Pasutakan

Okonomiyaki – the stuff dreams are made of! I LOVE this Japanese dish, but I didn’t know that I loved it until my French friend was planning her visit to Tokyo and mentioned how much she loved Okonomiyaki. My husband and I went that very night to Pasutakan in the MyLord’s Department Store in Shinjuku and I learned just how scrumptious this dish can be! I didn’t take pictures on that visit, but I did this time around. Of course, we had to take my French friend, and did so on August 27. We went to Pasutakan again, because they let you cook at your own table and you can “build your own” okonomiyaki.
PLEASE NOTE: Okonomiyaki/Monjayaki both contain katsuodashi – dried fish broth – so it is NOT strictly vegetarian. Pasutakan does offer many “mostly vegetarian” okonomiyaki, though (meaning, nothing except the dashi is non-vegetarian.)  But make sure you tell them “niku nashi, ebi nashi, ika nashi”

Before mixing, okonomiyaki looks like this. This one was for my husband and friend – it had shrimp, squid, and pork in it, so I didn’t eat it! Primary ingredients for okonomiyaki are flour mix, broth, egg, and cabbage. This one also had pickled ginger, a popular ingredient. Mine (not pictured at this stage) had corn, potato, cheese, mochi, and pickled ginger. Not all mixed in one! We had two, but I forget which had corn and which had potato…

After thorough mixing, you put the mixture onto the hot frying surface with some oil. The okonomiyaki should be about as big as the width of a normal adult hand fully spread. You then cook with a cover for 4 minutes on each side.

The finished okonomiyaki! We top with okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise. My husband and friend added nori seaweed and dried fish flakes to the top, but I like mine just like this!

Here is a type of dish served at Pasutakan that is more native to Tokyo – monjayaki! It may look similar to okonomiyaki at first glance, but they actually evolved separately. Monjayaki came about in Tsukishima in Tokyo. First, the ingredients are cooked on the hot plate and a “levee” is made from them to contain the liquid parts. Then, the liquid is added slowly. The first picture is after the “levee” has been made and about half the liquid is frying away. The monjayaki is then spread over the whole hot plate and the monjayaki should get really fried – crispy = delicious!!! The bottom picture is the near end product. YUM! But watch out – it is salty!

Pasutakan:
Address: Shinjuku MYLORD 8F; 1-1-3 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0023
Phone: 03-3349-5611 (MYLORD main switchboard)
Hours: Sun-Sat 11:00 AM-11:00 PM
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Nuun Again

My French friend visited from August 25, and we took her to our favorite Tokyo restaurant on her first night. Since I have posted about Nuun so many times, I will only post pictures of the dishes that I haven’t yet shown.

One of our appetizers – steamed seasonal vegetables steamed served with rock salt and green pepper miso for dipping. I showed this in my Nuun Dinner post, but as you can see, it does change with the season! Here we had portions for 3 – asparagus, okra, broccoli, a type of gourd/squash (not sure which one, but yummy!!), baby corn, and delicious baby carrots. So fresh tasting!

This is the dinner-sized portion of a lunch I had at Nuun once. It is the tofu cutlet, served with two dipping sauces. Read the link above for more info on this too-yummy-for-description dish!

 Last “new” dish we had: new potatoes with 3 toppings: red miso (see closeup), butter and salt, and soy sauce. All three were delicious as expected, but the red miso was so good that I could have eaten all three! I highly recommend this dish to everyone.


Nuun:
UPDATE: NUUN HAS CLOSED!!

Azabu Shigezo

A good friend of mine visited from France from the end of August through the first few days of September. This restaurant, Azabu Shigezo, was visited on September 1, after we returned from Kyoto. We were really interested in this restaurant because tofu is their speciality. It was a truly great experience!!!! The food was exquisite. I highly recommend that everyone try this restaurant – even people who think they don’t like tofu! You haven’t really tried it until you’ve eaten here!

Most Japanese izakaya-style restaurants serve little starter dishes if you order drinks, and this was no exception. These dishes were remarkably fresh and good. Nasu with shoyu, topped with negirenkon and gobō lightly mixed with sesame oil. Delish!
We started with their fresh yuba, served with a dollop of real wasabi. They make the yuba at the restaurant, and there are a limited quantity of orders each day. I am soooo glad that we were able to get one! This may not look so yummy, but the taste was… phenomenal! Very rich texture, and the taste is incredibly subtle. I ate a small piece just by itself, and was moved by it’s fresh taste.


They had three types of salt available, as well as a very nice soy sauce. We dipped the yuba in these – just a touch of salt is needed! The three salts are (from the left): salt with seaweed extract so it has a lot of minerals; coarsely ground sea salt; and finely ground sea salt. Each had a distinct flavor and they were all great.

Next we had the seasonal homemade tofu dish. Again, orders are limited. This was… indescribably scrumptious! So tender, and the green color and sauce is made from fresh seasonal beans. It was shockingly sweet – good shock! The taste of summer was clear in this dish.

Then we had fried yuba rolls with cheese and nori. I’m not 100% sure what type of cheese this is, but it was a really good combination. The cheese was very creamy and gooey – just like hot cheese should be! The fried yuba was very nicely crisp. The nori added some salty flavor to the mix, so it was really good.

Next was agedashidofu. I must admit that I am not the biggest fan of agedashidofu usually, but this was very good. Lots of flavor, and the breading was just right – not too thick or too thin!

We then ordered a salad. This is shredded daikon on a bed of red leaf lettuce with some kaiware daikon sprouts on top. The dressing was goma – very rich and lots of vitamins! This salad gets a top rating from me – the daikon was very crisp and fresh and the dressing was perfect for the cold, sharp flavor of the daikon.
 Final dish: reimen – cold noodles with cucumbers, negi, kimchi, and half a boiled egg as topping. The sauce was slightly spicy, but cold and oh-so-yummy!
Now – the TRULY get part of this restaurant!! They speak good English (or the waiter who waited on us did) AND they were willing to put any meat on the side! My husband and friend of course gobbled up the meat. None of the dishes we got had meat in them – the ones with meat were “topped” with some meat – ham or chicken, mostly. They willingly just put these into extra dishes and I got to enjoy the food without the thought that it had touched meat! Everything is made as you order, so they are able to do that. What a wonderful restaurant!! We will definitely be returning – sooner than later!!
Azabu Shigezo:
Address: Crest Azabu 2F, 2-13-9 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0045
Phone: 03-5765-9180
Hours: Mon-Wed 5:00 PM-12:00 AM; Thurs-Sat 5:00 PM-1:00 AM; Sun and holidays 5:00 PM- 11:00 PM
Note: RESERVATIONS SUGGESTED!

Brown Rice Cafe

With the Obon season upon us, I have had no time to post. Still, I have collected lots of pictures and over the next few days will post all my yummy eating experiences.
This was quite a while ago – August 6. My friend and I decided to meet at the Brown Rice Cafe in Omotesando, and my husband tagged along. At lunch time, there are few men in the Cafe, but he didn’t mind! The Brown Rice Cafe has lots of really good drinks, food, and desserts.

My friend got the Detox Juice. I was skeptical about taking a picture of it, as it really doesn’t look too yummy, but after a while I relented as she told me that it is really too tasty. According to the online menu, this healthy juice is made from green leaves, fennel, and peppermint along with extracts of milk thistle and dandelion.

My friend got the Tempeh Wrap as her meal. This looked really yummy, and she told me that the look couldn’t compare to the taste! I highly recommend that you try this if you can. The tempeh is served with lettuce and miso to wrap it, miso soup, and brown rice topped with black sesame.

My husband and I had a hard time deciding what to get: we had decided to taste each others, of course! Finally, he decided on the Daily Special, which is served with brown rice, miso soup, and a choice of drink. That day, the special was especially tasty: fresh salad with a homemade dressing, small cold veggie salads, and tofu grilled with miso.

Here is a close-up of the Daily Special.

I finally decided to go with the Bean and Vegetable Curry. This comes with Japanese pickles, brown rice, and salad. I absolutely recommend this – lots of taste, good protein, and the pickles really complement the curry well.

Overall impression: This restaurant is very, very good. I highly recommend it for anyone who is a vegan, or even for meat eaters who are looking for a super healthy meal with your vegetarian friends!
Brown Rice Cafe:
Address: Green Building 1F, 5-1-17 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
Phone: 03-5778-5416
Hours: Sun-Sat 12:00 PM – 9:00 PM (L.O. 8:00 PM)

La Volpaia Pizzeria

Sunday night we wanted some good pizza. My husband looked up some nice pizzerias and was led to La Volpaia Pizzeria. Located in Ichigaya (Ushigome-Kagurazaka area), it is an offshoot of the fancier Carmine Restaurant, which is the first Italian restaurant to be opened by an Italian chef in Japan. This restaurant is great -very laid back style, delicious food, open atmosphere.

We arrived at about 6 pm on Sunday night. Surprisingly, the restaurant was full and there were two people waiting ahead of us. We decided to wait (must be good if it is worth lining up for, right?!) and it was definitely a good decision.

Unfortunately, the food was so delicious that we ate too much and left with achingly full stomachs! 😉

We started off with the daily recommended appetizer: marinated olives and vegetables. I was sad to see that the toothpicks were speared with anchovies, but my husband greedily gobbled them up, so it was all okay. The vegetables were zucchini, onions, and bell peppers. Although the olive oil and spices used were first rate, and the olives delicious, I hate bell peppers! The olive oil was infused with their taste, so I couldn’t really enjoy this dish (but that’s my fault!). My husband assured me that it was truly delicious.
All customers are served a basket of bread, and we dipped some of this divinely fresh bread (no pics, sorry!) into the leftover oil of the appetizer. I mostly used the self-service bar of olive oil, spicy chili/tomato paste, parmesan, and salt/pepper as my dipping sauce.

Next, we got our pizza. This is the 4 Stagioni pizza. Originally, it is served with olives, artichoke hearts, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and ham. We asked for “hamu-nashi” (without ham), and to our incredulous surprise, they agreed! Not only that, they offered to replace the ham with something, and we chose mushrooms.

Those of you who have lived in Japan will understand how truly shocking it is for a restaurant to agree to change a menu item, let alone substitute something!! Not only that, but having artichoke hearts and olives on my pizza was enough to bring tears of joy to my eyes. The dough was absolutely perfect – chewy, springy, light.

Next, we had our pasta dish. This dish doesn’t take good pictures, but it tastes phenomenal! It is the Tagliatelle al Pomodoro e Mascarpone (Tagliatelle pasta with tomato sauce and mascarpone cheese). The pasta was freshly made, and that makes all the difference!

By this time, we were full! But we still had our second dish: another daily special. It was Risotto with 4 Cheeses and Rucola. Again, doesn’t take such an aesthetically-pleasing picture, but I can assure you that it was absolutely fabulous.

The only thing to detract from the food was the music. It was only August, and already the restaurant was playing Christmas songs! That was so awful that we both wanted to hurry through dinner and get out. Maybe next time the music will be better…
La Volpaia Pizzeria:
Address: 162-0838 Saiku-machi 1-1, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Phone: 03-3260-0435
Hours: Mon-Sun Lunch: 11:30 AM-2 PM; Dinner 6 PM-10:30 PM; LO 9:30 PM
Japanese Website: http://www.carmine.jp/

Curry King

We unfortunately haven’t been out to eat recently. It is quite expensive to eat vegetarian in Tokyo (as in most cities), but today I would like to talk about a very cheap veggie meal.

I LOVE Japanese curry rice. My husband makes the best curry rice at home, but I also really like to eat at restaurants. Some restaurants unfortunately put meat into their yasai-karê.

We have a Karê no Ousama – “Curry King“, an S&B company, very close to our house, and the curry there is delicious, inexpensive, and comes with options. Plus, there is no visible meat! (Please note – most likely there is some sort of meat (chicken, beef, or pork) used in the curry sauce, but I don’t ask!)

Today’s meal was: juuhakkoku-mai yasai karê. That is, 18-grain rice vegetable curry. I got a side salad and cold oolong tea, too. All this cost 830 yen, which is about $8. Yasui! Plus, you can add as many fukujinzuke as you want!! I LOVE to add a ton. The veggies in the curry were potatoes, carrots, eggplant, and broccoli. Oishikatta!!!

18-grain rice contains: brown rice, black rice, red rice, black soy beans, azuki beans, soy beans, barley, Job’s Tears, black sesame seeds, white sesame seeds, glutinous millet, sorghum, glutinous foxtail millet, Japanese barnyard millet, corn, white sorghum, quinoa, and amaranth. Lots of good carbs!

Curry King (Ichigaya):

Address: Ichigaya Plaza 1F, 4-2 Kudankita; Chiyoda-ku; Tokyo

Google Maps: 千代田区九段北4-2

Phone: 03-3262-7465
Hours: Mon-Fri: 11:00-23:00; Sat, Sun, Holidays: 11:00-22:00
Japanese website: http://www.curry-ousama.co.jp/

Now, compare this yasai-karê to my husband’s homemade one (with potatoes, carrots, and okra… yum!!!).

Tofu – the Japanese macho food!

My husband LOVES tofu! I am not such a big fan of it unless it is in a dish. He eats it with just soy sauce… you should try it, at least!!
I am sorry to say that tofu has a bad rep in the US. Tofu is for women and those wimpy vegetarians, right?! Not in Japan!!
This is Otokomaedofu – “Studmuffin Tofu”. Only the manliest men can eat this tofu! It is actually quite good, but I still prefer my tofu cooked a dish with other stuff.
The tofu pictured below is not made by Otokomaedofu, but by a company owned by the Otokomaedofu owner’s father.
Still, the best website to check out for Otokomaedofu is www.otokomae.jp. Funny flash website, and even has an English story about tofu. Check it out!