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Gastronomy, Japan - Tokyo, Sushi

Chef Mizutani-san was choosing abalones at Tsukiji Fish Market

January 25, 2015

Chef Mizutani-san could be the only famous sushi master who goes to Tsukiji fish market “everyday”. I was lucky enough to follow him and see how he purchase the fish & other ingredients. Here, it’s a film showing how he chooses the abalones. I asked him why he didn’t choose the ones dropped in the plastic case, and he said – not soft enough. For him, the abalones must be tender enough in order to use and serve at his sushi counter. The softness will decrease when time goes on.

I was thinking – a great sushi chef must be very picky to the seafood!

Gastronomy, Japan - Tokyo

Noma Tokyo 2015 – Chapter 1

January 24, 2015

Noma-150113-8

No. 1
牡丹蝦與長野縣的螞蟻們相遇在 - 東京Noma 的餐桌上!

Botan ebi with flavors of Nagano forest. Yes, ants were served at the table of Noma Tokyo!

 

noma teaser-150113-4

No. 2
北海道柑橘及山椒葉佐利尻昆布油

Assorted citrus from Hokkaido and Sanshou pepper from Okinawa with Rishiri kombu oil at Noma Tokyo.

 

noma teaser-150113-6

No. 3
鮟鱇魚肝削片,是我最喜歡的一道菜之一。

One of my favorites – Shaved monkfish liver.   So good!

 

Noma-150113-25
No. 4
烏賊版蕎麥麵佐以昆布醬汁,配沖繩玫瑰花瓣、松油高湯。

Koika cuttlefish “soba” seasoned by Kombu sauce with rose petals from Okinawa & pine dashi at Noma Tokyo.

 

Gastronomy, Japan - Tokyo

Kyo-Aji in Tokyo -Teaser 1

January 23, 2015
KyoAji-150115-4

A very poetic soup at Kyo-Aji, and for me, it’s simply a master piece of Japanese cuisine. Chef Nishi-san came to explain the “visual” idea of this soup to us. He said: After the winter, the spring will arrive. In this bowl, we can see the spring’s vitality is hidden under the winter ice. What a poetic soup…! Daikon (the radish) is great during the winter. The elegant and fresh aroma of Yuzu was so pleasant which reminded me the breeze in the spring. When drinking the soup, it seemed there was a gentle warm flow went through my body & heart.
Chapeau a Chef Nishi-san.

KyoAji-150115-7 

Featured Posts, Gastronomy, Japan - Tokyo

White Truffle Menu at Cuisine[s] Michel Troisgros in Tokyo

November 22, 2013

 

White truffle season has arrived…  Here are some beautiful photos of white truffle dishes I’ve received from the chef Guillaume Bracaval of 2 star Michelin Restaurant – Cuisine[s] Michel Troisgros in Tokyo.

The white truffle menu has started and will continue to Dec. 20th.  For those who have the chance to visit Tokyo, I would highly recommend you to try it.  You won’t regret it!

Cuisine[s] Michel Troisgros – www.troisgros.jp

 

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Beautiful white truffle from Alba, Italy

Very exceptional white truffle from Alba, Italy

Very exceptional white truffle from Alba, Italy

Velours de foie gras , cèpes et châtaigne

Velours de foie gras , cèpes et châtaigne

Brocoli tiède a l'anchois et veau fumé

Brocoli tiède a l’anchois et veau fumé

Plins a la noisette et parmesan

Plins a la noisette et parmesan

Noix de Saint Jacques rôties au beurre de sauge

Noix de Saint Jacques rôties au beurre de sauge

Suprême de volaille laqué , topinambour aux aromates

Suprême de volaille laqué , topinambour aux aromates

Entre les Andes et l'Amazonie - dessert pomme de terre chocolat crème fumée

Entre les Andes et l’Amazonie – dessert pomme de terre chocolat crème fumée

 

 

 

Photo credit – Chef Guillaume Bracaval

Featured Posts, Gastronomy, Japan - Tokyo

“Happy Halloween” in SAWADA style!

October 31, 2012

Image

 

I asked Chef Sawada to pose his hands for me so I could take a nice photo of them.  Apparently, he didn’t take it that seriously, and made it in a rather funny way.  Coincidentally, this photo became a very nice one for saying “Happy Halloween” to my HaoKouFu friends.

Yes, a “Happy Halloween” in SAWADA style.  🙂

Gastronomy, Japan - Tokyo

Sawada, A Man Who Puts His Soul Into His Sushi

April 20, 2009

 

The chef - Koji Sawada (澤田幸治)

The chef - Koji Sawada (澤田幸治)

It’s indeed not easy to get a seat at Sawada. Think about this – 7 seats only, Michelin 2 stars, one of the hippest Sushi places in Tokyo. I was lucky enough to get in there and be seated right in front of the chef Sawada Koji (澤田幸治). Sawada is 38 years old, the same age as RyuGin’s chef Yamamoto. He used to work for one of the top Sushi places in Ginza – 青木 (Aoki). Some Japanese media even claim that Sawada is the most difficult sushi place to get a seat which really tempted me to go there.  

The entrance of Sawada

The entrance of Sawada

 

I arrived at 13h50, 10 minutes earlier than my reservation scheduled at 14h. There were another 2 guests who had just arrived. There are only 2 people working at Sawada – the Chef himself and his helper. Sawada speaks a little English. He asked me if there is anything I don’t eat. I told him I even ate ball fish, then he laughed.  Before starting the meal, his helper brought this sake – “醸し人九平次 別誂(べつあつらえ)純米大吟醸 Eau du desir” to me.

醸し人九平次 別誂(べつあつらえ)純米大吟醸 Eau du desir

醸し人九平次 別誂(べつあつらえ)純米大吟醸 Eau du desir

 

It’s my first time to taste this sake, and it’s an unusual one. Why?! It’s the first sake being introduced to a few Michelin 3 star restaurants in Paris, i.e. Pierre Gagnaire and Guy Savoy. This sake is really good and I would not hesitate to say it’s the best one I had so far in this year.  

 

 

I-Ku-Ra, the loose salmon eggs

I-Ku-Ra, the loose salmon eggs

 

The first appetizer Sawada brought to me is I-Ku-Ra, the loose salmon eggs with a bit citrus sauce which offers a very light and elegant touch to the salmon eggs. The quality of salmon eggs is impeccable. They just easily melted in my mouth.  

 

赤貝 Akagai (Red Clam)

赤貝 Akagai (Red Clam)

 

 

Afterwards, the Sawada style sushi feast started. I totally enjoyed looking at how he worked with his knife and shaped the sushi with skillful hands. He’s like an artist! Every sushi is just incredibly great and delicious. Sawada only uses the best fish he can get on the day (he has very limited sleeping time ‘cz he has to choose fish by himself every early morning). This sushi place totally blew me away. Even now, I could still remember how those fish tasted in my mouth… How that great O-toro brought the heavenly pleasure to me… The wild sea eel, the different unis (sea urchin) from Hokkaido and Kyushu, …everything is just incredible. Even the simplest atsuyaki tamago (egg cake) demonstrates what perfection would be. 

 

 

大トロ (Otoro)

大トロ (Otoro)

 

 

Although our communication wasn’t much, by his genuine smile and extremely serious attitude to his sushi, I can tell that he really cares about his guests. Sawada, a man gives sushi with a spirit…! P.S. The 3 star sushi places are Mizutani (鮨 水谷) and Sukiyabashi Jiro (鮨 すきやばし次郎). At beginning, my first choice was Mizutani and 2nd choice was Sawada. I didn’t put Jiro as my first choice after doing reserach on several Japanese websites. The ratings of Mizutani or Sawada are the highest. Michelin Guide is worth it as a reference to, but when it comes to the end, I would rather trust a local insider’s taste.

 

さわ田 Sawada 
5-9-19 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan
東京都中央区銀座5-9-19

+81 3 3571 4711 

 

Here are more pictures – 

 

Gastronomy, Japan - Tokyo

An inspiring and fantastic dining experience in Tokyo – RyuGin

November 26, 2008

An inspiring and fantastic dining experience in Tokyo – RyuGin

RyuGin

RyuGin, a restaurant renowned for creative Japanese cuisine, is hidden in the very modern and chic Roppongi area.   The chef Yamamoto Seiji (山本征治) used to work under the very famous chef Koyama Hirohisa (小山裕久) at Aoyagi (青柳) for 11 years.  When he was 33 years old, he started his own restaurant RyuGin in December 2003.  It’s rated as a 2-star restaurant by the first issue of Michelin Guide – Tokyo 2008.  Yamamoto was invited to the 2007 Madrid Fusion and presented a dish called “Silkscreen of Squid Ink with Squid Carpaccio” which earned an ovation at the event.  Indeed, Yamamoto is a super star in  Japanese cuisine nowadays.

The dining space of RyuGin is pretty small.  The main space could host about 20 guests only, but with a private room, it can host up to about 26 seats.  I was lucky to get a seat because I called to make a reservation just 2 days ahead, but I was requested to arrive at the restaurant at 18h, otherwise, there’d be no tables available until 22h.  I knew it’s very difficult to get a table there, so, I told the person that it was fine for me to be there at 18h.

2 choices of Champagne by the glass

2 choices of Champagne by the glass

On that day, I was the first guest to arrive at the restaurant.  The sommelier (who was also the person to serve me) told me it would be okay to take a few pictures of the restaurant since no other guests were there yet.  I was glad that the sommelier spoke English fluently.  He told me that he went to Australia to take a sommelier course before, so there was no problem to communicate with him in English at all.  Obviously, we have a shared interest – wine.  Soon, we started a cheerful conversation.  By his recommendation, I ordered the Gastronomy B set (which cost 26,250 yen, about US$250) which focuses on Yamamoto’s signature dishes.

After having the seasonal amuse bouche, I asked the sommelier what kind of whites they provided by the glass.  He soon brought 4 whites to my table.  Normally, I would choose the wine by myself, but in this case – I didn’t know how this “creative Japanese cuisine” would be, so I preferred to consult the sommelier.   Satisfyingly, he gave me this answer – “How about this – I’ll pour some of each wine for you, so you can try the different combinations with different dishes.”   How could I reject this offer?!
When the first dish came, I was still on my Champagne Henriot.  Then the 2nd dish – Aichi figs with port flavored foie gras terrine served with sesame cream came, the waiter suggested another wine which didn’t appear in those 4 white flight when he just showed me.  It’s a 2005 Zind-Humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl Gewurztraminer VT, what a brilliant suggestion.  “Le mariage” of the wine and food was very harmonious.  The bouquet of this Gewurz was dazzlingly aromatic.  I just couldn’t stop myself taking a deep breath of this wine…

Assorted Sashimi - RyuGin Style

Assorted Sashimi - RyuGin Style

The sommelier was indeed helpful and friendly.  He patiently explained every dish to me.  When the “Assorted Sashimi – RyuGin Style” was served, the chef Yamamoto himself even came to pour the soy sauce for me as well as presented his greetings.  Quelle surprise!

When I dined at some Michelin 2-star or 3-star restaurants in Paris, I sometimes found some dishes were not executed perfectly which usually made me feel a bit disappointed.  But at RyuGin, I would say – every dish just and simply blew me away.  I didn’t find anything over-cooked or not executed properly.  Plus, the ingredients were top quality and the service was inviting with a “Japanese” sincere touch.  Instead of “words”, maybe the pictures posted here would tell better by themselves.  You would understand what RyuGin is likely to be.

The selections for food & wine pairing

The selections for food & wine pairing

Winewise –
Champagne Henriot “Souverain”
2005 Zind-Humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl Gewurztraminer VT
2003 Chateau Villa Bel-Air, Graves
2006 Koshu Cuvee Denis Dubourdieu (Made in Japan and by original Japnese grape variety)
2006 Domaine Weinbach Pinot Blanc
2003 Domaine Jayer-Gilles Bourgogne Hauts Cotes de Beaune
2006 Chateau Mercian Nagano Merlot (Japanese wine)
1999 Louis Jador “Ladoix”
1998 Chateau Batailley, Pauillac
Japanse Sake “天明 Tenmei” 純米吟釀 Junmai-Ginjo

Gastronomy B set

1) Amuse bouche – Ichiban Dash soup (Traditional clear broth) with puree of 5 varieties of wild mushrooms.

2) Deep fried seaweed, stuffed with sea urchin

"Deep fried seaweed, stuffed with sea urchin"
3) Aichi figs with port flavored foie gras terrine served with sesame cream. (The foie gras is from Landes)

Aichi figs with port flavored foie gras terrine served with sesame cream

Aichi figs with port flavored foie gras terrine served with sesame cream

4) Blue swimming crab and Shanghai crab topped with chrysanthemum gelee

Blue swimming crab and Shanghai crab topped with chrysanthemum gelee

Blue swimming crab and Shanghai crab topped with chrysanthemum gelee

5) “RyuGin’s house special – Contrasted of two abalone pieces cooked differently, steamed for 10 hours and the other in Shabushabu.” – The more transparent one on the right side is cooked by “shabushabu” way.

RyuGin's house special - Contrasted of two abalone pieces cooked differently, steamed for 10 hours and the other in Shabushabu

RyuGin's house special - Contrasted of two abalone pieces cooked differently, steamed for 10 hours and the other in Shabushabu

6) “Assorted sashimi – RyuGin Style” – There are 2 pieces for each kind of fish. For the first piece of each fish, the chef recommended me to eat with the sauce placed next to it. Then eat the 2nd piece with wasabi and dip a bit soy sauce.

7) Egg pudding, made with Hamo’s bone stock, flavored of autumn
8 ) Char grilled natural large eel with aroma of Japanese peppers
9) “Chef’s specialty – Grilled baby pigeon with autumn truffles” – the baby pigeon was only 28 days old! The meat is so tender… It’s grilled perfectly. The autumn truffle is very aromatic which tells the quality.
10) “Chef’s rice dish of the day” – The fish on the top is from Hokkaido, but I forgot the name of it…
11) Fresh compote of pear and small grapes with plum wine soda gelee
12) Caramel ice cream with Wasanbon sugar served with grated milk curd” – Wasanbon sugar is considered the best sugar in Japan. I really like the flavor of grated milk curd.
13) Baked chestnut cake served on full-moon presentation – very traditional Japanese dessert. Interesting presentation.

I posted this experience sharing on a gourmet forum called OAD (Opinionated About Dining), and I sent e-mail to RyuGin and told them I did that.  A couple days ago, I received e-mail from Ryu-Gin, and I’m so grateful for that.  Here’s the e-mail from Ryu-Gin –

Dear Ms. Ho,

Thank you for sending the URL for your photographs.
We have not heard of OAD website, and could you tell us the URL?
We assume it’s like Chowhound or EGullet and your word of mouth certainly help
s us as we are a tiny restaurant and don’t have the capacity for PR.

Recently, we started the online booking for overseas. Hopefully the guests wil
l feel more convenient to reserve a table whenever they want to from anywhere
in the world.

http://www.nihonryori-ryugin.com/en/reserve/

We hope to see you again on your next visit to Tokyo.

Sincerely,

RyuGin Administration