My Go-To Brasserie

My go-to brasserie is Girandole at the Park Hyatt Tokyo. The menu includes many classics like Salad Nicoise (2,300 JPY) and Pate de Campagne (2,600 JPY). I love the Japanese twist on the salad which included seared tuna. The pate de campagne is dense without being heavy.  There is a nice selection of wines by the glass. Service is professional without being stodgy.

The Petit Lunch is a good value for 2,500 JPY which starts with a soup or salad, main, and dessert. The restaurant is on the 41st floor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo in Shinjuku. There are a handful of seats along the window, but I prefer the cozy banquettes. At a recent dinner here there was a family celebrating a baby’s first birthday in a corner semi-private room. We’ve come with our young son and the kid-friendly restaurant made us feel at home.

Girandole at the Park Hyatt Tokyo

Shinjuku-ku, Nishi-Shinjuku 3-7-1-2, Park Hyatt Tokyo 41st Floor

https://tokyo.park.hyatt.com/en/hotel/dining/Girandole.html

Nose-to-Tail at the New York Grill (May 16-23)

 

The Park Hyatt Tokyo’s New York Grill offers a special menu from May 16-23, 2016. The Nose-to-Tail wagyu event is a five-course event for meat lovers. Chef de Cuisine of the New York Grill and Bar Federico Heinzmann is from Argentina. Federico was saying that Argentines eat about 55 kg of beef a year, compared to only about 5 kg for the Japanese. So, you know you are in good hands with an all-meat tasting course in the hands of an Argentine chef. In Argentina there are 39 million people and 47 million cows.

Federico pointed out that the Japanese are already used to eating every bit and piece of the animal. For example, at a yakitori-ya the menu will include different parts of the chicken, so the concept of a nose-to-tail for the Japanese is not too unusual.

The theme for this year’s event is “Smoked and Cured”, which is woven into each course. Many meats are marinated before cooking and several accompaniments are smoked, adding complexity to the dishes.

I don’t want to reveal too much of the meal, as it is a treat to have the cuisine revealed for you at the dinner. The bits of the cow include the tongue, heart, brisket, flank, and tail. Chef Federico also excels in vegetables, which shines in side dishes like a fermented carrot quinoa risotto. There is a nod to NYC with a pastrami and to Patagonia with an ancient rock salt.

The main course is a flank steak. The Japanese have a saying, “kameba kamu hodo“, the more you chew, the more delicious it is. The Argentines also have a similar philosophy and the two countries meet here in this dish.

The wines for the tasting course is expertly paired with Melville wines from the Santa Rita Hills AVA in Santa Barbara. The cool climate wines are aged in old French barrels, so the grapes can speak for themselves. Refreshing, nice acidity, and very food-friendly chardonnay and pinot noirs for the dinner. As a sommelier, I can confirm that the pairings complement the cuisine.

If you are visiting Tokyo during this time, you are in luck. If you live in this great city, save this meal for a special night out. You are in good hands. Come early and have a cocktail at the New York Bar before your dinner.

Details:

New York Grill at the Park Hyatt Tokyo

20,000 JPY (plus tax and service) for five courses, dinner only

May 16-23, 2016

http://tokyo.park.hyatt.com/en/hotel/dining/NewYorkGrill.html

Park Hyatt Tokyo Kozue’s Tohoku Heroes

Hatsumago Sparkling

Hatsumago Sparkling

Kozue at the Park Hyatt Tokyo is a lovely spot for Japanese cuisine. At lunch if the skies are clear you have a gorgeous view of Mount Fuji. At night the city twinkles below you.

Two years ago Kozue did a special Tohoku menu to show their support for three prefectures that were hit hard by the earthquake and tsunami, Fukshima, Miyagi, and Iwate. This year Kozue is repeating the Tohoku Heroes menu, but moving on to the other three prefectures, Aomori, Akita, and Yamagata.

Chef Kenichiro Ooe is from Yamagata, as is my family, so we share this connection with Tohoku. At a recent dinner at Kozue chef Ooe introduced many products and sake from Tohoku.

Koji Nishizaki, the manager of Kozue, gave lovely commentary on the sake with each course. We started the evening off with a sparkling sake from Hatsumago. Hatsumago is a lovely brewery from Sakata in Yamagata. I sold many bottles of Hatsumago when I worked at Takashimaya. It means the first grandchild. A lovely gift for new grandparents. It is only 10% in alcohol, so light on the palate and refreshing. A great start to any evening.

Hiraizumi

Hiraizumi Marubi 15, Yamahai Junmai, Akita Miyama-nishiki rice. The yeast that is used for this sake is called Akita kobo #15, where the sake gets its name. Although it is a yamahai sake, it is not too heavy as yamahai can be. A very food friendly sake.

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Chef Ooe talked about visiting the Tohoku region to meet the farmers, ranchers, and fishermen behind many of the products that they are using. For example, the watarigani crab used in this starter has a local name of gazami. I love these local colloquialism regarding food. It seems to be especially prevalent with seafood. The crab is  steamed in sake, spinach, myoga, and Tosa-zu jelly. Tosa-zu is a classic tart dressing made with rice vinegar, soy sauce, mirin, and dashi. As a jelly it adds a nice texture to the dish. The Hatsumago sparkling paired well with the Tosa-zu jelly, myoga, and crab. Underneath is some kani-miso, or the offal of the crab, a delicacy and an unexpected and nice surprise. The rich kani-miso was rich and paired well with the Hiraizumi Yamahai Junmai.

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Warm Aomori hokkigai appetizer with seri, maitake mushrooms, ginko nuts, and sansho was served with Hakkoda Oroshi Daiginjo. Both the hokkigai clam and sake are from Aomori, so a natural partner. I also love this dish with the accent on both edges of the bowl. Dining at Kozue is also a delight on the eyes. Each time I am here I come across new tableware that capture my attention. The Japanese eat with their eyes and taking in the vessels are part of the pleasure of dining at Kozue.

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Owan soup bowl. Check out this lovely lacquer bowl with silver and gold circles. My neighbor at the dinner, a Japanese travel writer, said, “it is September”, like I should know why this bowl is being used this time of year. Of course, the harvest moon. So here you also get an appreciation that chef Ooe selected this bowl for this dish due to the time of year.

Ichigoni

The owan soup course is a famous local dish called ichigoni of awabi and uni. I’ve tried it in the past and have never liked it, until now. Chef Ooe’s soup was rich in umami and the seafood was pristine. It didn’t hurt that there was matsutake mushrooms and other vegetables in the soup.

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Denshu Tokubetsu Junmai from Aomori, lucky if you can get your hands on this sake. 🙂

PHT Kozue sashimi

Chef Ooe sashimi presentation always has a big impact. How gorgeous is this large katakuchi bowl filled with crushed ice? This is a serving for three guests. Mimmaya bluefin tuna, makogarei, and amaebi. The fresh nori is always a treat. Chef Ooe commented that it is still early in the season and that the tuna was not as fatty as it will be later in the season as the water cools down.

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Amanoto made with kuro koji from Akita. This was my favorite of the night. I wonder if it is because of the black koji – as I am a fan of Okinawa awamori spirit, which is also made with kuro koji. It was served with a Hinai jidori chicken from Akita and included a kiritampo rice ball, a classic dish from Akita. It was nice to see it elevated to this level, as it is a dish often made at home. I think this dish that this was presented in was my favorite of the night.

Sadly I had to leave the dinner, unexpectedly, and missed out on the Yamagata Yonezawa wagyu and the Yamagata soba. Dessert was a rice ice cream. I did love being introduced to new sake, a renewed appreciation for Tohoku ingredients, and seeing new vessels. If you go, I highly recommend asking to have Tohoku sake paired with your meal.

The Tohoku Heroes event runs now through November 30th, both lunch and dinner. There will be a special dinner on the evening of November 29th, where some of the producers will be in attendance. For more details:

http://tokyo.park.hyatt.com/en/hotel/news-and-events/events/tohoku-heroes-2015.html

New York Grill Lunch at the Park Hyatt Tokyo

Park Hyatt Tokyo

New York Grill buffet

One of my favorite lunch spots in Tokyo is at the New York Grill in the Park Hyatt Tokyo. The view at 52 floors above Tokyo is amazing, even when it is overcast and lightly raining. The lunch starts at 5,000 JPY and includes a gorgeous buffet of appetizers. Customers choose a main course and then dive into the buffet again for dessert.

Appetizers include flatbreads, salads, sliced meats, and much more. It’s hard not to stuff yourself with only appetizers, but make sure to make room for the main course.

We asked for seats at the kitchen counter so that we could talk with chef Federico Heinzmann. He was very gracious to talk to us about the different dishes and answer our many questions. Sitting here is also fun as we can watch all of the customers come in. It’s such an amazing spot that it is great to watch the faces of guests as they look into the open kitchen, as they check out the view, and as they walk into the main dining room. On this day it was cloudy and I expected the restaurant to be quiet, but even on this day it was busy.

Park Hyatt Tokyo

Chef Federico Heinzmann’s Chicken

Argentinian chef Federico recommended the chicken as it “is the most Latin”. The chicken is marinated in orange juice, grilled and topped with a fresh salsa and served with a corn cake. Living in Tokyo the flavors are so exotic and I quickly said that I would not be sharing this with Shinji.

Park Hyatt Tokyo

Australian Lamb and Romesco Sauce

Shinji was fine not sharing as he loved the lamb, which we don’t eat very often. The sauce was made with bell peppers and hazelnuts. Chef told us about how in Spain this is used as a dipping sauce for whole leeks that have been charred and peeled. it sounds like an amazing dish. The hazelnuts makes it a very meat, albeit, vegetarian sauce. Chef Federico was kind enough to share the recipes for the sauces for both dishes, so we will try to recreate some of these at home.

The wine list is rich in American wines, mainly from California. There are always interesting offerings by the glass, perfect for lunch.

Park Hyatt Tokyo

Dessert Buffet at New York Grill

This is only half of the dessert buffet. There is something here for everyone, including ice cream and several sauces and toppings as well as a simple fruit salad with mango and pineapple, and key lime pie. Coffee and dessert is usually taken in the New York Bar so diners get another magnificent view of the city. Fans of Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation will remember this space as it has a starring role in the movie.

Service is always impeccable here. If you are looking for a special lunch spot, the New York Grill, never disappoints. I have come in the past with girlfriends and we still reminisce about our lunch here, years later. The view, the cuisine, and the service makes this a memorable meal.

New York Grill at the Park Hyatt Tokyo

Shinjuku-ku, Nishi-Shinjuku 3-7-1-2

03-5323-3458

Chef Federico Heinzmann at the Park Hyatt Tokyo’s New York Grill & Bar

Federico Heinzmann

Octopus Tiradito – photo by Park Hyatt Tokyo

The Park Hyatt Tokyo is celebrating its 20th anniversary this summer. Earlier this year the New York Grill and Bar welcomed a new chef, Argentinian Federico Heinzmann. His last name is a nod to his Swiss and German heritage. My interview with chef Federico is in Metropolis magazine. Chef Federico’s style and philosophy is already taking shape in the menu with simple and focused flavors.

The New York Grill and Bar is one restaurant and bar that I recommend everyone visit while in Tokyo. The bar is featured in Sofia Coppola’s movie Lost in Translation. The views are stunning, service is exquisite, cocktails are memorable, and the cuisine amazing.

Chef Federico is very passionate about history and cuisine and our interview was filled with facts and tidbits. Including that tiradito is seafood cut into thin slices and that ceviche is made from diced seafood. The octopus tiradito was a brilliant start to the dinner, like a party in your mouth. The aroma of the passion fruit was refreshing, fresh, and bright. The chili and onions add crunch and a bite to the dish. All coming together with the meaty octopus. I will try to start home parties with a tiradito, especially if I can find an aromatic fruit like passionfruit.

Prior to coming to Tokyo chef Federico was in Korea where he learned a lot about seafood. While as an Argentinian, meat is in his genes, I am sure he will be exploring much more seafood in Japan.

Federico Heinzmann

Foie Gras with Cacao Dirt – photo by Park Hyatt Tokyo

The foie gras dish incorporates a Japanese orange-like citrus called dekopon. Chef Federico garnishes it with a crunchy cacao dirt that is a nice contrast to the foie gras mousse.

Federico Heinzmann

Cod and Scallops – photo by Park Hyatt Tokyo

A black olive powder is used in lieu of salt as it offers a “deeper flavor” and is a nice contrast to the smokey and creamy cauliflower puree.

Federico Heinzmann

Wagyū Steak – photo by Yukari

As an Argentinian, chef Federico is a master at cooking meat. He is enjoying exploring Japanese wagyū. Carrots are cooked in carrot juice, an intense puree that partners well with the wagyū steak. The sauce is made with a black garlic, beef stock, and olive oil. It reminds me of during the interview when he said, “if I can surprise you with a leek, cauliflower, or carrot” as that take more of an effort.

It was interesting to hear his thoughts on Japanese wagyū as it is so different from the lean meat of Argentina. He commented that “fat is taste and you need to manage the taste” and that in Argentina meat is often slow-cooked over a fire to get caramelization on the outside and to leave the inside pink.

Here you can see the tall ceilings of the New York Grill. The city lights sparkle from below as the restaurant is on the 52nd floor of the hotel. There are no tall building nearby so the views are magnificent.

The wine list at the New York Grill is mostly from California. These wines do great with chef Federico’s cuisine. The New York Grill and Bar offers some of the most spectacular views of Tokyo with cuisine and wine to match.

Some good advice from chef, “Construct your food from what you have, not what you want”.

 

 

New York Grill and Bar at the Park Hyatt Tokyo

Shinjuku-ku, Nishi-Shinjuku 3-7-1-2

03-5323-3458

The Delicatessen at the Park Hyatt Tokyo

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The set lunch at the Delicatessen at the Park Hyatt Tokyo is worth the short walk from Shinjuku station. I was surprised to see how reasonably priced it is. For 1,000 JPY diners can select from a large selection of sandwiches, including croque monsieur, croissants with ham, and pita overflowing with vegetables. With the sandwich comes a salad or soup of the day and dessert. For an extra 200 JPY   a beverage.

The focaccia was irresistible. This one with smoked salmon, artichokes, and pine nuts is generous with the toppings.

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Here is the 1,000 JPY set. The sandwich and focaccia sizes are generous and today’s soup was a creamy kabocha. The fig cake was the perfect small bite to end the meal.

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I adore breads, but have a soft spot particularly for focaccia. The bread was just as it should be, very light and airy, and crispy on the bottom. When I saw that this was made with gorgonzola I had to try it. The lardons and mushrooms matched the rich cheese, and again, was generous with the toppings. The salads today included a Cobb salad and the New York Grill’s famous Caesar salad. The salads are 750 JPY and are a nice size.

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There are seats inside the Delicatessen, as well as some outdoor seating. When I came in there were several diners outside.

UPDATED 3 December 2014:

Park Hyatt Deli

Park Hyatt Deli

I was meeting a friend for lunch at Shinjuku and we walked to the Park Hyatt Tokyo, between 10 to 15 minutes depending on your pace. The quiche is a generous size and is filled with cheese, bacon, and potatoes. The side salad is garnished with chicken and colorful vegetables. The quiche is heated up in the kitchen and then brought to the table. All of this, plus a petite dessert, which hits the spot, something sweet, but not too big, for only 1,050 JPY.

The Delicatessen is a great spot for a casual, great value lunch.

Park Hyatt Tokyo Delicatessen

Shinjuku-ku, Nishi-Shinjuku 3-7-1-2

03-5323-3635

ABC Kitchen’s Chef Dan Kluger at the Park Hyatt Tokyo

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Toast, ricotta cheese, and kabocha puree. It doesn’t get much more simple than this, yet the combination of flavors and contrast of textures was blissful. I was satisfied and ready to call it an evening as it was so delicious. The toast is seasoned with olive oil and then pan-fried. This is exactly what I love about grilled cheese sandwiches, the crispy crust and the chewy dough. Handmade ricotta and a sweet yet slightly spicy kabocha topping makes this a homerun dish. I will try and recreate this tomorrow. I am sure that the olive oil pan-fried toast will become a regular part of our repertoire.

Chef Dan Kluger, guest cheffing at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, said that it is so popular back in NYC at ABC Kitchen that some people request it for dessert. He said that the recipe is in the NY Times, NY magazine, and Bon Appetit magazine. It is also on the Today Show website and other places. Suddenly I feel as though I was a bear who has hibernated through a season of culinary greatness.

In an interview with Metropolis magazine, Kluger says that among his favorite cookbooks is Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Simple Cuisine. And some of the basic concepts that Jean-Georges uses are reflected in Kluger’s dishes.

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The mushroom pizza was just such a dish. A whole-wheat crust with shiitake, shimeji, maitake, and eringi mushrooms topped with an egg. The produce shines and Kluger brings it together smartly. These two dishes are available at the New York Bar for the next two nights.

In the main dining room, at the New York Grill, expect more layered dishes, yet still very simple. There are bursts of flavors and hints of chili, but never overpowering a dish. The grilled broccoli salad is also a technique I am going to try and do at home.

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It has been fun as a chef observing Kluger and his team prepare for this event through his visits to Tsukiji and Ohta Markets documented on the Park Hyatt Tokyo’s facebook page. It’s been even more thrilling to see the dishes come to life using ingredients like tilefish (amadai) and the grapes.

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The wine pairings are fun as many of the wines are hand crafted and made in small batches like the spicy and fruity Forlorn Hope Les Deux Mathieux.

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ABC Kitchen is serving up a spicy ginger margarita and refreshing lemonade cocktail at the New York Bar along with that life-changing toast and mushroom pizza. There is a tasting course, or you can order dishes a la carte, at the New York Grill. Kluger and his team is only in town for two more nights.

I am hoping to recreate ABC Kitchen in my home kitchen tomorrow with the kabocha toast. Arigato for the inspiration.

Updated October 11, 2013:

I woke up thinking about the kabocha toast. What a revelation! Kudos chef Kluger.

New York Grill & Bar

Park Hyatt Tokyo, 52nd Floor

03-5322-1234

Park Brewery at Park Hyatt Tokyo

 

 

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Now that the rainy season has ended summer is officially here. Temperatures are soaring and while many are cooling down at beer gardens on department store rooftops, a great all-you-can-drink craft beer offer is at the Deli in the Park Hyatt Tokyo. The Deli has been doing this summer only special for five summers. Last year the food served with the craft beer was Mexican, this year it’s German.

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The hotel has soft pretzels made specially for this promotion. The pretzel is delicious and is a big size, perfect for nibbling on.

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The food that is served is a generous serving of German meats of Weiswurst white sausage, Bierwurst, Paprika Lyoner, and a pork belly Rouladen. There is a sweet mustard as well as a great sauce called obazda. I spoke with the Executive Sous Chef, Yoneda-san, who said that the traditional Bavarian sauce is made with Camembert cheese. It’s something I will try to make at home.

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Saito-san, in this photo, and I used to work at the New York Grill and Bar together. If you go, tell him Yukari sent you. He’ll look after you.

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There are two beers on the menu, both made by Sankt Gallen Brewery in Kanagawa. The aromatic and refreshing Park Brewery Ale is served each summer. The second beer changes each summer. The second beer this summer is a Citrus Amber Ale is made with an orange-like citron called shiranui. It’s slightly sweet at first but has a light bitter finish. A nice contrast to the house Park Brewery Ale.

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Here is the menu. The food comes out right away and is not replenished. It’s a generous serving of food, but if you do get hungry, you could always order something from the Deli’s menu which includes sandwiches, salads, and other small bites.

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The indoor seating fills up quickly with this event. There is also a standing area indoors.

DSCN6518Alternatively, grab a table outside in true Japanese beer garden style.

Having been to many different all-you-can-drink beer promotions in Tokyo, I can say that this is one of the best. Excellent quality beer and a smart menu that pairs perfectly with the beer. It’s worth a journey to Shinjuku for this event.

The Deli at the Park Hyatt Tokyo

Shinjuku-ku, Nishi-Shinjuku 3-7-1-2, 1st floor

6 to 8 p.m. last order at 7 p.m.

Through September 16th.

*Note, it’s usually a nice walk to the hotel from Shinjuku station. However, with the heat, I suggest taking the free hotel shuttle from Shinjuku Station’s Nishi Guchi. Check the shuttle schedule here.

Sepia Chicago at Park Hyatt Tokyo

It’s always nice to go home. Ten years ago, I left New York City to pursue a career in food and wine in Tokyo my first job was as the sommelier at the New York Grill and Bar at the Park Hyatt Tokyo. It’s an amazing hotel and one of my favorite restaurants in Tokyo. The views and service and food are some of the best in this metropolis known for its food and service. The views from the 360-degrees views from the 52nd floor are fabulous and if the skies are clear you can see Mount Fuji. The views are so great, as we were walking in, I spotted a few guests at the windows of the Bar with a cocktail in one hand and a camera in the other trying to capture the moment.

The Park Hyatt hosts chefs for guest residencies and this week Tokyo is lucky to have chef Andrew Zimmerman of Sepia Chicago. It is also a homecoming for Sepia co-owner Emmanuel Nony who was the food and beverage director at the Park Hyatt Tokyo in the late 90’s. He said tonight that he hasn’t been back to Tokyo in thirteen years and he looked thrilled to be back home and was at ease in his old workplace. Chef Andrew Zimmerman was also in Tokyo in 1989, but as a musician with a band. Now he returns as an artist, having exchanged his musical equipment for chef’s knives.

A big surprise tonight, especially as a former sommelier at the restaurant, was to see that Sepia Chicago worked with the Park Hyatt Tokyo to bring in some great California wines to pair with the food. The wines are making their first appearance in Tokyo, and I believe in Asia.

The New York Grill and Bar is serving the special Sepia Chicago menu tonight through Saturday, July 13th.

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I suggest if possible, come to the New York Grill (or Bar) before sun sets as it is a treat to watch the lights come up on the city below you. The house champagne is Louis Roederer, perfect for the first course.
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Foie Gras Royale – with a slightly sweet apricot and gewurztraminer jelly garnished with marcona almonds and brioche. Anyone familiar with Louis Roederer would understand how lovely this pairing is with the nuts, bread and foie gras.

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There is something relaxing about having dinner and drinks while the city is abuzz below.

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The Scholium Project “Midan Al-Tahir” White Wine, Fairfield 2011 is a blend of verdelho, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and gewurztraminer. A unique collection of grapes that is aromatic and with a nice acidity to start the evening off.
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Growing up in Minnesota I grew up eating a lot of corn. This amazing agnolotti was stuffed with a crazy, sweet and soft corn cream, with truffles, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Corn has just come to market in Tokyo so exciting to see how this Chicago chef (also a Midwest state as Minnesota is) used Japanese corn.

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Matthiason White Wine, Napa Valley, 2010 of sauvignon blanc, ribolla gialla, semillon, and tocai fruliano. Many Italian grapes do well in California as we see in this lovely wine.

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Chef Zimmerman has obviously been to Tsukiji Market since he arrived in Tokyo. Here we see black sole, shrimp, asari, and I believe tsubugai. Also, the petit grapes are umi budō, sea grapes from Okinawa.

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I loved how the staff poured in a dark green sauce made from spinach, basil, and some herbs.

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The completed dish.
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As night falls upon Tokyo the room softly lights up.
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and the city glistens below.9

Forlorn Hope “San Hercurmer delle Frecce” Barbera, Amador County 2011. Barbera is one of my fallback Italian wines when going out as it always delivers. Having spent some summers in California for work on my days off I would explore wine country. Amador County has some great wineries off the beaten path and this is just one of those treasures.

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Again Japan jumped out on this dish with the grilled Sendai kuroge wagyū sirloin, roasted maitake, and gobō chip. The acidity and fruitiness of the barbera stood up to the rich wagyū steak.

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Novy Family Wines Viognier Late Harvest, Russian River Valley. The cool climate of the Russian River Valley gives this wine an uplifting acidity.

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When I saw carrot cake on the menu I immediately thought of a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. And here is the brilliance of chef Zimmerman on a plate. The carrot cake is simply carrots braised in brown butter. The ice cream was made with cream cheese and had the flavor of carrot cake. I hope Zimmerman can sell this recipe to Haagen-Dazs and that it is sold throughout the world. The world would be a much happier place if everyone could indulge in this ice cream.

Emmanuel Nony had said that this was a dish that Zimmerman made when he was on Iron Chef America last year. He beat Iron Chef Marc Forgione in the challenge cream cheese.
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There is a chocolate dessert if you must…

Now I have a reason to drive to Chicago from Minnesota on my next visit home. Chef Zimmerman also graduated from the French Culinary Institute, a year ahead of me. Here is an interview with Zimmerman for Metropolis magazine. It’s interesting to see his favorite cookbooks and what Japanese ingredients he uses back in Chicago.

If you are in Tokyo this week, treat yourself and someone you are close to, with an evening at the New York Grill.

Five-course dinner with Chef Andrew Zimmerman from Sepia Chicago at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, ¥19,000.

Tel: 03-5323-3458 for reservations.

Sepia Chicago website

Kozue at the Park Hyatt Tokyo

Kozue at the Park Hyatt Tokyo under the helm of talented chef Kenichiro Ooe is a wonderful traditional Japanese restaurant with amazing views of Mount Fuji on a clear day. Lunch was a gorgeous affair filled with seasonal spring May seafood and vegetables.

First course – Yomogi (mugwort) tofu garnished with shirasu, umeboshi neriume, gomadare (sesame sauce), and wasabi – loved the lacquer spoon at the bottom of the photo.

First course close-up. The yomogi is an earthy green which was a nice contrast to the sesame dressing. The tart umeboshi brightened up the palate and the shirasu added a nice texture and contrast to the dish.

Second course – Ainame (greenling) with itawarabi (gelatin-like sheets made from bracken – this can only be made in the spring), and wakame soup with ki no me (tender leaves from Japanese prickly ash sansho).

One of the pleasures of Japanese cuisine is that even after years of experiencing the cuisine, I am constantly learning about new ingredients. Today’s surprise was the itawarabi. It had a delicate, jelly-like texture. I thought it was a thin sheet of konnyaku. Chef Oe explained that it was itawarabi and something that is only made in spring when warabi are harvested from the mountains.

Third course – Sashimi course of tairagai (pen shell), katsuo with pickled rakkyo over grated daikon oroshi, ika (squid), and namanori (fresh nori), and julienned daikon.

A famous chef from the US highly recommended Kozue to me. He said the cuisine was exquisite, but he was also taken with the presentation of the food and the serving vessels. I understood when this sashimi course was presented in this large ceramic filled with crushed ice. The kimono-clad waitress then plated the seafood and garnishes onto serving dishes. A feast for the eyes indeed. See for yourself the difference from the above photo to the one below.

Third course – after arranged by waitress. My favorite was the tairagai which I don’t see much outside of Japan, notably sashimi grade tairagai.

Fourth course – Again a beautiful presentation under fresh wasabi leaves.

Fourth course  uncovered – Spanish mackerel with eggs, hotaruika (firefly squid), kani  (crab) potato croquette.

Fifth course – Tai zushi under a sakura leaf

Sixth course – Takenoko (bamboo shoots) pork and cabbage (home-style rolled cabbage). This is a dish I will try to make at home. I love rolled cabbage but can’t be bothered with making the dish more than once a year. Here, chef Ooe stuffs the ground pork mixture into layers of cabbage that are then cooked. Brilliant idea. And, delicious.

Seventh course – Asari gohan with pickles and fuki (butterbur) miso soup. Asari clams cooked with the rice. A nice way to end the savory dishes with.

Eighth course – Yamabudo (mountain grapes) with ichigo strawberries and biwa (loquat) jelly and creme sauce and berry sauce. I love these large glass dishes. I have seen it used for both savory and sweet courses and it’s always a treat. This course was a nice, light finish to the many dishes.

We had tea with our meal and I feel as though we were served at least two if not three types of tea throughout the meal. Service was lovely. And even though I speak Japanese it was nice to hear the staff explain each dish in English. They could answer all my questions which was also very impressive.

While my eyes are mostly on the food, between courses looking over the room the high ceilings are impressive. The windows face West. So if the skies are clear Mount Fuji is just in front of you. On this weekday lunch the restaurant was very busy. A few tourists, several business lunches, and some ladies-who-lunch types.

One option at lunch is to take your dessert at the Peak Bar & Lounge which is a restaurant on a different floor, also with high ceilings and great views, including a wall that overlooks Mount Fuji. I will do this next time I eat at Kozue.

Chef Ooe came out and talked about the dishes, ingredients, and about Japanese food in general. He said that he is from Yamagata, which is also where my mother is from. Now that I see his photo, I think we could be long-lost relatives. We could be second or third cousins. He reminds me of some of my first cousins so you never know. 🙂

Kozue at the Park Hyatt Tokyo

click on the link above and another link will appear for the menu

Shinjuku-ku, Nishi-Shinjuku 3-7-1-2

03.5323.3460

Lunch: Daily – 11:30 am to 2:30 pm
Dinner: Daily – 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm