Here are few more photos that I took dudring my trip to Japan in June.
Japanese ice cream soda
Ramen at Kimihan in Gotanda (left); Cantonese seafood chow mein (right)
Sweat bread from Hattendo, Hiroshima
Rolled cake from Patisserie Mon Chou Chou
Senbei (Japanese rice cracker) vender in Asakusa Sousenji
Japanese knife shop at Sousenji (Kannon Temple) in Asakusa
Traditional wooden box store in Asakusa
Okonomiyaki shop, Sometaro in Asakusa
Baking tool store (right) and pan store (left) at Kappa Bashi Dougu Gai (Kappa Bashi kitchen tool street)
Pottery store at Kappa Bashi Dougu Gai (Kappa Bashi kitchen tool street)
Coffee tool store at Kappa Bashi Dougu Gai (Kappa Bashi kitchen tool street)
Wooden product and basket store at Kappa Bashi Dougu Gai (Kappa Bashi kitchen tool street)
Food floor at the department store in Tokyo
Yokohama China Town
Rooftop cafe in Ebisu, Tokyo
Ochazuke, My last meal at Narita Airport
All good things must come to an end. My three-week extravaganza in Tokyo ended way too fast. It was a very successful visit with several amazing sushi dinners and many other fabulous foods with my friends and family. For my last night, I took my mom to a Japanese izakaya near our house. She likes to try new places in her neighborhood so that she can go again with her friends.
I found Uzuki when I was passing by on the bus. I liked the look of the exterior of the restaurant so I looked it up on the web. It looked really great so I decided to go there for my farewell dinner. I had another place in my mind but I am very glad that I picked this place instead.
When I stepped into the restaurant, the first thing that caught my eye were the piles of beautiful dishes on the counter. That is the style that I would love to have for my own house if I built my own house. The restaurant is not a big place but each table was a luxurious size so it was very comfortable. The background music was jazz all night. Their name, Nagomidokoro, means place to relax or chill out. I think the name suits perfectly.
Tsukidashi (Amuse bouche): boiled green, egg tofu, and conch
grilled lima (broad) beans in shell
This is such a simple thing but it was so great. They grilled lima beans in the shell until the beans softened. You remove the beans from the shell and dip them into a good quality salt as you eat.
Japanese leek salad with crispy baby white fish. Salad for adults.
Iwa-gaki : oyster (left) and Aji tataki : horse Michelle (right)
I realized I ate too much oysters and aji in the last three weeks. But they are my favorite things and they are both in season! How could I resist?
Lightly fried seasonal vegetable
in Japanese broth (left);
Gin-tara Kasuzuki : Sake lees (kasu) marinated sable fish (right)
Agedashi with homemade tofu
I have no complaints about the meal. Great quality, good atmosphere, good music and good price!
They also serve lunch for $13 (1,000 yen). Great deal! Another must-visit place.
8-2-12 1FB Nishigotanda
I am so lucky that I could visit two wonderful sushi restaurants during my stay in Tokyo. Sushi Yuu was recommended by my friend who was determined to take me there. I always trust her taste so I was sure it would be a wonderful evening.
Sushi Yuu is on a small back street of very busy district called Nishi-Azabu. The building is a beautiful example of traditional Japanese architecture and it looks so tranquil and zen like. It truly represented Japanese beauty. I felt like I had opened a gift when I slid the door to step into the restaurant. I was so thrilled.
The interior is also beautiful but it is much more welcoming and comfortable. We found seats in the middle of the counter which was absolutely fantastic.
Fresh whole wasabi with its stalks still attached.
Nikogori (top right) and ganmodoki (top left)
Raw sea scallop and fresh wakame (bottom left); Iwagaki (bottom right)
As at most of the high-end sushi restaurants, they serve an "omakase" menu which the chef selects what to serve. However, you can still decide where to stop. Usually the meal starts with an appetizer and sashimi before you move on to sushi. So you just tell the chef when you want to move on.
Tsukidashi (amuse bouche) was nikogori (natural gelatin from fish) and ganmodoki (fried tofu and vegetable ball). They were both very delicate.
Our first appetizer started with raw sea scallop and fresh wakame. The chef told us that the main component of this dish was the wakame not the sea scallop. It still smelled like the ocean and was extremely fresh.
Grilled fish (left); Shochu with Spanish mineral water called Vicini (right)
Hastu Gatsuo sashimi (first bonito of the season)
Steamed abalone with sweet and reduced soy with fresh wasabi
Have you ever eaten soft and melting abalone before? I have eaten abalone a few times in the U.S. but they were so chewy. But this abalone was so soft it was almost like eating a portabella mushroom. This totally made me drink more shochu.
We moved on to sushi after abalone.
Japanese sea bream (left); the chef cuts the beautiful log of tuna (right)
chutoro maguro (medium fatty tuna) on the left and akami maguro (red meat tuna) on the right
OK. So this was something that I will never forget. The chu-toro, needless to say, was melting in your mouth. But the best was the red meat tuna. As you can see, it was so blight red and the meat was more flavorful and tender than you can imagine. The master told me that their tuna costs $250 per kilo (cheaper sushi restaurants use tuna that costs about $25 - $75 per kilo).
torched ootoro (fatty(est) tuna)
ikura (salmon roe) and uni (sea urchin)
We were so full at this point but the chef said we had to eat one more to finish.
Asari (short neck clam) miso soup
Grapefruit jelly (left) and ume liqueur (right)
This is one of my favorite summer desserts: Grapefruit jelly in grapefruit zest. I make this sometimes myself, too. It is a great dessert to serve at a party. They gave us a shot of homemade six-year-old ume liquor. Nice rounded sweetness with slight tartness. Delicious!
master of Sushi Yuu (father of the chef)
He was entertaining customers all night long. Super nice man.
One of their sous chef escorted us outside
Inari sushi to go
They also gave us a souvenir to take home for the next day: true inari-sushi. The tofu skin was very fluffy and it was not overwhelmingly sweet. Some inari are too sweet for my taste but this one was so perfect. I enjoyed them with my mom for breakfast. It was quite a treat. Thanks.
Needless to say, it was one of the most amazing sushi experiences. On top of that, they shared their spirit and passion with us from the beginning to the end and were very entertaining. It was so much fun.
Sushi Yuu is a top quality sushi restaurant where you get what you pay for. But considering what I had that evening, it was absolutely worth every single penny. I can guarantee that it would be one of the most memorable sushi experiences you ever have. I am looking forward to going back there on my next visit.
I had heard about Biffi Teatro from my friend many times. Finally I could visit there for lunch with my two best friends. The restaurant is located in the fancy part of Tokyo surrounded by many other cafes and restaurants.
The pastry chef (and the sous-chef) grilling the vegetables in a beautiful open kitchen (top),
the line cook plating the dish (right)
The restaurant has an amazing open kitchen and the dining counter surrounds it so we could watch the cooking show while we enjoyed the meal.
Mr.Gon, the executive chef
Thanks to my friend, Meg, for being a friend of the chef, because we got such a wonderful lunch and he indulged all of our special requests!
Our first course: Corn Soup with corn solbe, Buffalo mozzarella, and karasumi crouton
Second course: mirugai and shima cucumber salad, fried sea scallop with sakura ebi, fried stuffed zucchini flower with mozzarella and anchovy, Hatsu-gatsuo crudo with tomato sauce and Italian parsley sauce
Pasta course No.1: homemade tagliolini with wild mushroom ragu and summer truffle!
Pasta course No.2: Sicilian style fresh pasta with seafood and crispy anchovy flavored bread crumbs
By the end of part two, we were so stuffed but we knew we had to save some space for the upcoming dessert so we skipped the main (protein) course. But without the main, it was more than I expected and I was super satisfied!
Dessert: tiramisu (top left); American cherry compote with goat milk frozen yogurt (top right);
coconut panna cotta with aloe (middle left); red bean paste and lima bean gelato
topped with crunchy dried lima bean skin (middle right);
violet and framboise macaroon, Jasmin and apricot macaroon,
and peach marshmallow with freeze dried raspberry (bottom)
I just can't believe how much we ate for lunch. Obviously, I could not eat anything until the next day. But it was totally worth the few pounds I put on. If I could, I would have gone back the next day.
By the way, my friend and the chefs from Biffi Teatro teamed up and created a project called Sweet Treat 311 to help the people who lost their homes during the earthquake and tsunami in March by providing homemade sweets. Many other bakeries and individual pastry chefs are also involved with this wonderful project. I am very proud of what they are doing to help out our country. Thank you so much!
After my father's death, my mom and I stopped going to the sushi restaurant we used to go to with him. The place has too many memories of my father and my mother doesn't like to go there anymore. So when I go back to Japan, I am constantly looking for a new place near our house for us to try. There are, of course, many sushi restaurants in our neighborhood and it is not an easy job to pick just one but we had heard about Sushi Abe from several friends of my mother and we thought we should try. As you will see below, we were not disappointed!
Several amuse bouche (tukidashi) before we started the meal.
Tori-gai, miru-gai, and Aji sashimi (left) and iwagaki oyster (right).
Aka-gai and hirame.
Negi-toro and Nama-Shirasu
Aji (left) and uncoocked octopus (right).
(left) I don't remember what it was. I think it was some kind of shell fish. Aji and Iwashi (right)
Hokki-gai (left) and chu-toro (right).
Oshinko Maki : daikon pickles roll (left) and Kanpyo Maki : dried gourd (right)
After some (ok, a lot of) nigiri, we always like to have some rolls. But these are not the rolls that most people know in the United States. These are very simple and small. Sometimes, I like to order wasabi maki - nothing in it besides freshly grated wasabi.
Uni (sea urchin) in the shell (left) and uni gohan (right)
I saved my stomach for this dish. Sushi rice, salmon roe and nori on top of fresh uni in the shell. The uni was so fresh and creamy. It tastes so much different than the one you usually get in the United States.
Clam miso soup (left) and chef is opening a big shell fish (right)
Typically, we finish the meal with miso soup. They served wonderful clam miso soup which is my favorite.
There are many wonderful sushi restaurants if the price is not an issue and also there are many cheap restaurants but the quality is not so great. Sushi Abe offers high quality sushi with a very reasonable price. With all the sushi we ate, the total was 15,000 yen ($170) including two orders of sake, one beer and two shochu.
Sushi Abe will definitely be our new sushi place when I go back. In fact, I went back there for take-out chirashi when I had to pick up a quick dinner one night. My mom was so excited when she saw what I brought home.
Sushi Abe is open 7 days a week... until 3am! I love Tokyo.
Kato Building 1F, 7-16-3 Nishi Gotanda
One morning, I woke up at 4:00 in the morning because of jet lag. I decided to take advantage of the rarity and I took a walk around the neighborhood with my camera. It was a beautiful morning and I captured many beautiful scenes. The highways which are usually crowded with millions of cars were still empty and I felt the moments of silence you otherwise never feel in this city. Early risers were sweeping the street in front of their houses and men were delivering the newspapers.
The best reward from this walk was discovering a beautiful soba house on a back street not so far from my house. Soba is one of my must-have foods when I am in Japan so I was very excited to go back there later in the day.
When I returned during lunch time with my mom, the place was busy. After we examined their menu, cold soba was definitely the one we wanted from the several seasonal choices. My mom picked the makitake tempura and grated daikon soba and I picked the squid tentacles and Japanese leek kakiage soba.
The soba itself was thin but had the perfect toughness and elasticity which is very important to determine the quality of the soba. They also use high quality ingredients for the soba sauce and it was very tasty.
At Yuan, they offer many izakaya menu items (appetizers/snacks) along with beer and sake in the evening.
My first destination this time was the Italian restaurant in Akasaka. My best friend reserved this tiny restaurant for our first rendezvous. The restaurant is owned by my friend's cousin, Aki, who did an appreniceship in Northern Italy and worked at several large Italian restaurants in Tokyo before he opened his own place this past January.
The restaurant can fit only eight people but when we went there, he opened his place just for us.
It was a beautiful sunny Saturday and the restaurant's doors were opened and it feels like we were eating at the garden.
We started with sparkling, Ca'del Bosco.
The amuse was a Bruschetta with parma ham. The garlic and tomato on the toast gave a wonderful flavor to the basic bread.
The first course was a hiramasa (yellowtail amberjack) and white asparagus crudo. The two seasonal ingredients complimented each other very well. The minimal dressing with high quality olive oil, lemon juice and lemon zest brought out the natural umami.
The pasta course was a fresh pasta chitarra with homemade salsiccia and zuchinni with spicy tomato sauce. The fresh chitarra pasta was made with a pasta tool like a guitar.
The main dish was beef sirloin tagliata with wild mushroom and shaved summer truffles. Heavenly.
The chef suggested a Tancredi 2006 with the main course. The wine had a wonderful dark cherry and French oak notes and a powerful finish and it was perfect with the heavy sirloin.
We finished with a vanilla bean panna cotta with fresh strawberries, the perfect summer dessert.
It was such a treat to receive such special attention by the chef. It was a wonderful start to my three week, non-stop eating vist to Japan.