Tag Archives: Japanese Cuisine

Ekiben/Railway Station Lunch Boxes-Bento 2: Tai Dontaku

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”Ekiben” or Railway Station Lunch Box (eki=station + ben/abbreviation for bento)in japan and Shizuoka are a must for travellers who wish to experience real local food!
Shizuoka has a higher average because of the great numbers of railway stations and access to many kinds of food and ingredients.
I purchased that particular one at Ito City Railway Station on October 23rd.

It is called “Tai Dontaku”.
“Tai” stands for seabream or snapper, a fish abundant along the Izu Peninsula shores.

The bottom half is steamed rice covered with powdered seabream flesh/surimi.
The top half includes “hotate karaage/deep-fried scallops”, “Gobo/simmered burdock roots”, and “Shiitake/simmered shiitake mushrooms”.

Provided with chopsticks and tooth pick, it made for a great lunch while visiting the Izu Kougen shoreline!

Shizuoka Supermarket Sashimi

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Last Sunday, as I had to “cook” that evening before the Missus came back from work, I ventured in Shizutetsu Store Supermarket in front of Ichiritsu High School.
Frankly speaking, I did not have a clue about I could concoct for my better-worse (sorry, Rowena!). That until I noticed ridiculously cheap seafood on display. Actually October is a great for lots of fish which come in plenty.

Here is what I bought on impulse:

“Maguro Sashimi/Tuna sashimi” for 480 yen. Allison, can you believe it?

“Ika Somen/Thinly cut fresh cuttle-fish2 for 217 yen

“Sakura Ebi/Cherry Blossom Shrimp” for 268 yen. These shrimps are exclusively caught of Yui shore in Shizuoka Prefecture.

“Katsuo Sashimi/Bonito Sashimi” for 480 yen from Shizuoka Prefecture, of course. Enormous portion!

“Myoga” and “Shiso” for 246 yen

Grand total: 1641 yen/less than US $ 16.50, enough for 4 persons (we managed to eat the whole, though!)!

Shizuoka Wasabi: An encounter with a great Chef!

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I have recently had the pleasure to make a new friend, namely Dominique Corby, a great French Chef who learned his craft at the Tour d’Argent in Paris, among others, before coming to Japan to look after the kitchen of the Sakura Restaurant in the New Otani Hotel in Osaka and of the 6eme Sens in Tokyo.

Dominique is a chef always looking for fresh seasonal natural ingredients for his cuisine which is resolutely a marriage of Japanese and French culinary traditions.
As he recently wrote a post on his blog on wasabi, I took the opportunity to send him a few samples of fresh wasabi grown in Shizuoka City, Utogi, Abe River for the simple pleasure of introducing him to one our great products in Shizuoka Prefecture.

They were almost one metre-high full with stems and leaves (all edible) and freshly uprooted in the very morning (I sent them by cool box just before lunch to reach him just in Osaka just before lunch the next day).
Dominique and his staff appreciated them to the point that a dish was created for the benefit of some customers on the very day.
See above picture. Dominique described it as follows:
-“sur une feuille et tiges de Wasabi, Sawara et Agi abute, kogomi,wasabina, nobiru, mousse de lait au wasabi fraîchement râpée, petite réduction de jus de homard”
-“on a wasabi leaf and stems, sawara and aji abute (grilled large mackerel variety and saurel), kogomi (young ferns), wasabina (a kind of Japanese lettuce), nobiru ( a kind of wild garlic), freshly grated wasabi milk mousse, reduced lobster juice.

A great compliment to a great product by a great chef!

Shizuoka Oden (4): Nodaya

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I find myself when trying to define Nodaya. It is not an “odenya” in the strictest sense of the word as it does not limit itself to oden.
Shall I define it as an izakaya specializing in oden?
Whatever the name, it is certainly extremely popular in a city which prides itself for the best oden in Japan. When we arrived there last Monday shortly after 7:00 p.m., the place was packed to the brim. Luckily for us, Momose-San, a member of our merry band had booked a tatami table well in advance. No wonder it is open every day. I can assure you you will need a reservation whatever the day and time!

As we were sitting in the tatami room at the far end of the restaurant (they also have a party room on the third floor) we barely had the time to walk by the large vats containing all kinds of oden including the typical dark-brown Shizuoka-style broth.
In any case there was no way that the five of us could have found five seats at the counter. Fine, next time…

Now, the big bonus is that they serve no less than four different Shizuoka in individual 300 ml bottles: Masu-Ichi (Shizuoka City), Hatsukame (Shida Gun), Hana no Mai (Hamamatsu City) and Shidaizumi (Fujieda City). I personally consumed one each of the last two (a junmai genshu and a nama ginjo!). You can’t beat jizake with oden! Incidentally, if you wish to know more about Shizuoka Oden and if you can read Japanese consult the 2008 March edition of DANCYU Magazine!

Oden are great, but we chose lighter fare first: sashimi set. Such an offering would not disgrace any Japanese restaurant:
(from right to left) “Buri/yellow tail”, “Kurodai/seabream variety”, “Akami/lean tuna”, “Hirame/sole”, “Isaki/grouper typical of Shizuoka”. By the way, the echalette, shiso and freshly grated wasabi are naturally from Shizuoka.
Momose-San and I reflected whether we would be able to appreciate such great fish at such reasonable prices in say ten years time, considering the ever-dwindling world supply and Tokyo’s unquenchable thirst and greed for our local products. But I’m digressing (although this will become the gist of a future article)…

Kawashima-San could not resist the small raw “yari ika/cuttlefish”! I managed to steal one and I can assure you it is not an acquired taste!

Nodaya also ha some great tempura such as “Tara no me/shoots of the Japanese Angelica Tree/Aralia elata” (also called the “King of Tempura” in Japan!)

and Japanese-style fried vegetables on sticks.
Foodhoe is going to kill me with all that teasing!

Alright, alright, we did order oden!
They came in three styles actually.
The one above is made in light broth, Kansai-style,

while most are definitely Shizuoka-style served sprinkled with “dashiko/powdered stock” and “aonori/dried grenn seaweed powder”.

As for vegetarians, I would definitely suggest “daikon”, an oden cooked in miso paste!
My friends did not allow me enough time to record all the other items we ordered but know that there are more than you can eat in a single evening including vegetables, fish, eggs and meat!

No wonder it’s packed with regulars!

Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Shichiken Cho, 16-10
Tel.: 054-251-3870
Business hours: 17:00~23:30 (~23:00 on Sundays and National Holidays)

Japanese Cuisine: Hi no Ki

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Last week Monday started inauspicuously with the morning rain forcing me to embark on one of those smelly airtight buses. To compound my (relative) misery a matrimonial spat resulted in no bentobox being prepared for my lunch.
Oh, well… I’ve always been an incorrigible (irresponsible) optimist and proceeded to work as if nothing untoward had occured.
At noon the skies, which must have appreciated my positive attitude suddenly cleared up and encouraged me to get out of the office quickly and venture downtown in search of a new place to visit.
Enjoying a notable lunch in Shizuoka City is not such an easy task as most restaurants limit themselves to “lunch sets” while izakayas simply stay closed so early in the day.
Wandering in the vicinity of Isetan Department Store my sore feet (cricket umpiring duty the day before) finally carried me to an establishment I had always been curious about: Hi No Ki.
Well, the time could not have been more propitious to try out this venerable (founded in November 1986) “Kaiseki/Kappo Ryori” restaurant (traditional Japanese Cuisine)!

The irony was that “kaiseki” lunch is arguably another form of “set lunch”!
At noon they offer three repasts while dinner comes in six different offerings.
Japanese customers do feel more comfortable with a well-orchestrated dinner, but the chef will readily take “ippin/one item” orders or think up of a tailor-made menu according to a pre-arranged budget.
Actually “joren/regulars'” preferences seem to be more the order of the day as I noticed many middle-aged guests being served a dish of sashimi, a bowl of rice with miso soup and pickles at the counter without even as much as ordering.

Customers may choose to sit at the counter and watch the chef Kuniaki Kaneiwa, a passionate craftsman who is more than willing to talk about his trade, a quality that lone diners do appreciate to the full.
All dishes will be described and explained in great detail by simply asking politely.
Otherwise, if you prefer to converse with your friends or guests, you may choose a table by the bay window or a private tatami room for more privacy.

The accent is more on quality than quantity with consequent prices.
Sashimi is just perfect and cut the right size for quick tasting.

Fish, when cooked (marlin above), offers another intriguing taste to customers.
The judicious choice of “tare/sauce” and soft Japanese spices alone is an invitation to savour the morrsel.

The small assortment of varied “oden” introduces this typical Japanese culinary experience at its best without encumbering your stomac’s capacity. A great French Chef like Dominique Corby will surely agree with me!

The tempura is a marvel of delicious simplicity and lightness that is best appreciated with one of three Shizuoka Jizake served at Hi No Ki: Shosetsu (Yui Cho), Masu-Ichi (Shizuoka City) and Kaiun (Kakegawa City).

I’m planning to visit the place again soon to see if I could order a vegetarian dinner!

Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Ryogae-Cho, 1-5-2, Grande Maison Ryogae Cho
Tel.: 054-252-2935
Business hours: 11:30~14:00, 17:30~22:00
Closed on Sundays (open on National Holidays)
Cards OK for dinner only

Tea for food: Fugetsuro

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(from top middle, clockwise: Salted Cuttle fish marinated in tea leaves and rice yeast, Conger eel pike and urchin in green tea jellied fish broth, Tea leaves walnut tofu curd, Tuna simmered in green tea with tea leaves dumpling cake, Matutake mushroom cooked in tea leaves)

On Thursday, November 1st was held a Tea Dinner Party at Fugetsuro Restaurant, Shizuoka City, as part of the events organized for the World Tea Festival.
Apart of the usual personalities, that food was the main interest.
“Tea for food” was the them a opposed to “tea as drink”.
Mr. Hitoshi Yamada, Master Chef at Fugetsuro was asked to design a dinner for some 120 guests including tea in all dishes.

Including the first dish described above, the menu ran as follows (I let you judge!)
(Raw fish assortment: Tuna, seabream, sole, seasoned with fresh tea, edible flowers, salt and soy sauce)

(Surugani: tea sob/buckwheat noodles, seabream cooked in whole rice, “kouyou” carrot, tea leaves)

(Oven-baked black pork seasoned with tea, five color vegetables, tea sauce)

(Tofu bean curd and whole rice Pouch, deep-fried tea leaves. Seasoned with “macha” tea salt)

(Autumn salmon marinate in seaweed and tea, yuuba/bean curd sheet. Seasoned with golden vinegar)

(Tea rice, salmon roe, soup)

(Persimmon, grape, “macha” tea Bavarois,green tea cube jelly)

420-0852 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Koya Machi, 11-1
Tel.: 054-2526500
Fax: 054-2528411
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