Thursday, September 29, 2011

梅丘寿司の美登利 Midori Sushi : The Long Queue

Usually if there is a long queue, it is not 100% guaranteed that the food would suit everyone but there is a high chance that it could be delicious for the majority. Sushi in Japan might be quite commonly found but this restaurant recommended by a good friend is really delicious.

Look at the long queue outside the restaurant. If you see this in Japan, there definitely must be something attractive about the restaurant that makes the Japanese consumers so willing to queue.

梅丘寿司の美登利
A very lively bar counter experience when the sushi chefs keep on shouting "welcome" 
The restaurant does not serve sushi on a conveyor belt but upon order. Hence, each sushi is very fresh. What more can we demand when the seafood is delivered to the shop from Tsukiji Market every day. It is quite exciting for the people sitting at the bar as they can view the slicing and making of the sushi in live action!

the crab liver miso salad かに味噌サラダ& seafood chawanmushi ( as part of the sushi set below)
(i am not sure why the english translation on its menu is called "liver" but the kanji actually directly translates into crab roe 蟹黄. Nonetheless, it is hard to imagine that the grey dressing is actually the yellow crab roe.

the sushi set 2100 Yen ( with uni, various parts of the fat tuna, scallop, white eel....)
超特選にぎり

Look at the caviar sitting on top of this fresh sweet ebi!

元祖穴子 630円
Eel sitting on top of a square of sushi
the anago is really delicious and the sauce is not too sweet. Meanwhile, the eel is slightly warmed and the meat is tender. There is really a different in the texture of this eel as compared to those packaged and sold at supermarkets. No wonder it is their signature item.

炙りさんま(季節商品)157Yen
Seared Sanma Sushi (Seasonal Item)
for this sushi, the bottom interior side of the fish remains raw. This fish is the same type of fish 秋刀魚as written in previous post.

Actually this place was featured in a guidebook that I have read in Singapore. Majority of the customers are Japanese but there were also some foreigners (including us) dining there. The seafood here is really fresh and hence this is one of the highly popular places to visit for sushi.

梅丘寿司の美登利 渋谷店
東京都渋谷区道玄坂1-12-3 マークシティイースト4F
月曜~金曜 11:00~22:00 (LO 21:45)
土日祝 11:00~21:00 (LO 20:30)
( this restaurant is the branch at Shibuya. For other outlets and menu : http://www.sushinomidori.co.jp/ )

Monday, September 26, 2011

ポタジエPotager: Vegetables Cakes, Anyone? 「おいしいだけでなく、食べた人が健康になれる料理やスイーツ」

Cakes are known to be extremely unhealthy but can we have both health and cakes at the same time? Potager might be the answer to it. Potager means "Family Vegetable Garden" in French. It is opened by this pretty lady chef 柿沢安耶 who believes in serving delicious, but yet nutritious cakes to everyone.



After studying French cuisine in university, she opened her first organic vegetables cafe in 2003 (now defunct). Later on in 2006, she opened the world's first vegetable cake shop in Meguro, which is still the only shop that features organic vegetables as their main ingredients. 柿沢さん not only wishes to pursue the goal of  making healthy cakes but also those that will taste delicious. The shop is extremely stringent in selecting the freshest seasonal agricultural produce but also safety-guaranteed ingredients like the flour, the organic eggs and beet sugar.



グリーンショート トマト 
オープン以来、一番の人気商品。コマツナ入りのグリーンのスポンジにトマトをはさみました。
Green Shortcake with Tomato
小松菜 is used for the sponge layer and tomatoes in replace of strawberries

This is the most popular cake in the shop and it actually tasted very similar to our strawberry shortcake but is less sweet for the sponge layer. It only smells like vegetable but does not the vegetable taste is not too strong and thus is easily acceptable. I would prefer this to a strawberry shortcake.( Available all year round)

Lemon & Beetroot Tart
The red filling is actually beetroot added with lemon and thus the tart is very sour. However, the tart shell is not the usual buttery pastry tart but actually has a very rustic smell. Perhaps a lot of sesame seeds were grinded into powder and added in the process of making the tart shell. It certainly lacks the buttery fragrance but still taste exactly crunchy and not sweet at all.  

Besides the cakes, it also has a wide range of baked goods that can be good for snacks.
Quinoa Chocolate Cookie 
The little tiny bits all over the top is actually quinoa, a type of grain like crop( i.e rice) that is extremely high in nutrition value. 
This cookie comes 3 in a bag and does not taste like our usual cookies. It is made up of a base purple sweet potato biscuit and covered in milk chocolate ganache topped with quinoa. This is a lot less sweet and some might not be used to it. However, as a cookie, it is still crunchy.Quinoa is more nutritious than our normal cereal and originated from Spain.

Soba Cookies  with Black Beans and Kinako( Soy ) 
No eggs or dairy used
This biscuit comes 7 in a packet for 490 Yen but each one is as big as a senbei cracker. They might appear ugly but actually the biscuit has a nutty, rustic flavour to it. Adults especially health conscious women might like this but perhaps not children.

野菜畑のサブレ
Vegetables Sable
Eight different kinds of vegetables used( 小松菜,onion,purple sweet potato,Matsuma Imo,Carrot,Pumpkin, Burdock Root,Ginger)

Soy Sponge Cake with Edamame Cream Cheese Cream ( white layer) & Sencha cream( green)
Seasonal Limited Edition Cake 
This was the last piece when I visited and they only make 80 pieces of it. The cake uses organiだだちゃ豆 from the Yamagata Prefecture, and organic sencha from Shizuoka. Compared to the normal edamame, this type has a unique sweetness to it and thus is considered the cream of the crop. However, though the taste of vegetables is evident here, the sponge cake was a little tough and dry as compared to its signature green shortcake.
Summer~Autumn Limited Edition
Eggplant Tarte Tartin 
Caramelized Eggplant with sweet potato sour cream on top of a crunchy puff pastry base
This was a very creative and delicious twist to our usual apple tart tartin. The base is extremely crunchy and not too buttery. The eggplant piles up like a hill and the taste of caramelized eggplant was surprisingly good, Not too sweet but yet soft. Those that hate eggplants might like this without knowing that it is eggplant. To contrast the taste, the sweet potato mash has been mixed with sour cream and so the overall tart has achieved a wonderful balance.

the exterior of the shop available for dining (usually taken up very quickly)
The signboard : with 5 mini cream puffs of different veggie cream

Seasonal Cakes like Green Asparagus Mousse Cake, Veggie Roll Cake.....

In short, it is not difficult to find delicious and world class cakes in Tokyo, but it is rare to find such a shop that has such a clear cut concept that is different from the rest. A highly recommended place to visit. 

ポタジエPotager
www.potager.co.jp

〒153-0051 東京都目黒区上目黒2-44-9
10:00 - 20:00 年中無休(L.O. 19:30) 
東急東横線・東京メトロ日比谷線中目黒駅より徒歩5分。(Nearest Station: Meguro)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

日本橋古都里Kotori: 稲庭うどん

日本橋古都里 is a restaurant that sells 稲庭うどん (their most famous dishes) , tempura and seasonal fresh seafood. The place has bar tables and the usual tables, which makes it appear to be like an izakaya. 稲庭うどん is one of the top 3 type of udons in Japan and it originates from Akita Prefecture from the 寛文 period. The main shop is located at Nihonbashi and hence the name but we went to the only branch at Tokyo Station.


梅肉おろしめかぶうどん 950円
 Plum with grated daikon( white mound) , wakame stalk (green)
A light & refreshing cold noodles which has a slippery texture. めかぶ is actually a type of seaweed but the google translation is wakame leaves near the stalk, which I am not very sure whether it is 100% correct. Nonetheless, めかぶ can be easily found in packages in any supermarket here.


Compared to the usual fat white udon,  稲庭うどん (Inaniwa Udon) is thinner and yellowish. Looks like flat rice noodle, or the Thai pad thai and the Chinese thin kway teow.
The udon is made by hand without any vegetable shortening and dried later on. I actually prefer this noodle to the usual fat udon as the texture is smooth. 


きんぴらごぼう 550円
Strings of burdock root and carrot fried and boiled down in sugar and soy sauce. Hence, this dish is sweet but crunchy.
平目の昆布メ 1350円
平目 is a kind of flounder/halibut/sole. As reflected in the photo, the fish is a white meat type of fish and is translucent. 
Less fatty and more chewy than the meguro sashimi


新秋刀魚塩焼き 1050円
Salt Grilled Sanma (Pacific Saury) Fish
This fish tasted really fresh and the amount of salt was just right.The skin was crispy and the fish is quite an oily one itself, but not due to the cooking technique. 


Sitting from the bar table allows one to have a full view of what the chefs were doing. For example, we can see how they handle the fish and prepare the noodles, taking care of every little details including of course, the presentation.


古都里
11:00~23:00
年中無休
〒100-0005 東京都千代田区丸の内1-9-1
東京駅名店街地下1F黒塀横丁内 

http://www.todoland.co.jp/KOTORI/cotori.html

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pierre Herme: The Masterchef


There is a reason why people, especially even pastry chefs in Singapore or abroad, go crazy when they visit Pierre Herme's shop ( be it in France or Tokyo). Well, simply because the quality of the pastries are consistently good and live up to the name of the great French chef. Visiting Pierre Herme's shop is like making a holy pastry pilgrimage.

Since he is so popular, there is not much need for me to elaborate on his profile. Besides macarons, there is also seasonal pastries which are not always available at every outlet in Tokyo.

Plenitude
Macaron chocolat noir, eclats de chocolat noir a la fleur de sel, mousse au chocolat amer et ganache au chocolat, caramel croquant
This is a delicate chocolate entremet with multiple flavours in one. The dark chocolate shards around the cake are dotted with fleur de sel and thus you can really get an obvious taste of sweet and salty. You also can get bitter chocolate mousse, crunchy caramel and chocolate ganache. This is by far the one of the best chocolate desserts I've tasted and it is really not as sweet as you would imagine.

Sarah サラ
Passionfruit Napage (Top), Marron Cream ( 3rd and 5th), Passionfruit Gelee (4th), Matcha Cream (6th) , Marron Nuts Dacquoise (2nd and last)
I wonder why this is named after a female name but this is the first time I've seen the combination of passionfruit, green tea and chesnuts together. The sweetest layer is found in the top passionfruit napage, which I suspected that white chocolate might have been added into it. Surprisingly, the marron cream was very fragrant and blended well with the intense matcha. However, the dacquoise was filled with too many nuts.



 
Macaron Fragola
Vanilla and Caramel Filling
Macaron Satine
Cream Cheese with a Passionfruit Apricot gelee in the centre
Glace Caramel ( Caramel Ice Cream)
All the ice creams are available for takeaway. Out of the six flavours, I chose to try this one first because it's caramel. And the taste of this ice cream was extremely good. It was not sweet at all, or I should phrase it as the most bitter caramel ice cream to date, which is much preferred than the usual sweet ones.

Satine 
Orange Marmalade, Passionfruit Sorbet, Cream Cheese Ice Cream sandwiched in between Macaron
A very sour tropical taste which is similar to the Satine Macaron. It is quite interesting to have a ice cream macaron like this. The cheese layer is very subtle and might be a bit lacking in the cheese flavour for cheese lovers.
Limited Edition Glace
Wasabi, pamplemousse & fraise
This is a sorbet and so it is very light and healthy. Pamplemousse is actually grapefruit and fraise is strawberry. This is the first time I've come across a combination of wasabi and grapefruits and the result was slightly bitter, sour and spicy. The wasabi was strong but did not overwhelm the taste of the fruits. Quite a unique taste but not really as delicious as the caramel ice cream.

In short, Pierre Herme's creations do change every season now and then. Recently, there is also a marron(chestnut) verrine since many other patisseries have also come up with chestnut-theme gateux. The prices here are more pricey as compared to the rest of the patisseries but there are also other famous shops whose price range are similar to his. So try not to be deterred by the price and give it a try.

Pierre Herme
Isetan Shinjuku, Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi
For more outlets: http://www.pierreherme.co.jp/

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

新宿中村屋olive house:洋食 with a Romantic Tale

中村屋 is another restaurant that has started since 1901 during the Showa Period and has become a successful brand in Japan. It's specialty lies in its Indian curry and of course, they were the first to introduce this dish to Japan. Since then, curry rice or stew has become such a prevalent food in Japan, just like spaghetti or the castella cake. However, it did not started out selling curry but as a simple bakery. 


The Indian Guyボース(aka boss) and his wife長女 of 相馬夫妻
In fact, there is actually a long story to how the first curry was introduced to Japan. A Japanese couple named 相馬夫妻 opened 中村屋 as a humble bakery. Later during the revolutionary war times, they  helped an Indian man who were seeking refuge from the government suppression. The Indian guy later married their first daughter and started to establish this shop that serves curry. Pure Indian Curry was claimed to be introduced by them officially in 1927.


Since the business expanded rapidly, they not only serve curry, but also southern european cuisine, italy cuisine, and even chinese cuisine(available at their main branch in Shinjuku---they have a whole building to themselves).Their established presence in curry might be the reason why they emphasized that their "curry" is not to be pronounced as ka-re but ka-ri. (新宿中村屋ではカレーのことをカリーと読んでいます)


Although it is famous for curry, I did not manage to try it this time but definitely would return next time for its curry.Nonetheless, they do sell instant curry in a box which you can microwave and eat them straightaway.


博多明太と貝柱(かいばしら)のスパゲティ 945円
Hakata Mentaiko with Scallops Spaghetti
This is the Japanese style of spaghetti with literally no sauce at all but still retains its flavour. The scallops are the mini-sized versions here and more chewy than the bigger versions. This is a very light and healthy dish which relies on the mentaiko to give its savoury taste. Though the spaghetti was not very al dente, the overall dish is still fragrant and simple.


海老のライスグラタン 998円
Ebi Prawn Rice Gratin
Ordered this as it was labeled with the "popular" sign. The dish came burning hot and it was indeed a very well baked rice gratin.  Compared to the ones I had in Singapore, this one boasts more cream than cheese in its sauce and thus, it is still rich but less so than the more cheese version. As such, there is not really much burnt cheese marks on the dish but rather, a white creamy surface on top of the rice.

The rice was Japanese rice but it is more chewy than the rice used in sushi. They were also very generous with the prawn servings and every single prawn was cooked to the right doneness. The prawns were especially sweet and fresh.

特製デミソースのオムライス 966円
Special Made demi-glace sauce Omelette Rice
Any rice with demi-glace sauce is highly popular on many Japanese-western style restaurants and is not to be confused with the French's brown sauce. In fact, I think demi-glace sauce is another invention by the Japanese and you can now find instant versions of them in Singapore Cold Storage too.

There was a hint of liquor in the sauce but it was very fragrant.Try slurping everything in a bite!

There is actually a quite extensive dessert menu as well but we did not try them this time as well. Perhaps it will be quite interesting to know how its instant curry sold  in boxes taste like! This Olive House specialises in western food but they do have restaurants that are named "インドカリーの店" Indian Curry Shop.They have so many branches that I guess it is quite easy to spot them around in Japan


新宿中村屋olive house 
オリーブハウス池袋東武店
東武百貨店池袋店 11F
website: http://www.nakamuraya.co.jp/restaurant/store02.html

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

ブルガリイル・カフェ BVLGARI IL BAR : The ultimate indulgence

I used to think that BVLGARI is only a luxury fashion brand and has nothing to do with food. But in fact, it owns hotels and restaurants. Right in the Omotesando Hills, it has opened a cafe cum restaurant cum chocolate boutique. The cafe is located just above its shop on level 2.
Surprisingly, the place was a lot less intimidating than the luxury shop downstairs. There were many people dining there and the mood was very relaxing. Hence, dining here is not as uptight as expected.
Meals in Obentos: A place for savoury food as well
The cafe serves lunch and dinner. If you go for their value meals, they serve them in obento boxes, they even came up with a dessert obento box, where you can sample petite sizes of cakes and chocolates.
Of course, it is best to not miss their desserts and chocolates 
The chocolate boutique 
Once you have stepped in the cafe, the mysterious boutique greets you. Seldom do we get to see such nicely decorated walls that feels vintage. A minimum of 3 pieces of chocolates is required for takeaway. The price of the chocolates exceeds Godiva and is by far the most expensive ones I've seen. 1 for 600 Yen and there are also the other series which goes 1 for 1000/1200 Yen

Of course, once you've stepped in, remember to visit the toilet too. The toilet seat closes and opens automatically and look at the glowing blue light from the toilet bowl!
The window seat was really a good spot to enjoy the scenery and escape from the hustle & bustle
Chocolate Fondant with Yuzu and Matcha Ice Cream
Ordered this after reading about the blog entry by another food blogger.The chocolate fondant was warm and literally covered with big shards of gold and not just simply gold dust. The portion was disappointing for the price of 1500 Yen but dining here is also part of consuming the brand "Bvlgari" as well as the presentation style. The matcha ice cream was very smooth and not too sweet. However, the weak point is that it melts way too easily.  
The chocolate lava was tangy due to the presence of Yuzu
BVLGARI's Chocolate Sundae
Chocolate Ice cream, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Some cherry confiture, and crispy almond biscuits 
This was not on the menu online and hence I' ve ordered it. Though it may seem like just another sundae, the quality of this entire dessert was one of the best sundaes I've eaten. Each of the component tasted very good on its own and what more can I say if they are combined as one here. Ice Creams here are also home made but not too sweet. 
Memorable Sundae with a hint of spices
One can get multiple textures from this Sundae as there is not only the almond croquant shards but also cube-shaped almond crumbles which is way better than just simply pairing corn flakes or sponge cakes with ice cream. Below the chocolate scoop of ice cream sits the sour cherry thing that gives that instant booze. There is an aftertaste of spices (cardamon & black pepper i think) which sets the taste apart from the rest.

After the meal, here comes the bill but placed in such a nice card folder.
It was indeed an unforgetable dining experience here and would highly recommend this place in Tokyo. 
BVLGARI IL Café
 渋谷区神宮前5-10-1 2F
Gyre 2F 5-10-1 - Jingumae, Shibuya-ku - Tokyo 150-0001

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