Archive for the 'Japanese' Category

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Ramen Street at Tokyo Station: Ikaruga & Menya Shichisai/Tokyo Edoama

Ramen Street - Tokyo Station

What would you do if you had ten hours in Tokyo? All I desired was to stuff my face—furiously and exceptionally.

Thanks to the advice and direction of my friends Tomo and Darin, The Astronomer and I not only ate extraordinarily well during our layover, but we managed to do so without getting lost and missing our flight back to the States! It was a delightful whirlwind of tastes, sights, and energy, whetting our appetites for more Japanese adventures in the future.

Ramen Street at Tokyo Station

The first stop on our ten hour tour (more like six hours after going through customs and commuting to and from the city), was at “Ramen Street” inside Tokyo Station:

Tokyo Ramen Street, a street exclusively for ramen at the Yaesu Underground Exit of Tokyo Station, features a range of Tokyo’s most famous ramen restaurants. Four shops were originally opened in June 2009: Rokurinsha Tokyo, Hirugao, Ramen Mutsumiya, and Keisuke Kitanosho. The grand opening of a second series of four shops took place in April 2011: Tokyo Station Ikaruga, Honda, Junk Garage, and Shichisai/Tokyo Edoama.

When The Astronomer and I arrived on the scene, we found that Ramen Street was undergoing major renovations and five of the eight shops were closed, including our intended destination Rokurinsha.

Ikaruga - Ramen Street - Tokyo Station

Since waiting in an hour-long line for Rokurinsha was no longer on the docket, we headed to Ikaruga and Menya Shichisai/Tokyo Edoama instead. Both shops served up superb bowls of deliciously different ramen.

We purchased tickets from each restaurant’s vending machine, whimsically choosing what to eat based on the pictures scattered on the surface.

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{swoon} Tendon (天丼) at Hannosuke

Hannosuke - Los Angeles (Mar Vista)

When executed with a deft hand, deep-frying can transform the mundane into the insane. Tokyo’s famed Kaneko Hannosuke takes tendon (tempura rice bowls) to great heights at its first U.S. outlet inside the West Los Angeles Mitsuwa Marketplace.

Whether it’s a pristine fillet of fish or a simple slice of sweet potato, the experts behind the fryers make sure that each ingredient is coated evenly in a golden, bubbly crust that’s crisp and hardly greasy.

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Yama Seafood – San Gabriel

Yama Seafood - San Gabriel

My Besh friend alerted me to the awesomeness of Yama Seafood in her recent write up, “Yama Seafood L.A. Fish Market is a Godsend for the Sushi Addict” on L.A. Weekly’s Squid Ink blog.

While The Astronomer was away for an out-of-town wedding this past weekend, I made elaborate plans to finally watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi while indulging in pristine sashimi from Yama. What better way to spend a lazy Sunday, right?

Yama Seafood - San Gabriel

Yama ain’t much to look at from the outside, or the inside for that matter, but the people who run the three-decade-old market are super-sweet, and the fishes are as fresh as billed.

Yama Seafood - San Gabriel

I made my way to the fish counter upon arriving at Yama. Three people were ahead of me in line, and it took a solid 20 minutes before I was served because the sashimi here is sliced and assembled to order.

There’s no menu, little signage, and just a bit of English spoken at the market, so I gestured and nodded to indicate the type and size of fish that I desired. I was only buying sushi for one, so two small fillets of salmon and yellowtail were more than enough to satisfy.

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Nozawa Bar – Los Angeles (Beverly Hills)

Nozawa Bar - Beverly Hills

Say hello to Nozawa Bar, a hyper-intimate sushi destination that refines and redefines Chef Kazunori Nozawa’s signature “Trust Me” experience.

Tucked behind a door marked “Staff Only” at Beverly Hill’s SugarFISH, Nozawa Bar serves pristine sushi in sparse and compact quarters. The space between itamae and diner is never more than an arm’s length.

Nozawa Bar - Beverly Hills

Nozawa Bar serves a twenty-course omakase twice a night, Monday through Saturday at 6 and 8:30 PM. The cost per person is $150, exclusive of tax and gratuity. Each course is served to all ten diners at once, making substitutions and special requests mostly impossible.

Prior to taking the helm at Nozawa Bar, Chef Osamu Fuji, a long-time friend and colleague of Chef Nozawa, opened Japanese restaurants across the U.S. and served as corporate chef for a number of large hotels.

Nozawa Bar - Beverly Hills

The Astronomer and I reserved two seats for the later seating on a recent Saturday night. Fellow diners included a mix of longtime Sushi Nozawa fans, as well as first-timers like us. The mood in the room was stiff at the start, but eased into casual banter by night’s end, with Chef Fuji cracking jokes left and right.

The omakase opened with a tangy seaweed salad dressed in rice vinegar and generously topped with sweet hunks of Dungeness crab.

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