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.

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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

Tenmatsu Tempura in Nihonbashi

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Spring is my favorite time of year for tempura as sansai, mountain vegetables, are featured at good restaurants serving tempura. At the top of this box is udo (spikenard), which reminds me of a tender and somewhat bitter white asparagus. The other vegetable is renkon (lotus root). 

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Tenmatsu at Nihonbashi bridge, just between Nihonbashi and Mitsukoshi-Mae stations on the Ginza line, has long been a favorite spot of mine. I used to work at Takashimaya which is just a five-minute walk from here and would sometimes come for a solo lunch. The lunch here is a great bargain at under 1,000 JPY for tempura that is made and served to you piece-by-piece as it comes out of the oil. Here you see the chef’s work spot. Some flour that the ingredients are dipped in before being covered with an egg, flour, and water batter before being deep-fried.

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Here is the udo to start off the meal. At home we blanch udo and then dress it with mayonnaise. But tempura is probably the best way to enjoy it.

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This is a special technique when putting in items to the hot oil, to gently toss away from you into the hot oil. Part of the joy of sitting at the counter at a tempura restaurant is listening to the oil as it sputters. A good tempura chef will know when items are ready to be pulled out of the oil by the sound it makes when it is done frying. On the plate is asparagus and shiitake. My friend got two pieces of shrimp for this course.

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Squid and lotus root. I love the chef’s smile. 🙂

In the large round bowl is the chef’s batter mixture. He also uses two different chopsticks. A wooden pair for the flour and batter and then a metal pair for working in the oil.

Tenmatsu is in my book, Food Sake Tokyo. The chef in this photo is the same chef that is in my book. It is quite busy at lunch time so either go early or late. Be sure to request a seat at the counters on the 1st or 2nd floor. The 3rd floor is tables only and you miss out on watching the chef prepare the tempura in front of you. They are open on Sundays and holidays which is good to keep in mind as most shops in this area are closed on these days. The main shop is in Shibuya.

Note that at lunch time there is a vegetable only tempura set lunch.

Tenmatsu

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Muromachi 1-8-2

03-3241-5840

Lunch 11:00 – 14:00 (Sat., Sun., and holidays until 14:30)

Dinner 17:00 – 21:00

Nakameguro Seirinkan – One of the Best Pizzas in Tokyo

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Susumu Kakinuma makes some of Tokyo’s best pizzas in Nakameguro. Alan Richman, the decorated food journalist documents Kakinuma and his pizzas in this timeless GQ magazine article. It is worth the journey across the city to Nakameguro for one of his pies. There are two pizzas, the marinara and the Margherita.

Here is Richman on Seirinkan. “…Kakinuma prepares two kinds of pizza, marinara and Margherita, because that’s what you get at his favorite pizzeria in Naples. (I preferred the marinara, because the tomato sauce and garlic were so vivid.) His crusts are soft, chewy, puffy, slightly charred, and incredibly tender.”

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What Richman doesn’t write about is my second favorite dish at Seirinkan after the pizza, broccoli. Boiled until al dente, then sautéed in a pan with crispy garlic chips and olive oil, this is the perfect partner to the pies. Kakinuma kindly shared the recipe with us on a recent visit and while we have made it a few times at home, it’s never as good as it is here. He also recommends dipping the chewy crust of the pizza in the garlic oil that the broccoli is served with.

Seirinkan is just a few minutes’ walk from Nakameguro station. if you are thirsty after your pizza, Bryan Baird’s Taproom, with some of Japan’s best craft beer, is just around the corner.

Seirinkan

Meguro-ku, Kami-Meguro 2-6-4

03-3714-5160

Rose Bakery

Rose Bakery salad lunch

Rose Bakery salad lunch

*** Note the Kichijoji Rose Bakery has closed. I am so heartbroken.

Kichijoji is a great station to visit that is close to both Shinjuku and Shibuya. It can be reached by the Chuo line from Shinjuku or the Inokashira line from Shibuya. Inokashira Koen is a large park just minutes from the station. It is great for walking around and there is even a small zoo at the park. Kichijoji also has an interesting shoutengai (shopping arcade) that is worth exploring. I list some of my favorite shops at the shoutengai in this Metropolis magazine article.

The salad lunch is a colorful, healthful lunch that is packed with a variety of flavors. There was some chicken and anchovies in this lunch set, but I am sure if I requested 100% vegetarian that the staff would have accommodated my request.

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Rose Bakery Morning Bread Set

But there is a lot to see in the station building, atré. There is a great seafood store, Uoriki, on the first floor, Shinseido bookstore on the 2nd floor, and a Kaldi on the 2nd floor to pick up some imported food products.

The bread is lovely here. A bit dense with a crispy, slightly burnt crust.

Rose Bakery is on the first floor near the concierge stand. It is a perfect place to meet friends or to sit alone and catch up on some reading. Rose Bakery has great salads that are served for breakfast. I have come to love these salads so much that it has changed the way I make salads at home. Almost once a day we’ll make a Rose Bakery inspired salad. As you can see in the photos above the salads are simply vegetables in a vinaigrette, sometimes with curry in the vinaigrette. Many of the salads include sesame or sunflower seeds.

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As you can see, Rose Bakery is brightly lit. Perfect for getting some work done or reading.

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On a recent visit there were live plants hanging from the roof.

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The Rose Bakery cookbook is for sale as well as some tea and other ingredients like sunflower seeds.

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“Each main course is a vegetable dish accompanied by meat.” ROSE

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The colorful salads. Now you can understand how this is very inspiring, not only to eat better, but to try and recreate some of these at home. I have only been to Rose Bakery in Japan, and love the use of local produce for the salads.

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My only complaint is that there was water dripping from the plants onto the papers I was editing at the café.

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There is a selection of sweets as well. Rose Bakery also has take-away if you are in a rush.
Rose Bakery started as a shop in England that also has a branch in Paris. Currently there are three shops in Tokyo, all in great locations. Besides the Kichijoji café the others are in Ginza in the new Dover Street complex as well as in Marunouchi.
Another thing I love about Rose Bakery in Kichijoji is that it opens at 8 a.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. on weekends. While Kichijoji has many great cafés, a lot of them don’t open until 10 or 11 a.m.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 6-9-5, Ginza Komatsu West Wing 7F at Comme des Garcons – Dover Street Market

Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 2-1-1, Meiji Yasuda Seimei Bldg. 1F

Shinjuku Isetan 3F (for sweets and coffee)

Kintame Kyoto Pickles Restaurant 近為

Kintame Bubuchazuke

Kintame Bubuchazuke

One of the great delights of dining in Japan is the cornucopia of restaurants that specialize in one type of cuisine, as in the recent reviews of ramen at Ivan Ramen.

Another unique dining experience is a meal based on pickles. Kintame, a store based in Kyoto, has two restaurants in Tokyo where diners can indulge in a colorful variety of salty, tart, piquant, and sweet pickles.

This type of restaurant is more commonly found in Kyoto, which is renowned for its pickles. So the opportunity to have this in Tokyo is a fun treat.

Pickles find their way to most Japanese meals. At curry shops the fukujinzuke of seven different pickled vegetables often accompanies the dish.

Yakisoba is garnished with bright red pickled ginger, benishouga. Sushi is served with thin sliced ginger, gari, as a palate cleanser between bites.

What makes Kintame worth the trip? It is the opportunity to try so many different pickles at the same time. There are a variety of pickling methods that include salt (shiozuke), vinegar (suzuke), miso (misozuke), soy sauce (shouyuzuke), and nuka (nukazuke).

Regionality also plays a role. Narazuke, or pickles originating from Nara, are melons and gourds that have been pickled for two to three years in sake lees (sake kasu) and are quite heady. Kyozuke, the pickles from Kyoto, are often delicate and refreshing.

Kintame’s most central location is at Daimaru department store’s restaurant floor (12th floor) at Tokyo station’s Yaesu exit.

The menu is limited, and the suggested dish to order is the bubuchazuke. Select a fish that is marinated in miso or sake lees; it is then grilled and will accompany an impressive variety of pickles, usually over a dozen.

The meal ends with ochazuke (rice with green tea). Come on an empty stomach and delight as you nibble your way through seasonal vegetables that may include eggplant, daikon, cucumber, bamboo shoots, gourd, melon, radish, and ginger, just to name a few.

If there are any in particular that you like, be sure to ask your server who will write down the name. On your way out of the restaurant prepackaged pickles are sold to take home.

Kintame is good for groups but is also great for the solo diner looking to have a nourishing, contemplative meal.

The Monzennakacho location is very popular on weekends and there is usually a line. Also, the schedule changes depending on if there is a holiday, so it is best to call ahead if you are making a special trip.

A meal at Kintame is one that you will remember for a long time. And, if you are lucky, you may be introduced to some new pickles to incorporate into your meals at home.

Kintame at Daimaru
1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku,
tel: 03-6895-2887
www.kintame.co.jp

This article first appeared in the American Chamber of Commerce Journal:

http://accjjournal.com/kintame/

My personal favorite location of Kintame in Tokyo is at Monzennakacho.

Koto-ku, Tomioka 1-14-3

03-3641-4561