Le Pain de Joel Robuchon

One of my favorite bakeries in Tokyo is from the famous chef Joel Robuchon, for savory breads made with excellent ingredients. Le Pain de Joel Robuchon has recently opened near Shinjuku station in the NEWoMaN mall. Imagine one of France’s top chefs creating breads and sweets using French and Japanese ingredients? I love the l’Atelier de Joel Robuchon restaurant, but don’t often have the time to sit through a meal, so the boulangerie is a alternative to get my Robuchon fix.

On the left above is a foie gras toast topped with apple and pink peppercorns croque monsieur, the right is my favorite, a cheesy potato bread with lardons. Crispy cheese bits contrasted with potato bites and meaty bacon. How many shops do you know serving foie gras croque monsieur?

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Joel Robuchon mushrooms and walnuts

Seasonal breads like this bread with maitake, shimeji, and eringi mushrooms with walnuts change throughout the year. All of the above breads are best reheated in a toaster oven. The green olive fougasse never made it home, it was too hard to resist, and I highly recommend it.

The Roppongi Hills shop has no seating area, but the Shinjuku shop does have a small café seating area by the bakery. There is also a retail shop in the Shibuya Hikarie B2 depachika.

Le Pain de Joel Robuchon

Roppongi Hills, Shinjuku NEWoMaN, Shibuya Hikarie

http://www.robuchon.jp/en

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Grand Hyatt Tokyo – Shunbou

Shunbou is the Japanese restaurant at the Grand Hyatt in Roppongi. The Grand Hyatt has several Japanese restaurants including Roku Roku for sushi and Keyakizaka for teppanyaki. Shunbou features seasonal kaiseki dishes as well as comfort food like curry udon. It is kid-friendly and a great option in the Roppongi area.

Entering the restaurant seasonal produce is displayed, as are large earthenware serving dishes. The main dining room is in granite and there is an inner garden behind windows that opens up to the sky, bringing in sunlight, or on this day, rain sprinkling on the rocks and tree.

I joined a friend for lunch here and ordered the shun-sai lunch box (5,300 JPY). The presentation is gorgeous as lunch comes in a wooden box with three tiers. The appetizer for the autumn lunch is a chrysanthemum tofu topped with chrysanthemum petals.

The first tier was composed of tuna sashimi, yuba (soy milk skin), mozuku (a slippery sea vegetable), and grilled sanma (Pacific saury).

The second tier included crab cream croquette and grilled salmon.

Grilled Iberico pork, unohana (tofu lees with vegetables), and boiled vegetables completed the third tier.

Separately takikomigohan of vegetables cooked with rice, grilled eggplant miso soup, and pickles round out the lunch. Dessert is a petit kuri chestnut wagashi, not too sweet. It was a perfect mini-kaiseki including all of the components and was a great way to sense the seasons.

Executive sous chef, Takuya Nezasa, was with Nadaman for thirteen years before coming to Shunbou. Nadaman for Tokyoites is a revered establishment with a 185-year history. Some department stores will have a branch of Nadaman in the depachika so that customers can buy seasonal and traditional dishes. Shunbou is kappō-style so you can see some of the chefs in the open kitchen cooking.

The sake list has many offerings by-the-glass, including seasonal hiyaoroshi from Nagano Masumi brewery, perfect with the ingredients available this time of year.

The dishware is also lovely. Many had lovely textures, like the teacup, calling out to be held. The meal is also a pleasure for the eyes.

Lunch starts at 1,900 JPY for curry udon or soba with rice. We got a small bite of the curry and it’s a light curry and not too spicy. The menu is vast and offers something for everyone. The menu is in English and of course staff speak English, so Shunbou is also a good option for some who may have reservations going to traditional Japanese restaurants with an English speaker.

Menu:

http://restaurants.tokyo.grand.hyatt.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/pdf/shunbou_menu.pdf

Grand Hyatt Tokyo – 6th floor

Minato-ku, Roppongi 6-10-3 港区六本木6-10-3

Map:

http://restaurants.tokyo.grand.hyatt.com/access.html

What to Eat in Tokyo Now

 

Tokyo summers are hot, humid, and in my opinion, horrible. I don’t know about you, but my appetite wanes and some days it can be hard to get motivated to eat. Here are some things that I look forward to eating this time of year. In this list I am including some dishes or restaurants I haven’t been to, but are on my radar for the summer. If you make it to any of these, please reply to this blogpost, I’d love to hear your impressions.

Dominique Ansel’s Sweet Corn Ice Cream http://www.foodandwine.com/blogs/corn-ice-cream-grilled-corn-cob-tokyos-newest-dessert We love this shop so much it is where we came to celebrate my birthday. There is a second floor café with great savory dishes like avocado toast and chicken pot pie. This summer’s sweet corn ice cream looks amazing. (Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 5-7-14 渋谷区神宮前5-7-14)

Kakigori shaved ice brings me back to my first visits to Japan from Minnesota. My favorite was the miruku (milk) topping, which is actually sweetened condensed milk. Other great toppings include green tea and red bean paste.

sapporoya-hiyashi-chuka

Nihonbashi Sapporoya Chilled Ramen with Sesame Dressing

Chilled Ramen at Nihonbashi Sapporoya. This is my favorite bowl of ramen in the summer. If you’ve never had cold ramen, let this be your first.  https://foodsaketokyo.com/2013/10/13/nihonbashi-sapporoya/

Baird Beer Taproom in Takadanobaba. I haven’t been, but this is on my summer Go List. Nothing better to cool down with than cold beer. This is my favorite craft beer in Japan, and this new shop’s menu includes kushiage (meat and vegetables that are skewered, dusted with panko, and deep-fried). See you there. http://bairdbeer.com/en/tap/takadanobaba.html

kintame-bubuchazuke

Kintame Bubuchazuke

A meal of Japanese pickles is cooling and refreshing. My favorite pickle shop is Monzennakacho’s Kintame. https://foodsaketokyo.com/2011/06/30/kintame/

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Tsukishima Monjayaki

One crazy food I crave in the summer is monjayaki, Tokyo’s version of a savory pancake that is cooked over a hot iron grill. Sitting at the table is hot, and a good excuse to drink ice cold beer. Tsukishima is a neighborhood that has a street lined with monjayaki shops. Best to go at night as the area comes to life. Most shops are closed at lunch, but a few are open, if this is your only time to come. https://foodsaketokyo.com/2011/07/06/monjayaki-okame-hyottoko-ten/

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Summer Saké

Cooling down with saké in the summer is more interesting when drinking summer saké. Saké made for drinking in the summer tends to be a little lower in alcohol, sometimes frizzante, and often bottled in light blue or clear bottles. Ask for natsu sake at your retail shop or when dining out.

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Kagurazaka Meisyan Tan Tan Men

Spicy and hot tan tan men noodles are also on my mind this time of year. Eating this dish I usually work up a sweat, which somehow seems to cool me down a bit. It’s also a good excuse to have a cold beer. This bowl is from Meisyan 梅香 in Kagurazaka, with a female chef in the kitchen (woo-hoo!). Shinjuku-ku, Yokoteramachi 37-39, Nakajima Daiichi Bldg. 新宿区横寺町37-39中島第一ビル

On this same theme, I also love having curry in the summer. Here is a list of some curries in Tokyo worth seeking out. https://foodsaketokyo.com/category/curry/

tsurutontan-tomato-udon

Tsurutontan Tomato Udon

Finally, cold noodles, soba, udon, or somen. Pop into any noodle shop and seek out the cold noodles. In particular, I am a huge fan of the seasonal udon menu at Tsurutontan, with branches throughout the city and at Haneda airport.  https://foodsaketokyo.com/2014/08/12/roppongi-tsurutontan-udon/

 

 

 

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

 

Akasaka Tsutsui Yoshoku 赤坂津つ井

Katsu Fry

Katsu Fry

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.

Hamba-gu

Hamba-gu

 

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.

Tsutsui 津つ井

Minato-ku, Akasaka 2-22-24 港区赤坂2-22-24

www.akasakatsutsui.com/access.html

Maison Landemaine

Landemaine croissant

Landemaine croissant

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.

Maison Landemaine

Maison Landemaine

There is a nice selection of breads that I will be back for. It’s a long walk from the closest subway station, which I believe is Roppongi. I hope that they expand, quickly. 🙂

Maison Landemaine

Minato-ku, Azabudai 3-1-5 港区麻布台3-1-5

www.maisonlandemaine.com/en/shops

Taco Rico

Taco Rico

Taco Rico

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.

Taco Rico

Minato-ku, Akasaka 1-12-32, Ark Mori Bldg. 2F

www.tacorico.jp/

Fermintxo Boca

Fermintxo Boca Pasta Paella

Fermintxo Boca Pasta Paella

Fermintxo Boca is a lovely Spanish spot hidden behind the escalators on the first floor of the Ark Hills South Tower. Lunch, which includes an appetizer plate, main dish, and coffee, is a bargain starting at 1,200 JPY. The pasta paella at lunch is made with splinters of angel hair pasta cooked in a rich seafood broth studded with scallops, squid, and shellfish. The aroma of the ocean filled the table when the large dish was set down.

fermintxo boca steak

Fermintxo Boca Steak

The steak is seared on the outside and red on the inside, perfectly paired with meaty mushrooms. The restaurant is usually full at the peak noon lunchtime, so go early or late. It’s casual here and at this lunch it was filled with ladies, so lots of chatting. Staff are friendly and welcoming. Fermintxo Boca is also getting a lot of press lately for its sandwiches, so I will be back. This is a great spot for lunch. It’s a small restaurant, and fills up quickly. There is a counter overlooking the open kitchen, great for solo diners. Fermintxo Boca offers a great value at lunch.

Fermintxo Boca

Minato-ku, Roppongi 1-4-5, Ark Hills South Tower 1st Floor

Ruby Jack’s Steakhouse

Ruby Jack's Tomato Salad

Ruby Jack’s Tomato Salad

Ruby and Jack are chef Matthew Crabbe’s grandparents name. Ruby Jack’s Steakhouse is a great spot in the Ark Hills South Tower building. High ceilings, outdoor seating if you want on a spacious terrace. The interior feels very upscale with the white tablecloths, but it’s very friendly and without any attitude. Here is a tomato and blue cheese salad.

Ruby Jack's Caesar Salad

Ruby Jack’s Caesar Salad

The Caesar salad is covered with a generous amount of cheese, which is a treat in Japan.

Ruby Jack's Pork

Ruby Jack’s Pork

While it is a steakhouse, I couldn’t resist the Japanese pork. A meaty portion that was just right for lunch.

Ruby Jack's burger

Ruby Jack’s Burger

I had such a great meal that I went back right away as I wanted to try the burger and fries. It’s a messy burger, as they should be, and with a barbecue sauce. All of the lunch sets come with an appetizer and coffee or tea. Here is my review of Ruby Jack’s for Metropolis magazine.

The wine list is rich and there are several selections under 10,000 JPY. At lunchtime the restaurant is kid-friendly and there is even a kid’s menu. Don’t bother coming if you are a vegetarian, or you may leave hungry.

My only advice is to allow yourself some time to get lost in this area. There are many buildings in the Ark Hills complex and I have been lost here several times.

Ruby Jack’s Steakhouse

Minato-ku, Roppongi 1-4-5, Ark Hills South Tower 2F

rubyjacks.jp

 

Roppongi Butagumi Shokudō 六本木豚組食堂

Roppongi Butagumi

Butagumi Tonkatsu

Butagumi Shokudō is located in the basement of the Roppongi Hills North Tower. There are about a dozen counter seats and several tables in back at this popular tonkatsu spot. Take-away bento and tonkatsu sandwiches are also available, but the best tonkatsu is eaten right away as it comes out of the deep-fryer. At the counter you can watch as a chef trims away fat from big slabs of pork. The frying is done in the back of the house.

One of the pork used at Butagumi is the Tsubaki Sangenton (椿三元豚) from Chiba. It is a tender, light pork. The aka (dark red) miso soup comes with slippery nameko mushrooms. The salad can be topped with a refreshing yuzu ginger dressing.

The main branch, Butagumi, is in Nishi-Azabu and has a long list of pork to choose from. Consider Butagumi Shokudō (dining hall) the café branch of the honten for an abbreviated menu and a quick meal. The music on a recent day was hits from the 80s from Bruce Springstein and Michael Jackson, which made the meal all the more comfortable.

Butagumi Shokudō 豚組食堂

Minato-ku, Roppongi 6-2-31, Roppongi Hills North Tower B1

港区六本木6-2-31、六本木ヒルズノースタワーB1

https://www.facebook.com/butagumi.shokudo