I’ll Have What Phil’s Having

I'll Have What Phil's Having at Den

I’ll Have What Phil’s Having at Den

It all started a little over a year ago. An email from a producer in New York City wanting to know if we would help with the filming of a new food show for PBS. The program would travel around the world with Phil Rosenthal. I was more than happy to help and was lucky to film at Nihonbashi Takashimaya as I had worked there about ten years ago in the sake department. It was fun to see many colleagues still there, and to share with Phil the secret rooftop that so few people, even Japanese, know about.

I was happier than a kid on Halloween when I found out we would be filming at my favorite restaurant in Tokyo, chef Zaiyu Hasegawa’s Den. It is one of those spots that is hard to get into, so filming there would be a very special treat. The restaurant would open up for just us before service. The program does a brilliant job of capturing chef Hasegawa’s personality and the cuisine. He was so kind to fry up some Dentucky Fried Chicken for the crew after filming was done.

Then came the tough decision, to ask Phil into our home for dinner or not. Until now we have kept our son’s photo off of social media. Opening up our apartment for the world to see was not as much of a concern as was including our kid. I thought that even if our son was filmed, it would only be in the periphery. You’ll have to watch the video to see his cameo.

I was happy to see that Phil also made it to two other special restaurants, Narisawa and Kyubey. Also places that should not be missed, if you can get in.

The video is here:

http://video.pbs.org/video/2365570558/

I don’t know for how long it will be online, so watch it while you can. It is an hour-long show. We appear at 14:15, 33:30, and 43:15, but please, see the whole show.

The Amazing Crew

The Amazing Crew

We’ve already heard from new clients saying that they are inspired to come to Tokyo. That is Phil’s goal with this program, and how awesome to see it come true. We had a blast with Phil and his team and are honored to be included.

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PBS – I’ll Have What Phil’s Having

Phil Rosenthal at Zaiyu Hasegawa's Den

Phil Rosenthal at Zaiyu Hasegawa’s Den

We are so very excited to have been included in Phil Rosenthal’s upcoming food show on PBS, I’ll Have What Phil’s Having. Here is a sneak preview of his Tokyo show:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/what-phils-having/tokyo/

It was great fun showing Phil around some of my favorite Tokyo spots, including chef Zaiyu Hasegawa’s Den. I don’t want to say too much more. You’ll have to see the show. Phil also travels to other cities around the world. He’s a lot of fun and his commentary is great.

The show premieres on September 28th. Let us know what you think about it.

Art on the Table by Asato Ikeda

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It was the first time in my life that I held a cup in my hand and immediately fell in love with it. The light sky blue color, the rough and smooth texture that my fingers fell into, and the taste of the saké while holding something so beautiful. I couldn’t put it down.

I first held Asato Ikeda’s ceramic cup at Den in Jimbocho, chef Zaiyu Hasegawa’s brilliant restaurant. I thought someday I would invest in some of Ikeda-san’s pieces for myself. Even took a picture of the cup (photo above) so that I could remember it. And then, a few months later, Ikeda-san and his works were on television. Once more my heartstrings were pulled and my motivation to bring his craftsmanship into our home became a priority.

I did some searching online in Japanese and quickly lost hope. What few sites that did come up with his pieces were all sold out. I then reached out to Kenshin Sato of Kenshin Utsuwa. Bob Tobin and Hitoshi Ohashi of the Tobin Ohashi Gallery first introduced me to Sato-san last spring. I went to one of his special events at Ginza Mitsukoshi and we exchanged business cards.

This summer, while at Den, chef Hasegawa told me that Kenshin Utsuwa sells many pieces that are used at his restaurant, including Ikeda-san’s. I follow Kenshin Utsuwa on Facebook and reached out to him in Japanese in December. I sent him the photo of the cup from Den and asked him if he could find me some pieces. Just last week I got the e-mail telling me that I could stop by his shop this week. It’s a beautiful shop that is worth visiting if you are in Shibuya or Omotesando as it is just between the two. Just call ahead as he closes the shop if does special events around the city.

Ikeda

Welcome home! My birthday present from me to me.

Two small guinomi and a tokkuri with a lip for pouring sake or shochu.

Ikeda1We christened the cups with Shichihonyari which we bought at our new favorite sake shop in town, Oboro Saketen in Shinbashi.

The owner of Oboro Saketen, Okuma-san, studied at university for two years in Minnesota and speaks English.

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We love these nori cups for bite-size sushi that we picked up at Tsukiji Market. A small celebration to welcome these pieces to our home. I am already looking forward to using these tomorrow. I have enjoyed the journey. Holding something and wanting it, thinking of someday owning a piece of Ikeda-san’s artwork, and the help of friends to help make my little dream come true.

Kenshin Utsuwa

Shibuya-ku, Shibuya 2-3-4

The Artistry of Den 傳 2

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Asamayama Natsu-Jun, or summer Junmaishu, was rich enough to stand up the fish course.Den17

Katsuo-zuké, skipjack tuna marinated in soy sauce, is a dish we eat at home, but this was so much more upscale. The katsuo was marinated for a much shorter time than we do at home. Also, I loved the egg yolk that was marinated in dashi. There is a trick to get his texture but I don’t want to reveal too much.
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Akita prefecture’s Yuki no Bijin (Winter Beauty) is an appropriate name for a saké as Akita is snow-filled for most of winter. This snow melts and contributes to the delicious water used for making Tohoku saké. This was a Tokubetsu Junmai Ginjo. Check out the beautiful glass it is served in.Den19

I was so curious about this ceramic as it had a rich texture. Chef Hasegawa brought out some bowls to show me the beautiful work of this potter from Mashiko in Tochigi, just north of Tokyo. The potter carefully etches or scrapes out the black parts to show the interior white.Den20

My neighbor happened to be drinking from a saké cup also by the same potter. Gorgeous. Den21

Ayu is a summer river fish in season now. Most times it is simply salted and grilled, which is of course delicious. Tonight was my first time to try ayu as himono. The fish is butterflied, guts removed, and then marinated in salt water for a brief period and then air-dried. Just before serving it is grilled. The whole fish is edible, head to tail. “Rich in calcium,” said the server in Japanese.

In the middle was liver mousse from the ayu. Very rich in flavor, but a light mousse. And the green cake on the bottom is a steamed bread made with tadé no ha (water pepper leaves) and rice flour. It is first steamed until cooked through and is light and fluffy. Chef Hasegawa then grills it under a direct flame to give the edges some crispy texture which is like the cooked edges of the ayu. Brilliant dish that can only be had here at Den.
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Haneya Junmai Ginjo Nama Genshu. The cup looked like it was made by a girl. When I asked about it they said yes, Midori Uchiyama, I believe from Tokyo. The bottom of her pieces either have a “M” for Midori or “Mid”.Den23

Here is his signature dish that comes with every meal, no matter what time of year it is. He calls this dish “Hataké no Yōsō” or the state of the farm. There were over 20 vegetables and flowers in the salad bowl, including baby kabocha squash and corn silk. He treats many vegetables individually, either roasting or pickling in a sweet vinegar, or even deep-frying. Giving a variety of textures and flavors. Brilliant dish. I wish I could eat this everyday, or make this at home, but I can see it’s a lot of prep.Den24

Pringles canister containing Den potato chips – check out the smile! And, a zucchini blossom that was deep-fried.
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Here is Midori’s sake cup and tokkuri.

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Tachibanaya Tokubetsu Junmaishu made with omachi rice. The sweetness of the sake paired well with the soy sauce ankaké sauce on the next dish.Den27

Again, a brilliant use of texture buckwheat grains on the sweet soy ankaké sauce over kuro wagyū from Hokkaido.Den28

Chef Hasegawa assembling a dish for other guests (I’m allergic to shrimp, otherwise I think I would have had this). He was saying he had just returned from a trip to France and Italy and was inspired by bouillabaisse. Den29

This saké cup was by far my favorite. I had seen photos of it from the Kenshin Utsuwa facebook page. I loved the texture, the color, the rough exterior and smooth interior. And, the saké tasted lovely in it. The artist also makes a tokkuri that my neighbor used that was gorgeous as well. I think I’ve found my next birthday present from me to me.Den30

The donabé with the rice for the shimé.

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Kamo Kinshu Karakuchi Junmaishu. A little frizzante on the palate.Den32

The rice course was amazing. Sweet corn and scallops cooked in dashi before adding to the rice pot to be cooked with the rice. I wish I could make this at home, and will definitely try.Den33I was getting full at the end of the meal so asked for a small serving of the rice. Chef Hasegawa made a rice ball for me to bring home to my husband. Very thoughtful. The rice was served with asazuké pickles made that morning and miso soup.

Den34And, dessert. Looking like the moss in front of the restaurant. I was so curious about it. It had to be edible, but all of it? So I asked Hasegawa-san if I could eat it all, dried leaves and all. He said yes so I took a bite. I was so curious what the dried leaves were. I had no idea, but it added a unique texture to the dish. “Tea leaves” he revealed.

Dinner at Den is a night that you will remember for a long time. I can’t wait to go back. I spoke with my neighbors who come once a month, all the way from Yokohama. I hope someday to be a monthly customer as well. The atmosphere at Den is light and friendly, not stuffy and staid as some kaiseki restaurants may be. It’s fun and friendly and has amazing food served on gorgeous dishes. Even for a solo diner, it’s easy to sit at the counter by yourself and take it all in.

Artistry of Den Part One

Den

Den has moved to a new location:

Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 2-3-18
Please call +81-3-3222-3978

Chiyoda-ku, Jimbocho 2-2-32

03-3222-3978

 

The Artistry of Den 傳

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Den in Jimbocho is a restaurant that everyone is talking about. I had to go and check it out for myself. I was told that chef Zaiyu Hasegawa is a great guy and a talented chef. (Note, if you are planning on eating there in the near future, don’t read through this blog post as it is better to experience his cuisine without knowing what to expect. The menu changes regularly though, so, please do read if you won’t be coming until the fall.)
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I thought the sign on the moss was curious. The blue shovel certainly caught my attention.

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Actually when I first walked up to Den, I thought it was a ceramics shop when I looked in the door. The backlit wall showcasing gorgeous pieces of pottery. So, I turned around and left, but then I realized this must be the shop.

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This colorful painting in the entrance was done by a friend of the chef. Den5

When I asked about these ceramics I was told that these too were done by potters from around Japan who are friends of the chef. I had recognized a few pieces and was hoping that they would be used during the meal.Den6

When I was seated I was brought a selection of colorful cloths, tenugui, to choose from to use as a lap napkin. This bright pink and white one called out to me and the design of the dragon was so artistic. Chef said that his friend who designed the tenugui also makes summer kimono, yukata, out of material she also designs. He said that her shop is in the Jimbocho area where Den is.

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The chef’s wife is a kikizaké-shi, or saké sommelier. I asked her to pair each course with a different saké. She started the night off with this dry Berlucci’s Cuvée ’61 Franciacorta sparkling wine. Made in the Méthode Champenoise style using traditional grapes of champagne, chardonnay and pinot noir.

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The first bite was sandwiched in monaka, rice wafers. These usually are used with sweet azuki beans and served as a dessert, and it is here where I could see the playfulness of the chef. Inside was foie gras that was marinated in white miso for ten days, adding umami and amami (sweetness as white miso is sweet). It also includes hoshigaki (dried persimmons) and one of my favorite pickles, iburigakko, a smoked and pickled daikon. The first course was brilliant and I could see that it was unique to chef Hasegawa. Den9The first saké served this night was from Ishikawa prefecture, Tedorigawa Junmai Daiginjo. It is only available here at Den as it is a house blend made for Den. It’s a soft saké that will pair with a lot of different foods, and was perfect with this fun dish below.

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I had to laugh when chef handed this dish over the counter. There was a frog peeking out from junsai, a type of water lily that is famous for having a mucous membrane surrounding each leaf. Chef Hasegawa said that they were foraged in a lake that morning in Hyogo prefecture. The frog and junsai was resting on a lotus root leaf, exactly where you may find a frog leisurely passing time on a hot summer day.

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Chef Hasegawa said to fold up the edges of the leaf to put the junsai and frog into the glass bowl. Inside was tokoroten, strings of jelly that chef made with tomato juice and tengusa seaweed. Inside was basil seeds, passion fruit, and tobiko (flying fish roe) adding even a richer texture to the tokoroten and junsai.
Den12The water serves water from a saké brewery in Niigata, Kirian Yamamizu. The fun water glass was made by an artist in Hokkaido.

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The next saké was Banshu Ikkon’s summer sake, Sunflower, from Hyogo prefecture. Light with a dry finish. It’s always a treat to have a saké in summer that was made for drinking in summer. I also loved this glass with dotted with pastel spots. Also made by the same artist who made the water glass.

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What? Did he get KFC take-out? I loved this too being passed over the counter. On closer inspection I could see it was not KFC, but DFC, and the colonel was actually chef Hasegawa. Again, great fun.Den15Inside the box was a chicken wing stuffed with turmeric seasoned sticky rice with almonds and raisins. I could eat a whole bucket of these. The gorgeous dish under the chicken is Ontaiyaki in Oita prefecture.

The Artistry of Den Part Two

Den

Den has moved to a NEW LOCATION. Details here:

Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 2-3-18
Please call +81-3-3222-3978

Chiyoda-ku, Jimbocho 2-2-32

03-3222-3978