Our Local Burger Shop

I love a good burger. While I was born in Tokyo, I grew up in Minnesota eating burgers and fries. There are some good burger shops in Tokyo, but it’s nice to have a local spot that we can decide to go to at the last minute and not have to make a special trip into the city.

Jimmy’s Diner is our local burger shop serving a generous portion of fries and a meaty burger in an American diner interior. There are booths off to one side and a counter overlooking the kitchen.

The menu is simple, a burger with many different toppings. The burger is made with Japanese beef and the bun is from my favorite local bakery. The onions are raw, but Jimmy is kind enough to sauté them upon request. The fries are crispy and the serving is big, but if you are hungry, you can request a bigger serving for a small supplement, but only if you are really hungry. The serving in the photos above are the regular serving.

I believe Jimmy’s is closed on Monday. Call ahead to be sure if you are making a special trip here. Jimmy’s Diner is about a five-minute walk from Kokubunji station’s north exit. Jimmy (Hirakawa Hajime-san) and his wife run the kid-friendly shop. It’s open on Sundays. 🙂

Jimmy’s Diner

Kokubunji-shi, Honcho 2-14-5 国分寺市本町2-14-5

https://www.facebook.com/Jimmys-DINER-1219940928032747/

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Musashi-Sakai Passage a Niveau

Passage a Niveau baguette

Passage a Niveau baguette

My favorite baguette in Tokyo is found along the Chuo line near Musashi-Sakai station. Passage a Niveau does a three-grain baguette that has a lovely crumb with a chewy crust.

Passage a Niveau baguette crust

Passage a Niveau baguette crumb

The bakery opens at 8 a.m. but the baguettes do not come out until a bit later in the morning. Passage a Niveau is worth a journey across town for. The shop is small but has a selection of both Western and Japanese breads.

It is closed every Wednesday and the first Tuesday of each month. Nearby, the library at the South Exit has a big collection of magazines on the first floor as well as a café.

Passage a Niveau

Tokyo-to, Musashino-shi, Sakai Minami-cho 1-1-20, Taiko Bldg.

東京都武蔵野市境南町1-1-20 タイコービル

 

 

 

Ogikubo Takahashi Soba 高はし

Takahashi is a about a ten-minute walk from Ogikubo station on the Chuo line, but worth the journey through the residential area west of Tokyo. I was meeting a girlfriend for lunch on a Tuesday. For whatever reason, many soba shops are closed on Tuesdays. But my friend had been to Takahashi before and we were in luck as it is open Tuesdays. On a side note, many hair salons are also closed on Tuesday. So frustrating…

The shop is just off of a main street and in a residential area. The menu is only in Japanese, so best to go with a Japanese friend, or have your hotel call ahead and arrange a menu.

Takahashi has a nice selection of sake as well. Dassai from Yamaguchi is on the list. This day we went with Tefu from Kokken in Fukushima. It is made with Miyama-Nishiki rice and is unpasteurized. The junmai sake is soft and food-friendly, a lovely partner to soba.

The shop brings out some deep-fried soba noodles with our sake. We started with goma-dōfu (sesame tofu), which was quite firm. The soba sashimi was cut into long strips and was a nice hint as to what was coming. The tempura included both shrimp and vegetables.

My friend was excited as fresh nori soba was on the menu. It was my first time to have it and it was lovely. A generous amount of soft nori that is reminiscent of the ocean is on top of the handmade soba. The nori soba was the seasonal soba. Can you imagine, nori having a season? It does, and it is just now ending its season, so get it while you can. Our table overlooked the soba processing room, but by lunchtime the master was done rolling and cutting the soba.

Highly recommend Takahashi, but be sure to go with a Japanese speaker or arrange your menu ahead of time. The menu is only in Japanese and don’t expect any English here. I also love that it is a bit of a walk from the station as the other customers there obviously made the trek for Takahashi-san’s soba.

Takahashi 高はし

Suginami-ku, Ogikubo 2-30-7 杉並区荻窪2-30-7

closed Wednesday and the third Tuesday of each month.

Koganei Kakigori Cafe Cula

Cafe Cula Kakigori

Cafe Cula Kakigori

Tokyo has just gone through the longest heat wave on history, eight days of temperatures over 35 degrees. One way to cool down in Japanese summers is with shaved ice, kakigōri. Look for the simple kanji sign 氷, usually written in a bright red kanji on a square blue and white flag.

We live out on the Chūo line and did not have the energy to head into the city. Cafe Cula in Koganei uses tennen (natural) ice. It is very delicate and melts quickly so you have to dig in. The sweet sauces are all made from scratch. I went with passionfruit and the tart and aromatic fruit was just what I needed. I am spoiled to have had such nice ice and am afraid others will be disappointing after this one.

Cafe Cula only has a handful of seats inside and the rest of the seating is outdoors under shade. It is open from 2-5 p.m. from mid-July to the end of August.

Cafe Cula

Koganei-shi, Nukui Minami-cho 1-25-4 小金井市貫井南町1-25-4

www.ristoranteosawa.com/pg95.html

twitter.com/kakigorikoganei

Some other shops for kakigori in the city:

https://foodsaketokyo.com/2011/07/29/digging-into-an-ice-cold-kakigori/

https://foodsaketokyo.com/2010/08/22/kakigori-shaved-ice-%E6%B0%B7/

On a Mission to Find Tokyo’s Best Banh Mi

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I still find it hard to believe that I can get a better banh mi sandwich in Minneapolis than I can in Tokyo. I was on a mad hunt about eight years ago in Tokyo for banh mi and then gave up after making special trips throughout the city only to be disappointed. I moved back to New York City for a short while and became addicted to banh mi. There was a shop in Chinatown near the French Culinary Institute that I would visit almost once a week, sometimes more often.

Some food colleagues here in Tokyo put this shop in Koenji on my radar. Binh Minh is the sister shop of Chopsticks which is located inside a small market near Koenji’s North Exit. I stopped by today at 11:45 a.m. surprised to see the chairs still on the tables. There was a guy in the kitchen, and I asked him if he served banh mi. He said he does, but that he doesn’t open until noon. A little late for Tokyo as most restaurants open at 11 a.m. for lunch, maybe 11:30 a.m. at the latest.

There were two options, sausage or grilled pork. I asked him about the sausage, but he advised me that the grilled pork was more delicious, and so it was decided. At noon the clock started to chime and I looked at my new friend and he said he was now open. I ordered the grilled pork banh mi, a bargain in Tokyo at only 500 JPY.

I did love the bread, a softer baguette that seemed to be toasted. There was a generous serving of fresh cilantro, which was refreshing. But, overall, it wasn’t as good as what I am accustomed to. But, I did want to put this on Food Sake Tokyo’s blog as it is the best banh mi that I have had so far in the city. I won’t make a special trip for the sandwich, but would stop by if I am in the neighborhood.

Until then, if anyone has suggestions, please do let me know! There is another shop in the city I need to check out near Takadanobaba.

Banh Minh

Suginami-ku,  Koenji-Kita 3-22-8 Dai-Ichi Ichiba

http://binhminh-tokyo.com

Note, the shop opens at noon. Holidays on Tuesdays.