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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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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

Sukiyabashi Jiro

I guess no blog about food in Tokyo would be complete without writing about this celebrated sushi place. Ever since David Gelb’s documentary film “Jiro Dreams of Sushi ” was released in 2011, the hype of this Michelin 3 star establishment hit a global high resulting in more foreign visitors than local. A highly publicized visit from President Obama a few weeks ago only elevated it’s status making reservations slightly harder to come by. Photo Apr 25, 17 12 20

The Japanese don’t really revel in such attention. It is definitely not easy to make a reservation. If you are staying at a hotel without a direct link to the restaurant, don’t bother asking. Calling them is useless. They never pick up the phone. Rather, get someone to go there in person. A 10.000 yen deposit per person is required to be made on the 1st day of every month for next month’s reservation. Come early to avoid being bumped. After they assign you a certain time and date for your reservation you will receive a piece of paper stating their rules.  No shorts. No sandals. No T-shirts for male guests. No heavy makeup. No strong perfume. No taking pictures in front of the establishment. A rather strange set of rules but I guess if you are visiting someone’s home it would only polite to follow the rules of the host, no matter how strange.

Sukiyabashi Jiro is located in the basement of an old building in Ginza. Even with all the International acclaim, Jiro’s location remains modest and unpretentious.

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I was lucky enough to visit the place with 2 friends and we were the only customers at the time. IMG_7488

Below you will find a picture of the menu. A traditional sushi restaurant will normally serve food in this order. The first half is their fixed menu that stays the same all year round. The second half is their seasonal menu. I found it interesting that they did not have salmon sushi on their menu (only salmon roe). Chef Jiro himself explained to me that traditional sushi doesn’t serve salmon in their menu. Traditional sushi menus mostly serve creatures of the sea. Salmon lives in both fresh and sea water. It was only later that salmon was added to sushi menus because the foreigners love it.

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Below is a picture of my yellow tail sushi . We were recommended to eat with our hands instead of using chopsticks. DSC_0008

The semi fatty tuna below was also delicious. I noticed that after a few sushi pieces he would watch you closely as you devoured his creations, deciphering whether you are enjoying it or whether the sushi is the right bite size.

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About half way through I noticed Jiro scrutinizing us again. This time probably to see if we were struggling and whether or not to make the rice smaller to ensure we will be able to finish the entire course.

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When it was time for the sea urchin I wasn’t particularly thrilled since I’ve never really liked sea urchin. The smell always bothered me. This one however was exceptionally fresh that i actually enjoyed it.

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Last but not least was the Egg (Tamago) which was sweet and tasted more like a dessert.DSC_0012

I am a big eater so the 18 course nigiri sushi wasn’t enough for me. I ended up ordering 2 more additional a la carte sushis costing about 2000 yen each.

In between all this I sneaked a picture of the masters Jiro Ono (left) and Yoshikazu Ono (right)

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We were asked to move to a table for dessert as they prepared for another lunch. Dessert was a mouthwatering juicy melon with a cup of bitter Japanese tea to balance it out.DSC_0017

All this will set you back about 30.000 yen per person but I have to say overall it was a wonderful experience. The sushi was fresh and delicious (one of the best sushis I’ve tried so far) and we were treated with the utmost respect and most gracious manners. I have heard complains from people who claimed they were treated in a snotty manner by this establishment. But I think as long as you respect their art which they take very seriously, they will respect you in return. Follow their rules and customs and you will have a lovely experience. My verdict is that they definitely live up to the hype.

P.S : I did not hear the phone ring once during my lunch. Maybe there is no phone ?

Price : $$$

Sukiyabashi Jiro
4-2-15 Ginza, Chuo-ku , Tokyo 104-0061
Phone:+81 (0)3-3535-3600

Savoy

I decided to try this tiny pizza place called Savoy today as I was enjoying a leisurely afternoon stroll in Azabu-juban after many wet Tokyo days. A friend recommended this establishment and so I decided to give it a try.

The restaurant is located on the 2nd floor of a rather bland flat building . No signs of a pizza place in sight.

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As you enter though, you’ll find that the interior is quite cozy with bar counter seatings only.

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The menu is also very minimalist. They had a steamed broccoli appetizer but the main course only consists of two choices of pizza, Margherita and Marinara. Each costing about 1500 yen.

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I decided to give the all time favorite a try and ordered the Margherita. The pizza dough was very thin and soft and you actually had to roll it in between your fingers to prevent the toppings from falling off. It was delicious.

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One pizza wasn’t enough for me today so I decided to give the Marinara a try. I found it interesting how the chef threw salt inside the wood fire oven.

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Here is the Marinara pizza and I have to say it is the better choice of the two. I loved the garlicky taste. Exquisite.

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My verdict ?. I have to say that in Tokyo you very often find beauty in the most unassuming places. If you love soft moist pizzas I suggest you give this place a try.

Price : $

SAVOY
3-10-1 Motoazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0046
Phone : +81-(0)3-5770-7899

Kunimoto

I can finally recommend a yakiniku restaurant for those who zest for beef without being deceived by the seasoning, Kunimoto. It is located a few steps away from Hamamatucho station.

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I could not get the reservation for the “honten” (main restaurant) due to no table available, so I went to the “shinkan” (new restaurant) located in the same area.

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First we were served with their signature salad and I ordered a corn tea as I find it unusual. The fresh scent and mouthwatering flavor was just nice for a long and tiring day.

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So we ordered the course with all parts of the Japanese beef with their recommendation as we were required to order a course when making the reservation. It contains a different parts of the beef with their matching seasoning. For beef enthusiast, they are very careful with the seasoning by not covering the juiciness and taste of the high quality beef itself.

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We were kinda hungry that day so as an extra we ordered “kamenoko” as it was not part of the set. Adding this order, the overall amount was just nice for 2 pax.

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And so the dessert follows with a cup of tea. It is a Milk Pudding with Brown Cane Sugar syrup.

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The reservation was not hard to make since it was on a weekday night. I went home and I could sleep smiling with a happy tummy.

Price: $$

Kunimoto Main (honten)
2-12-2 Hamamatsucho, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Phone: +81 -(0)3-3578-1129

Kunimoto New (shinkan)
Kanou Bldg 1F, 2-8-9, Hamamatsucho, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Phone: +81 -(0)3-3435-7605

L’OSIER Lunch

It is close to impossible to find a table at the newly opened three star Michelin restaurant L’Osier in Ginza. Even after requesting a table a month before, we only managed to snag a table for lunch and that was in their private room. So we had to summon a group of 8 people to accompany us for lunch last week. The interior of new L’Osier Ginza is subtly grand and I loved the cream-colored interior. Here is a picture I snatched from their website.

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I was expecting their service to be somewhat formal and stuffy but was pleasantly surprised by the warm and hearty welcome. Lionel who served us, spoke perfect English and took great care of every detail throughout our lunch. I was really hungry and did not feel like drinking champagne on an empty stomach so he sent me some lovely nibbles.

Little nibbles

Little nibbles

Followed by a lovely mushroom custard.

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A sea urchin and shell fish custard with an egg shell broth flavored with saffron followed.

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Next, came a sea bass fillet encased in bread with grapefruit juice served with mint flavored zucchini puree. I have never been much of a grapefruit fan and found this dish to be a little sour, but most of my other friends liked it.

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Next course was a slice of beef cheek, glazed beetroot and turnips with carrot puree and cumin moose. The beef cheek was wonderfully soft.

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A fresh pre dessert sorbet followed.

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The dessert was a lovely creme brûlée, flavored with orange blossom, cottage cheese and lemon ice cream.

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And to end things on a sweet note, some lovely little delights from the sweet delicacy trolley.

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It was truly an extraordinary elaborate lunch which will throw you back about 14.000 yen excluding drinks but well worth it!.

Price : $$$

L’OSIER
7-5-5 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061
Phone : +81-(0)3-3571-6050

HORIKANE

Nestled in a very unassuming side street in the Shirokanedai neighborhood, Horikane’s excellent cuisine is anything but modest. The Michelin guide stated that “Owner-chef Hidehiro Horiuchi’s kitchen is a place of focused concentration”. The interior of this tiny restaurant may be a little dated but the brilliance of Horikane’s dishes are anything but obsolete.

Chef Horiuchi combines Japanese with chinese style and here are the series of exquisitely crafted dishes I was privileged enough to try.

Vegetable Appetizers

Vegetable Appetizers

I wish I could have asked what the dish on the right was but my limited Japanese skills couldn’t figure it out. The next dish was my absolute favorite. Not only was it extremely creative it was also highly delectable, a thick shark fin soup in a mango fruit. You were asked to eat it like you would a coconut. Scraping the mango flesh and eating it with the soup. Heavenly.

Sharkfin soup in a mango fruit

Sharkfin soup in a mango fruit

Next came three slices of the freshest fatty tuna (toro) with an array of condiments.

Tuna toro

Tuna toro

Following the tuna, came a squid dish bathed in black squid ink.

Squid ink dish

Squid ink dish

Next came what I thought was a tofu dish but actually wasn’t. Once again, limited Japanese language skills hindered me from finding out what it was but at least I can show you how it looked like.

Tofu-like dish

Tofu-like dish

And as the main course we were served Horikane’s famous hot pot with chunks of vegetables and delicious fish inside.

The hotpot

The hot pot

Then came a wonderful truffle scented rice porridge with poached eggs. Comfort food for my tummy.

Truffle scented rice porridge with poached eggs

Truffle scented rice porridge with poached eggs

And to end things on a sweet note. Some lovely strawberries in a sesame sauce.

I truly loved my meal. It would set you can around 25.000 to 30.000 yen but is absolutely worth it.

Price : $$$

HORIKANE
5-10-13 Shirokanedai
Minato-ku Tokyo
Phone : 03-3280-4629