Mugi to Olive Clam Ramen at Manseibashi

Mugi to Olive Clam Ramen

Mugi to Olive Clam Ramen

Mugi to Olive has been on my ramen radar for a while. The chef behind the restaurant is trained in French cuisine. Ramen bloggers and Japanese media, both print and television, rave about the clam soup ramen. But it jumped to the top of my list after seeing it mentioned in this great piece in the New York Times by Ingrid Williams:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/18/travel/what-to-do-in-36-hours-in-eastern-tokyo.html

The hamaguri (common Orient clams) are from Kuwana in Mie prefecture. A region famous for its hamaguri. The Daisen chicken is from Tottori prefecture. The base to this bowl of ramen starts with excellent ingredients. The thin, straight noodles are made from domestic flour and are al dente. The toppings include a generous portion of refreshing mitsuba (trefoil) greens, and Daisen chicken. The yamaimo (mountain potato) and naruto (fish cake) is deep-fried in olive oil. On top of that, a half-dozen hamaguri clams. The tare is made from soy sauce and chicken fat. On the table is a jar of shallot oil which added even more umami to the bowl.

The article mentions the branch in Ginza but we went to the Manseibashi store. When we left the shop was mostly women. The Manseibashi area is fun to visit as there are some great shops. Manseibashi is an old station in Tokyo that is no longer being used. The shops are under the tracks of the Chuo line.

The bowl is full of umami and has a rich flavor of clams. It is obviously made by a trained chef using good ingredients. It also has a Bib Gourmand recommendation from the Michelin Guide.

Mugi to Olive

Chiyoda-ku, Kanda-Sudacho 1-25-4, Maach ecute Kanda Manseibashi S10

千代田区神田須田町1-25-4

http://www.maach-ecute.jp/shop.html

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Nakameguro Onigily Cafe

Onigiri and Annin Dofu

Onigiri and Annin Dofu

The Nakameguro area is filled with many great restaurants, including my favorite pizzeria, Seirinkan. Just a short walk from Nakameguro station is Onigily Cafe. Onigiri is perhaps the quintessential comfort food in Japan. Rice stuffed with a savory filling that is often wrapped with nori. I almost didn’t go in as the spelling of onigiri with an l just seemed so wrong, but it was hot and I needed to take a break. From outside I could see the handmade onigiri and they looked to good to resist.

Onigily Cafe interior

Onigily Cafe interior

The interior is also inviting as it is brightly lit and there are a handful of tables and a counter at the window. I had the mentaiko and takana, a great combination of spicy pollack roe with pickled greens. The annin dōfu was the best I have had in Tokyo. I will go back just for the almond custard.

Onigily Cafe Take-Away

Onigily Cafe Take-Away

I was surprised that the onigiri that I was served had just a small piece of nori. But forgot all about that when I bit in. The rice was still warm and was lightly pressed, it was like a pillow.

This is a great spot for vegetarians as there is a good selection of vegetable-only onigiri including yukari (salted red shiso) natto, leek miso with shiso, kombu, umeboshi, soft-boiled egg, and salt. There is also a selection of vegetable side dishes including potato salad, tomato salad, pickled cucumbers, and turnips with kombu.

It was not surprising that there were many people coming for take-away. The prices range from 100 – 200 JPY with most averaging about 155 JPY, which is about the same as you would pay at a convenience store. But these are just so much better.

Onigily Cafe

Meguro-ku, Nakameguro 3-1-4 目黒区中目黒3-1-4

www.onigily.com/

Food Trends – Shio Pan

Vie de France Shio Pan

Vie de France Shio Pan

As it looks like rainy season has come to an end and summer is officially here it has suddenly become hot. Temperatures soared overnight and for this Minnesotan, the heat is unbearable. Increased salt intake is recommended for heat exhaustion or for acclimating to the heat. A baker in Ehime prefecture came up with this concept which is now spreading throughout the country. He adds a bit of butter to the insider of the dough and then sprinkles the outer part with salt. It becomes a mini meal for those who have to eat on the run. Shio means salt and pan is for bread, simply salty bread.

The shio pan from Vie de France is my favorite so far. The inside opens up like a balloon so the outside is slightly crunchy and the inside is slightly chewy. The butter brings it all together. This is only 100 JPY. It can be eaten just as it is as a snack. I think it would also be nice sliced in half and stuffed with ice cream or sorbet.

Pompadour Shio Pan

Pompadour Shio Pan

Pompadour’s version is much more dense. I much prefer the airy version from Vie de France. Pompadour’s is better suited for making into a sandwich, perhaps stuffed with tuna or ham and cheese.

Vie de France and Pompadour are popular chains with branches throughout the city. Ask at your local bakery as many shops are now jumping on the bandwagon. Please let me know if you come across a good one. I’d travel across the city to try one.

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/

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

Shibuya Murgi Curry 印度料理ムルギー

Murgi Curry

Murgi Tamago-Iri Curry

Murugi has been on my Go List for about twenty-five years now. Famous for its curry, and the unusual presentation of the tall rice behind the curry. The popular dish is the tamago-iri curry, curry with a hard-boiled egg (1,050 JPY). It is served with a small portion of a fruit paste, to be mixed into the curry to add sweetness. There are no chunks of vegetables in the curry, just a thick black curry with a strong flavor of ginger. I believe the meat is ground chicken, but it is hard to tell. The curry is served with two jars of pickles, red ginger and yellow daikon, both are a nice accent to the curry. The curry is not that spicy and diners can ask for it to be made hotter for a small charge.

Murgi exterior

Murgi exterior

Opened in 1951, the shop is nestled amongst the Love Hotels of Dogenzaka. The brick exterior of the door surrounds the sign which uses the kanji for India, 印度, instead of katakana which we see more often these days, インド (both pronounced Indo). The shop opened in 1951 and is included on many round-ups of curry restaurants in Tokyo. The interior is dim and dark wood fills much of the shop. The diners are a mix of young and old. Next to me is a table of salarymen, also first-timers, and like me excited to finally have made it to a shop that they have heard so much of.

A CD player to the side of the room with CDs lined up against the wall provide the music. Today it is Lionel Ritchie, a nod back to about 30 years ago, when Murugi was first put on my radar. I am glad I finally made it, and look forward to going back.

Murugi 印度料理ムルギー

Shibuya-ku, Dogenzaka 2-19-2

渋谷区道玄坂2-19-2

Saturday – Thursday; 11:30 – 15:00 (lunch only)

closed Fridays

Tsukiji Toritoh

Toritoh Mizutaki

Toritoh Mizutaki

Over the winter break it was announced that Tsukiji Inner Market (Tsukiji Jonai) will be moving to its new home in November of 2016. We have been very busy with our Food Sake Tokyo tours as customers are wanting to see the historic market before then. I have written about Toritoh in the Tsukiji Outer Market (Tsukiji Jogai) in the past:

https://foodsaketokyo.com/2014/10/25/tsukiji-market-toritoh-鳥藤/

https://foodsaketokyo.com/2012/12/18/tsukiji-market-cheap-eats-toritoh-chicken/

Today I would like to introduce to Toritoh in the inner market. The same shop, just a different location, and more importantly, a completely different menu.

Mizutaki is a classic chicken soup often found in Kyushu in Southern Japan. The version at Toritoh has a rich stock and chicken still on the bone, making it a bit challenging to eat, but worth the effort. The chicken is rough chopped and there are some bits of bones in the soup, not for delicate eaters. This dish is rich in umami and will have you smacking your lips even after you have left the shop.

Toritoh Singapore Chicken

Toritoh Singapore Chicken

I loved the first bit of the Singapore chicken as it reminded me of when we lived in Singapore. But after a while I realized the water the chicken was cooked in was over salted on this day, and the sweet soy sauce they had was not authentic. The rice was cooked in a chicken stock which was nicely done.

Toritoh Kara-age

Toritoh Kara-age

I was enjoying my chicken breakfasts so much that I went back once more for the kara-agé (fried chicken). This was by far my favorite. The chicken is juicy and served hot, just out of the frying pan. As we are in the middle of winter, I will be going back soon. It’s too cold to have sushi first thing in the morning.

One of the other pleasures of passing time here is the lovely, low voice of one of the older cooks in the kitchen. His voice is one of a fishmonger, deep and resonant. Just listening to him repeat orders or call out thank-you to customers as they left the restaurant was a pleasure.

Toritoh Exterior

Toritoh Exterior

The oyako-don, mother-and-child dish of eggs and chicken over rice is also a popular item at Toritoh. There is a small take-out window in front and many of the tourists over the three days were buying chicken dishes to take home. Most of the customers were fishmongers coming in for a quick meal after their work in the market. These guys would open the door and call out their order and pre-pay for the meal as soon as they were seated. The tourists, myself included, would carefully peruse the menu and see what others were eating before ordering, and then would pay when we were done eating. It’s fun to eat elbow-to-elbow with the fishmongers. I am sure this will change when the market moves to the new location in Toyosu.

Toritoh at Tsukiji Inner Market

鳥めし 鳥藤場内店 (とりめし とりとうじょうないてん)

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1, Building #8

Hours 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Ginza New Castle Curry ニューキャッスル – CLOSED

New Castle Exterior

New Castle Exterior

New Castle Menu

New Castle Menu

New Castle Curry

New Castle Curry

So sad to say that this is now closed. We will miss you New Castle.

New Castle ニューキャッスル

Chuo-ku, Ginza 2-3-1

03-3561-2929

11:00 – 21:00 (Saturdays until 17:00)

Closed Sundays and holidays

No website

An old style curry shop, in an old building in a very modern part of town, catches your eye. The shop opened in Showa 21 (1946) and it looks like nothing in the shop has changed since then. New Castle has long been famous for its curry rice, which can be topped with a sunny-side up egg. The menu items are named after train stations on the Keihin-Tohoku train line including Kamata and Shinagawa, the difference being the portion size and if it is topped with an egg or not.

Orimine Bakers near Tsukiji Market 築地のパン屋「オリミネベーカーズ」

Orimine Bakers

Orimine Bakers

Focaccia Shirasu

Focaccia Shirasu

Foccacia Iidako

Foccacia Iidako

A great little bakery near Tsukiji has opened up and is definitely worth checking out if you are in the area. The name of the shop is printed in gold on the windows, reminds me of Balthazar Bakery in Soho. You can’t miss its green and white awning and the green exterior. The breads range from sweet to savory but two in particular that catch my eyes are made with seafood procured from neighboring Tsukiji Market, both focaccia. One is topped with shiso, shirasu (boiled tiny anchovies), and cheese. The other has iidako (octopus) with a puttanesca sauce. There is also a selection of sandwiches. There is a map on the website, which is mostly in Japanese, but enough English to find the map and to see the other great breads.

Thanks to chef and author, Yukiko Hayashi (Gout Sensei) for bringing this shop to our attention! Gout Sensei’s website (in Japanese) is below. She is particularly passionate about soba.

http://gout.cocolog-nifty.com/blog/cat20852746/index.html (Japanese)

Orimine Bakers

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 7-10-11

03-6228-4555

7:00 – 19:00, closed Sunday and holidays

http://oriminebakers.com/ (mostly Japanese but some basic English and a map)

Kakigori Shaved Ice 氷

Kinozen in Kagurazaka

Kinozen in Kagurazaka

The heat and humidity of Tokyo summers can be overbearing. What better way to cool down than with kakigori (shaved ice sweets). As a child visiting my family in Japan in the summer that is one of my fondest memories. Kakigori topped with sweetened condensed milk (ask for miruku) and garnished with some sweet azuki beans. Toppings include sweet syrups, mattcha, sweetened condensed milk, fresh fruit purees (mangoes are one of my favorites), and azuki beans.

Here are some shops known for their kakigori.

Kinozen 紀の善

Shinjuku-ku, Kagurazaka 1-12 新宿区神楽坂1-12

Phone: 03-3269-2920

11:00 – 21:00, Monday – Saturday

12:00 – 18:00, Sunday & holidays

Closed the 3rd Sunday of each month

no website

station: Kagurazaka

Ishibashi in Sangenjaya

Ishibashi in Sangenjaya

Ishibashi in Sangenjaya

Ishibashi in Sangenjaya

You can watch the ice being shaved with an old hand-cranked machine here at this very quaint shop. Interesting toppings here include Calpis, caramel, kuromitsu (brown sugar syrup), and kocha (British tea).

Kakigori Kobo Ishibashi 氷工房 石ばし

Setagaya-ku, Sangenjaya 1-29-8 世田谷区三軒茶屋1-29-8

Phone: 03-3411-2130

12:00 – 18:00 (may close earlier so go early in the day)

no holidays in the summer

http://www.ntv.co.jp/burari/000819/info06.html

Shikanoko in Ginza

Kanoko in Ginza

Shikanoko in Ginza

Kanoko in Ginza

Kanoko is on the corner of the main Ginza crossing where Wako and Mitsukoshi are. The cafe on the 2nd floor gives great views of the busy intersection and this shop is centrally located in the heart of the city.

Kanoko 鹿乃子

Chuo-ku, Ginza 5-7-19 中央区銀座5-7-19

Phone: 03-3572-0013

11:30 – 20:15

no holidays

station: Ginza

http://homepage3.nifty.com/kanoko/