Food Sake Tokyo Radar

Sharing food and drinks news that are on our radar.

I am most excited about the new shops that have opened up at Nakameguro’s Koukashita, including a branch of NYC’s City Bakery and a new Tsutaya bookstore, small but worth visiting. The shops are all underneath the Toyoko train tracks.

Had a falafel sandwich at City Bakery which sparked an informative list of other Tokyo shops selling falafel: Ta-im, No. 4, , and Kuumba du Falafel.

SABAR + is a new concept restaurant in Ueno’s Marui department store that serves saba (Pacific mackerel) with a bottomless bowl of rice that is blend of white and genmai (brown rice). It’s unusual to not offer a white rice only option, but the company believes that the blend is a better match with the fatty fish, and it is also better for you. Taito-ku, Ueno 6-15-1, Ueno Marui depachika B1, SABAR + (Saba plus).

Umami Burger announced this summer that they will be opening in Tokyo. No word since then, but here is the press release. The chef behind this, Adam Fleischman, is also the creator of 800 Degrees Neopolitan Pizza at Shinjuku NEWoMaN. I’ve tried going several times, but the line is always too long.

Single origin chocolate at Dandelion, from San Francisco, is in the fun neighborhood of Kuramae. Kudos to the team for picking an up-and-coming area for their premier shop in Japan (Taito-ku, Kuramae 4-14-6).

While in Kuramae, get your coffee at Leaves Coffee Apartment, which opened in May (Taito-ku, Komagata 2-2-10).

Living in NYC, I loved going to Café Habana, which felt quintessentially NYC for cubano sandwiches and grilled corn dusted with cheese and chili. I can still remember that first bite of corn with umami and heat and sitting in the restaurant on Prince Street. Café Habana is now in Shibuya (Shibuya-ku, Sarugakucho 2-11).

Near Ebisu a few shops for burgers, curry, and an izakaya, have opened up in an area called Brick Stand near Ebisu Garden Place.

Onibus Coffee has opened near Nakameguro Station (Meguro-ku, Kamimeguro 2-14-1).

Alexander’s Steakhouse from California serving aged steaks at Shinbashi Shiodome with views overlooking the city.

From Kyoto, a tea shop in Marunouchi, Wakuden’s Marunouchi Chaka(Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 3-3-1, Shin-Tokyo Bldg. 1F).

The new Tokyo Michelin guide is out and online for free.

 

 

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Nakameguro Sumi-Grilled Yakitori

Maru, just a few minutes’ from Nakameguro station, is a great lunch spot for sumi (charcoal) grilled yakitori. The chicken, Amakusa Daiou, from Kumamoto, is called the king of chicken, and is known for it’s rich in texture and flavor.

The oyako-don (900 JPY), on the left above is a popular dish of chicken and eggs cooked in a sweet soy broth. Oyako is literally mother and child, a fun name for this dish. The sign of a good oyakodon is eggs that are just heated enough so that the whites just start to gel. The semi-scrambled eggs become a sauce for the chicken and rice.

The yakitori-don (1,200 JPY) includes three smokey skewers, grilled over charcoal: white meat, gizzard, and thighs with leeks. Two tsukune meatballs, a raw yolk, shishitō and nori round out the dish. Lunch sets include pickles, chicken soup, and a rich tiramisu.

Nakameguro is a hot area at the moment as several restaurants, including a hip City Bakery and Tsutaya bookstore have opened up under the tracks, in an area called Nakameguro Koukashita. On a recent visit the new shops were swamped, so we were happy to find quiet refuge at Maru.

Sumibiyaki Maru 炭火焼 Maru

Meguro-ku, Nakameguro 2-12-2 W. Nakameguro 1F

目黒区上目黒2-12-2 W. Nakameguro 1F

New York Bagels in Nakameguro

Growing up in Minnesota I thought frozen Lender’s Bagels was the standard. That was until I moved to New York City and lived in Chelsea. Murray’s bagels was a short walk away and finally I understood what the fuss was over a bagel. I have fond memories of eating an everything bagel while carefully perusing the Sunday New York Times.

Bagel Standard in Nakameguro offers the best New York-style bagel I have tried in Tokyo. A big shout-out to Twitter friend @ninja_padrino for putting this on my radar. Bagel Standard is about a ten-minute walk from Nakameguro station (when walking with a five-year old). The staff included information (in Japanese) on freezing the bagels and refreezing at home.

Seasoned cream cheeses and bagel sandwiches round out the selection. There are two benches in front of the shop.

This is the first time in 25 years that I have had a NY bagel in Tokyo and I can not tell you how happy I am. I will be back. This is worth a journey across town for.

Bagel Standard

Meguro-ku, Nakameguro 2-8-19 目黒区中目黒2-8-19

http://bagelstandard.com/

 

Nakameguro Onigily Cafe

Onigiri and Annin Dofu

Onigiri and Annin Dofu

The Nakameguro area is filled with many great restaurants, including my favorite pizzeria, Seirinkan. Just a short walk from Nakameguro station is Onigily Cafe. Onigiri is perhaps the quintessential comfort food in Japan. Rice stuffed with a savory filling that is often wrapped with nori. I almost didn’t go in as the spelling of onigiri with an l just seemed so wrong, but it was hot and I needed to take a break. From outside I could see the handmade onigiri and they looked to good to resist.

Onigily Cafe interior

Onigily Cafe interior

The interior is also inviting as it is brightly lit and there are a handful of tables and a counter at the window. I had the mentaiko and takana, a great combination of spicy pollack roe with pickled greens. The annin dōfu was the best I have had in Tokyo. I will go back just for the almond custard.

Onigily Cafe Take-Away

Onigily Cafe Take-Away

I was surprised that the onigiri that I was served had just a small piece of nori. But forgot all about that when I bit in. The rice was still warm and was lightly pressed, it was like a pillow.

This is a great spot for vegetarians as there is a good selection of vegetable-only onigiri including yukari (salted red shiso) natto, leek miso with shiso, kombu, umeboshi, soft-boiled egg, and salt. There is also a selection of vegetable side dishes including potato salad, tomato salad, pickled cucumbers, and turnips with kombu.

It was not surprising that there were many people coming for take-away. The prices range from 100 – 200 JPY with most averaging about 155 JPY, which is about the same as you would pay at a convenience store. But these are just so much better.

Onigily Cafe

Meguro-ku, Nakameguro 3-1-4 目黒区中目黒3-1-4

www.onigily.com/

Nakameguro da Isa

Da Isa pizza spicy salami

Nakameguro da Isa spicy salami pizza

Many friends tell me that they love the pizza at da Isa in Nakameguro. The shop is very famous and is often featured in magazines and on television for its pizza. Whenever I come to this part of town though I usually make a beeline for Seirinkan. At lunchtime at da Isa there is a great special of about six different pizzas for only 1,000 JPY. A bargain as many of these pizzas are almost about twice that price. When we were seated a little after noon we were given the lunch menu and told that two were already sold out for the lunch offer. We took this spicy salami pizza off the regular menu, it was about 2,000 JPY. It was good although we picked it because it said it had taleggio cheese and instead we got blue cheese. My girlfriend and I were too busy chatting that we didn’t comment on it until we had already eaten most of the pizza, too late to ask for it to be remade. 🙂

Da Isa pizza mushrooms

Nakameguro da Isa lunch funghi pizza

The lunch menu included this funghi pizza which is a great bargain at 1,000 JPY. The crust was charred and there is a generous amount of toppings. These are great pizzas and you could imagine yourself in Italy. There is a long list of pizzas so something for everyone, but it is the lunch special that is worth making a trip across town for. It’s about a five-minute walk from Nakameguro station along the main street. When you exit the station (there is only one exit) cross the street and take a left. Walk about five minutes and da Isa is on your right.

The pizzaolo, Hisanori Yamamoto, is very nice on the eyes. He is behind the counter in front of the wood-fired oven. He is known for winning the World Pizza Cup in Naples, which is no surprise.

Just be sure not to come on a Monday as they are closed. I have done this in the past. Also, don’t come on a Tuesday if Monday is a national holiday. Da Isa will be open for the national holiday on the Monday, but will then close on Tuesday. I have also come on a Tuesday after a national holiday. Luckily, Seirinkan down the street, was open.

da Isa

Meguro-ku, Aobada 1-28-9, 目黒区青葉台1-28-9

Nakameguro Seirinkan – One of the Best Pizzas in Tokyo

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Susumu Kakinuma makes some of Tokyo’s best pizzas in Nakameguro. Alan Richman, the decorated food journalist documents Kakinuma and his pizzas in this timeless GQ magazine article. It is worth the journey across the city to Nakameguro for one of his pies. There are two pizzas, the marinara and the Margherita.

Here is Richman on Seirinkan. “…Kakinuma prepares two kinds of pizza, marinara and Margherita, because that’s what you get at his favorite pizzeria in Naples. (I preferred the marinara, because the tomato sauce and garlic were so vivid.) His crusts are soft, chewy, puffy, slightly charred, and incredibly tender.”

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What Richman doesn’t write about is my second favorite dish at Seirinkan after the pizza, broccoli. Boiled until al dente, then sautéed in a pan with crispy garlic chips and olive oil, this is the perfect partner to the pies. Kakinuma kindly shared the recipe with us on a recent visit and while we have made it a few times at home, it’s never as good as it is here. He also recommends dipping the chewy crust of the pizza in the garlic oil that the broccoli is served with.

Seirinkan is just a few minutes’ walk from Nakameguro station. if you are thirsty after your pizza, Bryan Baird’s Taproom, with some of Japan’s best craft beer, is just around the corner.

Seirinkan

Meguro-ku, Kami-Meguro 2-6-4

03-3714-5160