Kakigori in Tokyo

Kakigōri is a Japanese dessert made of shaved ice, traditionally flavoured with syrup, condensed milk or an, a sweet bean paste.

In Japan it is considered a fuubutsushi, a term used to designate items that evoke memories of specific seasons, in this case Summer. Other edible fuubutsushi representing Summer include sōmen (thin noodles made of wheat flour), hiyashi chūka (chilled ramen noodles) and watermelon.

There is an abundance of Kakigori shops in Tokyo so choosing my top 10 was difficult, but here they are, in alphabetical order.

  1. Bum Bun Blau Cafe with Beehive (Hatanodai)
  • A range of relatively light kakigori to match their famous spirolina infused ramen.
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Avocado, soy milk & caramel
  1. Cafe Lumiere (Kichijoji)
  • Flaming Kakigori with a baked Alaska exterior! I personally love the one with lots of berries in the centre, served with condensed milk, chocolate and berry sauce on the side.

image1Flaming mixed berries

  1. Gari-Garilège (Gaienmae)
  • Although this shop only operates when owner chef Kawate is out of town, I had to include it in my top 10 because Horio-san puts patisserie level cookies & meringue in the kakigori and the Florilège counter is, without doubt, the most beautiful spot you will ever find for the icy treat.

image1Pumpkin & Caramel sauce 

 

  1. Haimuru Coffee (Musashi-Koyama)
  • Another spot I frequent because I often want some hot, soupy & savoury ramen after consuming kakigori.

image2Strawberry Valentine’s 

 

  1. Kooriya Peace (Kichijoji)
  • The kakigori here are often a little too sweet for my taste but sometimes they do incredible flavours like the Orangette one pictured below, where you get a refreshing, tangy orange sauce with slight bitter tones, sweet light airy cream, orangette like strips of sunshine in chocolate coated candy form – truly a dream come true!

image3Orangette

  1. Kuriyakashi Kurogi (Hongo-Sanchome)
  • Michelin starred Jun Kurogi’s wagashi (Japanese sweets) shop designed by famed architect Kengo Kuma. Beautiful, massive kakigori that never fail to elicit equally massive guilt.

image1Mori-matcha

  1. Mamatoko (Nakanoshimbashi)
  • Run by a young kakigori loving lady. Portions are relatively small, which is great when you want to try a few flavours at once! Love the kinako & miso cream.

image1Kinako Miso Cream, Kuromame 

 

  1. Mayoor (Miyazakidai)                                                                                                                A little far out but if you enjoy milky kakigori, this is the place to go.

image1Sesame & Avocado milk 

  1. Minatoya* (Sasazuka)                                                                                                    Decadent oimont-blanc, portmanteau of Japanese “oimo” meaning (sweet) potato and “mont-blanc” available here alongside a range of fresh fruit kakigori and takoyaki for savoury breaks.

image2Oimont-blanc

  1. Shimokitachaen Ooyama* (Shimokitazawa)                                                              Matcha lovers should visit for the signature matcha espuma kakigori. Sakura is also a seasonal favourite in Spring.

image1

Sakura

Thanks for reading and I hope you get some nice kakigori this summer.

 

Kaneko Hannosuke Honten 金子半之助 @ Mitsukoshimae 

Upon seeing a photo of the ten-don from Kaneko Hannosuke I already decided that I would hike up mountains and swim through seas just to try it. I know this sounds stupid. But feeling reckless today I went here and did something almost as absurd – wasting 2 hours of life in the cold alone :p Was it worth it?   

For those not keen on ebi (prawn) or anago (sea eel), kisu fish (Japanese whiting) was offered as a substitute. Having waited for so long I felt hungry enough to order the Kisu as an extra rather than substitute. Here is my ten-don! (the only thing on the menu)   

Guess how much it was? 950 yen. (+150yen for the kisu) That is exceptionally cheap for a ten-don of this quality with so much seafood.  

My first bite was the scallop kakiage which was juicy and sweet :p Sauce was nice with a hint of yuzu (they even put a small piece of yuzu peel on the anago to decorate it. that’s quite a lot of attention to detail for a fast food priced ten-don :p )   

and THIS is what drew me here! the tempura egg.  

oooooooo eggporn   

Final verdict? This was far from the best ten-don I’ve ever had (which for the record, was done by a place called Shirou years ago but the chef has gone and the ten-don there is no longer good. I’d really appreciate it if anyone can tell me where the chef went because it seems that all the staff there have been replaced!) However, for 950 yen I really have no complaints and would have recommended it to budget travellers had there not been a queue. 

There is in fact a sibling store in Akasaka (金子屋) which appears to do the same ten-don minus the queue…….. I’ll have to try that later to see if it is as good as this original store! 🙂 

天丼 金子半之助

03-3243-0707

東京都中央区日本橋室町1-11-15 1F・2F

http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1302/A130202/13118694/

Other chains (with less queue) can be found here 

Http://www.hannosuke.com 

Ohtanawanoren 太田なわのれん @ Hinodecho

There are days when all I want to do is eat meat.

In Japan, I mostly find myself craving for yakiniku on meat days but sometimes when I am simultaneously craving egg I would go for sukiyaki. I can never resist a TKG (tamago-kake-gohan, or egg on rice) after a beefy meal at i.e. Imahan! After a busy week at work, I felt the need to treat myself a little… so today I decided to get out of the city for a particularly special sukiyaki in Hinodecho (not far from Yokohama). IMG_6085

Now if you are wondering why this sukiyaki restaurant is special, it is not because they use particularly good beef, nor is it particularly expensive, nor is it visited by a lengthy list of V.I.P.s. It is, however, supposedly where the dish “sukiyaki” originated from.

Ohtanawanoren was established in 1868, the first year of the Meiji period when meat eating was still not a common practice in Japan. At that time, the owner of Ohtanawanoren came up with using miso to hide the taste of meat which was in fact unpleasant to common people at the time. As you will see later, the “original” form of sukiyaki was known as  “gyu-nabe” (beef pot) , and was completely different from how sukiyaki is generally prepared today. IMG_6131

Before coming here I did not actually expect the interior of the restaurant to resemble a high-end kaiseki ryotei. Was quite happy that there were individual rooms for us to play stupid games that I would rather not talk about on here. IMG_6127Ohtanawanoren opens for lunch only on weekends (and for dinner it is open everyday except monday). There is a special lunch course that also includes their signature butsukirigyu-nabe at a slightly cheaper price. Our group of 5 ordered one of them today and had a-la-carte (with higher quality, shimofuri beef from yamagata) for the rest of the meal. The lunch course first came with a small, cold chawanmushi (steamed egg) with ikura.IMG_6086

And then this little beef & lettuce appetizer.IMG_6092

Also a sashimi salad with varied fish & black caviar from the a-la-carte menu for starters.IMG_6093

A clear soup with shrimp paste and mochi under a blanket of sliced daikon also came with the lunch course. This was pretty standard. IMG_6097

Not to forget some sake to go with whats to come…!  yuki no maboroshi IMG_6091

Our 2 servers began bringing in the bits and bobs required to set up our sukiyaki meal. First the tea and eggs…IMG_6099

Then the veggies….IMG_6100

Then ta-da! Here’s the shimofuri yamagata-gyu nabe.IMG_6101

And this is the less fatty butsukiri-gyu-nabe with beef from Iwate. Despite being the slightly cheaper option, I personally prefer this after a couple pieces because too much overly fat wagyu can get sickening very fast. So having a mix today was indeed, perfect!IMG_6102

That concentration.IMG_6103

Sizzle sizzleIMG_6105

Glass noodles were also put in to soak up all the miso goodness.IMG_6112

And topped with some shungiku (chrysanthemum leaves) … one signature element of gyu-nabe that is still prevalent in modern sukiyaki.IMG_6114

Bubbles!IMG_6117

Finally, served in a bowl of raw egg. Absolutely addictive with rice.IMG_6116 IMG_6119

After a while the beef was transferred onto another pan to avoid being overcooked. IMG_6120 IMG_6125

Towards the end of the meal, a lot of miso is left in the egg, creating an awesome mixture for pouring over hot rice 😀 IMG_6124

Aaand dessert was melon sorbet. IMG_6126

Goodbye Ohtanawanoren! IMG_6128

And here’s a small exhibition of their fuku-chan mascot goods.IMG_6130

Ohtanawanoren 

Address :  Sueyoshicho 1-15, Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi Kanagawa-ken

〒231-0055 神奈川県横浜市中区末吉町1-15

Phone: 045-261-0636

Website: http://www.ohtanawanoren.jp 

Nakafuku なかふく@ Hachiyama

IMG_4317 One of my favourite pasttimes in Tokyo is wandering around, stumbling into random kakureya (literally, hidden house) restaurants and then feeling like I’ve found another treasure whenever I come across one that can suitably be considered a hidden gem.

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Nakafuku is a prime example of a restaurant like this. This little gem is only a steps away from shibuya station but tucked away in Hachiyamacho, it is still a distance from the hustle and bustle of the main area. I love that it is such an intimate, cosy place, not to mention that chef Shingo and hostess Ayako are both lovely people! I’ve included photos from a few different visits (some dishes, like the mochigomatofu have been repeated every single time).

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Meals at Nakafuku always begin with two otoushi (basically a Japanese amuse-bouche) that are generally very good appetite whetters. These are always different! Sometimes there’s squid, sometimes scallops… :920140722-230146-82906952.jpg

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Although I always binged on the yummy food here I notice that a lot of other customers come more for the drinks. There is always a different selection of nihonshu and a humbly sized but awesome variety of otsumami. Such as this aburi mentaiko.20140722-223915-81555538.jpg

Or this mizunasu sashimi.20140722-223916-81556143.jpg

Or this hokkigai sashimi.

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Or this uni on yuba (Tofu skin)IMG_5845Or their fresh oysters (so good)IMG_5847

or beautiful gindara saikyo-yaki.IMG_585420140722-224001-81601448.jpg

And there’s my favourite uni tamagoyaki. The uni remains nice and raw inside the egg which is carefully prepared, layer by layer to preserve fluffiness.20140722-223958-81598725.jpg20140722-223959-81599320.jpg

The list of food for pairing with sake goes on. Pork chop with oroshi-daikon.20140722-223959-81599615.jpg

Shrimp paste ball in a clear seaweed soup. 20140722-224001-81601884.jpg

A must-have for me is this mochi goma-tofu with hot shoyu. This is a very dense, slightly chewy sesame flavoured tofu with a crispy layer of skin; super aromatic and flavourful inside! Wonderful soaked in the hot shoyu. IMG_5851

The deepfried shrimp paste and lotus root is also a perfect match for sake.IMG_5870

Homemade menchi-katsu, another wonderful things you down with sake.IMG_5862IMG_5865

 Tofu atsu-age – extremely well executed, this tofu has a strong soy bean flavour and is silky smooth and soft, yet retaining a perfect square shape with a very crispy skin.

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Deepfried chicken (Tori tatsuta-age)20140722-224034-81634872.jpgIMG_5875

Donabe gohan with chicken soboro.

20140722-224000-81600101.jpg20140722-224000-81600843.jpg

Ochazuke!IMG_5877

With mentaiko inside… 🙂20140722-224402-81842751.jpg

Garlic abura sobaIMG_4326

Cold Uni chawanmushi. IMG_4331

P.S. this carrot cake was actually the first thing I ever tasted from Nakafuku. They don’t normally serve dessert but on July 4th Ayako-san made carrot cakes to celebrate independence day. 20140722-231010-83410743.jpg

Nakafuku 

Address: Hachiyamacho 2-4 , Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

東京都渋谷区鉢山町2-4 冨沢ビル 1F

Telephone: 050-5890-0204

Website:   www.nakafuku.tokyo.jp

Yakiniku Jumbo Shirokane

I have been trying to go on a diet lately.

Purposely failing every single day … because what the heck I live in Tokyo and there are temptations everywhere.

The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it… everyone knows Oscar Wilde speaks truth !

God, I love Yakiniku.

Here’s Yakiniku Jumbo Shirokane, one of my favourites these days.

IMG_5365

 

Started off with the yukhoe (ユッケ).

20140608-130740-47260103.jpg

 

This was well received because unlike at many other places, the sesame oil did not overpower the flavours of the fresh raw beef at all. 20140608-130740-47260432.jpg

Then I had my favourite noharayaki – a signature here at Yakiniku Jumbo. Basically 3 pieces of this thinly sliced sirloin and a bowl of rice is all I need to get a glimpse of heaven. I meant this literally and this means quite a lot for a physically bound human being.20140608-130741-47261451.jpg

 

The noharayaki is grilled and then dipped in egg, eaten like sukiyaki but probably better than most sukiyakis 😛 20140608-130741-47261787.jpg

The harami was also of very good quality – good for those who prefer beef with a bite over buttery beef. This contrasted nicely with the noharayaki which pretty much evaporated as soon as I put it in my mouth. 20140608-130740-47260762.jpg

The Tongue was also one of the best I’ve had in Tokyo so far 😀20140608-130741-47261099.jpg

Also had kalbi, sankaku, etc. etc. My dad ordered some pork knuckle dish which I did not take a photo of because I found it slightly gross. 20140608-130742-47262124.jpg

And the meal ended with a soothing gukbap. I prefer gukbap authentic Korean style but still have a habit of ordering gukbap after all my yakiniku meals. Anyway, I absolutely loved this place and would definitely come back again! IMG_5363

Yakiniku Jumbo 

Address:  Dai-ichi Azabu Bldg. 1F, 3-1-1 Shirokane, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Telephone: 03-5795-4129

Website: http://www.kuroge-wagyu.com/js/

ふく竹 本店 Fukutake @ Tsukiji

Was never a fan of mentaiko nor motsunabe but when a friendly colleague of mine told me about the table she managed to get at this (perpetually overbooked, apparently) restaurant, I had to oblige. So on this saturday night I braved the rain to get to Fukutake in Higashi-Ginza, not far from Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji-market.

Motsunabe was originally a dish from Fukuoka; a prefecture in Kyushu island. A standard version would  be a stew of offal, small bits of meat and assorted vegetables but at Fukutake, mentaiko is mixed into the gutty concoction to form a special signature dish.

IMG_2195

First thing I noticed – a photo of Ishitsuka Hidehiko, probably one of the only Japanese comedians I like to watch hung on the wall. (FYI it’s the chubby guy with a big smile in the middle frame)IMG_2225

Rows of sake were lined up by the entrance.IMG_2224

The meal kicked off with a few drinks and some smaller bites. This fried mentaiko cheese 明太子チーズ揚げ was the first snack that caught my attention on the menu, simply because I love cheese 😀

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And it was delicious! Melty cheese inside a crispy skin with fresh mentaiko that added extra savouriness to each bite. 20140621-151504-54904566.jpg

We also ordered a sashimi salad just to be healthy. Being located by Tsukiji market and all, the sashimi was very decent too.

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Obvious star of the night arrives – 5 huge chunks of mentaiko sitting on nira (chinese garlic chives) sitting on cabbage sitting on god knows what animal offal underneath. 20140621-151503-54903515.jpg

A close up of the beautiful mentaiko:  (I know I said I wasn’t a fan but when it is beautiful, IT IS BEAUTIFUL) 20140621-151503-54903879.jpg

Destroying the mentaiko family: 20140621-151504-54904920.jpgMentaiko motsunabe ready to be devoured by 6 hungry humans:20140621-151505-54905793.jpg

The actual offal was a little too hard to chew and swallow for my liking but there were small bits of meat that I felt I could masticate with a bit of effort. 20140621-151506-54906702.jpgThe star element of the dish for me, in any case, was the mentaiko-permeated broth. Note its gorgeous corally shade of pink ! ❤  Brimming with umami and SO so good.20140621-151506-54906398.jpgAt the end, we put cheese (yay cheese!) into the pot to create an epic mentaiko risotto!

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Last but not least a collage to sum up my meal at Fukutake. Definitely coming back!20140621-151508-54908567.jpg

Fukutake 

Address: 東京都中央区築地4-2-7 フェニックス東銀座 B1F

Chuo-ku Tsukiji 4-2-7 B1F Tokyo

Phone :  050-5869-0618

Website: http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g011100/

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lovely bistro – Benoit

Went to this casual French bistro near my neighbourhood for lunch. Located on the 10th and 11th floors of La Porte Aoyama, Benoit boasts some pretty nice views of the city. (That probably sounds very low for people from i.e. Hong Kong… but in Aoyama… that’s a skyscraper!)

Of all French restaurants in Tokyo, Benoit did not seem to enjoy as much of a hype as the various establishments of Joel Robuchon or places like L’Osier and Quintessance. Perhaps, after all, it is just a bistro. However, it actually belongs to the Michelin star-studded French chef Alain Ducasse and holds one Michelin star itself.

On this particularly sunny day, the large glass windows filled the restaurant with beautiful natural light; the sweet decor and pink walls made for a warm atmosphere that seemed to bring a sense of dainty girliness out of any female guest. (pedantic Feminists do not sue me for gender stereotypes!).

IMG_3979 IMG_3976 IMG_3973 IMG_3972As expected, the restaurant was filled with women and I did not spot a single man in there except one person who looked like a lesbian but might have been a girly looking man. IMG_3935IMG_3930 IMG_3929 I personally opted for the lunch set of 2 entreés, 1 main dish and 1 dessert, but I also tried a bit of almost everything everyone else on my table had. So here comes a list of all the things I tried on the day! IMG_3934Salade Benoit au foie gras de canard 
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Broccoli soup with ricotta cheese
IMG_3940 Brandade de morue (salt cod emulsion) topped with an oeuf mollet IMG_3942eggs eggs eggs ❤
IMG_3943 I also had coquillettes with jambon blanc, black truffles and comté cheese. Before the dish was served, I was asked about the amount of truffles I wanted to have as it is charged by the gram and freshly shaved upon serving.IMG_3945 The price of the truffles was extremely reasonable, although this was also reflected in the taste and insufficient aroma of the truffles. Nevertheless, the comté and truffle sauce was very tasty and this was probably my favourite entreé.
IMG_3951 For mains my aunt had this pork dish. I tried hardly any of this as I was already quite full after eating two entreés (as you can see, portions were not small).  IMG_3953I personally went for the scallops (noix de Saint-Jacques poêlées) in red wine sauce as it was obviously the lightest option available. These were fantastically sweet and succulent! The endives meunières were also fresh, soaking up the lovely sauce that had a tangy hint of orange.
IMG_3955I was full but as my Japanese aunt always said, we have a betsu-bara (other stomach) specially for desserts. My mom had this baked apple which you can get if you pay an extra 500 yen. It was good but I am very glad I didn’t go for this because what I ordered turned out to be the biggest highlight of this meal (at no extra charge too! oh oh oh oh!)

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This combo of chocolate, caramel, milk ice cream and salted caramel was simply DIVINE. I was initially tempted by every single item in the dessert menu but when salted caramel is involved it becomes a sure bet that I’d choose it over anything else unless I end up getting everything (which I didn’t, because I was on a –diet-). 

IMG_3960 It wasn’t the most delicate dessert I ever had – there were no fancy, intricate details but boy this was ORGASMIC. Like something you just want to shove in your face over and over again and not stop, EVER. This is what I call a magic stick. I think I would return just to have this again. 20140123-183615.jpg

I left feeling uber satisfied by this lunch. 
IMG_3966 IMG_3965And the bathrooms were cute too!! IMG_3967 IMG_3969

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By the way, if you come on a weekend I suggest checking out the Aoyama Farmers market to walk your heavy lunch off – it’s a mere 30 seconds away from the restaurant’s building and lots of fun. (You can find info about this here: http://whereintokyo.com/venues/25057.html)

Benoit 

Address:  Aoyama Building – 10-11 floor La Porte

5-51-8 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku

150-0001, Tokyo, Japan      東京都渋谷区神宮前5-51-8 ラ・ポルト青山10階

Website: www.benoit-tokyo.com

Telephone: +81 (3)6419 41 81