Food & Wine Magazine’s 2009 Tokyo Go List

Tokyo

Tokyo

My contribution to Food & Wine magazine’s 2009 Go List for Tokyo:

Japanese chefs are dictating the world’s dining trends with their fierce devotion to seasonality and respect for aesthetics.

GINZA HARUTAKA

Chef Harutaka Takahashi may have a Michelin-starred resume, but he isn’t showy. He turns exceptional seafood into perfect sashimi and sushi in a simple space down the street from Tsukiji Market.
We loved: Anago (eel) broiled in a sweet soy-based sauce.

IVAN RAMEN

Native New Yorker Ivan Orkin faced skeptics when he opened a 10-seatramen counter in the Setagaya neighborhood almost two years ago. But now, ramen connoisseurs make pilgrimages to eat his homemade noodles doused in a chicken-and-seafood broth and topped with luxurious slabs of roast pork or nests of pickled bamboo shoots.
We loved: Whole wheat noodles with slow-cooked charred pork topped with a spicy sesame-and-peanut salad.
Insider tip: Ask for the gentei, or daily special.

KONDO

At this tiny tempura temple, baskets of seasonal vegetables sit on the counter waiting to be battered, deep-fried and served right out of the bubbling oil. Chef Fumio Kondo carefully monitors the temperature of the oil and the cooking time to create a delicate, crisp shell. He serves sweet soytsuyu dipping sauce on the side, but purists stick to salt.
We loved: Lacy nests of julienned carrots and Satsumaimo sweet potato.

TOFUYA UKAI

At this 100-year-old reconstructed sake brewery, the classic kaiseki courses, like seasonal sashimi and seared wagyu, are delicious. The highlight is soy in several forms, including decadent twice-cooked tofu and freshly made tofu simmering in a hot pot of creamy soy milk.
We loved: Deep-fried tofu spread with dengaku miso.
Insider tip: The gift shop sells jars of the sweet dengaku miso.

WAKETOKUYAMA

Revered chef Hiromitsu Nozaki owns several other places in Tokyo, but he likes to hang out behind the counter at his little kappo restaurant (a relaxed relative of kaiseki) in upscale Hiroo. Nozaki preaches the philosophy ofshun, or seasonality, as he assembles gorgeous dishes like uni-toppedshimeji mushrooms.
We loved: Abalone with kimo (liver) sauce and toasted nori.

Hot Food Zone: Kagurazaka

Once renowned for its geisha houses, this area near Iidabashi Station is now called “Petit France” for its many brasseries, bistros and wine bars. Also here are some of the best places to eat nearly every style of Japanese cuisine, like steamed dumplings at 50 Ban, tempura at geisha house–turned–restaurant Tenko and traditional sweets at Baikatei.

Where to Eat Near: Omotesando’s Shops

MAISEN TONKATSU

Hidden behind the Omotesando Hills shopping complex, this is a classic spot for humble tonkatsu: fried panko-breaded pork cutlets made from prized regional breeds like Okinawa’s red benibuta hog.

OMOTESANDO UKAI-TEI

At this luxe new teppanyaki restaurant, Venetian glass and European art set a fancy stage for chefs grilling extraordinary seafood, vegetables and marbled beef.

YANMO

Seafood from the Izu Peninsula, brought in daily, elevates the reasonably priced lunch specials at this excellent restaurant on a side street behind Comme des Garçons.

http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/go-list-2009-tokyo-city-guide

 

Book Review – Japanese Kitchen Knives

Japanese Kitchen Knives

Japanese Kitchen Knives by Hiromitsu Nozaki with Kate Klippensteen, Kodansha International, 2009, 160 pp.

Revered chef Hiromitsu Nozaki’s cookbooks in Japanese are rich with classic recipes and techniques. Finally, his first book in English and it does not disappoint. Japanese knives are revered around the world and chef Nozaki clearly defines why in this handsome book. He starts off not with knives, but with cutting posture, the proper stance and even at what angle to face the cutting board. We tried this at home and realized quickly what a revelation this small change made in the kitchen.

While there are many Japanese knives Nozaki focuses on the main three that most chefs work with daily, usuba, deba, and yanagiba. Photos and clear directions guide readers through each step on working with these knives. Classic cutting techniques covered include katsuramuki for paper thin rolls of daikon, sasagaki for thin vegetable slivers, and sanmai oroshi for filleting fish. The tutorials on cutting sashimi are worth the price of the book alone. Easy and delicious recipes are included so that you can put to practice these newly acquired skills.

Finally, essential information on caring and sharpening your knives round out this book which will become a reference book that you will go back to many times.