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The Great Sardine Taste-off – best canned sardines – Next 7

The only drawback is that few of these brands are available in this part of the world (Singapore), though I've seen the odd King Oscar around in the supermarkets. I will have to start searching in the Italian imports stores.

Dec 05, 2007
gauntlet in General Topics

A few general questions about eating in Tokyo

I didn't get to try any more tempura places in Tokyo as there's only so much tempura you can take in a week and there were other try-worthy lunch sets vying for our attention.

I did have Ten-Ichi Deux in my list but never got around to it. I'm not sure what style this is but I read it's a budget offshoot of the "best" tempura chain in Tokyo, Ten-Ichi tempura in Ginza. You can find it at Nishi Ginza Depato, first floor. Take the Ginza exit from JR Yurakucho; or exits C5, C9 from Ginza subway. Budget about Y2000 per person from what I read.

Nov 21, 2007
gauntlet in Japan

A few general questions about eating in Tokyo

Hi Jasmine and all. Here's my latest report card from Tokyo, Fall/Autumn 2007. I had the lovely opportunity to spend a solid week in Tokyo. I've also toured regional cities in Japan extensively and I'm also a serious home cook.

We were curious about how the following names would live up to our expectations. Some are frequently mentioned in English-language travel guides and forums. Here are a few of them.

1. Maisen (tonkatsu) in Harajuku. We ordered an ordinary loin and fillet lunch set. Their black pig lunch set was far more expensive at Y2940. There's no doubt that this institution attracts locals (and the odd construction worker next door) in droves. However I was underwhelmed by the small and thin loin cutlet. The mouthfeel was that of oily panko crumbs rather than meat. The cutlet was also deep fried a tad too long for my liking, making it a shade darker and drier than I am accustomed to. This may be their house style but Maisen was definitely not a benchmark setter for me. Their thick tonkatsu sauce was interesting -- not your usual Bulldog brand taste. An English menu is available.

2. Tsunahachi (tempura) in Shinjuku. This main branch is immensely popular with locals. There was a short queue at 12 noon but it moved quickly. We were fortunate (or unfortunate) to have a counter seat and to have a chef serve us personally piece-by-piece over the counter. Tokyo-style tempura is not going to worry Kyoto chefs for a long time and rightly so. The ebi (shrimp) size was a little small and the batter colour was a touch too dark for our liking. However the pieces were fried to the point of perfection and crunch. There was very little oily mouthfeel. Kyoto tempura this is not but Tsunahachi seems OK for busy Tokyo commuters and shoppers. Worth a try if you're in the area. Our chef spoke some English but the menu is in Japanese.

3. Kohmen (ramen) in Roppongi. I ordered a tonkotsu ramen. The stock was extremely thick with collagen but perhaps a tad too thick for my liking. You generally can't go wrong with ramen around town but this one was MSG laden as expected and left me with a dry mouth for the rest of the afternoon. No English menu.

4. Gonpachi (soba, kushi-yaki, sushi) in Nishi-Azabu. I had a bad feeling walking to this feudal-era themepark. The lights, design and the fact that English was readily spoken screamed "tourist trap". Their in-house hand-made soba was pretty ordinary. Service from their young waitstaff was erratic but friendly. If I lived in Tokyo this would be a place where I would bring first-timers and wow them with the Kill Bill decor but not with the food.

5. Jinenjiyo (curry rice) in Yanaka. You'll want to time your visit to the nearby Asakura Choso Museum so that you can arrive in time for lunch at this tiny, cosy cafe with communal tables. This is slow food, curry rice style. Each plate appears to be cooked on order (sharing a common curry "roux" I presume) by a chef on a compact stove behind the counter. The Japanese menu touts different medicinal properties for their vegetable, chicken and beef curries but the home-ground taste is anything but medicinal. Surprisingly I found the curries fairly hot for my chilli-loving palate. Make this your lunch stop when you're in the area. From the Asakura Choso Museum walk in the direction of Ueno and the cafe is a few doors down on the right. Some English is spoken by the helpful chef working the floor.

6. Maguro-bito (kaiten sushi) in Asakusa. This kaiten sushi joint was voted #1 by Fuji TV viewers. I'm not sure when the vote was cast but this place was packed to the gills and it held the unenviable record of a 50 minute dinner wait during our entire trip. This place is considerably better than your average kaiten-joint-near-a-station but is expensive too. Count on spending Y5250 for two. Worth a meal only if you're in the Senso-ji (Asakusa Kannon Temple) area. With the giant red lantern in front of you, walk to your left and turn into the second street, Orange-dori. Look out for the queue on the immediate left at the start of the street.

Nov 17, 2007
gauntlet in Japan

Japanese "Gurume Doramas" (gourmet TV dramas) - what others are out there?

Thanks cgfan. Yeah, I saw Shota-no Sushi back on Singapore TV in 1998 or so. I didn't think it was that long ago until I saw the year that it was released! Time sure flies! It had me glued to the TV set and my fav episode was one where the chef demonstrated dipping his hands in ice water to avoid "contaminating" the delicate raw fish slices.

I have yet to watch the new serials. I recently just got back "into" J-dramas only because I enjoy cooking Japanese food. I am now looking to buy some original English subbed DVDs. Can you recommend any eBay or online stores?

P.S. I'm asking for recommendations only because some eBay offerings look dubious and I don't want my DVDs confiscated just because they turned out to be duplicates.

Apr 20, 2007
gauntlet in Food Media & News

Japanese "Gurume Doramas" (gourmet TV dramas) - what others are out there?

While trawling on eBay I found a few more Japanese DVD titles with English subs:
* Delicious Proposal (2006) - romance in an Italian restaurant
* Food Detective (2006) - a private eye with a penchant for gourmet food
* Teppan Girl Akane (2006) - family-run teppanyaki joint
* Nebaru (2004) - a family business making natto (fermented soybeans)

Apr 19, 2007
gauntlet in Food Media & News