I can never get tired of Japan, and was so happy to be able to visit Tokyo in early March where the weather was so nice and cool. Winters here seem to get later and later and the coldest time seems to be from January to early March in these recent years. My short getaway here with Y was a prelude to our week long ski trip in Niseko, and we were so happy to be able to check out new eats this trip and enjoy some of the nice wintry weather.
Off to Tokyo on Singapore Airlines’ Business Class.
It’s almost a sin not to visit a sushi establishment in Japan, and we were glad to squeeze two in – one during dinner at Sushi Miyaha and a casual chirashi don for lunch at Sushi Sho.
Sushi Miyaha 宮葉 (2 Chome-11-8 Hamamatsucho, Minato, Tokyo, Japan, Station: Hamamatsucho, Tel: +81 3-3431-3880. Japanese address: 東京都港区浜松町2丁目11-8)
I last checked that Miyaha is ranked 20 on Tableog which is pretty decent, previously it was ranked even higher, when I made the booking. Our buddies had been here just a month before us, and said good things about it. It’s a simpler, pared down (in terms of decor) type of sushi place, but we were told had a pretty decent sushi omakase at a decent price (oops i forgot how much I paid, but was definitely less than places like Saito, Yoshitake). The sushi here is good, but if you are looking for something really posh and very refined, you may not enjoy it. For us sushi lovers, I found this quite a nice refreshing experience from the typical Ginza sushi joints. Enjoy my pics below, with the full food description.
Sushi chef at work at Miyaha
Sushi Sho Japan, 〒160-0004 Tokyo, 新宿区, Yotsuya, 1−11, 陽臨堂ビル, Yotsuya Station, Tel: +81 3-3351-6387. Japanese address: すし匠：東京都新宿区四谷1-11
This is one of the few non-Michelin star sushi restaurants I have visited, and it’s regrettable that I didn’t have a chance to try dinner here, going from the good quality, amazing value 2000 yen Bara Chirashi don I had here. And according to what I have read online, it’s definitely not because it’s not of Michelin standards, but seems it got excluded after a Michelin reviewer came and ate here a few times, and Chef Keiji Nakazawa felt bit turned off he didn’t seem to know or understand sushi, and conveyed this thought to the reviewer, that probably killed any chances of Sushi Sho appearing in the Michelin Guide Tokyo. Just to explain to you, Bara Chirashi is essentially fresh raw fish cut into cubes, seasoned and placed on a bowl of rice. It was definitely a fresh and hearty bowl, but still with enough space for dessert nearby at Taiyaki Wakaba (Japan, 〒160-0011 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, 新宿区Wakaba, 1 Chome−１０), a famous establishment dishing out my favourite fish shaped red-bean pancake, cooked painstakingly over charcoal – giving it a crisp exterior with just the right chunk of red bean inside. We queued for almost half an hour maybe because it was just after lunch time, but was definitely worth it!
Bara Chirashi Don at Sushi Sho.
Red bean pancake worth queuing up for at Taiyaki Wakaba.
Tempura Motoyoshi Japan, 〒107-0062 Tōkyō-to, Minato-ku, Minamiaoyama, 3 Chome−2−4, セントラル青山, No.6 B1F, Tel: +81 3-3401-0722. Japanese address: 天ぷら元吉：東京都港区南青山3-2-4 セントラル青山, No.6 BA
This quaint small 8 seater restaurant located in the basement (yes that’s right, look downwards, if you find you can’t seem to find the restaurant and you are at the right building), was a perfect refuge to end off our day of crazy shopping in nearby Aoyama. With our group of 7, the restaurant was closed for our group, and it was so perfectly cosy. Having always been a fan of Mikawa Zezankyo which I visit every time in Tokyo, this trip, I wanted to challenge myself to try other tempura places and see if I could find as good a place or even better. I can honestly tell you that, Motoyoshi came up pretty close, why I say close is only because the eel and other fish is still better at Mikawa Zezankyo in terms of holding up its form and the crispness. But every other dish at Motoyoshi was pretty amazing, the batter was so light and crisp, and we had the chance to try interesting vegetables like Fukinoto (which is butterbur sprouts) – a bitter kind of vegetable, but so good when tempura-styled. His platter of seasonable vegetables were so pretty it looked almost like an artpiece. Even his yuba tempura – converted me temporarily into a yuba lover (yeah, I am not a fan of yuba in general). He does his own twist like serving the anago with ginger which was quite refreshing. What I loved at the end is how he gives us a choice of 6 different sized bowls to choose from for our last course – which can be tempura don or tempura with rice in stock. I regretted not asking for a bigger bowl given how yummy my tempura don was. What’s great also about Chef Motoyoshi, is he accommodated my request to have no shellfish for our friend KL who’s terribly allergic to them, and she got to enjoy a great repertoire of scallops, fish and other kinds of seafood and vegetables.
Choice of 6 rice bowl sizes to choose from to end off our yummy meal at Motoyoshi!
A visit to Tokyo is not complete of course without having some amazing beef. To me, Tokyo is like the Holy Grail for beef lovers. This trip, I decided to check out 2 new beef establishments – Bakuroichidai, a Hida Beef specialty restaurant and Nakahara – a ridiculously hard to book place known for their yakiniku.
Bakuroichidai Japan, 〒104-0061 Tokyo, Chuo, Ginza, 2 Chome−6−5 (located 11 F of Ginza Tretsias), Tel: +81 3-3535-4129. Japanese address: Japanese / 馬喰一代 : 東京都中央区銀座2-6-5 銀座トレシャス11F
This Hida Beef specialty restaurant serves up yakiniku, shabu shabu, sukiyaki and steak. It feels slightly more casual in terms of the serving style, where we cook ourselves at the table rather than having staff cook for us typically in most of the other beef yakiniku or sukiyaki restaurants. Nevertheless, we were happy to roll up our sleeves to indulge in some yummy Hida steak and also sukiyaki. It was really good, and excellent value as well with the 150 gram sukiyaki lunch menu at 5300 each per person.
Hida Beef Sukiyaki time!
Cooked and ready to enter my mouth!
Hida Beef sirloin steak.
Sumibiyaki Yakiniku Nakahara 炭火焼肉なかはら 9th floor of GEMS Ichigaya, 4-3 Rokubancho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo (Station: Ichigaya) Tel: 03-6261-2987. Japanese address: 炭火焼肉なかはら : 東京都千代田区六番町4-3 GEMS市ヶ 谷9F
This yakiniku restaurant has recently become pretty famous recently alongside other big brands like Jumbo and Yoroniku. Reservations are notoriously hard here, and they don’t entertain bookings through hotel concierges or over the phone. Everything has to be made via Pocket Concierge. The joy in finally getting a table here was like striking 4D! I pre-ordered their Legendary Wagyu Tongue Chef’s course – JPY 16500 yen per pax for our group of 7. The tongue course was really exceptional and worth highlighting, they served 3 parts of the tongue – the tip, inside and main tongue, seasoned with salt and pepper. The texture was so good I should have lied to my other friends who don’t eat tongue, that it was some other part of the cow ha ha. I didn’t enjoy so much their last course – the mixed special plate – probably made of leaner cuts of the beef, it was bit of an anti-climax after having gone through a medley of meats ranging from the thick tongue to ichibo.
This whirlwind food trip in Tokyo was probably 10 out of 10 as all the new places to me were hits and not misses. What’s best is I discovered that Capitol Hotel Tokyu, where we stayed, does a super delicious strawberry shortcake – I would never have guessed! We were all lucky to chance upon this, as I requested for a surprise birthday cake for our gal pal – YL !
Bon appetito – till next time Tokyo!
Delicious strawberry shortcake from Capitol Hotel Tokyu!
Enjoying the city view from my room at Capitol Hotel Tokyu.
PS: Cover photo of this blog – is the giant pumpkin sculpture by Yayoi Kusama, displayed at her “Eternal Soul” exhibition at The National Art Center.