011/05/02/yamagata-antenna-shop/

Soak a small amount of the nattō kombu in water while prepping the vegetables.

I like to blanch the okra and remove the seeds, but if you are in a hurry or don’t want to be bothered with turning on the stove, you could mince the okra while raw.

Finely chop the cucumbers, eggplant, and okra. Mince the myōga and shiso.

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and season with either soy sauce or tsuyu (seasoned soy sauce used for soba or udon noodles). Serve over rice. If you can’t be bothered cooking rice, use the precooked rice that only needs to be microwaved.

Serve immediately. Best to make only what you can eat as the texture changes if it sits overnight in the refrigerator.

Yamagata Dashi 山形だし

kyōdo ryōri 郷土料理

cucumbers – kyūri 胡瓜

eggplant – nasu 茄子

ginger buds – myōga 茗荷

okra オクラ

shiso しそ

nattō kombu 納豆昆布

Do let me know if you try making this dish. Curious what your reactions are.

 

 

Where to Buy Kit Kats in Tokyo

The best place to buy regional Kit Kats in Tokyo is at the Shokoku Gotochi Plaza. The shop is in the basement mall of Tokyo Station near the Tokyo Ramen Street, across the hallway from Rokurinsha ramen shop.

Kit Kat in Japan makes regional flavors that are usually only sold in that region. The Shokoku Gotochi Plaza features regional food items from throughout Japan, which is why the shop also sells these regional Kit Kats.

https://d.nestle.jp/kitkat/omiyage/

Some examples are wasabi, beni imo (purple sweet potato), azuki, mattcha, hōjicha (roasted green tea), strawberry, and more.

The Tokyo Station underground mall is huge. I get lost in there from time to time and I have a good sense of direction. The underground mall is divided into different sections and the Shokoku Gotochi Plaza is part of an area called “First Avenue Tokyo Station”, in Japanese, “Tokyo Eki Ichibangai”. Here is a map in English:

http://www.tokyoeki-1bangai.co.jp/pdf/floorMap_foreign.pdf

Shop hours are listed as 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.

Shokoku Gotochi Plaza

 

Shinjuku Kaijin 海神

Kaijin literally means the God of the Seas, a perfect name for this ramen shop that does not use meat. The seafood soup at Shinjuku Kaijin changes daily based on what seafood is in season. The broth, while rich in flavor, is light and refreshing on the palate. The fish that goes into the broth is written out daily on large white paper that is hung up on the wall.

The menu is read from right to left, top to bottom:

本日のアラ   honjitsu no ara  today’s seafood scraps (head, bones, etc.)

真鯛   madai   sea bream

平政   hiramasa   kingfish (in the same family as yellowtail)

太刀魚   tachiuo   cutlassfish or beltfish

甘鯛   amadai   tilefish

穴子   anago   sea eel

Ara refers to the head, bones, and other scraps of fish that can be either simmered in a sweet soy broth and carefully picked over when eating. Here at Kaijin the chef uses the ara scraps to make the soup stock. Salt is added to the broth. The noodles are thin, which is exactly what this broth needs. It is garnished with julienned leeks, and a chicken and a shrimp dumpling. If you have an allergy, be sure to tell them, ebi no arerugi- ga arimasu.

If you have a big appetite, be sure to order the grilled onigiri (rice ball) and put it into the soup when you are done with the noodles. The salty yuzu koshō paste is also a great way to add depth to the ramen.

Kaijin also has shellfish ramen, like asari (littleneck clam) or hamaguri (Orient clam). I have tried these, but much prefer the complexity of the seafood ramen, their signature dish.

These are the signs in front of the Shinjuku shop. It’s a smaller shop with counter seating for five, a table for four and a table for two. There is often a line going down the stairs, but it usually moves quickly, as this is a quick meal. Be sure not to linger after you’re done eating if there are people waiting.

There are three branches in Tokyo at the time this blogpost was written. I have been to the Kichijoji shop, which is close to the station, but the soup was too salty and I won’t go back. The Shinjuku shop is also near the station and where I go. A new shop has also recently opened in Ikebukuro.

Shinjuku Menya Kaijin

Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 3-35-7

Musashino-shi, Kichijoji Minamicho 1-5-9, Kumamoto Bldg. 2F

Toshima-ku, Ikebukuro 1-19-2

http://www.kaijin-ramen.com/menu.php

 

 

Gotta Get – Summer Fruit Saké

In the humid summers I seek relief in chilled fruit saké that are tart and mouthwatering. Here are two worth seeking out, lemon and natsumikan (imagine an orange pomelo). My favorite producer for these kajitsushu is Tsuru Ume from Wakayama. Their aromatic yuzushu is also one of the best made in Japan, in my opinion. On the rocks, or served straight, this is an excellent start to any meal, or a refreshing break in the afternoon.

Tsuru Ume also makes outstanding umeshu, which is no surprise as the apricots from Wakayama are a regional specialty.

I love the selection of kajitsushu at Shinbashi’s Oboro Saketen. Okuma-san, the owner, went to college in Minnesota and speaks English. Tell him Yukari sent you.

http://www.tsuru-ume.com/

Interview with Okuma-san of Oboro Saketen.

http://metropolisjapan.com/seasonal-secrets-of-hiya-oroshi/

Oboro Saketen

http://www.oborosaketen.com/page3.html

Minato-ku, Shinbashi 5-29-2 港区新橋5-29-2

Side note – this is a well-stocked sake shop with some hard-to-find sake and shochu. They will ship to your home or hotel with an overnight delivery.

Sarabeth’s

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Sarabeth’s

Sarabeth’s, a restaurant from New York City that serves classic American breakfast dishes like French toast, eggs Benedict, and yogurt with granola and fruit. After breakfast the menu features salads and sandwiches. There are a few branches in Tokyo as well as a shop in Osaka. The Japanese are crazy for pancakes, so Sarabeth’s is often filled with locals digging into ricotta pancakes.

Tokyo Station: Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 1-8-2, Tekko Bldg. 2-3F

Shinjuku: Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 3-38-2, Lumine2 Bldg. 2F

Shinagawa: Minato-ku, Konan 2-18-1, atre Shinagawa 4F

http://sarabethsrestaurants.jp/location/en/

Kyoto Yasai – Manganji Togarashi 万願寺唐辛子

Kyoto is famous for many locally grown vegetables, Kyo yasai, for short. This list includes mizuna greens that are now popular even in the US, Kyo takenoko (bamboo shoots), and  Kamo nasu (eggplant). Manganji are green peppers that are bigger than shishitō and the skin is a bit thicker. These are not spicy peppers and are easy to cook. The seeds are easy to remove.

This kinpira-style recipe includes dried baby sardines, but you could make it without the fish.

Manganji peppers

chirimenjako (dried baby sardines)

vegetable oil

sake

sugar

soy sauce

Cut the pepper in half and remove the seeds. Cut the pepper into bite-size pieces.

Sauté the chirimenjako in vegetable oil for about a minute or until it becomes a little crispy. Add the peppers and sauté for another minute.

Add some saké, sugar, and soy sauce and sauté for a minute. If you have mirin in the house, add a bit to give the peppers a glaze and a bit more sweetness.

This dish is good hot or at room temperature. It’s a great in a bentō.

Kyō yasai    Kyoto vegetables 京野菜

mizuna  みずな

Kyō takenoko   Kyoto bamboo shoot 京竹の子

Kamo nasu     Kamo eggplant  賀茂茄子

Manganji tōgarashi     Manganji pepper  万願寺唐辛子

Kamo and Manganji are both places in Kyoto, so they are capitalized.

Carrot Haystack Sandwich

Bon Coeur carrot sandwich

Nihonbashi Bon Coeur Crunchy Carrot Sandwich

One of my favorite simple breakfasts in Tokyo is this carrot sandwich at Nihonbashi Bon Coeur. Julienned carrots simply presented between two slices of pain de mie, with a schmear of mayonnaise. The orange haystack is so big that it’s hard to keep contained while eating. There may be butter, or not, I don’t remember and I don’t care, because it is so good.

Bon Coeur is a Japanese bakery on the Chuo Dori of Nihonbashi, very close to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. I often pick up clients a the MO and will stop by here for breakfast. There is also a free cup of coffee in the early morning, I believe from 7:30 – 9:00 a.m.

There are a few small tables in front of the shop, if the weather is good. There is also a counter inside. Most of the customers work in the neighborhood and are regulars.

The breads here are they typical Japanese oyatsu pan or snack breads, made with ingredients like hot dog, cheese, croquettes, yakisoba, and burdock root. Some unusual breads that they do here will include chili con carne or macaroni. You’ll also find Japanese classic breads like melon pan and French classics like pain au chocolat.

Bon Coeur

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi-Muromachi 4-3-12

中央区日本橋室町4-3-12

http://www.bansei-gp.com/boncoeur/about/

平日 07:30 – 20:00 weekdays
土曜日 08:00 – 18:00 Saturday

closed Sundays and national holidays

CNN Tokyo Point of View

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Filming for CNN Tokyo POV

We had the great pleasure of working with CNN International for a new television show called Point of View. In the show you see my point of view as I go shopping for food in Ginza. I won’t tell you more, until the show is out. For now, here is the times that the program is scheduled to be shown in the US (Eastern Standard Time). Be sure to tune your television to CNN International.

http://us.cnn.com/specials/travel/tokyo-pov

The producer and cameramen we worked with were great and very proactive in reaching out to the shops we wanted to film at. We are so excited to share a small bit of the great food world in Tokyo.

Our tours of markets to Tokyo include Tsukiji, depachika, and antenna shops. In this Tokyo POV show you will see a peak at what we include in our tours.

NOTE – following are showtimes in the US for CNN International. I will update with Japan times if/when I get them.

Friday 8/12/16

530am ET

Saturday 8/13/16

930am ET

Sunday 8/14/16

1130pm ET

 Tuesday 8/16/16

1230pm ET

 Wednesday 8/17/16

430am ET

Ebisu Shake Shack

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Ebisu Shake Shack – ShackMeister

Shake Shack, New York City’s great burger chain, is in Tokyo at two locations, Aoyama and Ebisu. The Ebisu location is next to the station. I’ve passed by many times and the line was always too long. I was lucky today when I passed as the line, while still long, it was nothing like I had seen before and I jumped in.

The current special is the ShackMeister of fried shallots on a cheeseburger. It is a great burger with the crispy shallots over the meaty burger. The crinkle fries with a cheddar and American cheese sauce were a nice touch of NYC.

The seating area is big and there were two staff helping diners bus their trays and assisting diners to find seats.

My fingers are  crossed that the next Shake Shack will be on the Chuo line, maybe in Kichijoji? Tachikawa? Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.

Ebisu Shake Shack

Shibuya-ku, Ebisu-Minami 1-6 渋谷区恵比寿南1-6

https://www.shakeshack.com/locations#international

The other location is at

Minato-ku, Kita-Aoyama 2-1-15 港区北青山2-1-15