Small Bite in Ningyocho

Ningyocho is a charming part of Tokyo that I was thrilled to discover. I had lived in Tokyo for years and when I first walked the streets of Ningyocho I was kicking myself for having not made it there earlier. Many historic food shops and a laid-back energy that is hard to find in the city.

Futaba is a tofu-ya that dates back to 1907, that sells soy doughnuts, surely not made 100 years ago. The shop sells a wide variety of tofu and other soy products including soy soft cream, yuba, and soy milk. The glass cases are filled with soft, firm, and grilled tofu. Fried tofu, both thick and thin, as well as my favorite, ganmodoki, tofu stuffed with vegetables and deep-fried.

Futaba is on a shōtengai shopping street and if you get hungry, pick up a soy milk doughnut (100 JPY) and some sweet amazaké drink. There is also a restaurant on the second floor above the retail shop.

Tofu no Futaba 豆腐の双葉

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-4-9

中央区日本橋人形町2-4-9

http://www.tofunofutaba.com/tenpo.html

Advertisements

Tamahide in Ningyocho

Tamahide in Nihonbashi Ningyocho has a perpetual line out its front door, regardless if it is a weekday or holiday. Its signature dish, oyakodon, literally mother and child, is bite-size pieces of chicken mixed with scrambled eggs and a sweet sauce. The chicken is cooked and then added to the eggs which is then just given some heat to start to set and this is poured over a hot bowl of rice.

 When I worked at Takashimaya, Tamahide did promotions in our depachika and the lines were there too.

Tamahide has been in business since 1760. In speaking to fellow diners, they too were curious like me, it was their first time, and they too wanted to try Tamahide’s oyakodon once in their life. As this is where the now popular comfort food was created here.

It is hands down the best oyakodon that I have had. Surely it is the eggs, the chicken, the seasoning, but also, having tried to make this at home a few times, I am always challenged to get the eggs to set just like this. The eggs are still runny and the savory sauce is filled with umami. It does come at a price though, at 1,300 JPY. My neighbor had the soboro oyakodon with ground chicken at 800 JPY and it looked just as satisfying. And, it is a bit silly to stand in line for longer than it takes to order and eat your food. But, I had to do it once, just as, I assume, many of the other customers. It would be fun to come for the dinner full chicken sukiyaki course.

Ningyocho is a great neighborhood to walk around filled with wagashi shops, kanmidokoro (Japanese confectionary cafes), sembei (rice crackers), tea shops, and more.

Tamahide 玉ひで

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi-Ningyocho 1-17-10

03-3668-7651

Closed Sunday and holidays

*This first appeared on my other blog in May, 2009, before Food Sake Tokyo was started.

Popular Donburi in Japan 日本の丼

DSCN0416Oyako-don from Tamahide in Ningyocho

Donburi 丼 are simple and fast meal. It is a large bowl of hot rice with toppings. We often make it for lunch as it is not only easy to assemble, but also easy to clean up after the meal. Many restaurants often serve donburi at lunchtime as an affordable option, often just “one coin” or 500 yen. There are restaurants that specialize in donburi like Yoshinoya (beef) or my personal favorite, Tenya (tempura). Many restaurants in the outer market of Tsukiji will sell seafood donburi, which is usually what we make at home as we often have fresh sashimi in the house.

One of Tokyo’s most famous donburi dishes is the oyako-don, literally “mother and child”, from Tamahide in Ningyocho. Tamahide is a fifth generation shop that serves chicken and eggs in a savory soy broth. The restaurant is so popular that I’ve never seen it without a line out the front door. Creamy half-cooked scrambled eggs dotted with juicy chicken is a comfort food dish in Japan.

The kanji for donburi is easy to recognize on any menu. 丼 As you can see here, it almost looks like a dish with something inside of it.

From the Asahi newspaper, here is a list of popular donburi in Japan.

1. katsu-don – tonkatsu

2. una-don – unagi

3. kaisen-don – fresh seafood

4. ten-don – tempura (usually shrimp)

5. oyako-don – chicken and eggs

6. gyu-don – thinly sliced beef in a soy broth

7. chuka-don – Chinese-style, often stir-fried meat and vegetables

8. tekka-don – maguro sashimi

9. uni-don – uni sea urchin

10. ikura-don – ikura salmon roe

11. kakiage-don – tempura

12. tentsu-don – Chinese-style omelet with vegetables covered in a thick, slightly sweet and tart sauce

13. anago-don – anago

14. tamago-don – raw egg

15. shirasu-don – baby boiled anchovies

16. yamakake-don – grated yamaimo and maguro sashimi

17. ma-bo-don – Chinese ma-bo- dofu (a spicy tofu and ground beef mixture)

18. buta-don – grilled pork

19. yakiniku-don – grilled beef

20. others

Gyokueido in Ningyocho 人形町の玉英堂

Gyokueidou 玉英堂

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-3-2 中央区日本橋人形町2-3-2

03-3666-2625

9:30 – 21:00 (Monday – Saturday), until 17:00 (Sunday and holidays)

closed the last Sunday of each month

www.ningyocho.or.jp/shop/a28.html (Japanese)

Commanding the corner, this branch of a Kyoto shop dates back 400 years. Gyokueidou is famous for two sweets, its dorayaki of pancakes stuffed with azuki paste and gyokuman. The gyokuman is a large sweet manju that is several layers around a chestnut of azuki paste, pink an, white an, and the manju cake dough, made from sticky yamaimo that encompasses it all.

Toukai in Ningyocho 人形町の東海

 

Toukai 東海

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 1-16-12 中央区日本橋人形町1-16-12

03-3666-7063

9:00 – 19:00, closed Sunday and holidays

no website

For almost 100 years Toukai has been a popular wagashi shop in Ningyocho. Be sure to pick up their signature Japanese-style waffles. There is a small selection of other wagashi confectionaries. Across the street is a well-stocked sake shop.

Tsukushi in Ningyocho 人形町のつくし

 

Tsukushi つくし

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-1-12 中央区日本橋人形町2-1-12

03-3664-7357

8:00 – 20:00

www.ntv.co.jp/burari/030329/info02.html  (Japanese)

Tsukushi is a kanmidokoro (sweets café) that offers the classics of anmitsu and its many variations. There are sweets to go, but the real reason to come here is to sit and in the café to indulge in their signature purin, a dense, rich egg custard with an intense caramel sauce. Have it on its own, or try it in an anmitsu with azuki beans and canned fruits.

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

Kotobukido in Ningyocho 人形町の寿堂

Kotobukido 寿堂

Kotobukido 寿堂

Kotobukido 寿堂

Kotobukido 寿堂

Kotobukido 寿堂

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-1-4 中央区日本橋人形町2-1-4

Tel. 0120-48-0400 (toll free number in Japan)

9:00 – 21:00, closed Sunday

This 5th generation shop is so small that only a handful of people can enter at one time. The three-story gray building with red trimming displays some of their confectionaries behind glass display windows up front. The unmistakable aroma of cinnamon wafts into the street. Their signature sweet, koganei imo, is shiroan (white bean paste), egg yolk, and sugar dusted with cinnamon and baked. Order one of these and the staff will serve it to you with a cup of tea.

Shigemori Eishindou in Ningyocho 人形町の重盛永信堂

Shigemori Eishindou in Ningyocho 人形町の重盛永信堂

Shigemori Eishindou in Ningyocho 人形町の重盛永信堂

Shigemori Eishindou 重盛永信堂

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-1-1 中央区日本橋人形町2-1-1

Tel. 03-3666-5885

9:00 – 20:00 (Saturday and holidays until 17:30)

closed Sundays

Commanding the corner with its large display of stuffed cakes and sweet crackers is Shigemori Eishindou. It opened in 1917 as a shop selling ningyoyaki of shichifukujin (the seven lucky gods). The azuki paste in the ningyoyaki cakes are rich, sweet and the cake is chewy.  If you look behind the counter you can see the work space in back is where the ningyoyaki are made.

Ningyocho Imahan 人形町今半

Ningyocho Imahan 人形町今半

Ningyocho Imahan 人形町今半

Ningyocho Imahan 人形町今半

Ningyocho Imahan 人形町今半

Ningyocho Imahan 人形町今半

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-9-12 中央区日本橋人形町2-9-12

Tel. 03-3666-7006

11:00 – 22:00, no holidays

www.imahan.com/e-guide/ningyocho_shop.html (English)

Ningyocho Imahan is a branch of the Asakusa shop that opened in 1952. Imahan is synonymous with sukiyaki, shabu-shabu, and grilled wagyu steak. The large two-story red building with black tile roof sits on the corner. The entrance to the restaurant is to the right behind the blue noren and the retail shop is to the left. The retail shop has cuts of wagyu beef cut for sukiyaki, shabu-shabu, yakiniku, and steak.