Food Sake Tokyo Radar

To keep our readers up-to-date with the Tokyo food scene, I will post from time to time some news about what’s happening in the metropolis. Keeping a finger on the pulse of cuisine here is hard, so I hope this helps you to know what you should have on your food radar.

Takashi Saito will be opening Taka by Sushi Saito in the St. Regis in Kuala Lumpur this spring. I hear the counter will be twice as big as the Tokyo main shop, so maybe it will be easier to get into? Sushi Saito in Roppongi is one of the hardest reservations to come by, harder than Sukiyabashi Jiro.

Kyoto Katsugyu, famous for its gyukatsu, has opened its first shop in Tokyo. Japanese wagyu or US sirloin is breaded and deep-fried. 1F Chiyoda 21 Bldg., Kanda Mitoshirocho 9-7, Chiyoda-ku.

The Kyoto Distillery will start producing artisanal gin using Japanese botanicals in early 2016.

Mos Burger has opened an upscale burger shop MOS Classic, with an expanded menu, cocktails, and wine. 1-8-11 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku.

Milanese pizza is now available in Tokyo at Spontini’s. The thick crust is a big change from the Neopolitan style which is more prevalent. Spontini’s has been in Milano since 1953. Two branches in Tokyo, Harajuku (1-10-37 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku) and Shibuya (1-21-3 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku), serve the pizza by-the-slice.

Fans of Omotesando Koffee were sad to see the shop close at the end of last year. Sarutahiko Coffee has opened a branch in the H.I.S. Book and Coffee shop at 1F, Barbizon 7, 4-3-3 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku.

Sage and Fennel in Hiroo with its colorful salads and soups is mostly, but not exclusively, about seasonal vegetables. 5-19-6 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku.

Verve Coffee Roasters from Santa Cruz, California, will be opening in Shinjuku station this April. Some great information on here:

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:

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.

Food Sake Tokyo Update

Food Sake Tokyo

Yukari & Shinji Sakamoto – photo by Gary Stollar

It is the middle of the rainy season. We have been enjoying katsuo (skipjack tuna or bonito) as sashimi, much fatter than usual this time of year as the fish are swimming up north. In the fall when they return south is when they will be really rich in fat. As ume (Japanese apricots, Prunus mume) are in the market we are busy making pickled umeboshi, ume jam, and sweet umeshu for an aperitif later this year.

Izakaya Sakamoto

Katsuo Sashimi

We have had some changes at our company Food Sake Tokyo, named after the book published by The Little Bookroom. The focus of our business is our market visits to Tsukiji Market, depachika, Nihonbashi, Kappabashi, and supermarkets. We really enjoying meeting new people and helping them to explore and better understand Japanese cuisine. We are thankful for their recommendations as we are starting to see friends of former clients as well as clients returning.

We would like to open a cooking school next year. To prepare for that Shinji is taking the next year off from giving tours and is studying Japanese cuisine at Tsuji Culinary School. We are not offering the evening izakaya tours for the time being.

There will be some changes to this blog as we start to include more recipes and tips for cooking at home along with our usual posts on where to eat and shop in Tokyo. Shinji’s studies will finish next March. Once we have found a kitchen to offer classes, we will update it here on our blog.

Thanks for following Food Sake Tokyo and we look forward to someday welcoming you to our kitchen. The plan is to continue offering market visits and to supplement that with cooking classes.

Nihonbashi Sapporoya – Hiyashi Chuka Goma Dare

ImageTokyo has been unseasonably hot this week. My favorite bowl of cold ramen noodles in the whole city is a great little dive called Sapporoya.The ramen shop happens to be across the street from one of my favorite kaiseki/kappō restaurants, Nihonbashi Yukari. I love that on this narrow street you can find two contrasting meals, both exceptional, at different price ranges.

I used to work in Nihonbashi at Takashimaya department store. I came upon Sapporoya  by chance one night when looking for a quick bite to eat with a girlfriend. It was summer and the cold ramen dish was tempting. The first time I had it I think I picked up the large bowl and sipped up the broth. It is rich in umami and has a nutty sesame sauce that brings the whole dish together. When I went to work the next day at Takashimaya and shared my story with Yamada-san (older man who is a gourmet and introduced me to many great spots), he knew immediately of it. I was advised by Yamada-san that the hot bowls of ramen are also very good here. But, I am addicted to the cold ramen with sesame dressing.

I stopped by this week and was so touched that the owners had remembered me. I haven’t been back in five years, but as soon as I came into the shop I was warmly welcomed. It’s a small restaurant and most of the diners are area businessmen, so I guess as a half-Japanese woman I stick out a bit. Regardless, I was happy to be back. I am very sentimental so their kindness in welcoming back  to the shop almost brought tears to my eyes.

The dish is still as I remember. Presented in a large bowl, rich with toppings, and still with lip-smacking sauce. I no longer pick up the bowl at the end, but the thought did cross my mind. When you come into the store you place your order with the cashier. For this dish, be sure to ask for the hiyashi chuka goma dare. I don’t care for Japanese mustard so I also request karashi nuki.

Sapporoya is just minutes from Tokyo Station on the Yaesu side.

Nihonbashi Sapporoya 札幌や

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 3-3-5, B1

中央区日本橋3-3-5, B1

Monday – Friday 11:00~14:30 17:00~21:00

Saturday 11:00~14:30

closed Sunday and holidays

Tokyo Food Guide


photo by Olen Peterson

We can demystify Tsukiji Market, the world’s largest seafood market,


and introduce you to a new sushi neta, like kinmedai (splendid alfonsino) that is pink, slightly sweet, and is succulent.


Introduce you to a wide variety of Japanese pickles.


Lead you to a special bar where cocktails are made with seasonal fruit and vegetables,


or to a bar serving craft beer and sweet potato chips.


Explore the unique izakaya culture from smoky grilled meat joints

to saké specialty restaurants and discover the subtle nuances of saké through flights of saké,


or through the native distilled spirit, shōchū. Yukari was the first non-Japanese to pass the shōchū advisor exam.

DSCN5688Explore street food on the side streets of Tokyo,
depachika sugar grapesphoto by Nancy Matsumoto

or to my old stomping grounds, Takashimaya depachika, to discover sugar-coated muscat grapes and

depachika sashimi matsumoto

photo by Nancy Matsumoto

seasonal sashimi.

Food Sake Tokyo guides are a chef and Japanese fishmonger. We are Tokyo’s food guides. Please contact us here for more information on our market tours.

Food Sake Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market Tour

Tsukiji Market, the world’s largest seafood market, is in the heart of Tokyo. It is a short walk from the glitzy Ginza shopping district and just minutes from the renovated Kabukiza theater. It’s one of Tokyo’s most popular tourist destinations with visitors. And, it is our most popular tour that our company, Food Sake Tokyo, offers. Shinji, a Japanese fishmonger, used to be a buyer at Tsukiji Market so he offers an insider’s perspective to the market.

Shinji at Tsukiji Dolinsky 1

Here, Shinji is being interviewed by food journalist Steve Dolinsky at Tsukiji, for Public Radio International. It’s an insight to the sights and sounds of Tsukiji:

Shinji at Tsukiji Dolinsky 2

Tsukiji Market is scheduled to move to Toyosu, a few kilometers down along Tokyo Bay. Another reason to come and see this historic market before it moves.

Shinji at Tsukiji Dolinsky 3

Shinji is able to talk about all of the seasonal seafood, how it’s prepared, and what it the texture is like. Shinji’s tour focuses on the inner market which is the wholesale area for seafood. It is here that he worked as a buyer. It’s a crazy place to navigate and to really understand what is here and what is what, you need a guide who understands Japanese seafood.

Shinji at Tsukiji Dolinsky 4

One thing you will notice is that there is no stinky fish smell that you find at most fish markets. The fishmongers are very careful to clean and wash down each stall when they close down shop.

Shinji at Tsukiji 5

At the sushi counter Shinji is able to make recommendations on unique seafood that you most likely won’t be able to try at home. He can also help to demystify the culture of dining at a sushi-ya. This time of year we are crazy for kinmédai, alfonsino, which is a pink fleshed fish. The best kinmédai, are harvested from the shallow waters near Chōshi port in Chiba. Steve Dolinsky writes about having kinmédai and includes a photo here.

Shinji at Tsukiji 6

I have to say, most fishmongers are very friendly and have big smiles – just like this one!

Yukari at Tsukiji 1

I also offer tours of Tsukiji Market. The focus of my tour is the outer market which is open to the general public. It is filled with stalls selling produce, pickles, prepared foods, tea, knives, and much more. We are enjoying tamagoyaki (Japanese omelet) on a stick. Reminds me of the Minnesota State Fair – the food on a stick part.

Yukari at Tsukiji 3

I also take clients into the inner market so that they can get a feel for the heart of the market. Here we are looking at fish killed by a special ikéjimé process.

Yukari at Tsukiji 5

The many stalls of the inner market – and the perfect spot for a photo.

Yukari at Tsukiji 7

There is lots to discover at Tsukiji, including learning about herring roe in a sac, and herring roe that has been laid on a piece of kombukomochi kombu.

Yukari Tsukiji OverviewThe view everyone loves – overlooking the inner market and Tokyo Bay.

We look forward to welcoming you to Tokyo and to Tsukiji Market. Here are more details on our tours.

* A special thanks to our clients for letting us share their photos with you.


MetPod photo 201302

Kamasami Kong, Tommy Aoki, and Yukari Sakamoto

I had the great pleasure of doing a MetPod with Kamasami Kong to share information about our new company, Food Sake Tokyo. Click on the link below

Here is Tommy Aoki’s MetPod. He talks about the United Tastes of America competition.


Suji's Pastrami


Suji’s pastrami sandwich. A taste of New York City in Tokyo. Suji’s is the sponsor for the MetPod.  Minato-ku, Azabudai 3-1-5

Food Sake Tokyo Upcoming Market Field Trips




Tuesday, March 12th

10 a.m. to noon

Whether you are looking for new kitchen gadgets or for tableware, you’ll find it all at Kappabashi, the wholesale district for chefs and restaurateurs. Kappabashi is reknowned for its plastic food samples, made into keychains and refrigerator magnets. This guided field trip will introduce you to kitchenware and tableware unique to the Japanese kitchen.

Price is 7,000 Japanese yen and includes a copy of Food Sake Tokyo.

Additional copies of Food Sake Tokyo are available for 2,000 Japanese yen.

Each tour is limited to four participants.

To register e-mail: yukari dot shinji dot sakamoto at gmail dot com


Tsukiji Outer Market

Tuesday, March 19th

9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Tsukiji Market is the world’s largest seafood market. The outer market of Tsukiji, which is open to the general public, is filled with many food shops and restaurants. This guided field trip will introduce you to ingredients essential to the Japanese kitchen; a visit to a knife shop and a kitchenware shop is included.

This tour does NOT include a visit to the inner market where seafood is sold to wholesalers.

Price is 7,000 Japanese yen and includes a copy of Food Sake Tokyo.

Price is 12,000 Japanese yen if attending both Kappabashi and Tsukiji tours.

Additional copies of Food Sake Tokyo are available for 2,000 Japanese yen.

Each tour is limited to four participants.

To register e-mail: yukari dot shinji dot sakamoto at gmail dot com

Food Sake Tokyo

GENERAL CANCELLATION POLICY: Should Food Sake Tokyo need to cancel any or all segments of a program, every effort will be made to re-schedule sessions at a mutually convenient time. If that is not possible, a full refund will be made promptly for sessions canceled by Food Sake Tokyo.

If an individual or group is unable to attend a Food Sake Tokyo program for which they have already enrolled, that person or group may designate a substitute for him/her/them. No additional fees are charged to the participant (substitute attendee). Any financial arrangements made between the original participant and his/her/their substitute is at the discretion of the person originally enrolled. All requests to have a substitute attend a program, however, must be received by phone or e-mail at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled class meeting. When making such a request, please provide the full name and (local, Tokyo) contact phone number and e-mail address of each person who will be taking the place of the originally enrolled individual or group.

LIMITATIONS on LIABILITY: Every possible precaution is taken to ensure your personal safety and the safety of those in your group. However, registration for, and attendance at, all programs is subject to the following condition: the director and staff of Food Sake Tokyo, are released from, and specifically disclaim, all responsibilities for injuries or illness incurred traveling to and from sessions, during sessions, or resulting from food prepared at, or according to recipes distributed during, cooking & tasting sessions, market tours or other field trips, including restaurant meals.

NOTE: Tuition fees for cooking workshops, market tours, and other field trips conducted by Food Sake Tokyo do NOT INCLUDE food & beverage not specifically mentioned in the program description. Tuition does NOT include the cost of local transportation. Any purchases made by participants during class, market tours or field trips are at the discretion of each participant. Participants in all programs are responsible for making arrangements for, and making payment for, their airfare, lodgings, and transportation to/from/within Japan. Participants are also responsible for obtaining and paying for any travel/trip/health insurance coverage they would like to have.