spotted: camu camu in tokyo

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:

As soon as I get any leads I’ll let you know…

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tai putit

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:

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koji sushi

not even Tsukiji has a catch like this…

photo from Don Quijote, Shinjuku

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chicken, in the raw

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:

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shinjuku, night #1

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:

Don’t forget to look up once in awhile…

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hello, tokyo!

Japan, meet SUSHISAMBA!

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.

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=  kilograms of fish that go through Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market each year. And, over 400 different varieties of seafood are available in the market on a daily basis. Pretty crazy, right?

These stats were given to us by Professor Theodore Bestor (Anthropology and Japanese studies at Harvard University) – who presented alongside Yousuke Imada (Chef/Owner of Kyubey in Tokyo and Osaka) and Shigeo Araki (Chef/Owner of Uosaburo, two-Michelin-star) during “The World of Sashimi and Sushi” seminar at the Worlds of Flavor conference last weekend.
We’re going to check out the Tsukiji market and tuna auctions while we’re in Tokyo next week! Check back for pictures/details soon…

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It’s official – the flights are booked! Koji, Mere and I are headed to Japan (Tokyo > Kyoto > Osaka) for some serious ingredient research. Stay tuned…

The Tokyo Subway Map (above) is from

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