Keisuke Fugu Ramen

Fugu, a fish that has many names: torafugu, pufferfish, tiger blowfish, blowfish, porcupine fish, or globefish. Regardless of what you call it, you probably know that it is the fish that one could die from if it is not handled properly. Nowadays fugu farmers in Japan have figured out how to raise poison-free fugu.

As for the fish, we do eat it in nabe hot pots from time to time. The broth from fugu is rich in umami. I prefer it best deep-fried, glorified fried fish, simply seasoned with salt.

Keisuke Fugu Ramen is in the basement of the Tokyu Plaza Ginza at the Sukiyabashi Ginza crossing. The Fugu shio ramen with soy egg is 1,150 JPY. The staff said this was the most popular bowl. It was a tiny bit on the salty side, but otherwise a good bowl. The noodles are thin, which I prefer. It included nama fu (wheat gluten), bamboo shoot, Napa cabbage, and the fugu sashimi is cured in kombu and garnished with yuzu.

If you come, be sure to order a side of fried fugu.

Keisuke Fugu Ramen

Chuo-ku, Ginza 5-2-1, Tokyu Plaza Ginza B2

中央区銀座5-2-1  B2東急プラザ銀座 B2F

http://www.grandcuisine.jp/keisuke/8daime.html

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Nagato Cheese – Nagano

There are a handful of Japanese cheese producers that I am a big fan of and one of them is Nagato from Nagano. It’s on the top of the mountains, the air is clean and crisp and there are cows. For this Minnesota girl, it was like visiting a friend’s home growing up, but with cheese, and a big selection to choose from. And, the area is filled with birch trees (shirakaba), another nice nod to home.

There is the farm, a retail shop, and a restaurant.

My favorite is the tezukuri gouda miso cheese. Cubes of gouda cheese mixed with Shinshu miso. We love this with wine or saké. There is also ice cream, yogurt, and milk. The restaurant serves pizza, cheese and sausage plates, curry, and  cheesecake.

Nagato Farm Bokujo 長門牧場

長野県小県郡長和町大門3539-2

Nagano-ken, Chiisagata-gun, Nagawa-machi, Daimon 3539-2

http://nagatofarm.com/

Access by train and car (in Japanese):

http://nagatofarm.com/access

If you can’t make it to Nagato, then look for the cheese at the Nagano antenna shop in Ginza. http://www.ginza-nagano.jp/en

Food Sake Tokyo Radar – 2016 October

On top of our radar is the Tsukiji to Toyosu move which has been put on hold. I am trying to keep readers up to date on our blog. It’s changing by the hour and I’ll do what I can to update things here: (2nd link)

https://foodsaketokyo.com/2016/06/21/need-to-know-tsukiji-move-to-toyosu/

https://foodsaketokyo.com/2016/09/01/tsukiji-toyosu-move/

There is a new documentary movie out called Tsukiji Wonderland. The movie will be released in mid-October, but is currently being shown at the movie theater near Tsukiji. Shinji saw it and said it’s very good. Speakers in the movie include Harvard professor and author of the best book written about Tsukiji, Ted Bestor, and several famous Japanese chefs.

http://tsukiji-wonderland.jp/en/

We are very excited to hear that Singapore’s Bee Cheng Hiang has opened in Ginza. If you haven’t tried the barbecue minced pork, you are in for a sweet and meaty surprise. We often ate this when we lived in Singapore. Usually as a snack with beer. 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/beechenghiangjapan Ginza 5-6-9

In Ginza, the Tokyu Plaza has finally opened up. Highlights include City Bakery in the basement, Bareburger, Tsurutontan, and a Greek restaurant from Australia, The Apollo.

http://ginza.tokyu-plaza.com/en/

A new coffee shop in Toranomon, Caffeineholic for organic caffeine drink (mattcha for those of you who don’t like coffee) and hot dogs. Minato-ku, Toranomon 1-4-7

http://www.iamcaffeineholic.jp/

A Russian sake sommelier, Dmitry Bulakh, has opened a sake bar, Twelv.. He worked a the popular sake bar Musshu Mizuki in Ginza prior to this. Looks like it’s on the pricey side, so not sure if/when I’ll be making it here, but my friends who have been have said it’s a cool space and that there’s great sake here. Minato-ku, Nishi-Azabu 4-2-4

https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1307/A130702/13199359/

http://www.twelv.in/

A small bit of scandal in the saké world, not by the Japanese, but by non-Japanese trying to perhaps make some money off of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate attempt at ranking Japanese saké. Journalist W. Blake Gray has it all covered on his blog:

http://blog.wblakegray.com/2016/09/some-facts-for-wine-advocates-sake.html

Midori Sushi

Midori Sushi is a sushiya chain, popular both with locals and tourists, that is known for its basement bargain prices. When we query our preschool son to pick what to have for meals out, it is often sushi. Our go-to place is Choshi Maru which is in our area. Choshi is a famous fishing port in Chiba and the restaurant gets a lot of its seafood directly from the port. But this evening we decided to break from routine and check out Midori Sushi.

We arrived before 5:00 p.m. and there was already a line of mostly elderly diners. Yes, it was the retirement crowd. Every time I have passed a Midori Sushi, there is always a line. We waited for about 15 minutes before being seated. One look at the menu and it is apparent why everyone loves coming here, it is very cheap. The question is how is the quality?

The chirashi zushi bowl on the left above was only 1,000 JPY ($10 USD). It was made of tuna, katsuo, kanpachi, two types of squid, shrimp, ikura, tamago, anago, and pickles of takuan and gobo. The sushi set on the right was 1,600 JPY ($16 USD) and included ikura, uni, herring roe, and much more. The neta pieces were very big, so it is a full meal. Is this silly? The two of us could have dinner for about $25 and leave full and satisfied. Lunch is even cheaper.

The rice is Yamagata haenuki and is nice for sushi. This rice is touted for its nice texture, inherent sweetness, and the fact that even if it is cold it still delicious. This is a key point when it comes to take-away sushi. The branch we went to had a small refrigerator in the front of the shop for sushi-to-go. The prices there were even cheaper than dining in, and at the time we were leaving, many of the sushi packs were discounted by about 30%.

So, the quality of the seafood? It was good. The tuna was very nice and the anago seems to be cooked in house was also very good. For the price, it is a great value.

If you are traveling in Tokyo and are on a budget, then put this on your radar. If you do not have a budget, then go elsewhere. This chain is kid-friendly if you are traveling with your family. On this Friday evening the suburban restaurant was filled mostly with retirees when we were seated. As we left, it was filling up with families. Service is friendly and there were a lot of seasonal seafood options as well as many small plates built around seafood starting at about 600 JPY.

The beverage list includes beer, sake, and shochu. We’ll be back. This may become our new go-to sushiya for meals with our son. As long as we avoid the peak dining hours when the wait could be long.

Midori Sushi’s main shop is in Umegaoka in Setagaya-ku is their biggest store. Branches can be found in Ginza, Shibuya, Akasaka, and a standing sushiya in Ikebukuro. Addresses are below in English.

http://www.sushinomidori.co.jp/tenpo_e.html

 

 

Ginza Hageten Kushiage

Hageten is a popular tempura and kushiage restaurant in Ginza. While many are familiar with tempura, kushiage is another great dish that is deep-fried, but covered with panko (Japanese bread crumbs) instead of a flour and egg batter.

Hageten’s “service lunch” starts at only 820 JPY for 6 skewers, salad, rice, miso soup, and pickles. Diners can get seconds on rice and miso soup. While I declined the generous offer, a salaryman at the counter was happy to get seconds on both.

The six skewers on a recent lunch were:

  1. kisu (sillago whitefish)
  2. kabocha squash
  3. pork and leeks
  4. tsukune (ground chicken) and celery
  5. tofu and cheese
  6. uzura (quail egg)

The miso soup was made with shijimi (Corbicula clams) and an awasemiso (blend of red and white miso). The rice, kuri gohan, was studded with fresh chestnuts which are in season now.

This is a great lunch if you are in Ginza. Hageten is several floors. The kushiage restaurant is in the basement. I loved my seat where I could see the chef’s mis en place including an egg batter and bread crumbs. The kushiage was lightly coated, delicate jacket of panko, and not oily.

Chef Takaishi-san was friendly and easy to chat with. He told me that he is off on Fridays, so I’ll try to come back on another day, not Friday. 🙂

I asked him about sending my vegetarian friends there for skewers. He said it would be best if the hotel concierge could call ahead and request a vegetarian only skewers and that they would be able to accommodate that request. On the fly it may be difficult. And, not sure if they could change the miso soup.

I haven’t had kushiage in a  long time, but that’s about to change. With this central location and good price, it’s hard to beat.

Hageten ハゲ天

Chuo-ku, Ginza 3-4-6 中央区銀座3-4-6

www.hageten.com

 

CNN Tokyo Point of View

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Filming for CNN Tokyo POV

We had the great pleasure of working with CNN International for a new television show called Point of View. In the show you see my point of view as I go shopping for food in Ginza. I won’t tell you more, until the show is out. For now, here is the times that the program is scheduled to be shown in the US (Eastern Standard Time). Be sure to tune your television to CNN International.

http://us.cnn.com/specials/travel/tokyo-pov

The producer and cameramen we worked with were great and very proactive in reaching out to the shops we wanted to film at. We are so excited to share a small bit of the great food world in Tokyo.

Our tours of markets to Tokyo include Tsukiji, depachika, and antenna shops. In this Tokyo POV show you will see a peak at what we include in our tours.

NOTE – following are showtimes in the US for CNN International. I will update with Japan times if/when I get them.

Friday 8/12/16

530am ET

Saturday 8/13/16

930am ET

Sunday 8/14/16

1130pm ET

 Tuesday 8/16/16

1230pm ET

 Wednesday 8/17/16

430am ET

Gotta Get – Okinawa Ryukyu Glass

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Okinawa Ryukyu Glass

Selecting tableware is a very important part of the Japanese dining experience. Glassware is also an integral part of regional expressions in Japan. I am a big fan of the Ryukyu glass from Okinawa. Okinawa is a tropical paradise in Japan. Ryukyu is the name of the former independent kingdom, which is now Okinawa. Ryukyu glass is colorful and on the table it is light and refreshing, like being on the islands.

These glasses are perfect for the local drink, awamori, served on the rocks. But I also use it for milk, juice, and iced coffee. The cups are sturdy and easy to wash.

The Okinawa antenna shop, Washita Shop, in Ginza, has a nice selection of Ryukyu glass on the basement level and one of the staff members is a Ryukyu glass specialist. The selection is constantly changing, so if you live in Tokyo, it is easy to stop by every now and then to see what is in stock.

The first floor of the shop is for food and has Tokyo’s largest selection of awamori. The basement floor has tableware, clothes, and music. The local music is melodic and can be high-spirited, but some of it melancholy.

Better yet, take a trip to Okinawa and start your collection there.

Okinawa Washita Shop

Chuo-ku, Ginza 1-3-9

http://www.washita.co.jp/info/shop/ginza/

awamori  泡盛

Ryukyu glass 琉球ガラス

Okinawa 沖縄

 

Ginza Akomeya

Akomeya Ginza

Ginza Akomeya

For one-stop shopping for food, tableware, kitchenware, and lunch, I highly recommend Ginza Akomeya. The restaurant offers a colorful lunch rich with small dishes. While not vegetarian, it is vegetable-friendly and nourishing.

The retail part of the store is curated offering great products for the pantry. Essentials like mirin, sesame oil, and soy sauce as well as fun condiments like yuzu kosho or ponzu. The tableware and kitchenware selection is also lovely. Pick up a donabe (earthenware pot) for cooking rice on the stovetop.

There is a kome (rice) counter where you can have your rice freshly polished. The selection is impressive, bringing in varietals from all over Japan. Some of our favorites are sold here like Hokkaido Yumepirika, Yamagata Tsuyahime, Toyama Milky Queen and Niigata Uonuma Koshihikari.

Lunch is very popular, so come early or late. The rice is cooked in a donabe. Dinner is also a big affair, and there is a nice selection of saké. In the afternoon the shop offers traditional Japanese sweets. The menu with photos is here:

http://www.akomeya.jp/akomeyakitchen/menu/

Akomeya Tokyo

Chuo-ku, Ginza 2-2-6 中央区銀座2-2-6

http://www.akomeya.jp/shop/ginza.php

Ginza Bareburger

One of the best burgers I have had in a while is at Bareburger in the new Tokyu Plaza in Ginza. The organic burger is made from Aussie beef. It’s a meaty and hearty burger. I had the Standard (1,380 JPY) and Shinji had the Buck Wild with a fried egg and fried onions (1,640 JPY). We shared a large serving of onion rings and fries (1,050 JPY), sold as side dishes. The prices seemed fair for organic ingredients and for the great location and ambience. Staff are friendly and genki. I drink a lot of water with my meals and the staff were great to keep my water cup filled. This often goes ignored at other restaurants. Arigato.

The first Bareburger shop is in Jiyugaoka, but that is a neighborhood I just never get to. The Ginza location, just near the Sukiyabashi crossing, close to Ginza and Yurakucho stations, is very convenient. This is on the 10th floor and has lovely window-side seats that overlook Ginza. The shop is also kid-friendly. Bareburger is an import from NYC to Tokyo.

Bareburger Ginza at Tokyu Plaza

Chuo-ku, Ginza 5-2-1, Tokyu Plaza 10F   中央区銀座5-2-1, Tokyu Plaza 10F

http://bareburger.co.jp/ginza/index.html

Access to Ginza Tokyu Plaza

http://ginza.tokyu-plaza.com/access/

Tokyu Plaza Mall officially opens at 11 a.m., but there are a few coffee shops and bakeries, including The City Bakery in the B2 level that opens at 7:30 a.m.

Gotta Get – Furikake Pen

We have just returned from a trip to Western Japan and one of my favorite things I brought back as an omiyage for myself is this furikake pen that happens to say yukari on it. Yukari is a furikake made from red shiso leaves that are dried and minced with salt. I love it as a topping over rice, but it also makes for quick pickles when massaged into cucumbers or cabbage. It is also can brighten up a salad dressing or be used as a seasoning for popcorn.

The pen was designed by the president of Mishima, a company that is known for yukari furikake. Mishima is based in Hiroshima. Here is a link to the US site for the furikake:

http://www.mishima.com/cgi-bin/mishima/38021.html

The yukari furikake also comes with bits of dried ume (salted apricots), also oishii.

http://www.mishima.com/cgi-bin/mishima/38020.html

On a recent visit to the Hiroshima antenna shop in Ginza, I see that it is also being sold in Tokyo. The pen cap comes off and can be refilled.

Now, I have my own personalized furikake pen. 🙂

 

Tau Setouchi Hiroshima Antenna Shop

Ginza 1-6-10 銀座1-6-10

http://www.tau-hiroshima.jp.e.fk.hp.transer.com/

If you do make it to the Hiroshima antenna shop, ask for some brandy-infused momiji Mi. You’ll thank me later.