Tenya – Jôtendon – Naka Okachimachi, Tokyo

Usually when I come out from work, I’m so hungry that I can no longer think properly. In such a situation, I quickly need a good nutritious meal. Usually, a donburi is a perfect solution to this problem. A donburi (丼) is a bowl of rice with some food on top. A place I used to go often is Tenya, a restaurant chain specialized in tenpura (天ぷら, delicious crispy japanese deep fried battered vegetables or seafood usually) and tendon (天丼, Tenpura donburi, a bowl of rice topped with some tenpura). Tenya restaurants can be found nearly everywhere in Japan, often close to railway stations. This time, I went to the Tenya of Naka Okachimachi.

Once you’re there, the best choice you can make is to take a Jôtendon (上天丼, a superior tendon). The bowl of rice is topped with two shrimp (海老, ebi) tenpura and one of each of bean (いんげん, ingen), aubergine (なす, nasu) and pumpkin (かぼちゃ, kabocha) tenpura. On top of this, some very delicious sweet sauce is poured. All of this contains 716 kcal (or 1122 kcal if you go for the big rice portion) according to the Tenya website. Enough to sustain an evening of serious drinking and karaoke! And all this for the modest price of 580 yen (about 6$ with the current exchange rate).

And as you can see on the picture you of course get the usual miso soup, and free mugicha (麦茶, barley tea, at beginning it’s strange and then you can’t live without it. Hum, sounds like some kind of drug). Yummy!! What’s better than a good meal like this. Now I can think again, where could I go now ? Karaoke ? Izakaya ? Shibuya ? Shinjuku ? Anyway, let’s have a beer before deciding…

Bon appétit et Santé!!!

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Ganso Ebisu Ramen – Chashumen – Iriya, Tokyo

In today’s post Ramen is back with a vengence! But first let me introduce you to a maybe not so wellknown japanese culture fact : Japanese are food lover. And this is illustrated by the profusion of popular restaurant guidebooks for virtually any kind of food (ramen, udon, soba, sushi, bakeries, and so on). The good thing, those books can be found in practically any bookstore in Japan. The downside of this being that they’re all in japanese full of those freaking kanjis. However this shouldn’t be a reason for non-japanese speaking people to avoid them. They’re always richly illustrated and a simple trick to use them is to learn how to recognize a japanese address. Once this is mastered you can simply show the address to a taxi driver or to your japanese friends. The trick to recognize an address is to look for the zip-code kanji : (〒). An example of an address is :

〒111-0031 東京都台東区千束1丁目15−8

Note that the crucial kanji is at the beginning as japanese addresses are written backward.
Today’s place was found using such a book : “The nostalgic guide to Tokyo’s Ramen”. It is called Ganso Ebisu Ramen (元祖恵比寿ラーメン) and is located in Iriya, close to Ueno in Tokyo. Its address is given as an example above.

The front is really modest and so is the inside, a counter made out of a rough piece of wood and stools as old as the place itself which was created in 1978 according to my book. The ramen chef stands up to this first impression. Laconic, in his fifties, wearing an only relatively clean chef outfit. With a young beard and the cigarette in the mouth. We really are in the mood of nostalgic ramen. We order one normal ramen and one chashumen along with gyoza. While waiting for the food, we can take a good look at the soup, trying to decide which is the key ingredient. Is it the tamanegi (onions) we can see floating, or the simple negi (green onions) ? Most likely it is neither and it is hidden in the depth of this huge pot…

First come the gyoza. Looking deliciously roasted on the outside. Six pieces. We make the mix of Shoyu, vinegar and spicy oil that is appropriate and start eating.

Yummy!! They’re just roasted enough and the inside is really soft. A great texture!

Finally the ramen come! Surprise, the noodles and the meat are hidden under a thick layer of take-no-ko (竹の子, bamboo springs) with some negi on the side and tasty looking boiled eggs. The soup has a light taste of shoyu and the noodle have the right consistence. The eggs are a marvel, the white is ferm while the yellow is just a little soft. Great ramen. Probably the same ramen that you’re spiritual japanese grandfather was enjoying in his youth.

 

I definitely recommend this place if you are around in Tokyo. Go and have a look, you won’t be disappointed. Bon appétit!!

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Kagaribi – Sanuki Udon – Ueno, Tokyo

Lucky you, two posts in a row today. This time, back to japanese food : Udon! The place is Kagaribi (かがり火) in the direct proximity of the famous WWII black market Ameyoko in Ueno.

This time we have we make an exception and take Udon instead of Soba (it’s not like we have a choice, this restaurant is specialized in Udon and does not have Soba at all…). The place is actually specialized in the traditional Sanuki udon (さぬきうどん) served in a cold soup with a very delicate taste and topped with minced negi and slices of fish cake. On the side have various tempura (天ぷら) and the famous potato salada that looks like an ice cream.

Bon appétit!

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Panga – Pipinba – Satakeshoutengai, Tokyo

Hello everybody. Back from a long silence I’d like to continue my food blogging effort. From now on I will try to write less ambitious posts, but more often. Well anyway let’s go in the core of today’s post!
Back to corean food : Panga (ぱんが), a modest venue in the commercial street satakeshoutengai (さたけ商店街) close to Ueno.
As an appetizer, we get, of course, the delicious kimchi and in this case some (not so great) pasta salada.

Then, I order the very colorful Pipinba (ピピンバ). It comes in the hot stone bowl along with a wonderul smell.

After admiring it for some minutes, you usually mix everything together and Bon appétit!

An alternative to pipinba is for example the kalubi kuppa (カルビクッパ) a hot red soup with vegetables and beef ribs inside.

My Kingdom for Kimchi! Go corean!!

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Stick & Spoon – Hamburger – Ueno, Tokyo

What can you do when you get bored of nippon food ? Eat a hamburger, of course. But it would be a pity to restrict yourself to MacDonald or Wendy’s wouldn’t it ? Then go to Stick & Spoon.

This is a burger place, but do not expect the cheap bread around your meat. What’s the use of it anyway. Here the burger are served in three different sizes and with different sauces (garlic, japanese style, …). I opted for the medium negi burger (ねぎバーガー). As it was lunch time, this came in menu with a small salad (just to be able to say this was healthy), the usual Miso soup and white rice.

After the salad came together the soup, rice, and the burger! The burger is litteraly covered with negi! This delicious japanese onion. Also on the side we can see mung bean sprouts. The burger was served on a hot plate and was still sputtering hot butter.

Although there was no fork nor knife, it turned out the burger was so soft that it was very easy to cut and eat with chopsticks. This softness and the negi toppling made this burger one of the most yummy I have eaten so far. This is in my opinion a very japanese burger. The quantity is honnest but not orgiac. The subtle negi onion sauce emphasize the taste of the meat instead of mask it. The minced meat is light and doesn’t weigh on the stomach. Well, I liked it.

After this very good lunch we were in excellent mood and went for a coffee at Doutor (ドトール). But why take a coffee when you can take something much more fancy. Although it is not my habit, I indulged myself today to this motto and took a macha latte (抹茶ラテ), iced japanese powdered green tea mixed with milk (on the right) and Risa had a Caramel machiatto latte (キャラメールマキャットラテ).

Miam miam miam, see you next meal.

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Ootoya – Katsudon – Okachimachi, Tokyo

When noon comes and your stomach begins to feel really empty, what you sometimes need is some traditionnal food, a feeling of being at home. In this case restaurants like Ootoya (大戸屋) is a good idea. With their assortiment of teishoku (定食, set menu), everybody can find something to its taste, from grilled fish served with grated daikon to fried pork and chicken in different sauces.

My attention was from the beginning drawn to a very classical katsudon (カツ丼, a bowl of rice toppled with a sliced cutlet of fried pork), one of the favorite food of young boys in Japan. There is many kinds of katsudon. This particular one was a Hokkaido style konbu seewead flavoured katsudon (北海道産昆布風味熟成豚ロースかつ丼). Like all set menu it was served with a miso soup and tsukemono (漬け物, japanese pickled vegetables).

As usually, a raw egg was added at the end to cook on the hot pork cutlet. As soon as it was served, the delicious smell of the meal achieved to make me salivate. I however started with the miso soup as an appetizer in order to let the katsudon coolen a bit since it is served very hot. Even like this I was a bit too hasty and burnt my lip when taking the first bite. Anyway, after some more bites of this tasty fried pork, I reached all the good, sticky, nicely perfumed japanese rice lying at the bottom of the bowl. A real party for my papillae.

See you next meal.

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Ton-chan – Yakiniku – Ueno, Tokyo

What’s best than a BBQ when you want to spend a pleasant evening with friends ? That’s why we decided to have yakiniku (焼き肉), or corean style BBQ. Yakiniku is very popular in Japan and specialized restaurants can be found nearly everywhere. Although it is originally a corean dish, most of those restaurants have adopted a typically japanese styled service. That’s why this time, in order to grasp the original spirit of yakiniku we chose a typically corean restaurant named ton-chan (とんちゃん, which could be roughly translated to “piglet” or “copain cochon” in french) and situated near the Ueno train station.

As its name suggests it, this place is specialized in meat pork. Its savourous meat and the loud and popular atmosphere make it a destination of choice to eat with friends. The downside of this is that we might have to queue before getting a seat, especially on friday and saturday night. Even though it was sunday night a small number of people were queuing in front of the restaurant. However, we fortunately got in pretty quickly.

Already waiting for us was a table covered by the different sauces, vegetables and such coming with the meat. We had the sweet-sour sauce and miso to dip the meat in. Salad leaves to wrap around the meat, chili and sesame flavourd bean sprouts to go with the meat and kimuchi style pickled daikon (だいこん, giant radish), particularly delicious.

The meat is then ordered by plates and different types are available. It comes in long slices that will be grilled on the hot plate by the staff. We ordered two types of meat : thick and fatty slices of ham and more delicate slices of filet.

The staff then attends at all the clients together to turn the meat and cut the slices into pieces that can be eaten in a single moutful.

Once the pieces are well-done we can eat them. This is done by taking a tasty looking piece of grilled meat directly on the grill, dip it in the sweet-sour sauce and put it in a leaf of salad together with the bean sprouts. Finally the whole is dipped in the miso and eat it. An explosion of taste in the mouth. All the ingredients combine perfectly together to make a wonderful dish that I strongly recommend to try if you come around here.

We came out the restaurant full, happy and ready to enjoy my first karaoke since winter. See you next meal.

You are the Dancing Queen, young and sweet, only seventeen.
Dancing Queen, feel the beat of the tambourine…

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