Kakigori

kakigori

Kakigōri Shave Ice

Tokyo summers are terribly hot and horribly humid. We seek refuge in kakigōri, shave ice, topped with toppings sweetened condensed milk, mattcha, azuki beans, and fruit preserves. The only problem with going out for kakigōri is that this time of year there are usually long lines, often outdoors. We beat the heat at home with a kakigōri machine so we can have shave ice any time.

Look for kakigōri machines at electronic shops like Bic Camera or Yodobashi Camera.

This machine came with two plastic cups for freezing water for ice. The recipe book also suggests freezing milk with sweetened condensed milk and strawberry jam that is then shaved. We have been fun playing around with the variations. My favorite so far is this rhubarb jam and sweetened condensed milk.

If you are visiting Japan, look for small flags with this kanji 氷 (kakigōri) in front of their shops.

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What to Eat in Tokyo Now

 

Tokyo summers are hot, humid, and in my opinion, horrible. I don’t know about you, but my appetite wanes and some days it can be hard to get motivated to eat. Here are some things that I look forward to eating this time of year. In this list I am including some dishes or restaurants I haven’t been to, but are on my radar for the summer. If you make it to any of these, please reply to this blogpost, I’d love to hear your impressions.

Dominique Ansel’s Sweet Corn Ice Cream http://www.foodandwine.com/blogs/corn-ice-cream-grilled-corn-cob-tokyos-newest-dessert We love this shop so much it is where we came to celebrate my birthday. There is a second floor café with great savory dishes like avocado toast and chicken pot pie. This summer’s sweet corn ice cream looks amazing. (Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 5-7-14 渋谷区神宮前5-7-14)

Kakigori shaved ice brings me back to my first visits to Japan from Minnesota. My favorite was the miruku (milk) topping, which is actually sweetened condensed milk. Other great toppings include green tea and red bean paste.

sapporoya-hiyashi-chuka

Nihonbashi Sapporoya Chilled Ramen with Sesame Dressing

Chilled Ramen at Nihonbashi Sapporoya. This is my favorite bowl of ramen in the summer. If you’ve never had cold ramen, let this be your first.  https://foodsaketokyo.com/2013/10/13/nihonbashi-sapporoya/

Baird Beer Taproom in Takadanobaba. I haven’t been, but this is on my summer Go List. Nothing better to cool down with than cold beer. This is my favorite craft beer in Japan, and this new shop’s menu includes kushiage (meat and vegetables that are skewered, dusted with panko, and deep-fried). See you there. http://bairdbeer.com/en/tap/takadanobaba.html

kintame-bubuchazuke

Kintame Bubuchazuke

A meal of Japanese pickles is cooling and refreshing. My favorite pickle shop is Monzennakacho’s Kintame. https://foodsaketokyo.com/2011/06/30/kintame/

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Tsukishima Monjayaki

One crazy food I crave in the summer is monjayaki, Tokyo’s version of a savory pancake that is cooked over a hot iron grill. Sitting at the table is hot, and a good excuse to drink ice cold beer. Tsukishima is a neighborhood that has a street lined with monjayaki shops. Best to go at night as the area comes to life. Most shops are closed at lunch, but a few are open, if this is your only time to come. https://foodsaketokyo.com/2011/07/06/monjayaki-okame-hyottoko-ten/

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Summer Saké

Cooling down with saké in the summer is more interesting when drinking summer saké. Saké made for drinking in the summer tends to be a little lower in alcohol, sometimes frizzante, and often bottled in light blue or clear bottles. Ask for natsu sake at your retail shop or when dining out.

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Kagurazaka Meisyan Tan Tan Men

Spicy and hot tan tan men noodles are also on my mind this time of year. Eating this dish I usually work up a sweat, which somehow seems to cool me down a bit. It’s also a good excuse to have a cold beer. This bowl is from Meisyan 梅香 in Kagurazaka, with a female chef in the kitchen (woo-hoo!). Shinjuku-ku, Yokoteramachi 37-39, Nakajima Daiichi Bldg. 新宿区横寺町37-39中島第一ビル

On this same theme, I also love having curry in the summer. Here is a list of some curries in Tokyo worth seeking out. https://foodsaketokyo.com/category/curry/

tsurutontan-tomato-udon

Tsurutontan Tomato Udon

Finally, cold noodles, soba, udon, or somen. Pop into any noodle shop and seek out the cold noodles. In particular, I am a huge fan of the seasonal udon menu at Tsurutontan, with branches throughout the city and at Haneda airport.  https://foodsaketokyo.com/2014/08/12/roppongi-tsurutontan-udon/

 

 

 

Koganei Kakigori Cafe Cula

Cafe Cula Kakigori

Cafe Cula Kakigori

Tokyo has just gone through the longest heat wave on history, eight days of temperatures over 35 degrees. One way to cool down in Japanese summers is with shaved ice, kakigōri. Look for the simple kanji sign 氷, usually written in a bright red kanji on a square blue and white flag.

We live out on the Chūo line and did not have the energy to head into the city. Cafe Cula in Koganei uses tennen (natural) ice. It is very delicate and melts quickly so you have to dig in. The sweet sauces are all made from scratch. I went with passionfruit and the tart and aromatic fruit was just what I needed. I am spoiled to have had such nice ice and am afraid others will be disappointing after this one.

Cafe Cula only has a handful of seats inside and the rest of the seating is outdoors under shade. It is open from 2-5 p.m. from mid-July to the end of August.

Cafe Cula

Koganei-shi, Nukui Minami-cho 1-25-4 小金井市貫井南町1-25-4

www.ristoranteosawa.com/pg95.html

twitter.com/kakigorikoganei

Some other shops for kakigori in the city:

https://foodsaketokyo.com/2011/07/29/digging-into-an-ice-cold-kakigori/

https://foodsaketokyo.com/2010/08/22/kakigori-shaved-ice-%E6%B0%B7/

Toraya Cafe in Omotesando

 

 

There is no better way to beat the Tokyo heat in the middle of the day than with an ice-cold sweet. This suika (watermelon) mizore at Toraya Cafe in Omotesando Hills hits the spot. What caught my attention to this when I first spotted it on a friend’s facebook page was that it comes with a rum syrup.

The bottom of the glass has a not too sweet kuromitsu (brown sugar) and rum syrup. It was a little thick so I am guessing that it had a little bit of Toraya’s famous An Paste (a creamy azuki paste that I love on toast).  On top of the watermelon ice was some azuki beans as well as some soy milk ice cream. This is part of a summer promotion and is only available in August.

Toraya Cafe is perfect if you are by yourself. It’s also a great place to visit with a friend. While Omotesando and Harajuku can be filled with people I find this is usually a tranquil spot to relax over Japanese sweets. The cafe also serves a light lunch but it is the wafu sweets that make this a special place for me. This online menu has great photos of their menu.

There is also a counter that sells some of their most popular items. Toraya Cafe also has branches in Roppongi Hills and in Aoyama.

Toraya Cafe

Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 4-12-10, Omotesando Hills B1

 

Summer Foods in Tokyo

Kinozen in Kagurazaka

A reader of Food Sake Tokyo recently contacted me regarding her upcoming trip to Tokyo. She asked if there were certain foods she should try in the summer in Japan. Here is my list of favorite Japanese food during the steamy months of July and August. If you can only have one dish, then make it the chilled ramen noodles at Sapporo-ya #4. There’s a photo of it in my book, Food Sake Tokyo. Click on the links for restaurant information.

1. Kakigori – shaved ice with toppings. Click for my favorite restaurants.

2. Cold Soba is great all-year long, but especially in summer.

3. Cold Udon is becoming popular, and is much more filling than soba.

4. Hiyashi Chuka Gomadare at Sapporo-ya in Nihonbashi. Chilled ramen noodles in a large bowl with vegetable toppings and an umami-rich sesame dressing. Lip-smacking good. Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 3-3-5, Basement 1. 03-3275-0024. Monday – Friday 11:00 – 21:30, Saturday 11:00 – 16:00. Closed Sunday and holidays.

Also, check out Ivan Ramen‘s websites. He often makes seasonal ramen, suited for each season.

5. Reimen – chilled Korean noodles. Most Korean restaurants will serve this dish. I like Pyon Pyon Sha in Ginza. Chuo-ku, Ginza 3-2-15, Ginza Glasse 11F . 03-3535-3020. Open Mon-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun & hols 11am-10pm

www.pyonpyonsya.co.jp

Kintame Bubuchazuke

6. Kintame for a full meal based around a variety of Japanese pickles.

7. While the most convenient beer gardens are found on department store roofs, my favorite is Meiji Kinen Kan in Akasaka for its pedicured lawn, quiet space, and lack of drunk salarymen.

Digging into an Ice Cold Kakigori

On summer visits to Japan as a child my favorite sweets were kakigori topped with milk. Only when I grew up did I realize that it wasn’t milk but it was sweetened condensed milk. No better way to cool down in the Tokyo heat than a bowl of shaved ice topped with a sweet syrup. Flavors like mattcha and azuki, mango, or anzu (apricots) will have you smacking your lips. Many kanmidokoro (Japanese cafes with traditional sweets) serve kakigori, but usually only for the summertime so this is the best time to dig in.

Here are a few places to dig into kakigori in the summer. Shops usually put a small flag outside with the kanji for ice on it. 氷

Mihashi

Mihashi

Mihashi’s original shop in Ueno (Taito-ku, Ueno 4-9-7) opened during the Edo period. This location, in the basement of Tokyo station in the area called Ichiban Gai, is more centrally located.

Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 1-9-1, Tokyo Station, Ichiban Gai B1

Morinoen

Morinoen

Walking around the historic Ningyocho district is always fun. Morinoen is a tea shop that specializes in houjicha. Here is their houjicha kakigori. You can smell the houjicha being roasted out on the street. Pick up a bag of the tea while you are here to take home. It’s great both hot or cold.

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-4-9

Naniwaya

Naniwaya

Naniwaya in Azabu-Juban is renowned for its taiyaki (fish-shaped pancakes stuffed with azuki).  It’s been grilling taiyaki for over a century. Step inside and grab a seat for an anzu (apricot) kakigori.

Minato-ku, Azabu-Juban 1-8-14

Kinozen

Kinozen

Kagurazaka is also a fabulous place for walking around and Kinozen is my favorite place for a kakigori.

Shinjuku-ku, Kagurazaka 1-12

Toraya

Toraya

Toraya in Ginza serves up a yummy ichigo (strawberries) kakigori.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 7-8-6, 2nd floor