Chef Bruno Menard at Imperial Hotel

Aiste Miseviciute of Luxeat is a friend who put chef Bruno Menard on my radar. My first time to try chef’s cuisine was at a wine dinner at the Imperial Hotel with Don Melchor wines. I was taken in with not only the cuisine, but chef’s fine touches on the dishes to pair them with the lovely Don Melchor wines.

Chef Bruno is in Tokyo this week for a pop-up at the Imperial Hotel’s Les Saisons. He is collaborating with chef Thierry Voisin of Les Saisons. It was a treat to try his dishes once more.

What do I love of his cuisine? The small touches of Japanese ingredients, the rich flavors that are light and not too heavy.

Some of the highlights include a crab dish that includes yuzu kosho, a salty and spicy paste made with yuzu rind, but just the right amount of it so as not to outshine to crab. The presentation is fun, with the 3 Michelin stars on the package.

Truffles are in season at the moment and chef came to the table to shave the white truffles over his onion soup with chestnuts. Light on top, creamy at the bottom, and the rich aromatics and texture of the white truffles pulling it all together.

The yin yang dish above is scallop sashimi and beet sashimi. The dots were of Japanese shiso (perilla leaf) and umeboshi (pickled apricots) with raspberries, there was some kabosu (citrus) with the scallops.

Hokkaido scallop is sauteed in butter and set upon a spinach sauce with gnocchi and white truffles.

The lemon tart dessert is topped with a gin fizz sorbet, with mango powder and passionfruit crisps. The soft sable dough is topped with a sugar tuile.

The baba au rhum was finished table side by chef, and topped with a 2001 Diplimatico Single Vintage Rum aged in sherry casks. The cake is finished with a passionfruit apricot glaze with a fresh acidity. The syrup is steeped with star anise, lemon, lives, and cloves. White chocolate ice cream is nestled in the cake. The Diplimatico rum was crazy. Smooth, hints of coffee and vanilla, and no harsh alcohol flavors that can overtake this dish. Chef was proud to share that this recipe came from his father.

I had the pleasure of speaking with chef and loved hearing him talk about his regular customers from his L’Osier days coming back with their family to see him and eat his cuisine once more. He said that this is what the business of being a chef is all about. You could see he loved talking to the guests, but moreover, that the guests were so happy to be talking with him.

He did talk about the quality of ingredients in Japan and how good they are. That some are so great they should be served raw, while others can be transformed.

Chef Bruno is based in Singapore. I am hoping that someday he can open up a restaurant in Tokyo.

Tsukiji Wonderland

Tsukiji Wonderland is a documentary on the world’s largest fish market. As Tsukiji Market was scheduled to move to Toyosu on November 7th this year, this movie was a chance for the director to capture the market to share with the world.

The movie currently being shown in Tokyo is only in Japanese with a little bit of English. But, even if you don’t speak Japanese, if you love sushi, seafood, or Tsukiji Market, I highly recommend seeing it. The visuals are beautiful.

Well, the move to Toyosu has been put on hold. A mountain of issues with the new site make this movie all the more precious.

We go to Tsukiji several times a week as we take clients through the market. This movie captures more than I imagined it would. It went back into parts of the market that many will never enter, including the uni auction and the super-freezers housing frozen tuna. I loved seeing where the large blocks of ice are being made. Having seen the large pieces of ice hundreds of time, I never imagined how they are made.

But what really makes this movie special is seeing the interactions between all of the people who make this market work. 19,000 people work at Tsukiji. Another 28,000 come in to buy seafood for restaurants and retail shops.

We see many of the intermediate wholesalers (nakaoroshi), wholesalers, and some of the most famous chefs from top restaurants in Tokyo: Sukiyabashi Jiro, Sushi Sho, Kizushi, Sushi Saito, Daisan Harumi, Mikawa Zezankyo, Ginza Koju, Ishikawa, Higuchi, Ginza Rokusantei, Fugu Ryori Asakusa Miyoshi, as well as foreign chefs Rene Redzepi of Noma and Lionel Beccat of Esquisse. There are seafood retailers, food writers, culinary educators, and Harvard professor Ted Bestor, author of the best book written about Tsukiji in English.

I was moved to tears many times throughout the movie for so many reasons. The most moving part of the movie is the relationships of those interacting at Tsukiji. Even if you don’t speak Japanese, you can see how strong these relationships are.

There are gorgeous displays of sushi and prepared dishes. Viewers can see the many different parts of the market, many that are off limit to visitors. We see the market over 24 hours and over four seasons

I love seeing the intermediate wholesalers interacting with their customers, as well as bidding against each other in the morning auction.

The director has done an outstanding job of capturing and documenting this world famous market. This is a movie that I would like to go back to again and again.

If you love seafood, sushi, Tsukiji, or Japanese food, I hope that you can see this movie. There is no better tribute to the market and those who work and shop there.

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.




Nose-to-Tail at the New York Grill (May 16-23)


The Park Hyatt Tokyo’s New York Grill offers a special menu from May 16-23, 2016. The Nose-to-Tail wagyu event is a five-course event for meat lovers. Chef de Cuisine of the New York Grill and Bar Federico Heinzmann is from Argentina. Federico was saying that Argentines eat about 55 kg of beef a year, compared to only about 5 kg for the Japanese. So, you know you are in good hands with an all-meat tasting course in the hands of an Argentine chef. In Argentina there are 39 million people and 47 million cows.

Federico pointed out that the Japanese are already used to eating every bit and piece of the animal. For example, at a yakitori-ya the menu will include different parts of the chicken, so the concept of a nose-to-tail for the Japanese is not too unusual.

The theme for this year’s event is “Smoked and Cured”, which is woven into each course. Many meats are marinated before cooking and several accompaniments are smoked, adding complexity to the dishes.

I don’t want to reveal too much of the meal, as it is a treat to have the cuisine revealed for you at the dinner. The bits of the cow include the tongue, heart, brisket, flank, and tail. Chef Federico also excels in vegetables, which shines in side dishes like a fermented carrot quinoa risotto. There is a nod to NYC with a pastrami and to Patagonia with an ancient rock salt.

The main course is a flank steak. The Japanese have a saying, “kameba kamu hodo“, the more you chew, the more delicious it is. The Argentines also have a similar philosophy and the two countries meet here in this dish.

The wines for the tasting course is expertly paired with Melville wines from the Santa Rita Hills AVA in Santa Barbara. The cool climate wines are aged in old French barrels, so the grapes can speak for themselves. Refreshing, nice acidity, and very food-friendly chardonnay and pinot noirs for the dinner. As a sommelier, I can confirm that the pairings complement the cuisine.

If you are visiting Tokyo during this time, you are in luck. If you live in this great city, save this meal for a special night out. You are in good hands. Come early and have a cocktail at the New York Bar before your dinner.


New York Grill at the Park Hyatt Tokyo

20,000 JPY (plus tax and service) for five courses, dinner only

May 16-23, 2016

Sumo 101

When I first lived in Japan in the late 80s, there was a great wrestler named Chiyonofuji, nicknamed “The Wolf”. He was very strong and handsome. I became hooked on sumo. We went to Ryogoku to the Kokugikan stadium in Tokyo and watched from the cheap seats in the last row. A decade later I was invited by a friend of mine who had corporate tickets that were in the front section. It was a night and day experience watching up close. It reminded me of seeing opera in New York City. My first time, as a college student, was standing room tickets in the back of the house. After I moved to NYC and had a budget for orchestra seats, it made a world of difference.

Here are some tips for you to enjoy your sumo experience, notably the food side of things.

The sport has gone through ups and downs in popularity, and now it is hard to get tickets. When we go we prefer to sit up front in the masuseki 升席 seats that are down on the floor. However, if you are not comfortable sitting on tatami mat for a few hours, then you should get seats on the second floor.

Go early and watch the sumo wrestlers as they come in. In Tokyo the top wrestlers walk into the stadium usually between 2 and 3 p.m. They are often escorted by lower-ranking wrestlers from the same beya. Fans line up with cameras to watch them come in. You are surprisingly close. You can clap your hands and wish them good luck, “ganbatte kudasai“. Be sure to check out the backs of their kimonos as there may be lovely designs, such as the kabuki mask on Endo’s back in pink above. On the right is Tochinoshin, from Georgia (the country).

When you go into the stadium, be sure to rent the English-language radio so you can have a play-by-play. There is plenty to see in the stadium, so allow for some time to walk around.

Be sure to get a bowl of chanko nabe. In the stadium there is a banquet room that has serves up a bowl of the famous hot pot that sumo wrestlers eat.


Bring your own food and beverages. Many sports venues allow customers to bring in their own food. We love bringing in our own food as that way we don’t waste time standing in line. At the Kokugikan you can even bring in your own beer, sake, or wine. Above are inari zushi, deep-fried tofu that is simmered in a sweet soy broth and stuffed with seasoned rice. If you are in Tokyo on holidays, then just stop by a depachika and pick up a bento and a bottle of saké. Ask for small cups at the department store as they usually have tasting cups on hand. Alternatively, a convenient store will have the essentials, beer, onigiri (stuffed rice balls), and chips.


Watch the wrestlers come on the dohyo. You should be in your seats by 3:45 p.m. (earlier on the final day). This is the only chance you’ll see all of the wrestlers together. At the end of the day, we also like to watch the closing ceremony. One of the wrestlers artistically swings a large bow in a dramatic fashion. The sound of the drums is a sign that the day has come to an end.


Divide your trash into paper and plastic and discard on your way out.

  • The sumo tournament in Tokyo is in January, May, and September.
  • If something unexpected happens, some spectators will throw their zabuton (cushions) towards the dohyo. It doesn’t happen often, so it’s great fun to witness.
  • Many of the top wrestlers are not Japanese. Many are from Mongolia, but other countries include Bulgaria, Georgia, and Egypt.
  • The trains can be very crowded when the day ends. Consider grabbing dinner or a drink near the stadium before jumping on the train.

Park Hyatt Tokyo Kozue’s Tohoku Heroes

Hatsumago Sparkling

Hatsumago Sparkling

Kozue at the Park Hyatt Tokyo is a lovely spot for Japanese cuisine. At lunch if the skies are clear you have a gorgeous view of Mount Fuji. At night the city twinkles below you.

Two years ago Kozue did a special Tohoku menu to show their support for three prefectures that were hit hard by the earthquake and tsunami, Fukshima, Miyagi, and Iwate. This year Kozue is repeating the Tohoku Heroes menu, but moving on to the other three prefectures, Aomori, Akita, and Yamagata.

Chef Kenichiro Ooe is from Yamagata, as is my family, so we share this connection with Tohoku. At a recent dinner at Kozue chef Ooe introduced many products and sake from Tohoku.

Koji Nishizaki, the manager of Kozue, gave lovely commentary on the sake with each course. We started the evening off with a sparkling sake from Hatsumago. Hatsumago is a lovely brewery from Sakata in Yamagata. I sold many bottles of Hatsumago when I worked at Takashimaya. It means the first grandchild. A lovely gift for new grandparents. It is only 10% in alcohol, so light on the palate and refreshing. A great start to any evening.


Hiraizumi Marubi 15, Yamahai Junmai, Akita Miyama-nishiki rice. The yeast that is used for this sake is called Akita kobo #15, where the sake gets its name. Although it is a yamahai sake, it is not too heavy as yamahai can be. A very food friendly sake.


Chef Ooe talked about visiting the Tohoku region to meet the farmers, ranchers, and fishermen behind many of the products that they are using. For example, the watarigani crab used in this starter has a local name of gazami. I love these local colloquialism regarding food. It seems to be especially prevalent with seafood. The crab is  steamed in sake, spinach, myoga, and Tosa-zu jelly. Tosa-zu is a classic tart dressing made with rice vinegar, soy sauce, mirin, and dashi. As a jelly it adds a nice texture to the dish. The Hatsumago sparkling paired well with the Tosa-zu jelly, myoga, and crab. Underneath is some kani-miso, or the offal of the crab, a delicacy and an unexpected and nice surprise. The rich kani-miso was rich and paired well with the Hiraizumi Yamahai Junmai.


Warm Aomori hokkigai appetizer with seri, maitake mushrooms, ginko nuts, and sansho was served with Hakkoda Oroshi Daiginjo. Both the hokkigai clam and sake are from Aomori, so a natural partner. I also love this dish with the accent on both edges of the bowl. Dining at Kozue is also a delight on the eyes. Each time I am here I come across new tableware that capture my attention. The Japanese eat with their eyes and taking in the vessels are part of the pleasure of dining at Kozue.


Owan soup bowl. Check out this lovely lacquer bowl with silver and gold circles. My neighbor at the dinner, a Japanese travel writer, said, “it is September”, like I should know why this bowl is being used this time of year. Of course, the harvest moon. So here you also get an appreciation that chef Ooe selected this bowl for this dish due to the time of year.


The owan soup course is a famous local dish called ichigoni of awabi and uni. I’ve tried it in the past and have never liked it, until now. Chef Ooe’s soup was rich in umami and the seafood was pristine. It didn’t hurt that there was matsutake mushrooms and other vegetables in the soup.


Denshu Tokubetsu Junmai from Aomori, lucky if you can get your hands on this sake. 🙂

PHT Kozue sashimi

Chef Ooe sashimi presentation always has a big impact. How gorgeous is this large katakuchi bowl filled with crushed ice? This is a serving for three guests. Mimmaya bluefin tuna, makogarei, and amaebi. The fresh nori is always a treat. Chef Ooe commented that it is still early in the season and that the tuna was not as fatty as it will be later in the season as the water cools down.


Amanoto made with kuro koji from Akita. This was my favorite of the night. I wonder if it is because of the black koji – as I am a fan of Okinawa awamori spirit, which is also made with kuro koji. It was served with a Hinai jidori chicken from Akita and included a kiritampo rice ball, a classic dish from Akita. It was nice to see it elevated to this level, as it is a dish often made at home. I think this dish that this was presented in was my favorite of the night.

Sadly I had to leave the dinner, unexpectedly, and missed out on the Yamagata Yonezawa wagyu and the Yamagata soba. Dessert was a rice ice cream. I did love being introduced to new sake, a renewed appreciation for Tohoku ingredients, and seeing new vessels. If you go, I highly recommend asking to have Tohoku sake paired with your meal.

The Tohoku Heroes event runs now through November 30th, both lunch and dinner. There will be a special dinner on the evening of November 29th, where some of the producers will be in attendance. For more details:

Chikalicious NY Dough’ssant in Tokyo

Chikalicious Dough'ssant

Chikalicious Dough’ssant

For a limited time, Chikalicious NY dough’ssant is available at Ginza Matsuya. I still have yet to try a Cronut, but today while walking through Ginza Matsuya I saw what I thought was a Cronut. There are a few shops making these in Tokyo. The only one that I have liked until now is The Roastery’s New York Rings in Omotesando. The others are all wanna-bes.

The caramel and almonds dough’ssant is very sweet. To be honest, I think it is too sweet for the Japanese market. I shared this with a friend and half was just the right amount. That being said, I will try to make it back to the shop to try another flavor, like creme brulee or mattcha, before the event ends.

The staff said that these would only be available for a month. Not sure when it will end, so go soon.

Ginza Matsuya – Chikalicious NY

Chuo-ku, Ginza 3-6-1

2015 FoodEx

FoodEx2015 - Kyro

Kyro Distillery from Finland

FoodEx Japan started today and runs through Friday. It is held at Makuhari Messe in Chiba. A few highlights included tasting through Finland’s Kyro Distillery’s portfolio. I had never tried a single malt rye whisky that had not been aged in a barrel yet, the Juuri. Lacking the tannins from the barrel it was brighter than I anticipated. Likewise, I had never tried a gin that had been aged in a barrel, Koskue, which was more complex than most gins. However, the barrel aging was only three months so the toasty notes were light and didn’t overpower the botanicals in the gin.

The Verso rye is aged in small American barrels for six months and is well-balanced. A little spicy and sweet and not too overpowering. The Napue gin (not aged in a barrel) was soft and fragrant. Very approachable and while lovely on its own, I imagine it would be seductive in a martini. The gin is made with 16 botanicals, 12 dried and 4 fresh. The barrels used are made with American oak and are smaller barrels, 32 or 64 liters.

I love the packaging and design and imagine that this brand could do well in Japan. I am told it will be sold at Hasegawa Liquors. I will update this post when I hear where it is sold retail in Tokyo. I met Mikael, Mikko, and Miika at the stand. If you go by, ask for Mi-kun (as all of their names start with Mi-), and tell them Yukari sent you. The distillery is brand new, only ten months’ old. I see the future as very good for them.

Kyro Distillery Company

FoodEx 2015 - Kitayatsu Ham

Kitayatsu Ham from Nagano was another highlight. The cured ham, sausage, and pates were all lovely. The Nagano Antenna Shop has recently opened in Ginza and I am told that their products are sold there, so will look for it there.

Kitayatsu Ham

FoodEx 2015 - konnyaku

These konnyaku chips were great and only have the calories of the seasonings as konnyaku has zero calories. Flavors are pepper, chili pepper, oden, and ume (tart apricot). Okabayashi Shokuhin also had a thin sliced konnyaku that was nice when cooked up with soy sauce.

Okabayashi Shoten

The event hall is huge and there is more than one can see in a day. I wish I had more time to visit the sake, shochu, and other importers. There are some great speakers in the upcoming days including Kumiko Ninomiya Sensei of Ajinomoto, chef Nozaki of Waketokuyama, and chef Kondo of Koenji Sanukiya.

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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.


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.



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?



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.

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.