Torafugu Tei (Puffer fish) – So good, not expensive!

Torafugu Tei

2-14-15 Nishi-Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo

Finally, I found the drive to write for the Tokyo restaurants that I have been to in December 2016; it should be the 8th time in Japan but Tokyo seems to be the most exciting city to be in (though most might disagree and opt for the more scenic Hokkaido or historically richer Kyoto), as it definitely is still the top city in Japan when it comes to FOOD (stamped and chopped). A major throwback but this puffer fish restaurant or Torafugu Tei is one that I felt compelled to give a review on. Not any Michelin starred, not even an old restaurant with any history to brag about, but just really a chain that perhaps most Singaporeans would shun away from as they are usually perceived as less authentic. And as we kept passing by the live puffer fish tank as we take the same metro station daily, we googled, a decent puffer fish kaiseki dinner for just about $70?, we just need to give this a try! IT IS A STEAL!

img_1533And so there our kaiseki started with the chopped fish skin; bouncy, springy – the kind of consistency that we love as you dip into the cold refreshing yuzu shoyu. Delicious!img_1534The sashimi was the one I was greatly looking forward to as this caught my palates when we had our first experience in the only fugu restaurant in Singapore. A thicker and tougher texture it has, the sashimi is a test of the chef’s knifing skills as only the translucent ones would be palatable. Indeed, this was of the right thickness, thin enough for the blue to be seen and with the zesty lime and refreshing greens, it was just perfect.

img_1543I am just so amazed by the huge variety of delicacies that a huge puffer fish could be turned into. KFC? no it isn’t though it has the consistency of chicken with a super fragrant fried batter tightly wrapped around it! img_1546A wefie needed here as we have enjoyed everything thoroughly so far.

img_1538img_1541And the main dish – that vibrant hotpot we had. So simple, yet made so delish easily by the freshest greens and I have to say, I was a little taken aback and saddened by the twitching fins as I guess they were freshly butchered in the kitchen. Then again, this hotpot felt very comforting on a cold wintry night.

img_1542Waiting patiently for it to boil!

img_1551img_1553And at the end of the meal, it will be turned into an egg porridge. Simple, comforting and light tasting yet still maintaining that delicate balance.

img_1556A simple ice cream dessert to round off the wholesome meal!

Its price point, the quality, they both are just incredulously perfect that you can’t reject!

Verdict: An excellent restaurant. 4.2/5.

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Giro Giro Kagurazaka 枝魯枝魯 – A Punkish Kaiseki, not your normal Kaiseki meal

Giro Giro Kagurazaka 枝魯枝魯

Near Iidabashi JR Station

IMG_0167You really need to get your google map working when you start to venture into really quiet side roads, as if no other restaurants should be located there! Just like most other Kaiseki restaurants that have a little bit more character, Giro Giro Kagurazaka 枝魯枝魯 is located off the beaten track but in a pretty plush neighbourhood near Iidabashi. Hailing from Kyoto, the origin of Kaiseki, Giro Giro (Tokyo branch) does not adhere to the Kaiseki tradition but interjects elements of modern fusion cooking into some of its courses that would actually please your palates. Only one menu is served here, at ¥4500 for dinner.

DSC_0534The restaurant starts to fill up as it gets later into the night.

DSC_0535 DSC_0537And the moment you are seated at your table, you would have felt the vibes of this restaurant already. Chefs are dressed in pseudo lab coats instead of proper aprons while their hairstyles could perhaps be the most punkish, which deviates from the balding normInstead of using a classy table mat that most would have done so, what greets you would be a stern picture of a mythical character who is on his way to capture the evil demons. If you know who 鍾馗 (Zhong Kui) is, this really felt like him.

The first starter to begin this meal – crispy fried octopus with a fresh chewy texture that is paired with slightly salted edamame beans.   Continue reading

Shunbou 旬房 – A wondrous bento lunch at Tokyo Grand Hyatt without emptying the bank

Shunbou 旬房

Grand Hyatt Hotel near Roppongi Station 六本木

DSC_0511If you still remember the last post on Omborato at Hyatt Regency Tokyo, then you will realise that in the top of the top hotels in Tokyo, there are actually very affordable fine-dining restaurants present for lunch. This time, it is Shunbou 旬房 that was discovered (or well, more correctly recommended by dairycream). Despite being housed in Tokyo Grand Hyatt Hotel, it wasn’t as easy as we thought we could navigate as you have to awkwardly meander past some other restaurants before arriving at its doorstep. Not to worry as the waitress at the other restaurants will gladly bring you to Shunbou!

DSC_0516Sat down, and my eyes went straight for the 旬彩 – that has the Kanji 三段弁当 written in the description, that means a three tier bento lunch set for ¥5300. Have seen it in dairy’s review and that was why this restaurant was marked for this trip!

DSC_0513 DSC_0514Separate starters and appetisers are included in this set. This spinach infused tofu still remained as smooth and tasted marvelous when eaten chilled!   Continue reading

Rakushokushu Maru 楽食酒 圓 Aoyama branch – A small hole in the side street that serves very wallet-friendly Kaiseki

Rakushokushu Maru 楽食酒 圓

Near Omotesando 表参道 station

DSC_0348Lined along the classy streets outside Omotesando station, we could easily spot huge brands and sleek restaurants, and though Rakushokushu Maru 楽食酒 圓 is just a hole in a wall, this hole opens up to a 2 storey-deep restaurant, with a stylish counter bar and some private rooms. Having a pretty huge ala carte menu, going for the Kaiseki made things easier as we did not need to rack our brains over the less familiar items. We got to choose from 3 menus, a 4800, 5500 and 7000 yen menu and being a kaiseki fan, I went straight for the 7000.

DSC_0349The first appetiser, salad of amanatsu orange and gluten bread served with white tofu cream, has assured us already that it will be a up-to-standard kaiseki meal. With an addictive chewy texture, the greenish gluten bread actually felt like a hybrid of konyaku and Mochi; definitely very refreshing when eaten together with the tofu cream.

DSC_0350 The assorted sashimi was plated beautifully and there really isn’t a need to describe about its freshness.

DSC_0351Clear soup with stewed fish and bamboo shoots with a light sweetness attached to it. Continue reading

Sushi Tokami 鮨とかみ – The michelin sushi that uses red vinegared shari

Sushi Tokami 鮨とかみ

B1F, Ginza Seiwa Silver Bldg, 8-2-10 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

DSC_0330Going to a Michelin sushi place has somehow turned into a ritual whenever I am in Japan. Not deviating away from the usual practice, after quite a long search due to the massive closure of Michelin restaurants during the Golden Week, Sushi Tokami (One Michelin star) is one of the rarest few that is still open on one of the days. But that comes with a caveat as its original 5000 yen set for a 10 piece sushi course went up by more than 50% to an unforeseen 8000 yen due to the sudden jack in market prices of the fishes charged by the famous Tsukiji Market that are also set to close for the next few days. Well, so we got the 10 piece sushi and lets get a glimpse on what were served!

DSC_0332 This perfectly marinated Octopus tasted lightly sweet and tasted really flavourful without an overly chewy texture. Being one of the freshest octopus that I’ve ever had, this appetiser was definitely one of the highlights of the sushi course.

Tokyo Kyoto 2015-001Before getting into the more exciting Sushi, lets take a look at the more common or basic sushi that are served in most Michelin restaurants. Anticlockwise: Tai snapper, Marinated Tuna, Chuttoro, Kohada, Anago and Sweet Ebi. Fresh is a given over here and the melt-in-your-mouth sensation is common as well. The Sweet Ebi though had a different texture with its succulent springy meat.

And I realised that there is a major difference in these seemingly similar Michelin sushi restaurants after having visited quite a few in Japan – The Shari or sushi rice; literally splitting them into two distinct groups. What we might have been more familiar with, the mirin marinated sushi rice that has more sweetness than sourness (usually white in colour), is replaced by the red vinegar shari (brown in colour) by a large number of restaurants (or it could have been the other way round depending on who came first). So it really depends on your preference, whether the sweeter rice or slightly more sour one suits your palates. As for now, this is my list of the two major groups:

White shari – Ginza Sushi Ichi, Sushi Iwa, Shinji by Kanesaka

Brown Shari – Sushi Shin, Sushi Tokami

And personally, the white shari appeals more to me, which I believe is the same for most Sgreans. So next up for the highlights! Continue reading