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/

Ohtanawanoren 太田なわのれん @ Hinodecho

There are days when all I want to do is eat meat.

In Japan, I mostly find myself craving for yakiniku on meat days but sometimes when I am simultaneously craving egg I would go for sukiyaki. I can never resist a TKG (tamago-kake-gohan, or egg on rice) after a beefy meal at i.e. Imahan! After a busy week at work, I felt the need to treat myself a little… so today I decided to get out of the city for a particularly special sukiyaki in Hinodecho (not far from Yokohama). IMG_6085

Now if you are wondering why this sukiyaki restaurant is special, it is not because they use particularly good beef, nor is it particularly expensive, nor is it visited by a lengthy list of V.I.P.s. It is, however, supposedly where the dish “sukiyaki” originated from.

Ohtanawanoren was established in 1868, the first year of the Meiji period when meat eating was still not a common practice in Japan. At that time, the owner of Ohtanawanoren came up with using miso to hide the taste of meat which was in fact unpleasant to common people at the time. As you will see later, the “original” form of sukiyaki was known as  “gyu-nabe” (beef pot) , and was completely different from how sukiyaki is generally prepared today. IMG_6131

Before coming here I did not actually expect the interior of the restaurant to resemble a high-end kaiseki ryotei. Was quite happy that there were individual rooms for us to play stupid games that I would rather not talk about on here. IMG_6127Ohtanawanoren opens for lunch only on weekends (and for dinner it is open everyday except monday). There is a special lunch course that also includes their signature butsukirigyu-nabe at a slightly cheaper price. Our group of 5 ordered one of them today and had a-la-carte (with higher quality, shimofuri beef from yamagata) for the rest of the meal. The lunch course first came with a small, cold chawanmushi (steamed egg) with ikura.IMG_6086

And then this little beef & lettuce appetizer.IMG_6092

Also a sashimi salad with varied fish & black caviar from the a-la-carte menu for starters.IMG_6093

A clear soup with shrimp paste and mochi under a blanket of sliced daikon also came with the lunch course. This was pretty standard. IMG_6097

Not to forget some sake to go with whats to come…!  yuki no maboroshi IMG_6091

Our 2 servers began bringing in the bits and bobs required to set up our sukiyaki meal. First the tea and eggs…IMG_6099

Then the veggies….IMG_6100

Then ta-da! Here’s the shimofuri yamagata-gyu nabe.IMG_6101

And this is the less fatty butsukiri-gyu-nabe with beef from Iwate. Despite being the slightly cheaper option, I personally prefer this after a couple pieces because too much overly fat wagyu can get sickening very fast. So having a mix today was indeed, perfect!IMG_6102

That concentration.IMG_6103

Sizzle sizzleIMG_6105

Glass noodles were also put in to soak up all the miso goodness.IMG_6112

And topped with some shungiku (chrysanthemum leaves) … one signature element of gyu-nabe that is still prevalent in modern sukiyaki.IMG_6114

Bubbles!IMG_6117

Finally, served in a bowl of raw egg. Absolutely addictive with rice.IMG_6116 IMG_6119

After a while the beef was transferred onto another pan to avoid being overcooked. IMG_6120 IMG_6125

Towards the end of the meal, a lot of miso is left in the egg, creating an awesome mixture for pouring over hot rice 😀 IMG_6124

Aaand dessert was melon sorbet. IMG_6126

Goodbye Ohtanawanoren! IMG_6128

And here’s a small exhibition of their fuku-chan mascot goods.IMG_6130

Ohtanawanoren 

Address :  Sueyoshicho 1-15, Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi Kanagawa-ken

〒231-0055 神奈川県横浜市中区末吉町1-15

Phone: 045-261-0636

Website: http://www.ohtanawanoren.jp