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‘Tokyo Eats’ Category

  1. Pretty food

    July 18, 2012 by yuming

    We had a friend stay with us in June and we didn’t know where would be a good place to have some food on a Friday night. Many places are booked out in Nakameguro so we decided to just walk around and see what we find.

    As we walked along the Meguro river, I spotted a quiet alcove that had a long wooden wall leading to what seems like a hidden entrance. The menu was all in Japanese and looked like it had some grilled meat and fish — fail-proof and it was Japanese. Honestly, we don’t choose Japanese food unless we have visitors. The kangaroo and I naturally gravitate to dim sum, steak, tapas, Italian, Thai, Mexican etc. when it’s just two of us. But that would be very boring for our visitors…

    Luckily, this evening at An-non, a sophisticated Okinawan restaurant, delivered excellent Japanese food and we came away pretty satisfied.

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    The starter seemed a bit ominous, though it came in a pretty ensemble…

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    I love fermented food so I had to try the fermented tofu but they presented this tiny cube and I cracked up. I’ve seen tiny food in Japan but this was ridiculous. But it turned out that I was wrong and not them. Fermented tofu, Okinawan style, is a solid mass that is very stinky and pungent. You can only really eat a small shaving at a time. I couldn’t stomach the rotten cheese taste but my companions thought it went well with their sake.

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    Speaking of which, this sake glass was so beautiful. I love the modern twist on sake cups in Japan…

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    Another standout that evening was the matcha pudding which was lightly laced with matcha flavour in a gelatinous sphere. I forgot to take photos of the rest of our meal but it was very good. The portions looked tiny but a few bites of each dish added up and I suddenly found myself full. Try the grilled cod fish, the house salad, and the steak (the boys raved over this one), and the stewed pork. And the Okinawan soba noodles were to-die-for — spicy and hearty and the noodles were just the right amount of slip and chewiness.


  2. Japanese pickles

    July 17, 2012 by yuming

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    I’ve grown very fond of Japanese pickles and enjoy them with a warm bowl of sticky rice. Simple but absolutely delicious.

    At our local sushi bar, we were given these unassuming slices of wasabi-infused yam pickles as an accompaniment to sake. They were salty and the wasabi really hits you like a slap in the face — it was sooooooo good. I like my wasabi strong and fierce.

    Do you like Japanese pickles?


  3. Kirara

    July 16, 2012 by yuming

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    I met a gf for lunch at Kirara, a macrobiotic cafe, in Nakameguro. It’s a bit tucked away but worth looking for as it’s truly a gem if you are into Japanese set lunches, i.e. multi-dish ensembles with colourful multi-grain rice. It is a quiet getaway from the hustle and bustle of the lunch peak hour and it’s quite telling that the place is run by women and patronized by women. Macrobiotic or eating healthy is a very big deal to Japanese women and it’s as close to homecooked fare as you get.

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    I relished my delicious set of Japanese delicacies. You can choose the different components from a selection of dishes displayed at the counter. Definitely an excellent lunch spot for a chat and a bite.


  4. Matcha soy latte

    July 5, 2012 by yuming

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    Matcha was one of the Japanese flavours which I couldn’t really get into. My younger sister loves anything matcha, even Kit-Kat. The strange bitterness that tastes deep and dark never sat well with me and the caffeine was too strong for me to take. I still can’t hack it, but last week, I had a very tiring day and I surprised myself by ordering a matcha soy latte so I could hold my head up during my Japanese lesson. It tasted really good — this warm mug of matcha, sugar, and soy milk. I think I prefer it with soy milk over dairy milk which is often paired with matcha desserts. I also enjoyed the matcha ice-cream at Aoya which was divine.

    What on earth is happening to me? I’m a matcha convert now. Not that I’m stuffing my face with everything matcha but I would probably not avoid it like before. There you go, you could do a sudden about turn about things you used to dislike…I wonder if I would feel the same about other funky Japanese things like natto or preserved squid paste in time?


  5. Aoya 青家

    June 25, 2012 by yuming

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    It was absolutely a treat to go to Aoya, or 青家 (means blue home in Japanese), several weeks ago with a girlfriend. They specialize in Kyoto produce and cuisine and the chef is apparently an award-winning wizard in the kitchen…

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    However, I got the feeling that lunch was a simple affair and keeping to the basics is definitely part of its ethos.

    I had the kimchi tofu and egg soup set that came with brown rice and a salad. It was tasty and the spicy broth was pretty awesome.

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    My friend had the plate set with a colourful array of small dishes with brown rice and corn tea. I had a momentary attack of food envy because hers looked so delicious…

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    Though I must say that dessert was the highlight of the meal for me and that says a lot because I’m not really a dessert person.

    The matcha ice-cream was subtle and only slightly sweet. The mochi and dried fruit and other bits and bobs gave a variety of texture and flavours which made this quite a superstar. I actually dislike matcha ice-cream because it usually ends up being very sweet and milky to counteract the bitterness of the matcha, but somehow all the different elements “flowed together” in this small bowl.

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    My friend exclaimed how soft the warabi mochi was and it was indeed light and almost fluffy in texture which is quite genius in itself…I mean how do you make rice flour into scrummy cubes of wobbly goodness?

    Anyway, if you like delicate Japanese fare, you would love Aoya.


  6. Rainy morning

    June 18, 2012 by yuming

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    Last Saturday it poured and poured so I retreated to my futon (old habits die hard) to watch Sherlock (the Brit TV version) with the most amazing avocado breakfast smoothie: two frozen bananas, juice of two oranges, two dates, coriander, butter lettuce, spinach and one ripe avocado. Slurpy goodness…

    My “bedside table” (or rather my side of the futon) can get really messy with magazines, books, handcream, lip balm, drinks, remote controls…What’s on your night stand?


  7. Mmmm melon

    June 13, 2012 by yuming

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    Honeydew melons are going for 389JPY each at my local supermarket and I’m milking it for all it’s worth. It is rare to buy melons at such a low price.

    Melons drift in and out of season and their price range usually starts above 1,000JPY which is just ridiculous for a small melon, maybe the size of three tennis balls. You could get big ones but they are at least 2400JPY which is still “reasonable” compared to the gift-type of melons which go up to 20,000JPY.

    So that’s why it’s such a treat to eat melons now. Go get some for yourself now!


  8. Yacman hokkien mee

    June 12, 2012 by yuming

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    OMG – *squueeeeeeeeaaaal* HOKKIEN MEE!! In Tokyo! The eatery is called Yacman and it serves theirs up Thye Hong style (the chain that appears in Wisma Atria’s Food Republic and Jurong Point).

    One of my students told me about this (she has a passion for Singaporean food) and I had to try it. She even sent me the link to the Straits Times article online.

    There are basically just two things on the menu and that’s Hokkien mee and Tiger beer.

    How was it? I think it was pretty authentic and I was so thrilled to have this for lunch. I fly back to Singapore two to three times a year so it was such a treat to have something familiar, spicy, and TASTY…

    Though if you want to split hairs, the sambal chilli is not that spicy and is even on the sweet side and is less pungent to suit Japanese tastes. The noodles were honest-to-god yellow noodles and chor bee hoon (thick rice vermicelli) and the sauce was to-die-for. There are no slivers of pork and only bits of squid and you have to order a topping of shrimp (costs 200JPY) to get four and you have to pay to get more sambal chilli (150JPY). In all, I paid 1200JPY (SGD19.20) for this plate of deliciousness.

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    They fry it up in a huge metal wok in front of you.

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    Instructions on how to eat Hokkien Mee which is very Japanese when it comes to foreign food. Basically, it just explains that lime and sambal chilli enhance the overall flavour of the dish and what sambal chilli is.

    If you go to Hainan Jeefan in Ebisu, you would find instructions on how to eat chicken rice on the paper placemats with pictures included. Hilarious but I suppose it’s necessary if you are trying to introduce something so unknown to Japanese.

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    I love the cheery orange and green decor and I would advise you to get there at least before 230pm because I was turned away at 3pm once.

    Do spread the word to your Singaporean friends in Tokyo!!


  9. Hole-in-the-wall sushi

    June 4, 2012 by yuming

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    There’s a tiny sushi restaurant on a street adjacent from where we live and it’s one of those gems I’ll tuck up my sleeve to show visiting friends and family. We had to entertain one of the kangaroo’s new colleagues so we went there for dinner a few Sundays ago. We had to run some errands and poked around our hood to see if there are any new and interesting places. In the end, we chose this sushi bar because it seemed like a “must-experience” because tapas, Chinese, Italian all seemed like disappointments for a first-timer in Tokyo.

    We sat at the counter so we all got the “sushi-bar treatment”, i.e. we each had a black wooden tray with ginger, a bit of seaweed, and slivers of raw fish and sushi were quietly deposited in front us at a laid back pace.

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    The sushi chef asked us if we had any special requests but we said we would take whatever he gave us. And did he pull out all the stops. The ikura sushi was salty with a hint of sea breeze and the uni was so fresh and creamy, but the kangaroo got the heebie jeebies and I scored an extra uni sushi…

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    The otoro sushi was outstanding and all of us just went, “Mmmmmm this is so goooood…”

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    A father-and-son team runs this hidden neighbourhood joint and regular customers seem to be their clientele — they spoke in a familiar way with each other and one table had a birthday so out came a bottle of special sake with some lively conversation.

    Sorry, I don’t know the name and contact details of this awesome place, but if you are lucky, I’ll take you there someday.


  10. Milk crepe

    June 1, 2012 by yuming

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    I was introduced to what seems to be a long tradition in Japan — the milk crepe cake, or mille crepe, which had been inspired by the French gâteau de crepes (cake of crepes). It’s a cake layered with custard and paper-thin crepes. It is incredibly filling but absolutely delicious. It is amazing that a cake is made up entirely of crepes. You can buy this at Paper Moon in Hiroo.