Serenity around the Imperial Palace in Tokyo
Our trip to Japan ended back in Tokyo from Kyoto via shinkansen, and straight into the middle of Tokyo to enjoy some after-work drinks with friends in the W.W Wine Bar at the Shin-Marunouchi Building, which we discovered was owned and run by Australian Luke Mangan, who also ran Salt restaurant next door.
After a lengthy discussion as to what we fancied for dinner, we thought we’d keep it simple and nearby and we went down one to level to Katsukitchi – a tonkatsu restaurant. Yes, that’s right. A place that specialises in crumbing and deep frying food, primarily pork. And in true Japanese fashion, they do it well. We were served a finely shredded cabbage salad and some pickles when we sat down (along with the now staple lemon sours) which were a refreshing way to cut through and lighten up our deep-fried dinner. You were offered a choice of fillet or loin tonkatsu, with the fillet being the less fatty cut of meat. We chose the fillet (to try to be healthier ??) and were not disappointed as the meat was tender and juicy, the crumbing of panko – essentially large bread crumbs, light and crunchy with no trace of greasiness.
Tempura chef at work frying our lunch at Tenmasa
The next day we went back to Shin-Marunouchi to the 35th floor for lunch at Ozashiki Tenpura Tenmasa. There, we were treated to watching the tempura master mix his batter with iced water, flour and egg yolks, dip freshly bought seafood and vegetables in, and fry them in oil that was changed four times over the duration of our lunch to avoid over-saturating the oil which would affect the taste. Tempura is served at many places, but this was tempura that I have never tasted before. The batter was just so light and crispy without scratching the top of your mouth – it was delicate and almost melted on your tongue after the initial crunch. My favourite was the conga eel and the prawn head. The eel because I think the batter was the perfect accompaniment to the delicate eel flesh, and the prawn head, well because it’s where all the flavour is and it had the most surface area to be the most crispy 🙂
Yellowfin tuna and mackerel sashimi at Sushi Yuu
That night we started the evening with drinks at Roppongi Hills and then headed around the corner back to Nishi Azabu to Sushi-Yu, a sushi restaurant where my friend once worked for three months. Knowing the chef and owner of the establishment where you are eating is just such an advantage. And in a place as intimate as this where the sushi is prepared behind the counter in front of you as you order it, the chef essentially came and sat with us, telling us about the yellowfin tuna that he bought that morning at 4m at the Tsujiki markets, making smaller pieces of sushi for me because I was getting full but still wanted to taste everything. Yellowfin tuna is much fattier than the more popular bluefin tuna and I finally began to see what all the fuss was about with toro which is the belly part of the tuna, prized for its relative scarcity as a proportion of the fish, and for it’s high fat content, sometimes so fatty that it literally melts in your mouth.
1-4-15 Nishiazabu Minato-ku Tokyo
+81 3 3403 6467
Mon Cher Ton Ton
Kobe beef teppanyaki
Our final meal in Japan was back to teppanyaki. Our friend had asked us what we fancied and D had mentioned that, thinking we’d go somewhere close and easy. A short taxi ride away we arrived in Roppongi to Mon Cher Ton Ton, part of the Seryna group of restaurants, all specialising in Kobe beef. My friend mentioned that he had been there with his parents years ago and they hadn’t changed since. The 70s decor certainly stood out – like walking into the belly of an alien species (and if said alien species cooked Kobe beef on a hot teppan) and the ambiance is low-key. Definitely a place for a quiet business dinner. We were seated around the teppan and ordered the set with tuna sashimi/kobe beef sashimi for starters, foie gras for seconds and kobe beef (what else?) for mains. We weren’t disappointed. The kobe beef in particular was melt-in-your-mouth tender and the flavour exploded in your mouth. The meal ended with the most simple dish – garlic rice. All the dishes were stellar and was the complete opposite of what we had expected (to our delight) and the perfect way to end our gastronomic trip to Japan.
Mon Cher Ton Ton
Open weekdays 17.00 – 23.00
Sat, Sun & Holidays 17.00 – 22.30
It’s not just their obsession with food, it’s their obsession of perfection around everything remotely related about it, from the sourcing of the raw ingredients, to specialising in just one type of cuisine, to the presentation. Add to that an incredibly polite and considerate society and a strange sense of calm amidst the hustle and bustle of a big city, and you feel like you are always in a five star establishment. All the time. Man I miss that place.