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

 

 

AHILL

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This restaurant calls itself a “French Teppanyaki” restaurant so I was rather intrigued to find out what that meant. Ahill has a branch in nishi-azabu but I visited the one at the Velvia building in Ginza a few days ago for lunch with some friends. It was a small and cozy restaurant on the 8th floor with a very reasonable lunch set menu of 2000 or 3500 yen.

There are three choices of appetizers and we decided to each take something different to taste. Here is what we had :

First appetizer choice : Shrimp quenelles gratin style with mushroom and potatoes

First appetizer choice : Shrimp quenelles gratin style with mushroom and potatoes

Second appetizers choice : Yellowtail marinated with ginger, tomato and eggplant tapenade

Second appetizers choice : Yellowtail marinated with ginger, tomato and eggplant tapenade

And the third appetizer choice some roast beef with horseradish gravy

And the third appetizer choice some roast beef with horseradish gravy

Then came a soothing warm pumpkin potage.

Warm pumpkin potage

Warm pumpkin potage

If you order the 3500 yen set you will get an extra plate of today’s fish.

salmon. The fish of the day.

Salmon. The fish of the day.

There are also three choices of the main course which is rump steak, hamburger or sautéed pork.

The rump steak

The rump steak

The hamburger with pieces of foie gras inside

The hamburger with pieces of foie gras inside

What comes next is a definite must try. Their fried curry rice. The 2000 yen menu doesn’t have this in it, but you can order extra for 500 yen. Definitely worth it!. It was one of the best curry rice I’ve tried.

The fried curry rice

The fried curry rice

The creme brule is also a definite must try. I loved how thin it was so you can really taste the burnt crust.

The creme brule

The creme brule

And there is also a choice of apple mousse dessert.

Apple mousse dessert

Apple mousse dessert

So this is what you call French-Teppanyaki. I loved my meal. It was delicious for its reasonable price. I especially loved the curry rice and creme brule. I think I might come back.

Price : $

AHILL.
Ginza2-4-6, Ginza Velcia-kan 8F
Phone : 3562-8080

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TERRES DE TRUFFE

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Truffles have always held the top spot on my list of favorite foods, right up there next to honey.  So when I found this restaurant that serves all things truffles up to its desserts, I was naturally overjoyed. I used to frequent this restaurant when it was still housed in Roppongi Hills. They closed for a year before recently (finally) opening their cosy doors to the public in a quiet back street of Aoyama. The interior is less formal in their new location, looking more like a cosy french bistro.

They have a set and ala carte menu with wine pairing options. The set menu costs about 15.000 yen. My husband and I tried the set menu and before I go and post pictures of our meal, here is a picture of my favorite food up close.

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Isn’t she a beauty ?

And here is what we had on our menu…

Starting off simple with a slice of bread covered with cheese and slices of truffle accompanied by a small cup of hot chicken soup. This is always my favorite starter.

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Followed by some sliced fish covered with truffles. This dish is deliciously fresh.

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Another one of my favorite dish came after. A perfectly soft half poached egg in a light chicken broth with truffle slices.

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Next is a signature dish of Terres de truffe. Baked potato in a cream sauce with generous shavings of white truffle on top.

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And a wonderful seared scallop with zucchini and a slice of truffle came soon after.
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Followed by the main dish. Wagyu beef with foie gras and black truffles.

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This dish was accompanied by some lovely truffled rice.

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For dessert, we decided to try two different options. A vanilla ice cream with truffled caramel sauce and truffled cheese pannacota. Both were delicious.

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It was an absolutely wonderful feast and it being truffle season right now, it would be the perfect time to go.

Price : $$$

TERRES DE TRUFFE.
Reve Minami Aoyama  Bldg 1F
2-27-6 Minami Aoyama
Minato-ku, Tokyo
Phone : 0357722139