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Eating in Tokyo / MSG

As with any severe allergies, it's always better to ask. I've been making reservations for our upcoming trip and so far, everyone has been very pleasant and accommodating about our dietary restrictions.

Manufactured MSG is everywhere just as Brandon wrote above especially in industrial food and you won't exactly be 100% safe with sushi or tonkatsu sauce. On the other hand, there are ramen shops that do not use manufactured MSG and there is even a book telling you where they are:

http://www.amazon.co.jp/無化調ラーメンMAP―東京...

MSG is often listed as 調味料(アミノ酸等) in packaged food so you'd want to check the label for those words. Cupie mayonnaise contains MSG, Calbee potato chips also have MSG, and the list goes on and on. You probably would want to stay away from all the prepared food from convenience stores as well.

Feb 28, 2010
kikisakura in Japan

Osaka recommendations?

I've also been contemplating what we should eat in Osaka. So far, I'm thinking Korean, oden, and udon.

Feb 22, 2010
kikisakura in Japan

Food near the Park Hotel in Minato, Tokyo

Fried egg (megamayaki) in Japan basically means sunny side up. So if you want your eggs to be flipped over and you aren't dining at hotels accustomed to receiving foreign guests, you might have to explain that a bit. Still, in Yachiyo and similar restaurant, I'm sure you can specify how soft/hard you want your yolks to be. :)

Feb 17, 2010
kikisakura in Japan

vegan in paris

"Tien Hiang have just opened a 2nd restaurant on rue Bichat in the 10th, at number 14."

Thank you for sharing that info. Last time we ate at Tien HIang, we had to share a table with another couple and diners who arrived after we did either had to wait for good 30 min for a table or opt for takeout. So this second location was much a needed expansion and I hope it doesn't negatively impact quality of food.

Feb 15, 2010
kikisakura in France

Food near the Park Hotel in Minato, Tokyo

In that photo, the eggs certainly look poached, don't they? in other pictures, they are identified as fried eggs and do look fried so I'm confused. One poster also said that she was disappointed that the yolk was cooked and not runny at all. That doesn't sound good.

Anyhow, the char sui & egg plate comes with rice and miso soup. I still think 1,300 yen is a bit expensive for it but a lot of people seem to think that it's worth every yen.

Feb 13, 2010
kikisakura in Japan

Going to Tokyo. Need some recommendations.

Ah, indeed. They are related; seems like they split "noren" way back in 1913:

http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/藪_(蕎麦屋)

As for having chanko nabe at a sumo room, it's going to cost you but it sounds like a fun thing to do:

http://hisexperience.jp/culturalactiv...

If you just want to watch them practice, you can do it on your own for free:

http://www.arashio.net/tour.html
http://www.bekkoame.ne.jp/i/gb3303/in...

Now, as for your veggie friends, how vegetarian are they? Would they eat dishes with fish stock? If they don't, then I'd be super worried if I were you. I used to be a veggie but it became too much of a pain in the rear for my family and friends to accommodate me in Japan as virtually almost everything has fish dashi in it.

Feb 12, 2010
kikisakura in Japan

Going to Tokyo. Need some recommendations.

Hmmm? I think you're referring to another soba place. Here is a tabelog link to Namiki (not Kanda):

http://r.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1311/A131...

Namiki is in Asakusa, an obligatory stop in any tour of Tokyo. Soba starts at 650 yen.

Have you considered getting an iphone app for Tokyo metro system?

Feb 11, 2010
kikisakura in Japan

Last Hurrah--where to go?

BTW, the basic 6-course lunch at Hirosaku is 2,000 yen.

Feb 11, 2010
kikisakura in Japan

Going to Tokyo. Need some recommendations.

As for soba, I suggest you head to Namiki Yabusoba in Asakura. I'm sure it's in every guidebook and it is a tourist destination just as Sushi Dai is in Tsukiji but their soba also has a strong local following. For me, it was not the best soba I've ever but it sort of set the standard as in it gave me a point of comparison and reference.

Feb 11, 2010
kikisakura in Japan

Going to Tokyo. Need some recommendations.

Have you tried tabelog? It's not that bad even if you don't read Japanese. Here is a link to ramen listing in Shinjuku:

http://r.tabelog.com/ramen/tokyo/A130...

I can so go for a bowl of ramen right now.

Feb 09, 2010
kikisakura in Japan

Tofu in Kyoto

Okutan uses good ingredients but their tofu is on the firm side which is not how I like my tofu. If you are looking for tofu menu as in tofu kaiseki, you might want to look into Shoraian (松籟庵 ) in Arashiyama. Food is delicious and the setting is picture perfect. It's hard to imagine more of a "Kyoto-ish" dining experience.

Feb 09, 2010
kikisakura in Japan

Food near the Park Hotel in Minato, Tokyo

Lisa,

Tsukiji is only 600m away from your hotel. Would that be too far to go on a whim?

If I were staying that close to the market, I'd be tempted to eat and shop there everyday. You can find good sushi, soba, unagi, and so much more in and around Tsukiji. One particular place I am looking forward to going is Tonkatsu Yachiyo. They're famous for their char siu and fried egg plate (here is a pic: http://r.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1313/A131...) but my sister says their fried oyster/scallop lunch was just as good and well worth forgoing a sushi meal. And as it's right next to Sushi Dai and Sushi Daiwa, it'd be quite easy to spot.

Feb 05, 2010
kikisakura in Japan

The fallout from Japan as Mecca

Yes, koikuchi is what I meant by regular soy sauce. The specialized soy sauces are definitely not traditional; it's a marketing strategy to sell more bottles and it'd be perfectly valid to call them "tare" rather than "shoyu," IMHO. Still, it is quite convenient if you don't have the time to concoct your own version.

I am completely with you when it comes to heavy and thick say sauce being too overwhelming for sashimi and I wouldn't think that sweetness would go with most of sashimi but strangely enough, that's how a lot of sashimi soy sauce are formulated - thick, aged, and sweet and to achieve that flavor, they add nasty stuff like artificial sweetener and MSG. Anyhow, I'm not a huge sashimi or soy sauce person but in theory, it'd make more sense to me to pick and choose soy sauce that'd go with the particular type of fish you're eating.

Feb 04, 2010
kikisakura in General Topics

The fallout from Japan as Mecca

Yes you did. ;) Shiro soy sauce is generally used for nimono (braided/simmered dishes) but if it works for you on sashimi, why not?

For sashimi, most people would opt for regular soy sauce though tamari is also a popular choice and a good version of it is available in Paris:

http://www.workshop-isse.fr/acheter-e...

Some soy sauce brewers started marking sashimi soy sauce in the recent years and recipes vary.

Now, as for sushi soy sauce, it is commercially available even in France:

http://www.syoyu.com/site/shachou_blo...

but you can make it at home pretty easily. Other "specialized" soy sauce available these days include soy sauce egg dishes, tofu, and grilled mochi. Actually, the one for eggs is pretty tasty and handy to have around in the kitchen.

Feb 04, 2010
kikisakura in General Topics

The fallout from Japan as Mecca

I can go with the notion that Robuchon is inspired by Japanese aesthetics but my point was rather that if I taste ume and miso or even either of the two ingredients in a dish, in my book, that makes it at least partially Japanese. Imagine if you decorated a room in your Paris apartment with tatami mats and fusuma screen doors, to me, that room would scream out "Japanese" no matter how typically French the other architectural elements may be and that's how I feel about ume and miso. Perhaps, one of these days, miso might become as French in France as mayonnaise is Japanese in Japan but that day has yet to come.

But again, I have not sampled your miso ume pesto or a dish prepared with it so it's all academic at this point. I might just as well agree with you that it has nothing to do Japanese cooking and dish is certainly not Japanese once I taste it (...but then, that wouldn't sound very complimentary, would it?).

Feb 03, 2010
kikisakura in General Topics

Ueno Anagomeshi, Miyajima-guchi, Hiroshima-prefecture

This is the anago place I was referring to in a previous post as the anago don that was one of the best things I've ever eaten. Looking back, I was starving as my ex had forced me to hike up the mountain in MIyajima and absolutely miserable because of the heat so it is hard to ascertain if it was really that good or it was more about the circumstance. I haven't been back since 2005 to Hiroshima/Miyajima as it is rather far and expensive to get to so I've been checking on reviews online to see if they are still worth a detour and it sounds like it is indeed worth a return visit.

Feb 02, 2010
kikisakura in Japan

The fallout from Japan as Mecca

Well, I won't tell if you won't disclose my biggest secret that I chose a partner who thinks rice noodle goes best with blue cheese sauce. That actually gave me a serious pause and I have to make sure he doesn't pass that dish onto our unborn child.

Maybe I could be accused of being a purist but eating dishes with cream and olive oil during the course of kaisei meal by a former head chef of Kicho felt like being invited to a tea ceremony by the grandmaster himself and being serviced chocolate milkshake instead of tea. It's not wrong per se but something about it felt improper.

Anyhow, as for what makes French French as opposed to Japanese at the hands of French chefs, if souphie makes me a pasta dish with ume and miso pesto, I would't call that French no matter how French souphie is. That'd be Italian/Japanese fusion dish in my book.

But then, when I cook, just about anything goes...I am above my own rules, you see. :P

Feb 02, 2010
kikisakura in General Topics

The fallout from Japan as Mecca

Now that I think about it, my guess is that most French chefs working in French restaurants in Japan stick to classical French cuisine (as in no Japanese or Asian influence) just as it is the case for Japanese chefs cooking Japanese food in France. I suppose they were brought over to the other country for their "authenticity," so to speak.

As for olive oil and sour cream, I am in no position to voice protest as I put the infamous Kewpie mayonnaise all over yakisoba, okonomiyaki, hiyashi chuka, dried squid, and such (not pizza though; that's just gross) but I like my Japanese food clean and unadulterated. Nevertheless, yes, it does work if the chef knows what he/she is doing.

Feb 01, 2010
kikisakura in General Topics

The fallout from Japan as Mecca

"True, but I have not seen evidence of Japanese chefs incorporating French ways, the way French chefs have embraced many Asian influences in their cuisine."

Do you mean in France?

In Japan, Japanese/French "fusion" cuisine has been around for decades now. Some people call it French Kaiseki and it comes with a cute catchphrase - French cuisine you can eat with chopsticks. Here is an example:

http://www.misogui.jp/eng/menu/index....

Japanese public tends to be fickle so French has come and gone out of style (but not really), then it was all about Italian as well as Italian-Japanese fusion, and now molecular gastronomy.

Even the chefs who were trained in ultra-conservative settings like Kicho are incorporating ingredients like sour cream and olive oil which are definitely not part of traditional Japanese cooking.

Feb 01, 2010
kikisakura in General Topics

Best Places to Eat in Narita???

I actually assumed that the OP was a pilot based on his drink choices but I suppose that was simply a wild guess. :P

Jan 29, 2010
kikisakura in Japan

Best Places to Eat in Narita???

"To stay on topic :: You should really eat in Tokyo. :-)"

Indeed.

But if the OP or anyone else is too lazy or tired to hit Tokyo during a 48 hour layover in Narita, there are some options around Narita station (lots of izakaya and some sushi; the one next to the big grocery/drug store is supposed to be good) as well as around the Aeon mall. Both spots are easily accessible by free hotel shuttle service. Nevertheless, if I had a 48 hour in Narita as opposed to 24, I'll be so on that bus to Tokyo station first thing in the morning.

Jan 29, 2010
kikisakura in Japan

The fallout from Japan as Mecca

I know there are a few restaurants in Paris that have or had a Japanese chef but I haven't noticed any overall increase of Japanese influence either. On a side note, I cannot stand fusion cuisine and would go out of my way to avoid it except I am actually a fan of Alan Wong. It works (at least for me) because in his case, it reflects his background as a Chinese-Japanese American chef who grew up in Hawaii and regional cuisine in Hawaii evolved by fusing many ethic elements because of history as opposed to trends.

Jan 29, 2010
kikisakura in General Topics

Best Places to Eat in Narita???

Narita Express to Tokyo is about 3,000 yen one way. You can catch the highway bus from hotels in Narita to Tokyo station for about 1,420 yen. If you're staying at a hotel in Narita, that's the way to go as you wouldn't have to wait around for the hotel shuttle to take you and to from the airport. :) Train is more fun and faster so if you don't need to do this as often as I used to, it's a toss-up.

Jan 27, 2010
kikisakura in Japan

Best Places to Eat in Narita???

What he said.

Narita really isn't that bad for food; there are decent and good eateries but it's hard to get around. It's so much simpler to head to Tokyo and it's certainly worth the bus fare.

Jan 26, 2010
kikisakura in Japan

High End (Michelin) Restaurant Recs for a Veg and non Veg eater in Paris

As for Frenchie, their menu is very limited; you have to choose between two choices per course if my memory serves me right. And if it's your unlucky night, those two choices could be pork and shellfish. You could ask upon your reservation if they can accommodate your dietary needs and see what they say.

Jan 20, 2010
kikisakura in France

Osaka Namba/Dontonburi

An obvious choice for a special anniversary would be Honkogetsu with two Michelin starts but given the unreliability of air travel, I'm not so sure it'd be wise to book for the first night as everything has to go swimmingly for it to work.

I love Dōtonbori for all the kitsch and deliciousness. I'm sure you'll have a great time exploring the areas. Bring a big appetite!

Jan 13, 2010
kikisakura in Japan

Is L'ami Louis worth it?

Wisecracking wait staff I can take but disappearing reservations is another matter. For all they know, any of those "lost" reservations could have been for a special birthday or anniversary celebration especially given their price point but they don't seem to care. I think that is a problem at least for me.

Jan 11, 2010
kikisakura in France

5 weeks in Japan First time visit

If I had 5 weeks to eat my way through Japan, I'd go to:

Hokkaido
Niigata
Tokyo
Nagano
Kanazawa/Noto
Kyoto
Osaka
Hiroshima/Miyajima
Okayama
Fukuoka
Kagoshima

"What I would really like is something like your favorite secret spot cheap but amazing"

Then you should head to Osaka for a couple of days. My current opinion is that to find good cheap eats in Tokyo, you have to either be lucky or do research in advance whereas in Osaka, you have to be quite unlucky to stumble upon bad food. If you read Japanese, answer #9 on this post pretty much sums up my position:

http://q.hatena.ne.jp/1184853891

Jan 11, 2010
kikisakura in Japan

Is L'ami Louis worth it?

As is often the case, I agree with Phil (and soup) here about the cost of raw materials and the Kobe beef comparison works well.

So, the chicken isn't overpriced. But does that cancel out their attitude problem?

Jan 11, 2010
kikisakura in France

Jonathan's Worldly Eats: Confessions of a Foodie - Gyoza no Ohsho - Hanazono, Kyoto

I don't mind going for Chinese food in Japan as some can be quite good but while in Osaka, it'd be a shame to miss out on all the Korean food the city has to offer. My favorite place in Namba uses freshly caught seafood from Akashi.

I don't think I've eaten at Ohsho since I was...10? so I really don't have much to say on that topic but Hanazono has a couple of famous ramen spots not to be missed if you're in the area.

Jan 10, 2010
kikisakura in Japan