Mikasa @ Miyazakidai 

So the other night I came to Mikasa, a tempura restaurant near Miyazakidai station in Kanagawa-ken. (sounds far but if you take the train it’s only 21 mins from Shibuya!)

 I’ll admit – despite being highly skeptical about tabelog rankings (Japanese restaurant review site) , I couldn’t help but be curious about this 10-seat establishment which got ranked #1 for tempura in the country, beating Kondo, Fukamachi, Mikawa Zezankyo, Yamanoue, Hayashi, etc + a whole big list that I still want to try. 

Called to make a booking one month in advance and finally, here I was!! Everyone ordered an omakase course which we decided to kick off with a little bit of sake…The first thing served was the Otsukuri (sashimi course). Neatly presented with fresh grated wasabi, this consisted of 2 slices of tai and 2 slices of maguro.Now time for the tempura! A deepfried head of kuruma-ebi was served with yurine (edible lily bulb) and soramame (broad beans). I was pleased that not even a drip of oil was observed on the oil paper. 

Soon after a piece of kuruma-ebi meat was added onto my plate. 

I was more impressed by the light crispy batter of this piece of kuruma-ebi than the meat itself as it wasn’t the type where sweetness explodes in your mouth and you die temporarily of umami goodness. It was good, but I was easily able to imagine something better. 

However, the second piece of kuruma-ebi served was AMAZING! This second piece was much richer in flavour as it still had its ebi-miso (prawn brains) attached. 

Asparagus was much better than my memory of the shockingly fibrey one at Mikawa Zezankyo (I was probably just unlucky) though not the best I’ve ever had. 

Kisu (Japanese whiting) was great, also with no feeling of oiliness at all but still retaining good moisture! 

Next up was Shiitake. (This is Doi-san, who has been making tempura for 40 years 😀 He had a poker face whilst cooking throughout the meal but turned out to be a very friendly approachable ojisan when everything was finished!) 

Shiitake – juicy and sweet.

Oyster & truffle salt. Although I normally love truffle, I wasn’t sure if this truffle salt touch was necessary for the oyster. It didn’t do much for me- no complaints though.Then we had Ebi-imo- a traditional Kyoto vegetable which is also one of my favourite varieties of taro! It is called Ebi-imo (literally shrimp potato) because it has a stripey skin that looks like the shell of a shrimp. This one, cut into a long thick block, was like thick cut fries on Anadrol 50.

Sumi-ika was soft and sweet. Yum 🙂 I also always get excited to see greens like nanohana – something about its crunchy mild bitterness appeals to me like no other veggie. This was no exception – absolutely delicious! shirauo (whitebait) was light & fluffy. I loved how I was still really hungry at this point because everything here simply felt really light! 

Tara shirako (cod milt) I normally prefer fugu shirako but couldn’t really complain about this one. It was rich & creamy inside, yet it did not feel too heavy. good stuff.

then Doi-san began preparing the Anago.Also with hardly any trace of oil, the anago was crunchy and yummilicious! 

At last we were given a choice of ten-don (with a kakiage of shrimps and scallops) or ten-don ochazuke (tea rice with kakiage tempura) 

And dessert was a simple yet beautiful banana tempura! 

Overall, I would say that dinner at Mikasa was a highly enjoyable meal with incredible cost performance. Omakase Dinner with sake came to less than 15k yen per person! although the ingredients used may not have been as high end as some of the Michelin-starred tempura establishments, we are talking about spending only half of what one would often pay at other top tempura places, for tempura that is at least almost as good in terms of execution. Doi-san says he wishes to retire soon. Perhaps I should come back before it is too late! 

Mikasa 美かさ

Address: 神奈川県川崎市宮前区宮崎2-9-15 

Phone: 044-853-1819

Web:http://tabelog.com/kanagawa/A1405/A140507/14000813/

神保町 傳 Jimbocho Den @ Jimbocho

Well….I’ve accumulated so many photos from numerous dinners at one of my favourite restaurants in the world, DEN, that I think I should at least do a photos-only post from my first few visits 😛  Though to be honest, all the food here has left me SPEECHLESS.  Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa is simply one of the best chefs I have ever encountered – NO WORDS. (i swear this is not an excuse to not write lol… I will try to write later about my more recent visits, more photos to come :P) For now…enjoy!! IMG_5429 IMG_5431 IMG_5434 Den’s signature MONAKA!! With foie gras + seasonal goodies inside (always changing but always brilliant) IMG_5437 IMG_5442 IMG_5435 IMG_5443 IMG_5445 another signature – dentucky fried chicken 😀 just like the monaka, the stuffing is always different! IMG_5451  IMG_5452  IMG_5458 IMG_5460 IMG_5461 IMG_5463 IMG_5465 IMG_5468 IMG_5470 IMG_5471 IMG_5473 IMG_5475 IMG_5780 IMG_5783 IMG_5784 IMG_5790 IMG_5794 IMG_5797  IMG_5804IMG_5456 IMG_5809 IMG_5810 IMG_5814 another signature is the salad – always playful with a happy carrot + a variety of some of the best vegetables i’ve ever had. IMG_5818 IMG_5815 IMG_5823 IMG_5825 IMG_5827 IMG_5832 IMG_5834 IMG_5837 IMG_5841 IMG_5838 IMG_5836 IMG_6187 IMG_6189 IMG_6191 IMG_6192 IMG_6193 IMG_6200 IMG_6203 IMG_6205 IMG_6207 IMG_6208 IMG_6214  IMG_6258 IMG_6257 IMG_6252 IMG_6250 IMG_6248 IMG_6243 IMG_6239 IMG_6234 IMG_6231 IMG_6230 IMG_6229 IMG_6228

Buri! oh so fine.IMG_6223

Ronitucky fried chicken on this particular visit 😛

IMG_6210IMG_6215  IMG_0757IMG_3181 IMG_0740 IMG_0735 IMG_0727 IMG_0716 IMG_0713 IMG_6264 IMG_6262 IMG_3215-0 IMG_3217 This was my favourite fried chicken of all time – with truffles and sweet potato ❤ IMG_7384 IMG_3219 IMG_3194 IMG_3192 IMG_3210 IMG_3215 IMG_0736 IMG_7463 IMG_7453 IMG_7407 IMG_7420 IMG_7393 buri ! IMG_7385 I decided not to use words to describe these because if you want to know Den YOU HAVE TO VISIT!  (also because, like I said, i’ve accumulated too many photos >_< ) lol Website:  http://www.jimbochoden.com  Phone:

L’Effervescence レフェルヴェソンス

So here we are, at L’Effervescence. IMG_5499

Unlike most restaurants of the same league in town it was relatively easy to get a table here, perhaps due to the fact that it serves up to 50 customers per night which is a big number for a Michelin-starred restaurant. My (awesomely) gluttonous friend decided to pre-book 3 extra courses on top of the standard 11-course tasting menu … We were in for a longg night! Started off with a fresh peach bellini. IMG_5501Before the meal started, we were given 4 olives that were meant to be in 2 different flavours. I wasn’t sure how subtle the difference was supposed to be so I’m not actually sure if I picked 2 of the same flavour or if I had actually tried both flavours…IMG_5502 So! We began with seabream, sakura shrimp, spring onion and sea mustard in a moussy foamy concoction accompanied by what seemed like an almost – empty small glass with two pieces of yuzu peel and ice. I am sure it was supposed to compliment the seafood mixture in some way but honestly there was too little in that glass to make any significant difference :p Despite this slightly confusing arrangement the concoction itself was delightful and made a good start for the meal.IMG_5508

Course 2 – signature apple pie – packaging purposely reminiscent of McDonald’s, revealing the chef’s playful side. Athough the “apple pie” is permanently on the menu, the filling changes from time to time. This was apple pie #14, with Burdock, Gizzard, Rosemary.IMG_5514

Moon butter ❤IMG_5517

Course 3 “has just begun~”: firefly squid & udo, salted preserved lemon emulsion, hon-wasabi, kishu-umeboshi foam. IMG_5521Firefly squid (hotaru-ika) incredibly juicy and sweet! These are deep-sea squids that have very short life-spans and emit light in the dark sea like fireflies, hence the name 🙂 IMG_5523

Course 4 “A fixed point”  – another signature dish : whole cooked turnip and parsley oil emulsion sitting on tiny pieces of Kintoa Basque ham & brioche. Definitely one of the best turnip dishes I’ve ever had! IMG_5527

Perfectly golden in the middle. IMG_5533

Course 5 “through the forest 2014” : green asparagus soup and tsubu-gai croquette, bamboo shoots, mountain cheese “quark”, white miso, Japanese mugwort oil.  I’ve always felt that asaparagus shines brightest when enjoyed either grilled or in soup form and here I am getting it in both! The condensed sweetness of asparagus was very apparent in every small sip and the croquette added a nice accent to the liquid dish.IMG_5540

Course 6 “from the sea~to the mountain” : A combination of sea and earth; ayu cooked vividly and its clear broth, guts flavored gastric sauce & tapenade, watercress, mountain sansho pepper.  We were first presented with a set of small glasses from which we had to pick one to drink the ayu broth with. IMG_5537

Crystal clear ayu broth, I was taken by the purity of this- whilst being as clear as water it was at the same time intensely flavourful ! IMG_5545

The ayu itself was cut up and cooked in 3 different ways (sounds cruel, I know). A deepfried head, one side of the body grilled with mountain sansho pepper, the other side with the gastric sauce & tapenade. IMG_5547

(L00k @ dA wAY it bENdzz)IMG_5546Course 7 “deep green” : char-roast pigeon from Vendée, fuki shoot puree and sweet & sour meat jus, mountain vegetables, black olive. Check that colour out! Still very red yet not at all bloody. Succulent and gamey with a thin, crispy layer of skin. IMG_5559

Course 8 “Imaginary picnic ~ under the loquat tree”. Naturally cooked foie gras & loquat milk, sake jelly, cucumber, salad burnet. This foie gras was silky smooth and extraordinary light – perfect considering that I was getting a little full at this point!  IMG_5565

Then came the “Right & left” Taiwanese tea. At first glance this looked like an ordinary cup of tea and I wondered what its name had anything to do with anything. But as soon as I took a sip, my first reaction was “wth?” and then it all made sense. The right side was hot and the left side was COLD!  Not even kidding. One liquid, 2 temperatures. #mindblown.  I think they probably did this by mixing liquids of 2 different consistencies, putting the hot one (thicker) into the cold one? IMG_5568

We were then presented a tray of funky knives for use in our next course.IMG_5570

Course 10 “Surf & Turf~” : Shinsyu-wagyu leg char-grill roast, geoduck clam puree & saute, sabayon sauce, spring onion, arugula & chrysanthemum leaves. IMG_5572

This was also very well executed although I started feeling very heavy after eating 2 different red meats in a row. However I was dining with someone with a bottomless stomach on this night so it only felt natural to keep eating. (excuse my poor attempt at blaming other people for over-eating :p)IMG_5577

To give myself a more “balanced” meal I opted for vegetables instead of cheese after all of the above. IMG_5581

Finally, it was dessert time! Course 12, just as I was thinking about how much I missed the UK, was named “Memory of Borough market in London~” . This was a combination of espresso jelly, goat cheese mousse, chick pea, mango, dill and date thin-crisp. An interesting combination that worked together nicely as the bitter, acidic sharpness of espresso jelly was mellowed out by the creamy cheese mousse and given a nice crunch with the thin-crisp. IMG_5586

I guess it isn’t a French tasting menu if there aren’t multiple desserts. Course 13, “Warm spring sunlight” was made of Rhubarb confit and Tochiotome strawberry, elderflower beer jelly, Earl Grey ice-cream, and molten custard cream disc with shortbread crumbs. IMG_5590Ta-da! IMG_5592

At last, a blue herb tea …

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and a final course 14, young shoot of barley ice-cream, Tonka beans milk mousse, bing cherry confit. IMG_5595

I love that none of the desserts here were too sweet. IMG_5606

Except perhaps the petit-fours – these were all very sweet, but fun to eat! Note the toothpaste shaped tube, which contains lemon curd you squeeze into the flower-shaped tart to make a mini lemon tart 😀IMG_5600

And last but not least a piece of pound cake to take home. I ate this after I got home – simple, good stuff.IMG_5609

 

L’Effervescence 

Address: 2-26-4 Nishi-azabu, Minato-ku Tokyo, 106-0031

東京都港区西麻布2-26-4

Telephone: 03-5766-9500

Website: http://www.leffervescence.jp

 

 

 

Ristorante Honda

It has almost been 10 years since we moved into the Gaienmae area and I have always known about Ristorante HONDA. For no reason at all, we never gave it a visit despite the fact that it is literally 2 minutes walk away from home. You know how when a place is so close that you feel like because you can go there anytime, you end up putting it off until you suddenly realize that 10 years has gone by and that life is actually very short?

BAM! So while I was taking a pre-lunch stroll one day I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to walk in, strongly compelled to finally try Ristorante Honda for the first time. Upon contemplating the idea that I can theoretically die anytime, I realized that it would be a shame if I left the world without ever tasting the food at this Michelin starred restaurant just steps away from home. *Unfortunately it was completely full even on a random tuesday so without further delay I made a reservation for the next available date, which was 2 days later!

So finally I made it here and lunch began with grissini in different flavours + a nice blood orange cocktail 😀

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For appetizer, I had this beautiful carpaccio – chef Honda incorporates Japanese flavours into his Italian dishes; the sauce used in this dish for example had hints of ume (Japanese plum). A very refreshing way to whet the appetite 🙂 ! 20140608-130438-47078647.jpg

 

My mom had this duck dish which I tried a bit of. Intensely gamey and flavourful, I was hyped up for the other dishes to come!! 20140608-130439-47079420.jpg

Before our pastas arrived we were given this palate of homemade foccacia. Loved the rosemary, dried fruit and pine nuts combo!20140608-130439-47079833.jpg

I had the uni pasta that I’ve been seeing all over articles about Ristorante Honda. I think the photo explains itself – it was divine!! Choosing the uni pasta for part of the lunch course entails paying an extra 2500 yen but this was definitely worth it.

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My mom had the ika pasta which despite not incurring any extra charges, might have actually tasted even better than my uni pasta. I don’t know if it is just because the grass is always greener on the other side or whatever crap but I literally inhaled half her plate of pasta. I heard a girl from the next table try to order the same but by that time this pasta had already run out. She got a hotaru-ika pasta instead and … that looked EVEN BETTER! OMG. I decided that I will NEED to come back to get specifically that next time. lol.20140608-130440-47080692.jpg

For our secondo piatto mom had this juicy roast pork belly dish. This sauce was perfect for dipping some of the remaining bread I had.20140608-130441-47081564.jpg

And I had this panfried fish, juxtaposed to a giant clam 😀  Good stuff.

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By this time I was quite full but there’s always room for dessert right? Specially after some camomile tea that clears my stomach in my imagination.

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My mom had this brulee mango ice bar. Literally a creamy mango ice cream bar with a crispy burnt caramlized later at the top like a creme brulee. This was yummilicious, and although it was creamy it wasn’t too rich combined with a bit of the tangy passionfruit sauce.20140608-130443-47083367.jpg

Aaand finally this was my eclair. I think I preferred the other dessert.20140608-130442-47082926.jpg

Overall outstanding cost-performance and I would definitely come back. I hate to say this but I seriously regret that I did not start coming here years ago. Time to make up for this 😀

Ristorante Honda 

Address: 2-12-35 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo

107-0061 東京都港区北青山2-12-35 小島ビル1F

Tel: 03-5414-3723

Website: www.ristorantehonda.jp