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Wagyu and Sushi Dinners, Yokohama to Tokyo

Incidentally, I have been to Ukai Azamino, which, if I am not mistaken, is the honten (headquarter) of the Ukai chain. The meal was perfection itself. The chef covered the beef being 'cooked' with a lid during much of the preparation. He knew exactly when to remove the lid (opaque of course) to produce the perfectly cooked beef. That really showed the extent of experience and skill.

I find Sushi Hachizaemon rather pedestrian. As I recall, the selection of fish was rather limited. As a result, you would be served two to even three helpings of the same anago, but prepared with different sauce. If I were you, I would like to sample as many 'in season' produce as possible. This probably not the place.

Yokohama is just 20-30 mins away from Tokyo by train. Ginza and Raponggi areas are teeming with good sushi places.

Jan 25, 2014
CWFOODIE in Japan
1

Ichikawa

http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1317/A13171...

I was referring to this restaurant.

Jan 23, 2014
CWFOODIE in Japan

Ichikawa

Ichikawa is located in Setagaya-ku, far removed from the hustle bustle of Tokyo. Diners probably are making a special trip for the meal. Ichikawa-san is a young chef in his mid to late 30s. Before nigiris came 3 pieces of tai, steamed abalone, shirako in stock and grilled amadai. Apart from the shirako (the stock amplifies the richness of the shirako), the appetizers were pedestrian.

Nigiris served include sayori, aji, ika, akami zuke, chutoro, otoro, kohada, kasugo, hamaguri, anago, grilled nodoguro sushi and finally the tamago. I was made aware that Ichikawa is very particular about his maguro. I must say that I love his zuke, due more to the sauce than to the akami itself. Otherwise, I didn't find the maguro that impressive. I am quite partial to the shari and the kasugo. Otherwise, the food alone is not worth the special trip.

More disturbing was the flow of the meal. The chef worked at an extremely leisurely pace, taking his time with whatever he did. The chef seemed not to have paid attention to the pace of individual diners.

Jan 23, 2014
CWFOODIE in Japan

Unagi restaurant in TOkyo

I thought shirayaki is a standard dish in any unagi restaurant. Tomoei does serve shirayaki.

Dec 29, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Otaninosushi

Thx Gargle

Dec 29, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Unagi restaurant in TOkyo

For me, Nodaiwa and Obana are both overrated. The prize for the best unagi restaurant, both in terms of the eel and the sauce, go to Tomoei (0465-23-1011). Not in Tokyo but in Odawara City, but it is worth the trip. In any event, do call the restaurant in advance to check if they have got natural, wild eels, the texture is simply different.

Dec 28, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Otaninosushi

Otaninosushi is definitely little discussed than those hallowed names regularly featured on this board, but it is no less enjoyable, in my humble opinion.
The restaurant is a very busy, full of regulars. The meal starts off with some very nice appetizers. The kawahagi with liver sauce, the ankimo, the grilled shirako and the grilled nodoguro were delicious. The ika innards is a specialty of the restaurant and is very intense in flavor. I also had shimaebi, saba, chinmi, tairagai, buri and shimaaji. Quite a huge range of tsumami.
Whereas in some sushi places (such as Kimura) all diners are served at the same pace, I note that the chef was very attentive to the individual pace and needs of each patron, and adjust volume accordingly. [I note I was served more food than the two ladies sitting next to me]
Moving on to nigiri, the range was no less respectable. For me, the shari strikes the right balance with the fish. The zuke, chu-toro, otoro, madai and kimedai were delicious. The ikura was the best I had had. I also had kohada, aji, uni, akagai, iwashi and anago. The sake suggested by the chef went hand in hand with the sushi.
The bill for the omakase and with two helpings of sake adds up to 28000yen.

Dec 28, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Sushi Kimura

Sushi Kimura
Due to a delayed flight, I arrived 35 mins late for my reservation. (I did ask the concierge to call to notify the restaurant.) When I arrived at long last, the second seating appeared well under way. I SEEMED (had no way of verifying) to have missed the appetizers and went straight into sushi. The chef appeared to serve all parties simultaneously. The nigiri consists of ika, hirame, isaki, sawara, an unknown white fish, shimaaji, kawahagi, kanpachi, ebi, kinmedai, katsuo, makaziki, hokkigai, buri, kohada, anago, maki. Conspicuously missing was any trace of maguro.
There were some very impressive items. However, something was amiss in the sushi. It is the balance between the fish and the rice. First the rice tasted rather bland. (too little vinegar??) Also, the rice appeared oversized compared with the fish. As a result, it was the bland taste of the rice lingers in the mouth.
Distinctly average were the shimaaji, ika and sawara. The 'very good' items were the kanpachi, kawahagi and the half-cooked buri. The outstanding items were the anago, which was fluffy and intense beyond description and a piece of sushi called the makaziki. (the proprietress wrote that down for me) It is a 'zuke' and very complex in taste. (photo attached)
Could anyone tell me more about what this makaziki is??

Dec 25, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Dons de la nature cost

I ate at Aragawa's Kobe branch alone (which incidentally, is considerably cheaper than the Tokyo shop). I assume the same applies to the Tokyo branch.

May 06, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Osaka Review: Kahala

Kahala

Kahala is a small restaurant, even by Japan’s minimalist standard. It is on the first floor of a nondescript building. There is no waiting room either inside or outside the restaurant, so, one has to wait on the ground floor, outside the building.

The restaurant has acquired a somewhat legendary status. While the beef millefeuille was impressive, there were some surprisingly pedestrian dishes. The Hokki with white asparagus and the hotate wrapped in seaweed were distinctly lacking in invention. The curry puff, I was told by the diner next to be me, was very authentic. Accompanying the puff was several red beans soaked in coffee oil. This was quite impressive. The hassun consisted of five small plates. Bacon, duck, lotus roots, oyster, ika. Not very glamourous ingredients, I suppose the inventiveness lie in the sauces that accompany them. It was good but not eye-opening. The ika was spicy but not the least bit hot. The lotus root was accompanied by dried soy sauce. The unbroken chains (cut from scratch from a spring vegetable) is a Kahala signature ‘dish’. The onion stuffed with mushroom and awabi was nice. The onion was sweet and … I wish there is something more I could report on, but frankly, it was delicious but not special. Then came a seasonal Japanese fare, bamboo shoot with kinome leaves. The sous chef explained that the bamboo shoot was from Osaka (I thought Kyoto produces the best shoots) and the head chef decided that this is the best week for bamboo shoot. Frankly, I have had too much bamboo shoot already.
Three courses stood out and impressed. The botargo soba was very good and refreshing. It is difficult to find a better soul mate for the salty botargo. I understand this is a staple dish. Kahala used to be a steakhouse and it seems fitting that beef is featured in the main course. The chef himself cooked it right in front of us. What appears to be a slab of beef is actually five, thinly cut layers of beef. The beef is lightly seared on the outside. For the first serving, wasabi and garlic accompanied the beef. Beef was dipped in ponzu sauce with spicy daikon in the second serving. For the third serving, the chef let us choose between the two. The beef was divine. The final dish was gohan with green peas and egg yolk. This was the best rice dish I have had for years.

Apr 27, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Osaka Restaurant Review

Sushidokoro Sakau

This sushi restaurant belongs to the Kagaman restaurant group. I went there for lunch and had the omakase. I have a feeling that the chef (and some other sushi places elsewhere in Osaka) use more wasabi in their sushi than their Tokyo counterparts. The (excessive, for my taste) wasabi overwhelmed some white fish sushi (hirame and tai).
The aji was very good. The tai was first mellowed in kombu seaweed. (although the subtle taste was overwhelmed by the wasabi) The most impressive piece was the shimaaji sushi. The texture and the fatty taste was superb. The omakase consists of no more than 10 pieces of sushi. So I ordered a few a la carte and asked for stuff that were not included in the omakase. As extra I had one more shimaaji, anago, uni (comes from awaji-shima), kohada, maguro zuke and kobashira.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the bill came to 7500 yen. Quite good value for an high end sushi restaurant.

Convivialite (French)
I went there for lunch on a Sunday afternoon. I preordered the 8000 menu. The restaurant was very welcoming and the service was first rate. They prepared a surprised menu for me. Much creativity was evident in the combination of ingredients, although the taste sometimes did not live up to the creativity. The fois gras course was a case in point. It was a terrine of fois gras and pig’s blood, topped with passion fruit puree. The appearance looked somewhat like a piece of chocolate cake. The combination was novel, but the pig’s blood and foie-gras both had very rich taste and eaten as a whole, I couldn’t make out what I was eating. The most impressive dish was the beans dish. It was broad bean puree topped with broad beans, hotate and caviar. It was amazing. The fish course and the lamb rack were good but there were nothing to write home about. There was a choice of dessert and my strawberry cake was magnificent.

Apr 27, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Kyoto Review: Chihana

the Yen28000 one.

Apr 25, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Kyoto Review: Chihana

A meal at Chihana is an amazing experience. On entering the small restaurant, one could not help marvel at the stacks of colourful porcelain serving dishes, meticulously arranged (there are 6 on each stack), at the back of the counter. Chihana’s Kaiseki is anything but traditional.

1. The first course was hirame fritter with grapefruit jelly. The chef explained that it was from a particularly rare part of the hirame. Could one imagine more contrasting texture and flavor than fritter and jelly?
2. The second course was torigai in white miso sauce. I have never had sweeter and more succulent torigai.
3. Then came shirako with broad beans. The shirako had a milky texture and was piping hot.
4. Next was the cheek of ray fish in ginger and leek soup. I didn’t even know it is edible and its texture was nearly as milky as the shirako.
5. Grilled chu-toro with green onion followed. It was perfect.
6. The next course, vinegared ainame was the only weak link of the meal.
7. The soup course was seaweed and bamboo shoot. Elsewhere, kinome always dot bamboo shoots but much to my relief, the kinome leaf was not meant to be eaten. The soup was clear and the subtle taste offered a wonderful contrast with the ainame.
8. Sashima came next. The hirame and toro sashimi were of the highest quality. The hirame I had was always chewy (not in an enjoyable way), the hirame at Chihana had truly wonderful texture. Only now do I understand why the hirame is such an esteemed fish.
9. The hassun consisted of 5 small plates. A whole range of texture and flavor were on display. The crushed squid and the essence of soy beans were particularly refreshing.
10. Then came grilled mutsu in spring vegetable sauce.
11. Spring vegetables simmered with tofu.
12. Vinegared cabbage with red pepper, pine nut, shira-uno and grape jelly cleanse the palette for the final gohan.

Apr 25, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Osaka Review: Shunsaiten Tsuchiya

This 2 starred tempura establishment is located in a quiet residential area in Suita city. Get off at Esaka station (Midosuji line, 5 stations from Umeda). A short walk from exit 5, it is quite close to a local primary school.

The restaurant is a 12-seater. Assisted by a couple of assistants, the chef works deftly, he clearly has to as he is the only one doing the frying and the restaurant gets very busy (it serves two rounds of lunch even on a weekday). I had to settle for the 1:30 slot and reservation is hard to come by. The chef is a wine connoisseur and offers a selection of reasonably priced wine to go with the course.

There are several menus to choose from and I preordered the dinner menu. The tempura served in each menu differs (rather than just the number of tempuras). The meal is not quite what I expected. In addition to tempura, elaborate hassun, sashimi and grilled fish courses are included. There is no grated radish to accompany the sauce. While the batter is not thick, I think the chef deliberately applied it evenly and generously.

The strength of the course lies in the wide range of tempura included. The hotaru-ika, amedai and sweet potato were perfection itself. The hotaru-ika was piping hot and the crispy skin of the amedai went hand in hand with the batter. Uni wrapped in seaweed (instead of shiso) was a pleasant surprise. I had never had corn tempura made this way and the crab tempura was a rare treat. Tempura bamboo shoot was just in season. The standing ayu demonstrated the chef’s artistry as much as his technique. There course also included 2 ebi, asparagus, anago (fried in small pieces rather than whole), lotus roots and onion. While there were many endearing surprises, there were a couple of misses. The hotate was overcooked (I wouldn’t have noticed had the hotate at Kondo not left such an impression) and the awabi was too chewy. (Seiju’s awabi simply cannot be improved upon)

The course + a glass of wine + an extra a la carte sweat potato came to Yen10800. (the course itself is 10500, I wonder if the chef got the arithmetic wrong)

Apr 25, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Kansai Restaurant Review

Easy, thru the hotel concierge. I booked three weeks in advance. I was assigned the 8:45 slot, I guess that explains it.

Apr 22, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Kansai Restaurant Review

Just back from a two-week business trip in the Kansai region.

Kyoto
Chihana
Ajiro (Shojin)
Gion Sakagawa
Sushi Matsumoto

Osaka
Kahala
Convivialite
Shunsaiten Tsuchiya
Sushidokoro Sakau
Binbiya

Will give more details shortly.

Apr 20, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Nice Leisurely Higher End Lunches in Tokyo

I highly recommend Esaki. Unlike other places where the lunch menu is much less elaborate and refined than the dinner menu, Easki serves pretty much the same dishes in lunch as in dinner. The dishes are less traditional their normal keiseki meals but they offer a wide variety of flavour and texture.

FOr a more traditional and refined fare, Kikunoi Akasaka wont disappoint. They have counter seatings and you can see the many chefs hard at work. I was particularly impressed by their Hassun.

I am a fan of Japanese vegetables (which is synonymous with freshness and excellence) and if you are not a meat-eater, I couldn't recommend Daigo enough. It serves a vegetarian meal. (Shojin) Each dish is a refined creation and full of flavour.

Lastly, Sushi Iwa is a perfect place for a reasonable sushi fare. Great quality and variety. DO NOT ORDER A LA CARTE.

Apr 02, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Tempaniaki or Other Kobe Steak in Tokyo

UKai-tei has a la carte. Teppanyaki restaruatns usually do.

Feb 21, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Tempaniaki or Other Kobe Steak in Tokyo

You cant go wrong with Ukai-tei. It is high end teppanyaki. There are quite a few branches, its Ginza and Omotasendo branches are michelin starred. Personally, I found its yokohama branch most impressive. For set menu, (which are quite filling and expect seafood in addition to beef) you are looking at a price range between 10500-16800 yen. In addition to their beef, their abalone teppanyaki is also quite impressive.
Alternately, you might also look at Imahan. (www.imahan.com) It is also a chain and runs its own meat store. In additional to teppanyaki, they also serve sukiyaki. (beef dipped in egg + sweetened sauce

)

Incidentally, for sukiyaki, I would recommend Hiyama at Nihhonbashi. It also has its own meat store and serves very traditional Japanese sukiyaki.

Feb 21, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Japan trip report from January 2013

I am sure you had had a wonderful experience. I have been tempted to try Sanda. I just wonder how much of the meal is offal. THe problem is, I am not sure I am comfortable eating beef lung or other rare treats. Did they serve any steak as the main course or did they have any menu choices?

Feb 17, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Lunch @ Ginza Toyoda

I wouldn't say the lunch here was stunning or impressive, (to be fair, you cant judge a keiseki restaurant on its lunch alone), there are some very good dishes. They also pandered to my dislike for grilled fish (a staple in most keiseki meals) and agreed to surprise me. I had the 10000 yen menu. I had
Appetiser: egg pudding with suppon. Excellent (I am partial to this seasonal dish)
Soup with Turnip, sea brea, sitting on fried taro
Ika, Hirame and mirugai sashimi
Deep Fried fugu (quite good actually)
Akagai in vinegared jelly

I was wondering at this stage what they would serve in lieu of the grilled fish, it turned out to be
slow cooked Japanese turnip . This is by far the highlight of the meal. The turnip was immersed in stock. It has totally absorbed thoroughly the fragrant stock. I recalled having a similar dish at L'Effervesance, only theirs is not half as good as this one
Rice Also surprisingly good. I suspect stock must have been added as the rice had plenty of flavour although it was only rice with vegetables

I note the restaurant serves a few crab courses in its dinner menu, was slightly disppointed there was no hint of crab in my lunch. I did saw the head chef prepare the chef at the counter though. (which was quite a performance)

Feb 08, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

BIG Tokyo eating trip--SOS!

For Tempura, I would highly recommend Seiju (Tsukiji). It opens on Sunday and the chef studied with Rakutei. Also Yokota (Minato), who serves tempura with curry powder is excellent. I have been to some very famous ones Mikawa Zezankyo, Rakutei, Kondo and exorbitant one 7 chome Kyobashi (31500yen) throughout the years, and taking all things into consideration, Seiju is my top pick while Yokota closely follows.

Also, I would highly recommend Daigo 03-3431-0811, which serves shojin (Japanese vegeterian). It was a very memorable meal and you would be stunned by what the Japanese can do with their vegetables.

For Kaiseki, I prefer those with a modern twist, DEN (03-3222-3978), Kohaku 03-5225-0807 are as close as you could get to perfection. Do advise the restaurants that you dont eat meat. They certianly catered to my little eccentricities, I am sure they can accomodate your no meat preference.

If my preference is anything to go by, I would urge you to try at least one of the many superb French restaurants in Tokyo. French cooking using local produce has never failed to surprise. I recently went to Esquisse and Edition Shimomura and was just blown away.

Feb 08, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Sushi Nakamura

I couldn't secure a booking @ Kimura, I did try two weeks in advance.

Feb 07, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Sushi Nakamura

In case I wasn't clear about which restaurant I was talking about.
http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1307/A13070...

Feb 07, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Yakitori Toriki

Oops. Thx Silverjay. For more information,

http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1312/A13120...

Feb 07, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Yakitori Toriki

This yakitori place is one metro station away from the Tokyo Sky Tree. It is one of the favourites on tabelog. Like most Yakitori places, it is VERY packed at dinner time (it was already full when I arrived at 6), so if you are looking for a comfortable dining experience, it is definitely not your cup of tea. Also, there is only one chef (the owner), you got to wait quite a bit before your skewers arrive. Reservation is a must, I saw the owner turn down as many walk-ins as there are seated diners. To his credit, there is English menu and the owner carefully explains what was being served in English.

I ordered the set. 8 chicken and 4 vegetables. With the exception of the quail eggs which were dry and the chicken skin which was overcooked and chewy, all others were v good. The chicken breast was cooked to perfection, the inside was almost raw, the texture was tender. The chicken thigh (Kashiwa) was so good (tender and juicy) that I couldn't resist an encore. The chigimo chicken liver was a rare treat. The signature meatball was mixed with a bit of cartilage to give extra texture. Ginkgo nut was delicious. Eggplant juicy and shiitake mushroom fragrant. Rice is not included in the set. Ard 5000 yen spent.

Feb 07, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Sushi Nakamura

This restaurant is located in Rappongi and has one M star. I visited after work at around 10 and for much of the time, I had the chef all to myself. He is soft spoken, welcoming and modest looking. Very enjoyable, consistently high quality food, v attentive service (my tea is changed every 15 minutes), relatively reasonable price (meal + sake = 20000yen)
Appetizers
Hiroshima Kaki oysters (good)
Katsuo (simply love the smoky flavour, v v good)
awabi sashimi in awabi liver sauce (good, but Sushi Yoshitake's was more impressive)
Grilled Kinmedai
Shirako (cooked with sake, not bad, granted i am not fond of shirako)
Ankimo cooked in sweet sauce (excellent)
Was not on the omakase, I asked for it. The chef said it is unavailable, then he muttered a few instructions to his assistant, the assistant then brought out a pot, and the chef, after careful checking, obliged.
Boiled Awabi
Wakame

next came sushi, chef prepared the rice right in front of me, was a delight to see how meticulously he prepared the rice.
Tai v good
Aji v good
Ika
Hirame
Uni excellent
This uni sushi is of particular interest. No Wakame was used to wrap the uni, instead, he had prepared the uni beforehand so that it is amenable to pressing like a typical sushi.
Kuruma ebi
Maguro zuke
sayori
chu toro
o toro
saba (excellent)
anage
tamago

I ate at Suhi Imamura (Shirakone)three days ago and found it utterly underwhelming. Nakamura is more than two notches better. In particular, his aji, hirame, katsuo, saba and uni are much much better.

Feb 06, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Esquisse

Had a stunning lunch at this recently opened establishment. Headed by the ex Troisgros chef, it earns 2 M stars. Most of the ingredients are locally selected except the pigeon. I had the 14000 lunch menu which share some of the dinner dishes. amuse bouch was deep fried ebi and coriander sauce. Then came the scallop salad, all sound. The next is the fois gras terrine. I don't care for fg, but this dish was excellent, the toasts that went with the fg was razor thin and crispy. The hibiscus (skin made of hibiscus jelly) ravioli (with fig instead of the usual stuffings) was ingenuous. Next was shellfish trio in pea sauce. A wonderful contrast in taste and texture. The fish course was amedai in lemon butter and pistachio sauce was wonderful. The pistachio and coriander gave extra spice to the crispy skin. Next was for me a highlight, it was grilled miatake and shiitake mushroom in black truffle consommé, a real tour de force, the intense mushroom fragrant.. Beyond description. Next came the traditional French pigeon, the breast was cooked rare while the liver and leg more well done. Throughout the meal, the chef paid v particular attention to the sauces, often served on the side on a separate plate. The dessert was called sugar ball. Inside an egg like sugar coating rest mascarpone cream and brandy sorbet. Service was v attentive but a bit cold. A must try although at a price.

Feb 05, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Kohaku

I did sit at the counter and the overall ambience was very akin to ishikawa. The chef or his assistance endeavored to explain each dish, there was a printed menu and he chef escorted me out of the restaurant when the meal finished. Admirable Japanese hospitality.

Feb 04, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan

Kohaku

Kohaku is a sister restaurant of Ishikawa and itself boasts two M stars. Most of the courses are excellent and impressive. The deep fried bamboo shoots was V good. The suppon rice ball was ingenious. I am quite accustomed to suppon and egg custard, but suppon on top of plan rice is also a perfect match. Next comes a trafitional fare, soup with dumpling. I don't care much for traditnal Japanese dumplings, be it fish or shrimps in soup. But the sow crab dumpling was a real delight. The freshness of the crab is complemented by the clear soup. In lieu of the usual sashimi, I had kinmedai in vinegared jelly, also a surprise and tastes refreshing. The real highlight was the sukiyaki beef with truffle and egg. Divine !!!! There were also the ankimo, yellow tail in white miso soup and crab porridge. All in all, am excellent meal. Personally, I prefer Kohaku to Ishikawa.

Feb 04, 2013
CWFOODIE in Japan