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Where to stay in Tokyo for Chowhounds?

I've stayed at the Cerulean Tower Tokyo very close by to the Granbell. If you enjoy Jazz, JZ Bratt in the Cerulean was top notch and elegant, classy like one of the Lincoln Center Jazz venues... Additionally, while its not the Lost in Translation Bar, the Bellovisto Bar on the top floor has spectacular views of Tokyo with an extensive Wine and hard to find in Tokyo (for me a good Martini) done well, extensive cocktail list. They have a nice sunset special in the afternoon from 4-6 with some hors d'oeuvres and a cocktail to watch the sun set over Tokyo. I enjoyed that very much.

Feb 05, 2013
mrjuggs in Japan

Where to stay in Tokyo for Chowhounds?

I take it that his wife is the lady running the front of the house? He was a bit intense :) . I was impressed how he handled everything himself, a la minute, including chopping the beef, making the Tartare to order. I sit at the counter and watch him work, sad if he has become more curmudgeonly, I found the whole encounter entertaining.

Feb 04, 2013
mrjuggs in Japan

Where to stay in Tokyo for Chowhounds?

I'll stop now. Akasaka has fantastic Japanese food, in addition to a wide mix of international food with a japanese twist, that i find a real treat-a place like Asterix, while French in approach, is uniquely Japanese. All over Tokyo you can find this depending on your personal likes. Tokyo is the business capital of Japan, and like NYC the restaurant scene is driven by it. The difficulty of navigating this city should be taken into consideration while visiting also. It sounds like jay is the expert-my perspective is as an international traveler who never did any business in Akasaka, but enjoyed living there.

Feb 03, 2013
mrjuggs in Japan

Where to stay in Tokyo for Chowhounds?

The comment made by the questioner was that the Village had the best food in the city. The top Michelin star rated restaurants are congregated in midtown Manhattan, not Greenwich Village. The top restaurants in Tokyo were not to my knowledge in Akasaka, but there were scores of mid range restaurants and music venues, on quieter, tree lined streets, just like the Village I've called home for the last 30 years. Thus the analogy and my recommendation for Akasaka. I stand by it.
I've stayed in many nice midrange hotels in Akasaka, the Chisun Grand, the B Akasaka, and a couple of great "Apartment" style hotels with kitchens in the room. The Hotel Otani is actually quite competitive-$200/night in Tokyo? Shibuya is a young persons mecca, Shinjuku was Midtown Manhattan, Roppongi full of tourists, Akasaka made me feel at home.

Feb 03, 2013
mrjuggs in Japan

What to serve and drink with Kumamoto oysters?

A bottle of Vouvray, a french white from the Loire Valley is my favorite wine to pair with Oysters.

Feb 03, 2013
mrjuggs in Home Cooking

Where to stay in Tokyo for Chowhounds?

I have travelled extensively to Tokyo over a dozen business trips. I have used the opportunity during the first 5 or 6 trips, to split my time between 2 neighborhoods. Each of my trips was at least 1 week long, my first trip was split between Shinjuku and Shibuya-purposely by me, to get a feel for the city. Later trips took me to Akasaka/Ginza, Roppongi/Minato, Ebisu/Tokyo...you get the idea. I kept coming back to spending half of my time in Akasaka, then just staying there everytime for the entire trip. I'm 50 years old, a foodie and lover of music. Akasaka is perfect for me-lots of great food choices across all price spectrums, sophisticated and quieter than Shinjuku (quick subway ride) or Roppongi (walking distance from Akasaka), not for the 20 something crowd-Shibuya(just a quick cab ride away). Lots of sophisticated mid-priced food, including one of the best Fugu restaurants in Tokyo (reasonable by Fugu standards) and Akasaka Ramen, very famous also. Night life includes over a dozen inexpensive little jazz clubs including Birdland, Akasaka BB, Hashi no Shita, B-Flat and my favorite "Kei", an intimate bossa nova jazz club run by the lovely Kei herself, a brazilian jazz singer of Japanese descent.
I've had fantastic meals at Asterix, a little french bistro in a basement a few doors down from Kei, last one was Steak Tartare(surprisingly made with rumproast-awesome-when asked the chef had to point to tell me what cut he used :)), Grilled Lamb chops and Banana Flambe for dessert-wow. Many other choices, international and japanese-centric in a sophisticated, yet not too swank or stuffy (Ginza fits this bill) area, very accessible to all of Tokyo via subway, taxi or on foot. The Hotel New Otani is a prime spot to relax over lunch with its beautiful multi-acre garden, and a fine place to stay also. One night I stumbled on the Danny Meyer Union Square Tokyo outpost, right in Akasaka, boardering Roppongi!! (I didn't eat there, but it speaks volumes of the area itself).
I live in the West Village, and agree with your NYC synopsis of food-I highly recommend Akasaka, I consider it and the boardering residential area of Aoyama(home of the Blue Note Tokyo) to be the Greenwich Village of Tokyo(more West Village if you know what I mean), with low lying buildings, tree lined streets, and slower pace. It has become my home away from home when visting this amazing city.

Feb 03, 2013
mrjuggs in Japan

Vermouth vs. Wine

Dry Vermouth is derived from White Wine and is dryer in taste. Dry Vermouth is used in Martinis. Sweet Vermouth is derived from Red Wine and is sweeter. Sweet Vermouth is the foundation for a Manhattan and a Negroni....
You can substitute dry vermouth for recipes calling for White wine, Sweet for Red wine. Just be cautious, i wouldn't use Vermouth as a substitute for something calling for a "bottle of red wine". The herbs used and flavoring would be overpowering. But if your deglazing a pan for a sauce, go for it, again be aware of the potential for flare ups as its higher in alcohol than wine. I'd say any recipe asking for 1/2 cup or less of red or white wine could stand up to a vermouth substitution.

Feb 15, 2012
mrjuggs in Wine

Vermouth vs. Wine

Vermouth, like all wines has a shelf life, particularly if opened. 3-4 months and the flavors will be diminished. Vermouth is great to cook with - however it has a higher alcohol content than most wines, and may flame up. Just about any recipe asking for white wine will stand up to vermouth as a substitute.

Feb 04, 2012
mrjuggs in Wine

ZENAN Teppanyaki Shinjuku, Tokyo

What a wonderful little place. Had a fantastic dinner on a quiet Saturday night, myself and a family of "foodies" (a mother and her adult son & daughter) from Singapore at the teppanyaki table. We laughed, we ate, we discussed food in Tokyo and NYC. Very kind and interesting owner/chef who was a master with all.
Not so hard to find if you use the map, actually a ten minute walk from Shinjuku station very near to the Prince Hotel. They had a menu handwritten in English-so it was easy to choose. My tablemates chose a 10 course seasonal menu, which ended in a steak that they all three shared, I went for the "Steak set" which gave me 6 courses but a much larger steak all for myself. They were jealous after dinner-its definitely the way to go.
The seasonal dishes were exquisite, baby bamboo, red snapper sushi, sea cucumber, cooked buri and after the exquisite steak-turtle rice soup. Strawberry season is in high swing in Tokyo, and dessert was a grainy yet delicious home made Strawberry Sorbet.
The steak looked like a piece of marble, and as he put it on the grill he seasoned it simply with only salt and pepper. Nothing else. He trims off the fat-i almost impulsively told him "I want the fat!", But since he just moved it to the side of the grill, i let him continue on with the steak. Good thing I did. The steak is served on a piece of "fried bread", just beautiful, delicious with two styles of sauce on the side. I was afraid to eat the bread-but it looked so good with all of the steak juices on it! After completing the steak, he took the bread from my plate and proceeded to make an unbelievable little sandwich. Remember the fat and trimmings? He expertly chopped them up on the teppanyaki and rendered out all of the fat to create a small pile of gribins....he then put that on one half of the bread, spread some coarse mustard on the bread and smashed up some deep fried garlic chips he gives you on the side of the steak, and grilled this little packet of love to a crispy brown. Cut in half the sandwich was delivered back-it was probably the single best item of the night.
Didn't think I'd have room for the turtle soup, but I licked the bowl clean.
Really great place, thanks for the recommendation.

Jan 28, 2012
mrjuggs in Japan