Yōshoku, Western-style food modified to the Japanese palate, is comfort food to many Japanese. Yōshoku, written out in Japanese is 洋食, literally, Western food. Popular yōshoku dishes include croquettes, beef stew, and omuraisu, an omelet wrapped around ketchup-flavored rice.
Tsutsui is located on the back streets between Roppongi Itchome and Akasaka. I had walked by it many times and saw many well-dressed Japanese families going in. Yōshoku can be on the pricey side, but the lunch menu at Tsutsui is quite reasonable, about 1,500 JPY per lunch. We had a rice bowl topped with katsu, seafood and meat in bread crumbs and deep-fried. The hamba-gu, is like a meatloaf and comes with a cream sauce and vegetables.
If you want to try yōshoku, other popular shops around the city include chef Narisawa’s Toyoken in Akasaka, third-generation Taimeiken in Nihonbashi, Shiseido Parlour in Ginza, and Yoshikami in Asakusa. All of these are excellent shops.
At Tsutsui the waitresses are dressed in black French maid outfits with white aprons and push the meals out to the table on a rolling cart. I felt like I had stepped back in time. The spacious, dark interior is staffed with men in bow ties and black vests. There is a lovely walkway with a garden with stones that were sprinkled with water just before lunch service.
Minato-ku, Akasaka 2-22-24 港区赤坂2-22-24
At the French Culinary Institute I completed the bread baking program before doing the culinary program. I love bread. Tokyo is a wonderful city for bread. There are many French boulangeries in Tokyo including Viron, Maison Kayser, and Gontran Cherrier. Add to that impressive collection Maison Landemaine from Paris. I had heard that there were long lines, as is to be expected when any hot spot opens in Tokyo. I went recently on a weekday and was happy to see that there were no lines and that I could sit in the cafe. The shop was busy with customers, but most of them for take-away.
There are two croissants. The French croissant made with Lescure butter and the Japanese croissant made with a local butter. Forgive me for not knowing as I couldn’t resist trying the French croissant. It is among the best in the city, along with the croissant at Le Boutique at Le Cordon Bleu in Daikanyama.
A second shop has opened in Akasaka, near the Tameike Sanno station and not far from Roppongi Itchome station. This location is much more convenient to any subway station. there is comfortable seating in the back of the shop. My favorite here are the tarte flambee, popular in Alsace, but the baguette is very nice as are the croissants! The baguettes are a good value for only 220 JPY and remind me of authentic French baguettes.
Both shops are open from 7 a.m. as good bakeries should be! Sadly many Japanese bakeries don’t open up until after 10 a.m.
Minato-ku, Azabudai 3-1-5 港区麻布台3-1-5
Minato-ku, Akasaka 2-10-5 港区赤坂2-10-5
I don’t remember when I was so excited about a new restaurant. Taco Rico is in the Ark Hills complex in Roppongi. There are a handful of tables in the brightly lit restaurant, but most of the diners over the busy lunch hour were taking their lunches to go. The shop reminds me of Chipotle with the ingredients on display and diners asking for which items to be included on their tacos or burritos. However, it still has it Japanese touches in service, the staff welcomed guests with a genki, “hola, irasshaimase”. While one of the cooks was warming up the flour tortillas for burritos she would count “uno, dos” and the rest of the staff cheerily joined in for a “tres”.
Thankfully the cuisine does not seem altered for the Japanese palate, but tastes like the tacos I am used to in the US. Someday I hope to experience tacos in Mexico.
I had a quick chat with one of the managers (perhaps the owner?). He said that the tortillas are made fresh every morning in house. I asked him when he would be opening along the Chuo line and he said that the shop has only been open for two months. Here’s hoping they open up around the city soon.
Minato-ku, Akasaka 1-12-32, Ark Mori Bldg. 2F
So sorry, but a kind reader of the blog has just informed me that this shop is now closed. I will update this post when I hear of news of a new shop opening in central Tokyo.
Rock’N’Roll ramen is spelled out with numbers 69, or “roku” in Japanese. So, in Japanese we call this ramen shop Roku N Roll, said quickly it sounds like “rock and roll”. Chef Junichi Shimazaki’s original shop is in Machida and has been voted the best ramen in Tokyo for a few years. Machida’s a long haul from central Tokyo so I was thrilled when he opened up a shop in Akasaka in June, 2013.
What makes his ramen so special? Many facets. The flour used for making his noodles is all domestic. The broth is made from chickens from Akita prefecture. And the pork on top of the ramen is none other than Iberico pork. Some call this kodawari, an obsession to perfecting each component. It’s a great bowl of ramen. The broth, while a rich chicken flavor, is well-balanced and not too heavy. The pork was amazing. The noodles were cooked just right. The only thing I would change is that I wished that the egg was cut in half as it was hard to eat. He’s famous for his shōyu (soy sauce) ramen. Next time I’ll try the shio (salt).
Shimazaki-san’s coiffure and dress is very 50’s, think the Fonzie, but with longer hair. Seeing his style, it makes sense why he calls his restaurant Ramen-ya Rock and Roll. It was great fun to see him in the kitchen making ramen. He’s very popular and is often seen on television and in magazines.
The shop this day was filled with mostly area businessmen and young students. I went right as they had opened up and got a seat right away. But when I left there was a line.
The gyoza on the menu looked great, but not available until later in the day.
Ramen-ya 69’N’Roll Rock’N’Roll
Minato-ku, Akasaka 3-7-11