Even in a country with one of the lowest rates of beef consumption – there is evidence of the burger craze. We dropped into pakutchi in Shibuya for a taste…
タワーバーガー Tower Burger
Here’s our pakutchibaga…
It’s not as often that taste demands your awareness of each component of the burger (beyond the beef). Here, I was surprised that even the lettuce – so fresh! – contributed so much to the flavor/texture. What’s great is that you could deconstruct a pakutchi burger and enjoy each ingredient separately. Not sure how many burgers stand up to that challenge back in the states…
Here’s a full ‘brand’ shot (including the Tower Burger) from GourNavi:
Many of the department stores here include whole floor ‘markets’ dedicated to specialty foods. At Mitsukoshi we discovered Sun Fruits, Atelier du Soliel – a company known for its prized fruits.
Cantaloupes like this (a cultivated variety of muskmelon -the fruit that flavors midori) range anywhere between $50-$100 because of the intensive care that goes into their growth – from temperature and light distribution to regulated trimming and watering. The result is a perfect shape, skin-texture, smell and, of course, taste.
I really like the concept of premium fruits as gifts… another way to pay tribute to seasonality and the value of a specific moment in time.
Koji, Mere and I have been walking the city on the search of menu layouts, cool design and inspiration – (not to mention to keep our appetites up). I filmed our own version of the Shibuya Crossing – but I think this YouTube video is a much better take. Total chaos – in sync:
The intersection – right in front of the Shibuya Station, Hachikō exit lets pedestrians cross in all directions. Here’s a shot of Koji and I taken from inside a surrounding building:
Last month we posted about myrciaria dubia – better known as camu camu – the incredible Amazonian cranberry/cherry-like fruit and amazing antioxidant. I’ve been in touch with some of our vendors to see if anyone is able to source it fresh – but it’s been really hard to come by. To reinforce our interest… we just spotted it here in Tokyo as a flavor/vitamin additive to tea:
There’s always been a really strong culinary connection between France and Japan and we’re seeing it everywhere from Tokyo’s sidewalks and street carts to the menus and cookbooks. When Beard Papa opened in NYC on Broadway near Astor (you could smell the pâte a choux for a least a three block radius) – it was a pretty great example of this ‘coming-together’ as a full concept – from the packaging to the product. (They ended up relocating to the UWS – for anyone who wants to check it out…)
In Tokyo we’ve seen several stores like Beard Papa (which originated in Osaka). Here’s a shot from our stop at Tai Putit – where the choux is shaped into delicate little fish puffs piped with chestnut, red bean, caramel, vanilla and milk chocolate cream:
Thanks to Japan’s focus on seasonality and locality – there are a lot of incredible ingredients and cooking techniques that we’re not always able to take advantage of in the states. At our first dinner – a nondescript and non-english speaking (so glad Koji is here!) yakitori in Shinjuku – we enjoyed a ‘chicken tasting’ – with birds from Nagoya, Akita, and Kagoshima.
Here, the menu shows you what the chicken looks like and offers insight into it’s origin:
Some of the dishes included: chicken cartilage (pictured), rump, innards and neck (pictured):
But it was the raw chicken – minced and tossed with leek and ponzu – that really paid tribute to the freshness and quality of the meat:
We were all starving when we finally got to the hotel – and, with most businesses closed for the holiday (today was a ‘transfer holiday,’ or furikae kyūjitsu, in honor of Thanksgiving Day: Kinrō Kansha no Hi) – we decided to take a walk into the busy part of Shinjuku to explore some of the local favorites.
Here’s a shot of Koji outside one of the many kushiyaki restaurants we passed:
We just arrived on Delta flight 173, Tokyo-Narita, and the inspiration is already kicking in.
Koji, Mere and I grabbed our bags and booked it onto the first bus to Shinjuku (新宿区). We decided to stay in this area because it’s home of Shinjuku Station (our primary transportation hub) – and it’s a great midpoint for some of the other districts we plan to visit.
Lee, the newest member of SUSHISAMBA rio’s culinary team in Chicago, experimented with ika (calamari) on the robata. The result: King Crab and Aji Amarillo stuffed Ika, grilled on the robata and glazed with tonkastu.