Nakameguro Sumi-Grilled Yakitori

Maru, just a few minutes’ from Nakameguro station, is a great lunch spot for sumi (charcoal) grilled yakitori. The chicken, Amakusa Daiou, from Kumamoto, is called the king of chicken, and is known for it’s rich in texture and flavor.

The oyako-don (900 JPY), on the left above is a popular dish of chicken and eggs cooked in a sweet soy broth. Oyako is literally mother and child, a fun name for this dish. The sign of a good oyakodon is eggs that are just heated enough so that the whites just start to gel. The semi-scrambled eggs become a sauce for the chicken and rice.

The yakitori-don (1,200 JPY) includes three smokey skewers, grilled over charcoal: white meat, gizzard, and thighs with leeks. Two tsukune meatballs, a raw yolk, shishitō and nori round out the dish. Lunch sets include pickles, chicken soup, and a rich tiramisu.

Nakameguro is a hot area at the moment as several restaurants, including a hip City Bakery and Tsutaya bookstore have opened up under the tracks, in an area called Nakameguro Koukashita. On a recent visit the new shops were swamped, so we were happy to find quiet refuge at Maru.

Sumibiyaki Maru 炭火焼 Maru

Meguro-ku, Nakameguro 2-12-2 W. Nakameguro 1F

目黒区上目黒2-12-2 W. Nakameguro 1F

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Japanese Curry with Some Fried Pork

ouroji-tondon

Tonkatsu on its own is a great dish, as is curry, but combined as katsu curry is a great way to hit two sweet spots in one dish. Ouroji 王ろじ is a tonkatsu shop on a quiet back street near Shinjuku Isetan. Katsu curry here is served in a bowl and is called tondon (tonkatsu donburi). The rice is from Niigata and is the right texture and slightly sweet. The curry is not at all spicy, and in the Japanese-style, so if you like heat, look elsewhere. The tonkatsu is a thick piece with a crispy coating that is dressed with some sweet sauce over the curry. Ouroji opened in 1921 and it has an old school feel to it.

Ouroji 王ろじ

Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku3-17-21   新宿区新宿3-17-21

Atami Mugitoro Doji 麦とろ童子

Atami is a seaside resort south of Tokyo. If you have access to a car, then put Mugitoro Douji on your radar. I believe you could also come by bus, but best to look into the details.

Mugitoro is a dish made from rice cooked with barley (mugi) that is topped with grated yamaimo (mountain potato), which we call toro. The Atami area is also famous for shirasu, tiny anchovies that have been quickly blanched in hot water. The shirasu are soft and rich in calcium as you are eating the whole fish, head to toe.

Here is shirasudon, short for donburi, or rice bowl, here topped with the boiled anchovies. To the side in the brown bowl with a lip is the grated mountain potato with some dashi and soy sauce which is poured over the leftover rice after eating the fish. The right bowl is simply green tea soba with the grated mountain potato.

The setting is fabulous, with a wall of windows overlooking the sea. The entrance is charming with the handwritten noren banner, and who wouldn’t loved to be hosted by this chef, smiling like a little boy.

Mugitoro Dōji 麦とろ童子

Shizuoka-ken, Atami-shin, Izusan, Gōshimizu 210

静岡県熱海市伊豆山郷清水210

closed Wednesdays

Tsukiji Kitsuneya 築地きつねや

Kitsuneya offal

Kitsuneya offal

One of the most popular stalls at Tsukiji’s Outer Market is Kitsuneya. It does not sell any seafood, but it is famous for offal stewed in a savory soy broth until tender and served over a large bowl of rice (800 JPY). If you are not in the mood for offal, Kitsuneya also does nikudōfu, tofu and meat cooked in a sweet soy broth (600 JPY). The tofu and meat does not come with rice (220 JPY) so you have to order that separately. I love oshinko pickles with every meal and this day it was cucumbers pickled in salt (120 JPY). A nice, crisp contrast to the soft offal.

Hovering over the large stewpot is a fiesty grandmother. As Kitsuneya is on the main street there are many who try and take her photo and she is quick to tell them no photos allowed. I was even nervous to take this photo, so I waited until she turned the other way to snap this.

The smell of the stewing offal is rich and enticing. When I walk by with clients many will naturally hum, “mmmmmmm”.  There is often a long line at the shop. There are a few stools and a narrow counter at the shop. If those are full, many will stand and eat at a high table set up by the street.

To find it, look for a small white noren banner of the shop that says in black Japanese calligraphy きつねや, or look for the old woman waving her hands telling people to stop taking her photo. 🙂

Tsukiji Kitsuneya 築地きつねや

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 4-9-12 中央区築地4-9-12

Isomaru Suisan 磯丸水産

A friend and I needed to grab a quick lunch before he jumped on the shinkansen to Kyoto. We popped into Isomaru Suisan near Ueno station and had colorful and fresh sashimi donburiDonburi are large bowls filled with rice and toppings, a great one-bowl meal. He had a tuna and avocado bowl and I took a chirashizushi with seasonal sashimi, roe, and tamagoyaki. Each bowl was about 800 JPY or about $7 USD. Isomaru Suisan is a reliable restaurant for quick and affordable meals made with very fresh seafood.

Isomaru Suisan was recently featured on television as it goes to great lengths to bring the freshest seafood to its stores. The chain has branches throughout Tokyo and most shops are 24 hours. There are multiple locations at the bigger stations. Shinjuku station has nine shops within walking distance. There is a menu that is in English, Chinese, and Korean complete with photos.

The interior is filled with colorful designs from tairyōbata, giant flags that are flown from fishing boats in Japan. Staff are plentiful and service is fast. This is not gourmet dining, but for the price, it offers a great value.

Many of the diners were drinking beer and saké. Many were grilling their own seafood on portable burners. It’s a fun atmosphere and a great place to come with friends, but solo diners would also feel comfortable here.

Isomaru Suisan 磯丸水産

http://www.isomaru.jp/

The shops:

http://www.isomaru.jp/shoplist/

The shop list is only in Japanese. I would suggest doing a search in English under “Isomaru Suisan” and the name of a Tokyo station.

Shibuya Tare Katsu Don

The signboard outside of this small shop near Shibuya station caught my eye. Vegetables and thin slices of pork dressed in panko bread crumbs, deep-fried, and dipped in a sweet and savory soy sauce over a bowl of rice. Donburi are large bowls of rice with toppings. Tare refers to the sauce that clings to the vegetables and pork. Tare katsu don is a regional dish from Niigata prefecture, which is just north of Tokyo.

This shop uses organic soy sauce. The pork is Waton Mochibuta. The rice is koshi ibuki, from Niigata, famous for its rice.

I had walked by the shop several times but it was always full. Recently I spotted a single seat at the counter and swooped in. I ordered the yasai hire katsu don, vegetable and pork donburi (930 JPY). There is also a vegetable only donburi for 830 JPY.

It takes a while for the food to come, which is a good sign at fast food shops. You can see the chef deep-frying the vegetables and pork and dipping it into the sauce.

On this day the vegetables included sweet potato, eggplant, baby corn, and broccoli. There was a cherry tomato, but it was only deep-fried, not breaded. The pork was cut thin. If you were in the mood for meat you could do pork only.

The shop is only one minute from the Keio Inokashira line exit, or 3 minutes from the Shibuya JR station.

Shibuya-ku, Dogenzaka 1-5-9 渋谷区道玄坂1-5-9

Map:

http://www.tarekatsu.jp/map.html#shibuya

 

Tamahide in Ningyocho

Tamahide in Nihonbashi Ningyocho has a perpetual line out its front door, regardless if it is a weekday or holiday. Its signature dish, oyakodon, literally mother and child, is bite-size pieces of chicken mixed with scrambled eggs and a sweet sauce. The chicken is cooked and then added to the eggs which is then just given some heat to start to set and this is poured over a hot bowl of rice.

 When I worked at Takashimaya, Tamahide did promotions in our depachika and the lines were there too.

Tamahide has been in business since 1760. In speaking to fellow diners, they too were curious like me, it was their first time, and they too wanted to try Tamahide’s oyakodon once in their life. As this is where the now popular comfort food was created here.

It is hands down the best oyakodon that I have had. Surely it is the eggs, the chicken, the seasoning, but also, having tried to make this at home a few times, I am always challenged to get the eggs to set just like this. The eggs are still runny and the savory sauce is filled with umami. It does come at a price though, at 1,300 JPY. My neighbor had the soboro oyakodon with ground chicken at 800 JPY and it looked just as satisfying. And, it is a bit silly to stand in line for longer than it takes to order and eat your food. But, I had to do it once, just as, I assume, many of the other customers. It would be fun to come for the dinner full chicken sukiyaki course.

Ningyocho is a great neighborhood to walk around filled with wagashi shops, kanmidokoro (Japanese confectionary cafes), sembei (rice crackers), tea shops, and more.

Tamahide 玉ひで

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi-Ningyocho 1-17-10

03-3668-7651

Closed Sunday and holidays

*This first appeared on my other blog in May, 2009, before Food Sake Tokyo was started.

Popular Donburi in Japan 日本の丼

DSCN0416Oyako-don from Tamahide in Ningyocho

Donburi 丼 are simple and fast meal. It is a large bowl of hot rice with toppings. We often make it for lunch as it is not only easy to assemble, but also easy to clean up after the meal. Many restaurants often serve donburi at lunchtime as an affordable option, often just “one coin” or 500 yen. There are restaurants that specialize in donburi like Yoshinoya (beef) or my personal favorite, Tenya (tempura). Many restaurants in the outer market of Tsukiji will sell seafood donburi, which is usually what we make at home as we often have fresh sashimi in the house.

One of Tokyo’s most famous donburi dishes is the oyako-don, literally “mother and child”, from Tamahide in Ningyocho. Tamahide is a fifth generation shop that serves chicken and eggs in a savory soy broth. The restaurant is so popular that I’ve never seen it without a line out the front door. Creamy half-cooked scrambled eggs dotted with juicy chicken is a comfort food dish in Japan.

The kanji for donburi is easy to recognize on any menu. 丼 As you can see here, it almost looks like a dish with something inside of it.

From the Asahi newspaper, here is a list of popular donburi in Japan.

1. katsu-don – tonkatsu

2. una-don – unagi

3. kaisen-don – fresh seafood

4. ten-don – tempura (usually shrimp)

5. oyako-don – chicken and eggs

6. gyu-don – thinly sliced beef in a soy broth

7. chuka-don – Chinese-style, often stir-fried meat and vegetables

8. tekka-don – maguro sashimi

9. uni-don – uni sea urchin

10. ikura-don – ikura salmon roe

11. kakiage-don – tempura

12. tentsu-don – Chinese-style omelet with vegetables covered in a thick, slightly sweet and tart sauce

13. anago-don – anago

14. tamago-don – raw egg

15. shirasu-don – baby boiled anchovies

16. yamakake-don – grated yamaimo and maguro sashimi

17. ma-bo-don – Chinese ma-bo- dofu (a spicy tofu and ground beef mixture)

18. buta-don – grilled pork

19. yakiniku-don – grilled beef

20. others

Popular Donburi in Japan

Donburi are great one bowl meals. A large bowl of hot rice with toppings. We often eat these at home when we are in a hurry. Or, if Shinji is making the meal, he often resorts to donburi. They are easy to assemble and only one dish needs to be washed.

The Asashi Shimbun reported today results from an online survey taken in August. From 1842 surveyed, results for the most popular donburi are as follows:

1. Katsudon (tonkatsu)

2. Unadon (unagi)

3. Kaisendon (seasonal seafood sashimi) *what Shinji usually makes for us

4. Tendon (tempura)

5. Oyakodon (chicken and egg)

6. Gyudon (thinly sliced beef)

7. Chukadon (Chinese style, usually of meat and vegetables)

8. Tekkadon (tuna sashimi) *also popular in our home

9. Unidon (uni)

10. Ikuradon (salmon roe)

Looking over the list there are no surprises. Many of these are hearty dishes. Some chain restaurants specialize in some of these dishes. Tenya for tempura donburi or some of the gyudon chain restaurants like Sukiya. Specialty restaurants like Tamahide in Ningyocho have long lines for the signature oyakodon. If you are craving donburi after reading this, your best bet may be Tsukiji Market where several restaurants in the outer market will have the kaisendon, tekkadon, unidon, ikuradon, and more.

Maguronald まぐろナルド

Maguronald

Maguronald

With an awesome name like Maguronald, which sounds an awful like lot McDonald’s when pronounced in Japanese, this is definitely worth checking out. Maguro, or of course, tuna, is the specialty of this small 20 seat restaurant in Ginza. It is open for lunch and dinner and closed on Sunday and holidays. And affordable, budget about 1,000 or 2,000 JPY per person. Beer, shochu, and sake is served.

The menu is very simple, tuna zuke (sashimi marinated in soy) donburi (rice bowl), chutoro, sashimi, tatsuta-age (think fried chicken made from tuna), and tuna yakitori. There are some vegetable side dishes as well.

A lot of this is food we often eat at home, especially the sashimi and the tuna zuke donburi. It’s really comfort food and if you like tuna, you’ll love Maguronald.

No website yet, just a facebook page.

Maguronald

Chuo-ku, Ginza 4-13-3

Phone: 03-3546-0012