Meruhenk Sandwiches

Japanese sandwiches are my go-to meal when I am on the run, even before onigiri rice balls. Meruhen is my favorite sandwich shop and if I am not near one, then some of the convenience stores like 7-11, Lawson, or Family Mart, also has great sandwiches.

The sandwiches are built on crustless pain de mie (white bread). Savory fillings can be egg salad, tonkatsu, ham and cheese, kabocha with mayonnaise, and more. The sweet sandwiches are fresh fruit with whipped cream, which I have a hard time swallowing. My favorite is the simple julienned carrots with a bit of mayonnaise, but you have to go early. It’s popular and is often sold out by the time I get there. The sandwiches are in the 300 JPY range.

Meruhenk branches in popular areas (there are many more):

Tokyo Station eCute 1st floor (inside the station) – with limited seating in the area.

Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi

Shinjuku Takashimaya, Shinjuku Odakyu

Ginza Matsuya

Daimaru Tokyo Station

and many more!

http://www.meruhenk.co.jp/shop/index.html

Point et Ligne

In the basement of the Shin Marunouchi building is a Japanese bakery, Point et Ligne, with a retail shop and a cramped café space in the back. The bread is not traditional French, but made for the Japanese market. The breads are soft and made with butter. The crusts are not crispy and the crumb is chewy. I am not a big fan of this style as I prefer shops like Viron, Gontran Cherrier, and Maison Kayser.

The setting is very dramatic. Dark walls and the retail shop is enticing. But things digress as the walk to the café is through a narrow walkway that overlooks an unorganized kitchen.

The lunch set (about 1,500 JPY) starts out with a sample of five breads. My favorite in today’s mix was the walnut bread. A palate of six dipping sauces is dropped on the table and the server points out the Japanese menu on the side describing the flavors. Four are savory, like EVOO and tapenade and the sweets were salted caramel and Canadian maple syrup.

Diners pick a main course. I went with the pâté de campagne which was under seasoned (maybe made for the Japanese palate?…) and a poorly dressed salad. The dressing was fine, but it was just poured over the leaves, not massaged or tossed, which would make a world of a difference.

Most disappointing was the service. We are so spoiled with great service in Japan, when you come upon a restaurant that isn’t on top of things, you notice it right away.

Point et Ligne

Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 1-5-1, Shin Marunouchi Bldg. B1

http://www.point-et-ligne.com/

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

 

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/

Tokyo Station Ekiben

Getting a bento 弁当 and riding on one of the express trains from Tokyo station is a ritual that is comes with traveling in Japan. Even on a short ride, like the hour ride to Narita on the Narita Express, we take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy a bento. Above are some bentos that we recently purchased for the Narita Express.

The bento on the top right included many delicacies from the sea like asari clams, ikura salmon roe, and simmered anago sea eel. The bottom right bento is made with 50 different ingredients. It was fun to follow the menu and check off each item.

IMG_2459

Our five-year old loves the shinkansen bento, which come in a variety, based on actual running shinkansen 新幹線. The bento boxes themselves are quite sturdy so we wash them and reuse them at home. The shinkansen bento are about 1,200 – 1,300 JPY and are filled with kid-friendly bites like kara-age chicken, sausage, and fruit jelly. I am reminded by Twitter friends that adults also enjoy this bento.

The above bentos were all purchased at Bentoya Matsuri 弁当屋祭, a bento shop inside of Tokyo Station. As it is in the station, you will need to purchase a ticket to access the shop. If you are traveling from Tokyo Station to another destination, then you will have access to the shop. If you are already near Tokyo Station and just want to come in to see the shop, then yes, you will need to purchase a ticket to enter the station. It is at Tokyo Station Central Street, between the stairs leading to platforms 5/6 and 7/8. Matsuri sells over 170 different ekiben 駅弁. Ekiben are bento sold at different eki (stations) throughout Japan. It’s a popular shop and usually very busy. On the wall of the shop is a sample of the different bento for sale, which are brought in from all over Japan.

*Note, the Matsuri website says that it is open from 5:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

For beverages we like to go to Hasegawa Saketen which inside Tokyo Station in the basement in an area called GranSta. There is also a counter for drinking saké if you have the luxury of time on your hands.

Hasegawa Saketen sells full bottles of sake, shochu, umeshu, and wine. For drinks for the train, look to the far left of the shop where there is a big selection of tea, beer, and smaller servings of sake, beer, and shochu.

If you are riding at a time that is between meals and don’t need a full bento, Hasegawa Saketen sells small bites and saké-friendly snacks.

*Note, the Hasegawa Saketen website says that it is open from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (Monday – Saturday) and 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Other good places to pick up bento are throughout Tokyo Station, including in the depachika-like area across the aisle from Hasegawa Saketen, GranSta. Daimaru department store is also next to Tokyo Station and has the biggest selection of bento. If you have time, then come here, and allow yourself time to carefully peruse the options.

* The GranSta website says that it is open from 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. (Monday – Saturday and holidays -except for the last day of a string of holidays). 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Sunday and last day of a string of holidays.

* Daimaru website says it is open from 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. on weekdays. 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

Once you are on the train, wait for it to depart the station before drinking and eating. It’s part of the ritual. 🙂

When you are done eating, the trains have trash cans for bento and for your drinks.

Enjoy partaking in this fun eating and drinking part of traveling in Japan.

 

 

 

Kyobashi Domenica Soup Curry

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Hokkaido’s soup curry is a great change-up on the regular Japanese curry. I remember the first time a girlfriend served this to me. I thought she had messed up the recipe as the curry was so watery, but she explained to me that this is what soup curry is. Once I got over the mind shift that I should not compare this to the thick Japanese curry we are most familiar with, I could enjoy it for what it is.

Domenica, a soup curry shop in Sapporo, has a branch in Kyobashi, just between Ginza and Tokyo Station. The Special Vegetable Curry (Tokusen Yasai Curry 特選野菜カレー) comes with a dozen vegetables and half of a boiled egg. The vegetables are about 300 grams, and in Japan it is said that 350 grams is what your body needs daily, so pretty good for one bowl. The vegetables here are deep-fried and then put into the soup curry. It was a colorful selection including kabocha squash, carrot, young corn, and much more. Chicken can be added to the soup curry.

There are four soups to choose from:

original – kombu, Japanese-style dashi, chicken and pork

tonkotsu – thick pork

tomato – tomato

tonyu soup – soymilk

The original was a nice combination of meat and seafood. When picking your spiciness you tell them a number from 1 to 10. I think I did four and it had a nice heat, but not unbearable.

I asked if the soups were vegetarian and was told that it wasn’t. Sadly, this wouldn’t be good for strict vegetarians, but a good place for those craving vegetables.

Domenica

Chuo-ku, Kyobashi 3-4-1, TM Ginza Bldg. 2F

中央区京橋3-4-1TM銀座ビル2F

www.s-curry-dominica.com/

There is also a branch near Tokyo Station’s Yaesu exit.

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 2-2-21, Nihonbashi 2-Chome Bldg. B1

中央区日本橋2-2-21日本橋2丁目ビルB1F

72 Seasons – guest post by Janice Espa

Tokyo is enthralling.

If like me, you can’t get enough of this city, then you’re probably on the go from early in the morning.

Tokyo dining, though delicious, can leave you dumbfounded. Dinner plans, which many times require a reservation, are easier to plan around than deciding what to have for lunch when caught in the midst of exploring the city.

When this happens, and lunchtime pangs spring up, unsolicited, a really great option is 72 Seasons. Shichi Jyu Ni Kou – a Japanese restaurant specialized in both kaiseki and teppanyaki cuisine – is in the basement of the Tokyo Station Hotel. It is a midday dining haven.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m equally as happy grabbing a snack or five from the smorgasbord available at department store food halls (depachika), or to eat the donburi of the day while sitting on a counter, or graze on a set of mixed yakitori skewers while standing. However, when your legs can’t take it anymore and you long for a bit of serenity, places like Shichi Jyu Ni Kou are an oasis. Serene, secluded, delicious, and right in the heart of the city’s movement.

I sat in the restaurant’s kaiseki section and opted for the bento box of the daily. I felt it not only offered the most variety, but also, seasonality and a well-balanced portion for lunch. There’s an introductory teishoku menu which features a grilled fish of the day, a more extensive “kaiseki in lighter style”, and several a la carte options to add to the set lunch meals.

The amuse bouche was a spinach ohitashi, with the works: edible flowers, shaved katsuo sprinkles, and ikura. Splendid. Followed by a lacquer box filled with steamed mussels, nimono stewed vegetables, an assortment of tempura, and a few pieces of sashimi.

The hassun, artfully plated, had grilled tai (snapper), a piece of tamagoyaki – my favourite addition to any plate, one piece of oshizushi (pressed sushi), a portion of sweet and savoury chestnut paste, cubes of sweet potato, and stewed burdock.

All of those flavours along with miso soup, steamed rice, and roasted tea for 3800 JPY. I was delighted.

To finish the meal, a different tea was served with a choice of dessert: fruit or kokuto purin (Okinawan black sugar pudding). I had the latter, which was caramelized on top like a cold crème brulee, wonderful, just wonderful.

The full menu is not available in English, though a general description of it is. Front of the house service is courteous, and the waitresses, beautifully dressed in kimonos, are helpful and accommodating.

There is a second location of Shichi Jyu Ni Kou, in Roppongi. However, if you’re in central Tokyo, and want an hour of serenity before continuing your sightseer trail, I strongly recommend paying this restaurant a visit.

Shichi Jyu Ni Kou
The Tokyo Station Hotel B1F,
1-9-1, Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan
100-0005
Tel +81-(0)3-6269-9401

 

Open Daily
Lunch 11:00a.m.~ 3:00p.m.(Last Order 2:00p.m.)
Dinner 5:00p.m.~11:00p.m.(Last Order 9:30p.m.)
http://www.72kou.jp/marunouchi/english.html

Janice Espa photo

Janice Espa

Janice Espa is a Spanish-Peruvian food enthusiast; an avid traveller and inquisitive taster who explores culture through cuisine.  Janice lives in San Francisco where she writes and styles food. Her days are spent visiting grower’s markets, checking out restaurants, and shopping at specialty stores to discover goods from every corner of the world.

Feel free to email suggestions and travel tips, or to contact Janice for her own recommendations, whether you’re visiting Peru, trekking South America or doing a road trip along the east coast of Australia.

Tokyo Station Sushi Sei

Sushi Sei salmon and ikura

Sushi Sei salmon and ikura

Sushi Sei is a popular sushi shop at Tsukiji Market that has a branch inside of Tokyo Station. There is often a line of salarymen outside of the shop before it opens at 7 a.m. The breakfast options include sashimi or donburi (sashimi over a large bowl of rice). There are also two versions of ochazuke. Ochazuke is a bowl of rice with toppings such as seafood or pickles that is then drenched with tea or a mix of dashi and tea. Sushi Sei has sea bream in a creamy sesame dressing or salmon belly with ikura. Above is the salmon and ikura set as it is presented.

Sushi Sei ochazuke

Sushi Sei ochazuke

The diner assembles the toppings to the rice and then pours the savory tea broth over the bowl. This breakfast is only 670 JPY. At current exchange rates I think it is about $5 USD. It is garnished with mizuna greens and arare, colorful rice crackers.

There are seats at the sushi counter, but this early in the morning the counter is not filled with seafood yet. It was busy recently on a weekday morning, and I was happy to see that most of the customers were ordering the ochazuke. It is a popular comfort food dish. I usually drink it as a last dish at an izakaya after a night out of drinking, but it is also an excellent way to start the day.

Sushi Sei first opened 120 years ago, in the original fish market, before it moved to Tsukiji.

Tsukiji Sushi Sei 築地寿司清

Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 1-9-1, Tokyo Station GranSta Dining 1st Floor

www.tsukijisushisay.co.jp/store/tokyo.html

Tokyo Station Yaesu Hatsufuji やえす初藤

Traditional Japanese Breakfast at Tokyo Station

Traditional Japanese Breakfast at Tokyo Station

The Yaechika mall in the basement of Tokyo Station is busy during the day, but at seven in the morning it is eerily quiet. The exit out of Tokyo Station’s basement into the Yaechika mall was closed until 7 a.m. When the gates were rolled open I followed some salarymen who were walking in the same direction and came across Yaesu Hatsufuji. I was surprised to see that minutes after opening, the shop was already starting to fill up.

I joined the line in front of the vending machine and picked a very traditional breakfast of salted and grilled salmon, pickles, simmered daikon and carrots, miso soup, seasoned nori, and rice. Service is quick and efficient and most diners here do not linger. This big breakfast is cheaper than McDonald’s, costing only 570 JPY. So cheap that I splurged and added a bowl of nattō, fermented soybeans.

Diners are asked to share tables. Most of the customers were male and the few women were escorted into booths.

Other main dish options include meat and tofu (nikudōfu), pork miso soup (tonjiru), ginger pork (shōgayaki), and some egg dishes.

I will be back. This is my new breakfast spot near Tokyo Station.

Yaesu Hatsufuji やえす初藤

Chuo-ku, Yaesu 2-1, Yaesu Chika Kita #1

中央区八重洲2−1八重洲地下北1号

http://www.hatsufuji.com/yaesu/index.html

Vegetarian Ramen in Tokyo Station – T’s Tan Tan Restaurant

ramen - vegetarian T's at Tokyo Station

Tokyo Station Vegetarian Ramen at T’s Tan Tan Restaurant

I have a new friend in town who is a vegetarian. A while back when we got together for lunch I told her I would love to find a spot that we could have for lunch near her office. It was so frustrating to find someplace that was 100% vegetarian. While Japan has a rich variety of vegetables, many times it is cooked in a dashi broth which is usually made with kombu (kelp, a type of sea vegetable) and katsuobushi (smoked skipjack tuna flakes). I spent a long time searching and finally told her I couldn’t find anything that looked appetizing. There were a few places, but the cuisine just didn’t look appealing.

Now I understand the frustrations that vegetarians go through when visiting Tokyo.

Which is why I was so excited to happen upon a vegetarian restaurant inside of Tokyo Station that serves ramen along with many other dishes. The sign outside said no meat, no fish, no egg, no milk. But the photos of the ramen looked appealing. I sat down and confirmed with my waitress and she said it is 100% vegetarian. I ordered T’s tantan men, which seems to be a signature dish.

The noodles were skinny and straight, as I like them. The broth was rich in miso but also full of umami. I added some of the condiment of red chili peppers and sesame seeds, although the broth on its own was a bit spicy.

ramen - vegetarian T's interior

T’s Tan Tan Restaurant in Tokyo Station

The location is inside of Tokyo Station on the first floor in a section called Keio Street. It opens at 7 a.m., which is when I went. After opening the shop the store filled up with a half-dozen diners. I will be back to try the vegetable curry which also looks good, but is not served at breakfast. The shop is brightly lit and the menu is filled with photos of the dishes, so ordering is easy for non-Japanese speakers.

T’s Restaurant

Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 1-9-1, Keio Street 1st floor (inside Tokyo Station closest to the Yaesu Minami South Exit)

http://ts-restaurant.jp/english/

 

The main shop is in Jiyugaoka at Meguyo-ku, Jiyugaoka 2-9-6, Luz Jiyugaoka B1

〒152-0035東京都目黒区自由が丘2-9-6Luz自由が丘 B1F