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/

 

 

 

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What and Where to Eat in Tokyo

Iron Chef Kimio Nonaga at Nihonbashi Yukari

Iron Chef Kimio Nonaga at Nihonbashi Yukari

Updated May, 2016

I often am asked for restaurant suggestions in Tokyo. Wow. Where does one begin? The food is amazing, from the high end kaiseki restaurants and sushi counters to the neighborhood ramen shop or izakaya. Even on a budget it is very easy to eat well in Tokyo.

Let me put here just some of my recommendations of restaurants based on the types of food one should try when visiting. Also, one should consider location as the city is so big and there are so many great restaurants, it may not be necessary to traverse the metropolis.

Sushi – Ginza Harutaka or Kyubey for high end. Both are in Ginza.

Tonkatsu – Maisen (Omotesando) or Katsukura (Shinjuku)

Soba – Yabu Soba (Kanda), Muto (Nihonbashi), or Kanda Matsuya (Kanda)

Tempura – Kondo (Ginza), Zezankyo (Monzennakacho), or Tenko (Kagurazaka), Taniya (Ningyocho)

Value-priced tempura – Tenmatsu (Nihonbashi)

Tofu – Tofuya Ukai (Shiba Koen) – high-end and not exclusively vegetarian.

Pickles – Kintame (Tokyo Station or Monzennakacho) or Nishiri (Nihonbashi)

Meat – New York Grill and Bar (Shinjuku). Exquisite views and service – a splurge. Alternatively Ukaitei teppanyaki (Ginza or Omotesando) – also upscale service, without the view of the New York Grill and Bar. I also love Dons de la Nature in Ginza as the chef cooks the wagyu in a kiln he built just for this purpose. The interior is stuck in the 70s but the steak is good. Just be sure to confirm the price of the steak before ordering as it is market price.

Izakaya – Yamariki (Morishita) or Saiseisakaba (Shinjuku or Monzennakacho).

Kaiseki – Nihonbashi Yukari  (Nihonbashi), Waketokuyama (Hiroo), Kikunoi (Akasaka). Note, I’ve been told that Nihonbashi Yukari no longer accepts reservations from non-Japanese. Not sure if this is true and will update this after I speak with the chef.

 

Ramen – Ginza Kagari is my favorite at the moment. Afuri for the yuzu shio is also excellent. Alternatively,  Ippudo (Ueno) or Kyushu Jangara (Nihonbashi or Harajuku). Note that Ginza Kagari in the link above has closed and is now at Ginza 6-4-12 and is now cashless (credit card, Suica, etc.).

Unagi – Nodaiwa (Higashi Azabu)

Monjayaki – Okame Hyottoko Ten (Tsukishima) or Sometaro (Asakusa).

Yakitori – Birdland (Ginza) or Isehiro (Kyobashi)

Oden – Otafuku (Asakusa) or Ogura (Ginza)

My short list of where to drink in Tokyo.

A similar list of culinary highlights in Tokyo from Indagare.

I have also contributed to these great food guides for:

Saveur Tokyo City Guide

Punch Tokyo City Guide

Kintame Kyoto Pickles Restaurant 近為

Kintame Bubuchazuke

Kintame Bubuchazuke

One of the great delights of dining in Japan is the cornucopia of restaurants that specialize in one type of cuisine, as in the recent reviews of ramen at Ivan Ramen.

Another unique dining experience is a meal based on pickles. Kintame, a store based in Kyoto, has two restaurants in Tokyo where diners can indulge in a colorful variety of salty, tart, piquant, and sweet pickles.

This type of restaurant is more commonly found in Kyoto, which is renowned for its pickles. So the opportunity to have this in Tokyo is a fun treat.

Pickles find their way to most Japanese meals. At curry shops the fukujinzuke of seven different pickled vegetables often accompanies the dish.

Yakisoba is garnished with bright red pickled ginger, benishouga. Sushi is served with thin sliced ginger, gari, as a palate cleanser between bites.

What makes Kintame worth the trip? It is the opportunity to try so many different pickles at the same time. There are a variety of pickling methods that include salt (shiozuke), vinegar (suzuke), miso (misozuke), soy sauce (shouyuzuke), and nuka (nukazuke).

Regionality also plays a role. Narazuke, or pickles originating from Nara, are melons and gourds that have been pickled for two to three years in sake lees (sake kasu) and are quite heady. Kyozuke, the pickles from Kyoto, are often delicate and refreshing.

Kintame’s most central location is at Daimaru department store’s restaurant floor (12th floor) at Tokyo station’s Yaesu exit.

The menu is limited, and the suggested dish to order is the bubuchazuke. Select a fish that is marinated in miso or sake lees; it is then grilled and will accompany an impressive variety of pickles, usually over a dozen.

The meal ends with ochazuke (rice with green tea). Come on an empty stomach and delight as you nibble your way through seasonal vegetables that may include eggplant, daikon, cucumber, bamboo shoots, gourd, melon, radish, and ginger, just to name a few.

If there are any in particular that you like, be sure to ask your server who will write down the name. On your way out of the restaurant prepackaged pickles are sold to take home.

Kintame is good for groups but is also great for the solo diner looking to have a nourishing, contemplative meal.

The Monzennakacho location is very popular on weekends and there is usually a line. Also, the schedule changes depending on if there is a holiday, so it is best to call ahead if you are making a special trip.

A meal at Kintame is one that you will remember for a long time. And, if you are lucky, you may be introduced to some new pickles to incorporate into your meals at home.

Kintame at Daimaru
1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku,
tel: 03-6895-2887
www.kintame.co.jp

This article first appeared in the American Chamber of Commerce Journal:

http://accjjournal.com/kintame/

My personal favorite location of Kintame in Tokyo is at Monzennakacho.

Koto-ku, Tomioka 1-14-3

03-3641-4561

Kintame in Ningyocho 人形町の近為

Kintame in Ningyocho 人形町の近為

Kintame in Ningyocho 人形町の近為

Kintame in Ningyocho 人形町の近為

Kintame in Ningyocho 人形町の近為

If you are really passionate for pickles, a meal at Kintame (from Kyoto) is not to be missed. Ask for the bubuchazuke, an array of pickles along with a grilled fish that has been marinated in miso or sake kasu. The most convenient location is at Daimaru’s Restaurant Floor at Tokyo station. The other shop, in Monzennakacho, is on a small side street that leads up to the Fukagawa Fudosan temple and has a nostalgic feel to it. This shitamachi neighborhood is a great area to walk around and is off the tourists’ beaten path. The Monzennakacho location is extremely popular on weekends and there can be a long line. There is also a retail shop a few doors down if you want to bring home any of the pickles you liked.

This shop in Ningyocho is a retail shop only – but well worth a visit if you are in the neighborhood. Below is the address for the quaint restaurant in Monzennakacho (Koto-ku, Tomioka 1-14-3).

Kintame 近為

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-5-2 中央区日本橋人形町2-5-2

Tel. 03-3639-9439

no holidays

Kintame 近為

Koto-ku, Tomioka 1-14-3 江東区富岡1-14-3

Tel. 03-3641-4561

11:00 – 17:00, closed Monday

www.kintame.co.jp/ (Japanese)

Take exit #1 on the Tozai line at Monzennakacho that exits onto the street leading up to the temple. Kintame is on your left just before the temple.