Precision at its Best

Perfect strawberries on a perfect parfait. Everything served at Ginza Shiseido Parlor is precise and perfect, using prime ingredients from all over Japan. This day, the Fukuharu-ka strawberries, an original species from Kagamiishi Farm in Fukuoka, were of course … perfect. White table clothed tables, Christofle silverware and custom flatware in the restaurant the omurice (on my Insta) is served. The Salon de Café, where the parfait is served, has a retro-glam feel. Pamper yourself with simple perfection that is another ‘only in Japan’ type spot. A Tokyo must visit 🍓🌸💞 福島県 鏡石農遊園産「ふくはる香」のスペシャルストロベリーパフェ、まいうー😭

Shiseido Parlor Ginza
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東京都中央区銀座8-8-3 東京銀座資生堂ビル

Tacubo 


It’s no longer a secret the Japanese make unbelievable Napoli pizza (David Chang just filmed a segment for Mind of a Chef in Tokyo) but don’t write off the Italian food cooked with Japanese ingredients. Take this stunning primi piatti from Tacubo in Daikanyama. Open for less than a year, they have already attained a Michelin star and quickly rated a top 5 Italian in Tokyo. The antipasti and pastas are beautiful but the real stars are the meats cooked to perfection in the maki yaki (薪焼き) firewood grill. The lamb is 💯🐑🐑🐑

Bookings are still not impossible but pretty soon, they will become another restaurant with hard-to-acquire reservations so if you are planning a trip here, I suggest visiting sooner than later.

Tacubo
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東京都 渋谷区 恵比寿西 2-13-16 ラングス代官山
03-6455-3822

*Reservations are a must

Conversations with Gen-san: Oishī

“Maybe the character for oishī (delicious) is beautiful「美しい」 and taste「味」because in the Japanese culture, we express appreciation for food in two parts: we note the presentation when something is first served, the taste, once we consume.” Gen-san and I wondered. “Makes perfect sense as utsukushī「美しい」is used when describing art and aesthetically pleasing things, followed by aji「味」flavors.” We both then nodded in agreement, satisfied by our conclusions of the etymology. Turns out that is not the case but it was surely fun to discuss. Always, always learn something new with each Gen-san visit and the reason his 8 seater bar is my favorite place in Tokyo. 

Bar Gen Yamamoto 

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東京都港区麻布十番1−6−4
アニバーサリービル1F

*reservations are required
office@genyamamoto.jp
 // 03-6434-0652

Pelican Bread: Tokyo Must Try


Pelican bread is a Tokyo must-eat and no other spot serves the beloved local treasure better than Cafe de Rope. Every bite has a crunch then a slightly sweet, airy softness, before a delightful vibrance from the creamy, salted butter laces your mouth. Don’t stop to ponder how a stupid piece of toasted bread can make your sensations go haywire because you will never figure it out. The rule here, is to do as Trevor Moran says: “Hurry up and fucking eat it before it gets cold.”

Cafe de Rope
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東京都中央区銀座5-3-1 ソニービル B3F

Afuri

I stopped eating ramen shortly after moving to Japan (I got sick of it) and now mainly stick to udon or soba. Last night, I was dragged to my neighborhood Afuri after dinner and was shocked.

Wait, let me back up since this might be confusing for people who have never been to Afuri. At Afuri in Japan (and a lot of fast, casual joints), you can only order through a vending machine. And in only six months (or maybe longer?) the buttons got an overhaul and there’re now a ton of buttons I don’t recognize! AND they’re also in English!!

Just in case I’ll leave some tips explaining the new buttons (or new to me) because the English translations are weird/not self explanatory:

 

Very bottom right button (and also pictured in the close-up): hand pulled noodles for ¥167 extra
Next to that one is konjak-men: gluten free noodles (they sell them stateside as ‘Shirataki’ noodles)
The little rice bowl on the yellow button is okaka gohan. Okaka is katsuobushi (skip jack tuna shavings) tossed with soy sauce over a bowl of rice. It sounds a bit unapproachable but this combination is a traditional, beloved flavor pairing from centuries ago.

Also, this is VERY important. Afuri is expanding all about Tokyo but the original branch is the Ebisu location. The Ebisu location makes the ramen stock for all the other Afuris and deliveries the stock throughout the day in these big metal cans.

Don’t get me wrong, all of them are good but the Afuri in Ebisu is the only one I eat at and recommend.

You’re welcome.
PS: I also did a ramen round-up here

Gyoza and Champagne

Gyoza and champagne, two of my favorite things in one place at once? YES PLEASE. It was hard for me to imagine gyoza (ghetto cheap food) with champagne (a ‘special occasion’ drink) but this place pulls it off.

Located in between Shinbashi and Toranomon, the interior is elegant; not smokey and gross at all. They just opened in May, their champagne list is extensive, menu is well thought out with a healthy selection of classy nibbles that extend beyond gyoza. Like their ‘kimchee’ which technically is an assortment of fresh vegetables marinated in the kimchee mix.

But the star is their crispy, juicy gyoza with four delicious dipping sauces: spicy sesame miso (Kobe style), dashi ponzu with chokushichi (直七) a citrus between yuzu and grapefruit from the Kōchi prefecture that is super light on acidity, green pepper and fond de veau, white truffle oil. (My favorite was the dashi ponzu and just eating with a bit of sprinkled salt).

I have a feeling this place is going to end up super popular — give it another year or so. Definitely recommended!

Champagne & Gyoza Bar
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東京都港区西新橋1-18-11 ル・グラシエルBLDG.16 1F

*No website, no reservations, closed on Sunday

Yoroniku

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Yoroniku is this super amazing yakiniku restaurant in the Minami Aoyama area of Tokyo. A friend says “it’s too posh” but there is a reason for that you see. In Japan, beef (and steak) used to be super luxury foods. This derives from the pre-war time mentality when beef was accessible only to the wealthy and royals.

Fast forward to about the 80’s (1980’s, to be precise), post-war, post-industrialized Japan or as we affectionately deem: The Bubble Era when Sony, Toyota, Mitsubishi, etc., were raking in tons of cash as were the people of Japan, meat and other Western foods became commonplace.

A lot of wartime children though, grew up in an era when Korean, Chinese, French, Italian, basically any non-Japanese cuisines were considered ‘exotic’ and even yakiniku — Korean BBQ — was considered special occasion meals. Super high-end yakiniku became a huge boom and you still see some of those effects today. Japanese people are also OCD and anal, so we don’t really like stinking of bbq coals and smoke. Most high-end yakiniku places in Japan have super duper high tech ventilation systems so our attire and hair do not reek of bbq.

The servers at Yoroniku cook the food and they know techniques for every cut of meat to best cook and serve. Every piece of meat is amazing. They also have a ‘hidden’ menu of gyu katsu (steak katsu) made from a chunk of wagyu grilled in front of you (the photos below are of the beef katsu).

I’m not going to go too much into details of the food but every. little. thing. there is so delicious it makes me want to cry.

There are two ways to order at Yoroniku. Choosing between two tasting menus (¥7,000 and¥9,000) is one, the other is telling them your budget and they serve you a meal within that cost. I prefer the latter.

And here is more insider info: there are two sister restaurants that are easier to book. While they may not offer the same exact menu as the original Yoroniku, the other two are more accessible.

Misuji (no website)
030-557308929
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東京都港区赤坂3-16-3 伊勢幸ビル2F

Namaiki (no website)
030-5817-8929
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東京都千代田区外神田6-14-7 2F

And for Yoroniku (no website)
030-3498-4629
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東京都港区南青山6-6-22 ルナロッサ B1F

I can’t guarantee access to the beef katsu (you have to go with a regular to first access and once you order once, you can keep ordering) but, I’ve heard stories of people ordering on their first time…

 

Takazawa Bar

Takazawa is a restaurant in Akasaka, notorious for being impossible to book. The space itself is beautiful and there is a warm, welcoming scent of tea that whisks you into another world. Scent is, perhaps, a huge part of the experience and I would love to try his food one day. The inside only has four tables (I believe — I was only inside for a brief moment) and rumor has it, the wait list to dine there is longer than some sushi restaurants.

In 2015, he opened a bar around the corner from his restuarant and those curious can try his food in more casual setting. ‘Casual’ in the loosest manner, as the bar is pretty posh.

I finally visited the other day. Enjoyed his scaled down vegetable parfait and an extremely intense squid dish.

Three glasses of wine and two appetizers cost apprx: $180~ USD. I was a bit shocked by the bill. The squid dish was too rich and I could only eat half as the capers and acidity from the tomato based stew were way too much, turning the dish into a chore to finish.

The imbalance was my fault, as all three dishes (two appetizers and one otōshi) had tomatoes and it should’ve occurred to mix base flavors…

I probably will not return because of the cost performance and the dishes that were delicious but not so memorable.

Takazawa Bar
http://www.takazawa-y.co.jp/bar/

Sushi

Almost a year has gone by since I ate my way through Tsukiji and it’s time to update — especially since revisiting some older posts, my face turned hot and red; I am extremely embarrassed at how little I knew about sushi.

So today, almost 12 months and many, many high-end sushi meals later, here are a few things I have learned. Warning: this will be a super long and ultra nerdy post with barely any photos…

Continue reading

Because Japan


If the Michelin barometer dictates your eating,  it’s no secret Japan is the best place to visit. (We boast the most Starred restaurants on the planet.) 

I’m not a Michelin chaser, I just like things that are delicious. But, it’s nice to know a guide which influences diners world wide acknowledges Japan’s food culture. 

The above place is most likely Bib Gourmand but it’s pretty neat how such an affordable place is included in the guide 😊

I love Japan! 

You can see all the Bib Gourmand (as well as the Starred establishments) here