Sunday, June 28, 2009

20 Bites of Tokyo

1. Kyubei, Ginza

Established in 1936 and probably the most famous of the Michelin starred sushi places; Kyubei is a place where you come for a good sushi, sample a part of sushi history and pay respects to the inventors of the gunkan sushi.

2. Random Izakaya under the tracks, Akihabara
Cute mother and son team, a totally random find but fabulous.

3. Sushizanmai, Akihabara

“Sushi Galore” which was incidentally was offering specials for different cut
s of tuna for the day – maguro, otoro, chutoro, aburi toro - we glossed the laminated menu and settled for a self-designed “maguro zanmai” and a little bit more.

4. Jangara Kyushu Ramen, Akihabara

The pitter patter weather made it perfect for a hot bowl of ramen but that also meant standing in line huddled under a transparent umbrella, which really is no fun. Squashed up next to otakus in the shoebox sized shop is also half the experience of noisily slurping down the thin noodles and drinking hot rich tonkotsu spiked with mentaiko and laced with oil.

5. Beef Rice Bowl, Akihabara

Exit from Jangara Kyushu Ramen and take 15 steps in the left diagonal direction and have a gratifying beef rice bowl which I’m convinced was my eating companion’s obsession during our entire trip in Tokyo – sometimes measuring our tax refunds in units of beef rice bowls.

6. Freshness Burger, Akihabara
Made with nature friendly ingredients and fresh ingredients – we had the classic WW burger, double patty with the cheese and the works. Amongst others, they serve a spam burger, how does that ties in with the freshness philosophy?

7. ANA Akasaka Teppanyaki, Akasaka

Fantastically fresh seafood and scrumptious fatty beef cooked in a highly stylized manner that is designed to titillate your appetite. Really really awesome.

8. Jou mon, Ropponggi

Other than me being mildly obsessed with one of the waiter’s really cute fish motif shirt, the whole experience here is fantastic. The shelves and bar top
is lined with shochu jars and bottles of sake and the menu is extensive. We ate for hours and went through sticks and stick of yakitori along with mimigar, homemade tofu, ramen and washed it all down with sake and grapefruit sours.

9. Caplis Royal

If you love Calpis, think rich creamy Calpis. Yum.

10. Tenfusa, Tsukiji

sukiji, even when you grumpily drag yourself out of bed in at 4ish in the morning with your eyelids half open, you'll eventually get over it and be glad to you got up, it an awesome awesome place. The amazing natural beauty in the colours, shapes and sizes that the ocean surrenders to us is so beautiful and everything looks oh so delicious. You can spend hours exploring, gawking and being trigger happy in this market and once you get hungry there are the looong snaking queues at Sushi Dai and Sushi Daiwa or if you can’t wait in line, our greasy alternative of tempura in the corner store and a wake me up coffee and jam toast in the cafe.

11. Robuchon at Ropponggi

Good but disappointing.

12. Aoki Sadaharu

13. Kuon, Ebisu

Raw pig liver anyone?

14. Random Soba

15. Midori Sushi, Shibuya

s face it, Midori has kickass value bites. Sit in line for a while but the sushi platters are true to its motto of being of high quality and of good value. The platters are fabulous and it being the uni season, an uni each – so that we won’t fight but what I really liked was the aburi platter.

16. Pap House, Shibuya

Hand picked be
ef and only marbling score 10; the beef here is sweet fatty beef. Hear the sizzle, witness the rising flames as the fat drips and onto charcoal, smell the sweet fat and then taste the good cow’s life.

17. Mizutani Sushi, Ginza

Here I rediscovering the art and craft of sushi and that not all tamago-s are made equally – there are tamago-s and then there is mizutani’s tamago.

18. Sweet Potato Agemanju & Tempura, Asakusa

The more important reason why we went to Asakusa.

19. Okonomiyaki

20. First K
itchen, Akihabara
Tokyo on a budget? Fast food but not necessarily bad food, their mentaiko pasta goes down easy and the chicken wings are supposed to be good.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Keep Stirring

“These days, one of the most important stages of making a risotto is considered to be the mantecatura, which comes from the Spanish word for butter, mantequilla. It means the beating on of butter and cheese right at the end of cooking, to give the risotto that fantastic creaminess.”

- Giorgio Locatelli, Made in Italy

I love this book. It is so generous and honest in wanting to pass on the knowledge that Locatelli has acquired over the years. I haven’t read it from cover to cover but I’ve read sections of it and reading the risotto section made me feel loved. As result, I've been trying to pass on that love and I’ve been stirring a lot of risotto. I’m still learning about it.

Risotto is a beautiful thing. The sheer simplicity of it demands that you pay attention to the quality of ingredients and patience that you invest in the process. You can’t rush it; you have to coax it gently with your wooden spoon, slowly encouraging each grain to soak in as much it can manage.

I’d admit risotto seems intimidating but it really isn’t. You need to keep stirring but can blink and you can even walk away from the pot for a brief period and it’ll forgive you. But if you need to keep your dinner guest occupied, standing conversation around the pot with people taking turns at stirring works as well.

Is there a real technique behind the stirring? I don’t know. Someone said we could only stir in one direction for a reason I cannot remember. Someone else advised, we should stir in a figure 8, I have tried both of that and stirring in both directions and I don’t see any major differences. At least I think the risotto turned a blind eye to my inconsistencies.

And for a dish that has intimidated many, it is ironically something that is very adaptable, you can put anything in it – there are plenty of variations in the book but the for the last risotto I stirred, I used Locatelli’s basic risotto recipe and added roasted butternut squash – delicious!

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto
Serves 6

1 butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
2.5 litres vegetable stock
50 g butter
1 onion, very finely chopped
400 g Arborio rice
125ml dry white wine
75g cold butter, cut into cubes
100g Parmesan, grated
salt and pepper


  1. Slice squash in half, remove seeds, and rub with olive oil. Roast face-side down in a 180 degree Celsius oven for 40-45 minutes or until tender when pierced.
  2. Scoop out the flesh and mash and set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in a heavy-based casserole over medium heat. Add the onion and cook very slowly for 5-7 minutes until soft.
  4. Add the rice and stir for a few minutes until heated through and well-coated with the butter.
  5. Stirring continuously, add the white wine and cook for a few minute to allow the alcohol to evaporate.
  6. Add a ladleful of hot stock and stir until absorbed. Continue to add the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring continuously, until all the stock is absorbed - about 15-17 minutes. When cooked, the rice should tender but firm in the centre.
  7. Stir butternut squash then leave to stand for 1 minute.
  8. Add butter and Parmesan, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Season to taste and serve.

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