Bar a vin Croisee, Shibuya Stream

Out for an amble and came across this place. Touch pricey, but I guess the going rate in the new Hip Stream building. Fancied something French and was not let down. Interestingly you get an amuse bouche. It was little mini burger, kind of amusing.

The amuse bouche a fancy touch I guess

A smoked duck salad with a balsamic dressing for starters. Followed up by moules frites, which in terms of just simple pleasures is hard to beat. The moules were delicious steamed in white wine with some herbs and I have to say the balance of the white wine and moules with the frites, well it just always hits the spot.

Smoked Duck and Apple salad

Had I had more time I might have tried out the desert menu but I had to run. I have actually been back to have their falafel sandwich which is rather good. I mean I have had better but not in Japan. Falafels are somewhat new here. I would say it is only in maybe the last five years or so that a few braves souls have started pushing middle eastern food. So all in all I would say Croisee is probably not going to end up in my must go places, but as I live here I can see myself doing a few lunches or casual diners here.

The yummy moules
The all important Frites

Pescatore, Coffee and a sandwich in Shibuya.

Out in the middle of nowhere a nice new restaurant. I chanced on it on my way to the tax office. It appears to be brand new, and run by a group of youngsters. I wish them the best of luck. Brave to do it in the middle of a pandemic.

Was still bright and early so went with a sandwich set. There was a choice of two coffees, Ethiopian or Brazilian. I went with the fruity Ethiopian. That was a decent cup of coffee in my book. I have to say that all these funky blends and varietals have opened a new appreciation for coffee.

The sandwich was fun too not enough to be a lunch but just about right for a breakfast. I went with the sturgeon katsu sandwich. Sturgeon in Japanese is called Chozame and Zame is reference to Same which is the word for shark. So they were calling it the shark sandwich. The logo lightly seems to reference a shark sandwich too a nice design nuance.

The pickles and sandwich actually really did a good job of tickling the tast buds. The katsu is dipped like a kushi katsu would be. A splash of mustard and well it comes together nicely.

Worth a visit and like I say hope they make it through the pandemic.

La Tortue, french in Hiroo.

Lazy Saturday lunch, I had spotted this place some time back and finally got round to visiting. Given the times, it even has a little outdoor seating, which I chose to take advantage of. Autumn in Japan is really quite perfect for out door dining. Some might find it a little chilly, but I quite like that. Fairly standard for Japan bistros, they have a lunch menu and you choose your mains and desert. At 2,900 JPY might feel a little pricey for Tokyo lunches but I would say the service and quality of food makes it worthwhile.

Funky Typography no? I liked it anyway.
The outdoor space also quite welcome.

I went with a seafood marine, sweet chestnut soup, roast lamb and Lemon tart. The food is very delicately presented. I noticed some of the planters outside had herbs growing in them, of which I think some might have ended up in the food. I love the bread and butter too. I just have a thing for simple. Anyhows.

Seafood marine starter.
Sweet chestnut soup with a milk froth.

The seafood marine, a little short on volume, but five vegetables, two of which were pickles and a shell fish made for a good start. The soup I really liked. It was reasonably dense and flavourful on its own, but the subtle addition of a few thyme leaves, the milk froth and a few drips of truffle oil just gave it a little decadence. I also loved the plate ware. In a way a bit at odds with the traditional french image yet still fitting. This and the typography choice points to some off the beaten path artistic sense in the place.

Roast lamb with gratin dauphinois and maitake frito.

The main well, well presented on another plate with lovely color and plenty of blank space for the food to present itself on. The gratin dauphinois and the roast lamb done excellently. The black mushroom sauce very rich and the bit that really piqued my attention was the little bit of fried chick peas. Now I love lamb and gratin and they were done excellently as I said, but I will remember this plate for the chick peas and the maitake frito. Not on their own but together with the lamb they were just delectable. The chick peas I think had been fried in what Italians call a sofrito, so were peculiarly flavourful. The maitake frito was just really crisp, yet not oily. Made me wonder if the maitake had not been dried somehow before frying. What ever it was the dish was lovely. The double lamb chop, having had one of the bones cut out, left the meal being all in all very filling.

Finished up and back to my book.

Desert and coffee topped off a lovely lunch where I managed to get through a chapter of my book in a pleasent culinary moment. The Lemon tart was nice but not out of the ordinary and a solid coffee just finished the meal off perfectly. Funny thing was, that thin spearmint leaf was absolutely delicious somehow. Detail, all the fun in the detail. Another great meal in Tokyo.

Lemon tart and vanilla ice cream.

Not food but some things are just beautiful. Yokoteyama Okushiga Kougen.

Snow monsters.
Ice crystal on the morning window.
First Slopes in the morning.
Bluesky ski lifts wow.
Great Panorama.

If I am honest I spent two days skiing in a Blizzard before I got these scenes. Yokoteyama is a small ski resort but there is the Yokoteyama Hutte at its peak and you can sleep at 2307 m. and wake up to scenes like this. If you are more serious about your skiing then Shiga Kougen is a better bet but a day in Yokoteyama is well worth it if the weather is cooperative.

Kappore, Izakaya in Nanpeidai.

Out on a walk with a mate, chanced on this little gem of an izakaya. Kappore is a Ko no ji (U shaped) counter with a couple of tables. I think in summer time if they have half a brain they will put some chairs outside and let people enjoy a beer in the sunshine.

The beauty of this place is two fold. Nice booze and nice food. I love these types of places where they pay attention to the little stuff that makes all the difference.

Red Star Sapporo lager, with otoshi.

Kicked off with a Sapporo red star lager, and you get an otoshi (amuze bouche) which was a tuna stew and a monaka type biscuit. They also have the Kirin Tap Marche draft beer machine so there is a choice of six craft beers. Along with a bunch of lovely sakes and shochus. I have actually been a few times but on one occasion I saw Hone Senbe and Kue Uroko Age (Fish Bone chips and fried Grouper Scales). The fish bones were Iwashi bones. They are dried til they are bone dry and then deep fried, just yummy. The Grouper skin with scales on is deep fried and the scales curl up. It is reminiscent of pork scratchings if you are english, though obviously kind of completely different. If that even makes sense. Any hows, if you see this order it. I doubt you will find it outside of Japan.

Yamaimo tsukemono, yam pickles.

The Sashimi moriawase is great. There is a good variety of nice cuts of fish. The Sea Urchin was delicious as was the Awabi and the Aburi Kinme Dai. What I love though is that they give you all the sides to really appreciate the sashimi. Salt with the white fish ginger and ban negi for the hikari mono, kabosu for a change. Gives you a lot of possibilities. If you ask them they will recommend what to use with what.

Two person Sahimi Moriawase, Note the kabosu, ginger, wasabi, salt, ban negi.

On another visit still delicious 😉

Being in a posh area of town it is a little pricey but probably worth it. I will likely visit again. The employees are all quite young and it has a nice vibe. bright and airy interior. I really hope I can stand outside in the summer.

Ston, Curry in Togoshi.

Opened only a couple of years ago, with a simple menu of curries, achars (Indian pickles) and craft beers. Super simple interior and a quiet owner chef. If you live near by or pass by and fancy a curry. The owner has gone to lengths to gather the spices to make a nice curry. I think he has given it a bit of a Japanese accent to them, but I have to say it was a nice meal. The craft beers are nice too.

Burdock and baby corn Achar with craft beer as appetizer.

There is a collection of books on the wall you can pick up and read to and generally not busy so nice for a quiet evening.

Chicken curry with Turmeric rice.

Wassappu Ebisu, attention to detail.

I was heading to my favorite hainan chicken place in Ebisu the other day, when I noticed a new restaurant just across the road. Now Hainan Jeefan is a great lunch but I go often enough that I felt like trying something new was the right thing to do. I was glad that I did. It also helped that I am kind of dieting and the free refill on rice at Hainan Jeefan encourages me to overeat. So I went into Wassappu 和作部 the name itself is a play on the famous app Whatsapp. It is a Soba slash Sousakuryouri restaurant. At lunch there is a lunch plate or a soba lunch a very simple menu. It was late and as I walked in the chef indicated only the lunch plate was left. So Lunch plate it was.

Decor was brand new and very minimalist Japanese woody design with some clever use of lighting at ground and ceiling to make it feel quite airy though in reality it is fairly compact. The chef was quite talkative and as I run my own little shop we had a little banter. Turns out the restaurant is owned by some TV personality who is a bit of a foodie. It had not been open long and was still trying to build a client base. The chef himself a bit of a journeyman chef had worked overseas and in other areas of Japan but always in Japanese Washoku.

The lunch plate came on a tray with some nice plates and bowls as you would imagine. It seemed like a lot of attention had been paid to the details. With seven little japanese dishes, pickles , rice, salad and miso soup it had a fair blend of interesting flavours and was a pleasent little lunch time journey. It is this variety of flavours and textures that I really love about Washoku and to get it all in a little set like this just felt perfect. The dishes incidentally were clockwise from top left “Age Bitashi Nasu” fried aubergine in dashi, “Agedashi Tofu” fried tofu in dashi, “Horenso to Shirasu” spinach with shirasu, “Aburi Mentaiko” seared spicy fish roe, “Ika no Uni Ae” raw squid with sea urchin, “Tamagoyaki” omelette, and “Hijiki Kinpira” hijiki and carrots.

If you happen to be passing by, I would imagine the soba will be rather good too and well worth it for lunch. I am impressed enough that I will swing by for a diner sometime.

Emma, Shibuya, Cozy little counter izakaya.

About a year ago I came across this place in a magazine.  A young girl starting up her own izakaya from scratch and had been meaning to visit for a long time.  I recently got down there and was glad to have.

It is one long kitchen counter izakaya.  The menu changes seasonally and Emma the lady behind the counter is the master and chef.  She is nice and easy to talk to if you speak Japanese.  The food is not traditional traditional izakaya fare and the seasoning is healthier (less salty) than at your average izakaya, but I liked it.  She serves a couple of craft beers I plumbed for the Coedo blonde, which I like.  She also has nice plum wines and sake.

Coedo at Emma

Food wise I went with the special which was salt stewed pork belly with cabbage.  I guess a Japanese equivalent to a Sourkraut.  I also had Toriham tofu ae, Nanohana and Tai ae, and the Sui Gyouza.

Toriham Tofu Ae

Nanohana and Tai

Shio Kakuni and Haru Kyabetsu

Sui Gyouza
Sui Gyouza

For a quiet bite to eat with a friend, this place will do just fine. A bit quieter than the noisy main street izakayas and a little healthier tool.

Kaneko Hannosuke Meshi, Nihon Bashi, Tempura Lets just say “Value” for money.

I like Tempura.  It is kind of reminiscent of the Fish part of Fish and Chips in the UK.  So it is a little nostalgic for me.  It of course is not fair to Tempura to make that comparison, because though I like the UK Tempura is far superior.  I have eaten in Michelin starred Tempura places and they are wonderful.  Kimono dressed waitresses, live shrimps, fine table wear and Japanese minimalist, calm atmosphere.  With drinks you are looking at 15,000 Yen.  When I am in the mood for Tempura with out the flash, this is where I go.

Kaneko Hannosuke has two restaurants quite close to each other in Nihon Bashi.  One is the Tempura don and the other is the Tempura meshi.  I recommend the Tempura meshi.  You will have to wait.  The queue will be about thirty to forty minutes and this seems to be almost at any time of day.  The menu is super simple; Tempura meshi 980 Yen, or Tempura meshi with Anago 1,380 Yen.  I recommend the Anago.

Pickles and Tentsuyu

The Tempura is made to order and is very good quality not quite michelin star but considerably better than average places.  You also get to have the pickles.  One is burdock root, Gobo kinpira. There is also the squid pickle and the daikon Takuwan.  Try all three they are nice.  The meal comes with Miso which is usually a clam based miso and rice.

Rice, Miso
Rice and Miso soup

Clam miso
Clam Miso soup

The First plate of Tempura is Shishitou, Maitake, Egg and Anago.  The Anago I recommend you eat in the following way.  First, the tail with a sprinkling of salt.  Then the middle part with the tentsuyu.  Lastly, the belly with a little dash of soy sauce.  I learnt that at the higher end venue but you get three really nice flavours out of the single piece of Tempura.  The Maitake is for sure in the tentsuyu, while the shishitou I would be open to having with just salt.  Something not far from Pimentos del Padron in the Spanish Tapas.  The egg keep for later.

First Plate
Anago, Maitake, Shishito and Egg Tempura

The second plate is the Shrimp, chicken, pumpkin and kakiage.  Now I think purist might baulk at the chicken and I myself often question the value of it being there.  Still it is there and it is not bad though I would personally prefer another vegetable over it.  Shrimp I usually eat half with salt and the tail end with tentsuyu.  I eat the tail if it looks delicate and crispy as in this case.  The pumpkin is also tentsuyu for me along with the chicken.  The kaki age I like to put over the rice.  In this instance ,with the soft egg tempura aswell you have to remember to leave a little rice to finish off with the egg tempura and a little sauce sauce.  Something close to a Tamago Kake Gohan finish.

Second Plate
Shrimp, Chicken, Pumpkin, Kakiage

You will be full and you will not find a better value lunch than this in any city other than Tokyo.

Great Marketing, Somewhere on a Tokyo Tube train.

On the train, look up. There is a shady looking guy looking suspiciously at the copy he shares a poster with.  The random shaver pondering his future.  Men’s TBC to the rescue.  Fully 180,000 users take advantage of their services, which one I am not sure but I am guessing not this service after I read the absurd copy.

“Every day 5 minutes of shaving or go to work earlier?  Your life will probably change! 1000 Yen trial for facial hair removal.”

Do we live a world where we really no longer have a clue.  What will getting to work 5 minutes earlier really mean? An extra coffee, an extra cigarette, a bit of banter, life changing stuff it seems.  And what is a trial?  Do they just do a patch randomly in the middle of your face?

The beauty of this poster for me was that the copy is so dumb even the illustrations face appears suspicious of it.

Great marketing never ends.

Facial hair removal course.