MACCARINA

A recent ski trip to Niseko in Hokkaido allowed me to stumble upon a few lovely restaurants  that I simply have to share with you in my next few posts. The abundance of excellent food around tiny Niseko  has always amazed me, so let me start by sharing a post about Maccarina.

Maccarina is a French-Japanese restaurant with one michelin star. Its located in a tiny town called Makkari, about 30 minutes drive from Hirafu village where all the main hotels are.

Housed in a small wooden building, Maccarina’s interior is a little outdated yet somehow still manages to ooze some coziness.

IMG_2959

There are two choices of set menus. We chose the more extensive one which cost around 11.000 yen per person and here is what we had.

The first course was a mixture of tiny appetizers beautifully arranged on one plate. Grilled abalone, breadcrumbed beef tongue, roasted duck cooked in red wine, foie gras apple tart and  a mixture of vegetables of the season.

IMG_2956

I’m not sure I liked the concept of having all the appetizers mixed together in one plate but each of them tasted delicious and the presentation was amazing.

Next came an interesting dish. Poached lily bulbs in a most delicately light cream sauce. I loved this dish.

IMG_2957

A mini traditional French onion soup followed. I love onion soup and I found this one to be particularly delectable. It was light and had the perfect amount of cheese in it.

IMG_2961

A pleasant seafood risotto came after. It was light and absolutely delicious.

IMG_2964

You had a choice of roasted beef steak or roasted venison for your main course. I chose the beef.

IMG_2967

It was accompanied by the most delicious roasted potatoes. I was disappointed by the fact that I was so full I could not bring myself to finish them.

IMG_2969

I always have a soft spot for all things sweet, especially caramel so I loved the hot pumpkin tart dessert with caramel ice cream. The mixture of hot and cold can never go wrong in my opinion.

IMG_2970

The food at Maccarina was delicious in a more classic French kind of style, but were I  a michelin star judge, I don’t think I would have given them a star simply due to the fact that they didn’t really have a sommelier and the service really wasn’t up to michelin star standards. But then again, I am not a judge and what’s most important in my book is excellent food and Maccarina certainly has this. So I believe it is well worth the 30 minute drive.

Prize : $$$

MACCARINA 

172-3 Midorioka, Makkari, Abuta District, Hokkaido Prefecture 048-1615, Japan
+81 136-48-2100

 

Tajimaya

Tajimaya is a famous restaurant from Osaka well known for serving dried aged beef. Finally it opened a branch in tokyo at the Toranomon Hills some time ago.

The queue to get into the restaurant has been amazingly long when it first opened and there was a 2 week waiting list to get in to the restaurant the first couple of months after it opened.

Photo Oct 24, 20 58 40

The picture above shows the restaurant sign from the outside. Upon entering, you will be greeted by a mouth watering display of marbled beef guaranteed to spice up your appetite.

Photo Oct 24, 20 59 02

Below, a picture of the perfect marbled beef dry aged beef on display.

Photo Oct 24, 20 59 20

I found the dark stone era concept of the plates and cutleries very unique. On the plates, two Chinese characters  are written,「牛」that means Bovine and 「心」that means Heart.

Photo Oct 24, 21 07 56

Now lets start with the meal. For my appetizer I had a very green salad. There was no other color on my plate and it was a fresh starter before the heavy meal ahead.

Photo Oct 24, 21 26 44

The 2nd dish was an irresistible Japanese Beef sushi that we kept on reordering until they had nothing left. It was absolutely delicious.

Photo Oct 24, 21 27 26

The main course is of course the prime beef. I found the meat to be very juicy and had a very delicate smokey taste to it.

Photo Oct 24, 21 35 32

For those of you who are on a diet or simply do not enjoy rich, fatty beef, the lean meat is definitely an option.

Photo Oct 24, 21 36 47

If you find the meat too raw, you have the option of grilling the meat on a hot stone plate. I added butter mixed with sho-yu on top. This is what I did so I could try the meat in rare, medium and well done. they were all good.

Photo Oct 24, 21 42 15

Breads are not normally served in Japanese grilled beef restaurants but they do serve bread with the main course in Tajiyama. I liked this. It made them different.

Photo Oct 24, 21 44 03

It may sound crazy, but even after all the delicious dishes above we were still hungry and added a T-bone steak to fill the corners of our tummies. Just take a look at this beauty.

Photo Oct 24, 22 10 02

 

I loved the whole Tajiyama experience. The new restaurant in Tokyo is very different from the ones in Osaka where you grill the meat  yourself like a normal yakiniku restaurant. Here , the beef is served steak style, the dry aged beef being the prima donna of our dinner journey.Price is 10.000 yen per person.

Price: $$

Tajimaya

Toranomon Hills Mori Tower 4F
Toranomon 1-23-3 Minato Ward
Tokyo, 105-0002
Tel. 03- 3593-1129

Due Italian

The name of this restaurant in Shimbashi might not suggest a Ramen place. Just in case some of you aren’t familiar with the term, ramen is a hot savory Japanese noodle soup dish that is considered an easy lunch or dinner in Japan. There are many different types of ramen, but the ramen you will find in Due Italian is a very unique fusion of Japanese and Italian style of cooking.

Their restaurant is relatively small like many places in Japan yet very comfortable with outdoor seating for nice weather days.

Photo Nov 12, 13 49 02

They have two signature ramen dishes and my friend and I decided to order one of each. The first one is the tomato ramen which is served cold and sweet with lots of tomatoes and some strawberries on top of it. The dish tasted deliciously fresh and I was quite surprised at how well the tomato juice and strawberries complemented each other.

 

Photo Nov 12, 13 24 59 (1)

The second signature dish is the hot ramen which is served with melted fromage cheese. This dish is very simple but the soup is exquisite. You mix the cheese and the noodles so they blend together and melts in your mouth. We just stopped talking until there wasn’t a drop left in our bowls. It was that good.

Photo Nov 12, 13 25 14

I would recommend this restaurant for a quick lunch place or if you are looking to try a unique type of ramen noodles. Prices are on the cheap side around 1000-1500 yen. So this is one of those cheap and cheerful eateries that I would definitely recommend.

Price : $

Due Italian
Tokyo, Minato, Higashi-shinbashi, 2-9-6, SAN Bldg 1F
Phone:(+81)3-3436-5337

KADOWAKI

Finally I got the chance to blog about my most favorite kaiseki restaurant in town, Kadowaki. This is actually my third visit to the restaurant but the first two were rather formal dinner invitations where taking pictures of my food and making notes probably would not have been appreciated.

Located at the edge of Roppongi in an area called Azabu-juban, Kadowaki is a small, intimate restaurant with a counter that seats six and a few tiny private rooms. Kadowaki has received a very well deserved 2 michelin star since the star first landed in Tokyo a few years ago. Food here is always excellent and changes with season. Here is what we had this time around.

The first dish was a tiny bowl of rice with salmon roe and hazelnut crumbs.

IMG_2093

Followed by a delicious karage or deep-fried dish that looked like chicken but was actually fugu or blow fish. Yes, it is the fish that when cut wrong oozes deadly poison but I figured if there were any poison it would have been washed away by the deep-frying,right?. This was absolutely delicious. We used our fingers to devour the fish to the bones.

IMG_2098

Next came a flowery refreshing mini salad dish, perfect after the oily blow fish.

IMG_2102

Given the fact that I consider truffles as one of God’s greatest inventions, I absolutely loved this next dish. Flounder sashimi with shaved white truffle. We were asked to eat it rolled with a touch of wasabi and salt. Delicious.

IMG_2104

 

Next came a baked uni dish with crab.

IMG_2106

Followed by another one of my favorite dishes, a yellow tail shabu-shabu dish.

IMG_2113

The fish is barely cooked and eaten with a savory sesame oil sauce.

IMG_2114

A lovely vegetable soup with the yellow tail fish broth is served after.

IMG_2115

 

And last but definitely not least is the dish that Kadowaki is famous for. Their extraordinary truffle rice kamameshi. I sometimes wish they would serve this up front because by the time it arrives I’m usually so full  and it simply is too excellent to pass. Make sure you have enough space for this because it is to die for.

IMG_2116

To end things on a sweet note they served a simple dessert that I found to be absolutely lovely. Mango, strawberry and ricotta cheese served with honey sauce.

IMG_2120

This plethora of delightful delectable dishes will set you back about 30.000 yen but believe me, it is well worth it.

Price: $$$

Kadowaki
2-7-2 Azabujuban, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Tel : 03-5772-2553

 

 

Kaishoku Michiba

Kaishoku Michiba is another one of those old school restaurants, loved by the older generation, where iron chef Rokusaburo Michiba’s roast beef bowl is to die for.

Photo Oct 16, 13 04 51

The restaurant is located in Ginza with an easy to spot facade as pictured above.

Photo Oct 16, 12 19 14

The elevator lobby interior had a vintage yet homey ambiance.

Photo Oct 16, 12 58 49

As you can see the restaurant attracts an older more conservative crowd.

I made a last-minute reservation and could not be accommodated at the dining area, they offered me the bar counter which was rather narrow yet cozy.

Photo Oct 16, 12 18 55

You might have some problem deciphering the menu.

Photo Oct 16, 12 19 44

Since it is my second time here, I’ve decided to order the roast beef again.

Photo Oct 16, 12 28 52

The lovely appetizer plate consisted of five seasonal items. The roast cheese is always in the serving and is my favorite.

Photo Oct 16, 12 36 56

As I mentioned before, the roast beef main course is simply to die for. We fell silent until we finished the whole serving.

Photo Oct 16, 12 48 26

For dessert, they had a mix berry pannacotta which was just the right size.

I like this restaurant. The food is just the right size, right price and great taste. It’s one of those places I would recommend to my friends.

The whole lunch menu costs 5000 yen (approx. 45 dollars at current rate) and is a good place to go for lunch.

Price $$

Kanematsu Bldg. 8F 6-9-9 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061
Telephone: (+81)3-5537-6300

 

Mame-cha

If you happen to be looking for a nice lunch spot in the Yurakucho area, consider dropping by Mame-cha located on the 8th floor of the Lumine department store building. Its located under a cinema and relatively new on this floor.

Photo Jun 18, 14 13 01

They have a variety of different choices in the set menu, allowing you to pick the food that you like and leaving out the ones you don’t.

Photo Jun 18, 13 46 28

The style of the interior was very modern Japanese. Simple with light wood accents.

Photo Jun 18, 13 34 18

You pick your main dish from the menu and while waiting for your meal to arrive, there is an appetizer buffet elegantly designed like a capsule. You can choose three dishes of appetizers and dessert, all dessert or all appetizers as long as it is 3 dishes. Everything looked so inviting, it took me awhile to decide which appetizers to pick.

Photo Jun 18, 13 28 44

They had an interesting tea selection in the buffet, from grape tea to black bean tea. I tried a sip of them all and loved the grape tea flavor.

My pick from the buffet was 2 appetizers and 1 dessert. You could choose all dessert if you want. My dessert was a green tea cake.

Photo Jun 18, 13 30 57

My choice of main course today was a simple grilled fish. Nice and healthy.

Photo Jun 18, 13 32 39

The lunch menu costs 1500 yen ++ and it is just the right size so you wont get sleepy for work in the afternoon.

Good lunch spot!

Price : $

Mame-cha
〒100-0006 Tokyo, Chiyoda, Yurakucho, 2 Chome−5−1, LUMINE Yurakucho 8F
03-6267-4775

KOGENTEY

Located in the middle of an upper class residential area, the street leading towards it dark except for the illuminated entrance, Kogentey is a welcomed oasis in the heart of Sakurashinmachi. Two restaurants and a cafe built as warm wooden structures sit in its lovely compound. You don’t find this kind of architecture a lot in Tokyo.

DSC_4556

The first restaurant is the “Konamon” where they serve okonomiyaki (japanese style pizza).

DSC_4571

The second is a dessert shop “Yukinoshita”  (the hut on the right in the picture below) where they serve a variety of desserts.

DSC_4564

The third, is the “Kogentey” which is a teppanyaki restaurant where I will have dinner today.

I loved the entrance with its gorgeous lighting. You really feel like you are entering a different world in this compound.

DSC_4599

There are only 2 private rooms where the chef can cook live in front of you. The rests are just regular tables like the picture below.

DSC_4592

Since it’s a teppanyaki restaurant, I feel like it is always better to have the chef cook live in front of you as part of the entertainment. Below is a picture of the room I booked.

DSC_4573

I have a certain weakness for special menus. I chose the “Natsu Tora” for my meal which means Summer Tiger. It is part of their summer menu and the only difference from their signature menu is that they had lobster on the list. No hesitation, I chose this one.

Photo Aug 10, 20 05 38

The first to arrive from the set menu was the Gazpacho,  a cold tomato based soup made from raw vegetables originally from the southern Spanish region of Andalusia.

Photo Aug 10, 20 11 31

Second is the Hors d’oeuvre, Fish with summer vegetables.

Photo Aug 10, 20 21 30

Third, the chef showed us the ingredients of the Poisson, Lobster, Sea Urchin, and Scallop. All fresh.

Photo Aug 10, 20 27 54

She grilled the lobster and scallops first and used the sea urchin as a sauce she poured on top.
It was the ocean on a plate and tasted heavenly.

Photo Aug 10, 20 38 52

After the seafood, we moved on to the Viande, Oumi Beef from Shiga perfecture,

Photo Aug 10, 20 42 33

Fried garlic, asparagus, eggplant and wasabi were served as the sides.

Photo Aug 10, 20 54 17

Soumen, a kind of Japanese noodle from Akita prefecture served cold came last.

Photo Aug 10, 21 11 23

The dessert was a pannacotta with passion fruit sauce. A refreshing tropical summer dessert.

Photo Aug 10, 21 22 52

From all the dishes I loved the lobster the best. It truly was amazing.

Other than that, I would recommend this place for its unique atmosphere. An oasis in the middle of bustling Tokyo.

Price: $$$

Kogentey
4-14-1 Tsurumaki, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, 154-0016
Phone +81 (0)3-3425-0393