A Rainbow of Pickles

A colorful meal based on Japanese pickles is refreshing and light. Nishiri is a famous pickle shop based in Kyoto. My favorite meal here is the pickle sushi, made with pickles on top of the rice instead of raw fish.

Here are two other set meals composed of pickles including eggplant, daikon stuffed with lemon, turnip stuffed with salmon, and much more. Strict vegetarians should advise the staff that they do not eat fish or meat. The miso soup here is made with kombu dashi and a sweet white miso, Saikyo miso, from Kyoto.

I come to Nishiri when I want some nutrition and the variety of textures and flavors that come with simply fermented vegetables. This shop in Tokyo has a small cafe inside the retail shop, so if you like any pickles, you can buy them to bring home.

Nishiri 西利

Nihonbashi Coredo Muromachi near Mitsukoshimae station

https://www.nishiri.co.jp/mise/coredo/coredo.html

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Best of Japan Tour at Nihonbashi Coredo Muromachi

best of japan map

Food Sake Tokyo is delighted to have guest blogger Janice Espa. Janice is passionate about food and Japan. She is a great photographer and all of the photos here are from Janice. Here is Janice on the Best of Japan Tour now being offered at Coredo Muromachi in Nihonbashi. Arigato Janice!

Coredo Muromachi, in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi area, has launched a special tour; one to taste Japan and learn about regional specialties all within the comfort of the Coredo Muromachi’s recently opened buildings. Escorted by two knowledgeable English-speaking guides, you work your way around the different shops in Coredo Muromachi, see what each shop specializes in, and sample many of the products on sale.

For someone with limited time, or for those unfamiliar with peculiar Japanese creations, this ninety minute introduction to the range of Japanese specialties is top-notch. For the ¥1,000 price tag, it’s a no-brainer. After signing up at Nihonbashi Information Center, which is conveniently located outside Mitsukoshimae Station exit, the tour begins with a description of what you’ll see and the stores you’ll visit that afternoon.

The first stop is Okui Kaiseido 奥井海生堂. The shop sells kombu products from Fukui. There’s a startling shredded kombu, that looks like thick shaves of cotton candy, as well as kombu water that tastes, for lack of more accurate comparison, like a savory version of green tea, or like tea stewed with sea water. It’s odd at first, but refreshing, and something you don’t easily come across or get to sample. (Yukari piping in here – this is one of my favorite kombu vendors in Japan. If you want to buy kombu to take home with you, it is worth making a special trip.)

wagashi

Chefs and wagashi at Tsuruya Yoshinobu

I was captivated by the delicate work at the Kyoto Wagashi store Tsuruya Yoshinobu 鶴屋吉信.  There’s a seasonal menu and also a life-size, edible display by the window that is changed every three weeks.  Food this beautiful is hard to conceptualize, but the flavours are as soft and delightful as the exterior.

At Imoya Kinjiro 芋屋金次郎, you skip the queue and go straight to the samples of hot, crispy matchsticks of fried, candied sweet potato – a specialty from Kyushu’s Shikoku Island.  Then you enjoy a cup of creamy amazake, before nibbling on Satsuma-agé from Q-Jiki, a store specializing in Kagoshima’s local favourite fish cakes. (Yukari – The shop is famous as it deep-fries the sweet potatoes in olive oil before coating it in the candy coating. This is a popular selling point as it is deemed better to fry in olive oil than in other oils.)

fish cake

Q-Jiki 

At Hakuza Nihonbashi 箔座日本橋, store that specializes in crafts made from gold leaf, there’s an impressive display of Ishikawan artistry, including a gold leaf tower, jewellery, pottery, and edible gold leaf flakes for sale – which would make the most elegant furikaké sprinkled over a bowl of rice.

sprinkles

Gold leaf sprinkles for sale

At Ninben Nihonbashi Honten にんべん日本橋本店, you learn how katsuo (skipjack tuna or often called bonito) is dried, smoked, and then shaved to make the highest quality fish flakes, followed by a visit to Dashi Bar Hanare, where you taste some warming soup broth.

katsuo anatomy

Katsuo Anatomy

After traveling from North to South, viewing craftsmanship and tasting goods from Hokkaido to Nagasaki, the tour rounds up nicely at Nihonbashi Hashicho 日本橋箸長.  Hashicho sells chopsticks from all over Japan. The merits and regional differences are evident: diverse shapes and materials, from sharp, wooden edges to lacquer choptsicks. The selection is beautiful, and in some cases exorbitant (1 million yen chopsticks available for purchase). A thoughtful way to finish a tour of Japan: seeing it ‘all together’ through chopsticks from all over the country.  Upon conclusion, you receive a small gift as a token of Coredo’s appreciation for your time.  An afternoon spent tasting Japanese delicacies, presented by knowledgeable concierges in modern, beautiful surroundings, is a win-win.

When the tour was done, I lingered around the Coredo buildings for a bit longer, had some iced matcha, and bought food from the basement to take away for dinner.  After samples of fish cakes, kombu, and amazaké, I enthusiastically purchased Hakkaisan saké, tsukuné (chicken meatball) yakitori, and uni with an Italian twist from Riccio Mania’s exclusively designed, sea urchin-centric menu.  Oishii!

ladies afternoon tea

Afternoon tea at Hakuza Nihonbashi

The Best of Japan tour is on every Saturday at 2 pm and 4 pm

Cost ¥1,000

Duration: 90 minutes

Reservations by email guide@nihonbashi-info.jp or by calling 03-3242-0010

Address:
B1 Coredo Muromachi, 2-2-1 Nihonbashi Muromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo.

 

Nearest stations:

Mitsukoshimae Station, Exit A6 (Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line/Ginza Line)

Shin-Nihonbashi Station, direct access (JR Sobu Line Rapid)

 

If you liked this post, please check out Janice’s other post about Kyoto.

Nishiki Market and Kyoto Uzuki Cooking School

Sake Tasting with JD Kai

 

Janice Espa photoJanice Espa

Janice Espa is a Spanish-Peruvian food enthusiast; an avid traveller and inquisitive taster who explores culture through cuisine.  Janice lives in Sydney where she writes and styles food. Her days are spent visiting grower’s markets, checking out restaurants, and shopping at specialty stores to discover goods from every corner of the world.

Feel free to email suggestions and travel tips, or to contact Janice for her own recommendations, whether you’re visiting Peru, trekking South America or doing a road trip along the east coast of Australia.

Email:  janicespa@gmail.com

Tenmatsu Tempura in Nihonbashi

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Spring is my favorite time of year for tempura as sansai, mountain vegetables, are featured at good restaurants serving tempura. At the top of this box is udo (spikenard), which reminds me of a tender and somewhat bitter white asparagus. The other vegetable is renkon (lotus root). 

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Tenmatsu at Nihonbashi bridge, just between Nihonbashi and Mitsukoshi-Mae stations on the Ginza line, has long been a favorite spot of mine. I used to work at Takashimaya which is just a five-minute walk from here and would sometimes come for a solo lunch. The lunch here is a great bargain at under 1,000 JPY for tempura that is made and served to you piece-by-piece as it comes out of the oil. Here you see the chef’s work spot. Some flour that the ingredients are dipped in before being covered with an egg, flour, and water batter before being deep-fried.

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Here is the udo to start off the meal. At home we blanch udo and then dress it with mayonnaise. But tempura is probably the best way to enjoy it.

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This is a special technique when putting in items to the hot oil, to gently toss away from you into the hot oil. Part of the joy of sitting at the counter at a tempura restaurant is listening to the oil as it sputters. A good tempura chef will know when items are ready to be pulled out of the oil by the sound it makes when it is done frying. On the plate is asparagus and shiitake. My friend got two pieces of shrimp for this course.

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Squid and lotus root. I love the chef’s smile. 🙂

In the large round bowl is the chef’s batter mixture. He also uses two different chopsticks. A wooden pair for the flour and batter and then a metal pair for working in the oil.

Tenmatsu is in my book, Food Sake Tokyo. The chef in this photo is the same chef that is in my book. It is quite busy at lunch time so either go early or late. Be sure to request a seat at the counters on the 1st or 2nd floor. The 3rd floor is tables only and you miss out on watching the chef prepare the tempura in front of you. They are open on Sundays and holidays which is good to keep in mind as most shops in this area are closed on these days. The main shop is in Shibuya.

Note that at lunch time there is a vegetable only tempura set lunch.

Tenmatsu

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Muromachi 1-8-2

03-3241-5840

Lunch 11:00 – 14:00 (Sat., Sun., and holidays until 14:30)

Dinner 17:00 – 21:00