Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tsuruya Yoshinobu 鶴屋吉信 : Wagashi Pancakes

With the opening of Coredo 2 and 3 in the recent year, the atmosphere in  Nihonbashi seemed to have transformed 360-degrees and it has become a great place for one to explore the old and new shops. One of the new tenant at Coredo 3 is Tokyo Mise, the latest concept by established Kyoto Wagashi House Tsuruya.

The Matcha Kakigori is by far the sweetest and thus I did not have to empty the saucer of condensed milk. What makes this Kakigori so delicious was the scoop of ice cream as it had such a smooth and sticky texture that resembled Turkey ice cream!! It melted slower than usual, reducing the panic if the ice cream disintegrates too quickly and starts to overflow.
Red beans were also cooked to the right degree. 

Perhaps riding on the pancake wave, the shop has introduced it's own Japanese style pancakes that cannot be found elsewhere. Each layer is so thin that I can barely separate them from one another.

In fact, they are made from the same dough used for the dorayaki product that is characterized by its thin and super chewy texture. Everything was a perfect match; the salty cubes of premium Echire butter than cuts through the sweet azuki and the tangy blueberry compote that chased away any cloyness. 
If you are a fan of Wagashi, you can take the counter seats and watch how the Wagashi master creates the magnificently gorgeous sweet from scratch. 
Before it started this shop, it already has two shops called Tsuru Chabou at the basement of department stores. One is Seibu Ikebukuro while the other is at Takashimaya Shinjuku.
We had the matcha parfait (¥900) which is scrumptious but sweeter than Tsujiri's parfait. 

There is also Matcha Kakigori (¥950)  but the vanilla ice cream was not as creamy as the one at Tokyo Mise (perhaps a less premium ice cream was used) If you have already visited the usual famous green tea shops in Tokyo, this is worth checking out. 
Tsuruya Yoshinobu 鶴屋吉信
Tokyo Mise 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Croissant Taiyaki クロワッサンたい焼 : Most Delicious Taiyaki Hybrid

Do you like Taiyaki? or erm...the Taiyaki Parfaits? If yes, then you'll love these croissants even more once you take a bite into the thin-crusted shell "fish". Gin-no-an 銀のあん, the sister company of takoyaki chain Gindaco, has come up with Japan's answer to New York's croissant donuts--Croissant Taiyaki.

Original Red bean 
You don't get a  perfect "fish" but a large, flat golden rectangle with the "fish" imprinted in the centre like some ancient cave wall hierogtapgd . 

Seasonal Custard Apple
While only the area of the pastry demarcated outside the fish print is crunchy, the entire slab coated with pearl sugar granules is so aromatic and sweet. It serves as an ideal snack on the go that won't fill one up as much as the original starchy red bean pancake. 

Seasonal Green Tea (Matcha Dough with Matcha Filling)
A collaboration item with theatre play Wicked. Truly wickedly delish in every bite! Red beans can be found not only in the filling but also in the pastry skin. 

Croissant Taiyaki vs Taiyaki? It's definitely the delicious hybrid anytime
Croissant Taiyaki クロワッサンたい焼
Outlets include Shinjuku/ Shibuya/ Tokyo Station/ Waseda and also all over Japan

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Asterisque アステリスク : Reinvigorating the Love for Mont Blanc

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Have you ever come across any food that taste so good that you want to jump up and fly into the sky? 
I did. I was entranced by this Mont Blanc parfait that my brain waves were "paralyzed" for at least a few seconds. The chestnut paste was so soft, fresh, luscious that I could plunge my fork effortlessly into it. That must be the difference between freshly piped Mont Blanc and those in petit gateaux that sits desperately in the cake counter waiting to be pick up by customers. 

In fact, I was convinced by the staff to try the Mont Blanc Cake because it's the best seller. High-quality chestnuts from the chef's hometown, Ehime prefecture, are used. I wasn't really attracted to the cake version because it looks no different from the usual ones. Hence, I had the parfait which can only make you go "WOW"
What else is there to rave about this Paris Eiffel Tower (ahem...tilted glass) ? Crispy palmier which costs (¥200) itself if you purchase separately,  loads and loads of buttery crumbles that are also smashed from one of those pretty takeaway cookies on the shelves. 
A deep well of cassis compote lies beneath the vanilla and chocolate ice cream that supplied the necessary taste to kill the sweetness of the other components.
Mix everything together and you'll get a pool of intoxicatingly delicious mess. Such a big parfait of premium quality for ¥900 vs the typical matcha parfait of ¥1400. Don't share, just have one by yourself :) 
Meanwhile lets talk about the cakes as I tried to keep my composure. My Japanese colleague actually introduced me to the cakes at Asterisque in Yoyogi because it is one of the top patisseries in Tokyo. After doing some research, I knew I had to pay a visit by hook or by crook. Everything looked promising and I ended up discussing with the staff for 30min on which cakes to have. Perhaps the cakes looked too good on the shelves, resulting in some major disappointment when not all were of cutting edge quality.
Parfumee (¥570)
Raw Ginger, Lime, Orange mousse, strawberry mousse, framboise sauce , spongy cake with a savoury biscuit base. 
Nope...I could not detect any specks of ginger or lime and the middle cakey layer was sorely dry.

During winter, its strawberries and for this season, it's Sour Cherries. Topped with a cassis meringue, the tart has something unique in its tart shell (can never find in fruit tarts elsewhere) which I can't put into words except for you to try it out one day. It approximates closely to the baked pudding texture of a Far Breton
Yamabuki (¥540) a regular item.
Milk chocolate orange mousse with crunchy nuts. 

I liked the name because it is timely for the Hanami festival in July. Yet, it is such a demure cake made with Yuzu Lime Mousse, strawberry and praline crunch. The tarty mousse was pure summer bliss but the chef might need to thicken the crunch as it nearly lost all its magical bite.

In the serene neighbourhoods of Yoyogi-uehara, there is constant stream of customers even on a working weekday. There are barely only 3 tables x 2 seats = 6 seats so the chances of snagging a seat for the parfaits are not easy. But if you do, it's gonna be very rewarding.
アステリスク Asterisque by Koichi Izumi
Daily except Monday 10am-8pm
1 -26-16 Uehara, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō
Access: 2-min walk from Yoyogi-Uehara Station

Friday, July 25, 2014

Yukku 北海道料理 ユック : Hokkaido Izakaya Cuisine

There are actually several restaurants that specializes in Hokkaido cuisine in Tokyo. One of them is Restaurant Yukku, which opened its first shop in Sapporo back in 1964. Ever since, it has expanded with several outlets in Tokyo and Yokohama. There is also one at Chitose International Airport Sapporo. This Shinjuku outlet on the 50th floor of offers great scenery views including Mt.Fuji

Like most restaurants, it has a regular grand menu, a seasonal menu and a lunch menu. One can try many authentic Hokkaido cuisine such as this Imo-mochi Yaki (¥530). Because rice was scarce and potato was abundant in Hokkaido, potato was used to make these chewy potato patties that are pan-fried and served in sweet and sticky golden sauce. It's pretty greasy but very yummy, especially with the buttered corns. 
Seasonal White and Green Asparagus that are simply steamed and served with Mayonnaise. 

When it comes to Hokkaido seafood, one would surely think of crabs. There are many crabs dishes here such as Baked Kani Cream Gratin (かにクリーム甲羅焼き), Kani Miso Yaki (特選蟹味噌甲羅焼き) and Steamed Crab Claws in Wine and Konbu (たらば蟹酒蒸し). The broth in latter is especially sweet with a slight tang!

Assorted Kani Sushi Platter contained was a mixture of Kani sushi, Kani miso sushi and tamago but they were not very impressive. 

My favourite dishes that day were all the salmon cuisine. The Salmon Hotpot rice (鮭の石焼飯) is probably the best rice dish we've ever had! The base contained some spicy-sweet miso that coated every grain as we mixed with the egg yolk. It came sizzling hot and the aroma of burnt miso was simply irresistible. Even the folks commented that this dish was better than Singapore claypot rice!

雲丹と帆立貝の卵とじ Uni and Scallop with Eggs. 
The Chan-chan Yaki is also another very authentic Hokkaido way of preparing salmon with miso. It was also served at the Nezumaru, the Hokkaido sushi conveyor belt restaurant in Kitte. 
Another Hokkaido dish is this Ishikari Hotpot (石狩鍋) which featured salmon and miso as main ingredients, while vegetables and tofu are also added for that extra sweetness. It is said to be originated from Ishikari City, Hokkaido. 
We were looking for some salad but there was none at all. So we ended up with this Ramen Salad from the North (北のラーメンサラダ) which is basically cold ramen noodles with sesame dressing. But anything with sesame dressing would taste delicious and so was this dish. 
Our dinner was excellent and none of the dishes disappointed. The price range might be slightly higher than usual izakayas because the ingredients are all from Hokkaido but the quality is well-assured. 
Hokkaido Yukku 北海道料理 ユック
2-6-1 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to  
50F Sumitomo Building
Daily 11.30am-2.30pm (Lunch) 5pm-10.30pm (Dinner)
Other outlets( Ginza/ Shinbashi/ Hanzomon/ Yokohama) and menu:
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