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Dec 3, 2006 06:51 AM

Tokyo- This and That...

Nothing here merits a full post, but some random musings from this past trip:

Two Types of Kaki- Persimmons and Oysters
They say there's a difference in proununciation between the word "kaki" that means persimmon and the word "kaki" that means oyster. I don't know, but November is such a great time for both. At the little fruit stand near Shibuya station, next to the Tokyo Mitsubishi Bank, I picked up 3 different types of persimmons. The cheapest was unnamed and the other two were named with the prefecture they came from. The most expensive and most amazing one, was the very dark orange and soft one from Aichi. When I cut it open, the room filled with nothing short of a sweat and earthy musk. The flesh was dark and soft, but still rigid enough to be cut into sticky slices. Even a such a ripeness, persimmons can still hold their delicate flowery flavor. This is my favorite fruit....On the other kaki front, besides slurping my way through raw oysters at restaurants, I decided to pick some up at Tokyu Plaza seafood market, a couple doors down from the fruit stand. My last couple years in Japan, it had become a habit in the fall to pick up cheap packets of fresh oysters
from Hiroshima prefecture. They were priced from as low as 500 YEN up to 900 YEN for a pack of 12-20 depending on size. Usually they were sort of vacuum sealed in water. At Tokyu Plaze, I spied a 900 pack of plump ones in a styrofoam tray, sealed in saran wrap. Gotta be fresh and good for this price and packaging. YES. Amazing.

Tokyu Depachika, Shibuya Station- Food ????
Had lunch here one day. They had a very good looking tamago-yaki stand with various ingredients like spinach, mushrooms, etc. I really wanted the one with anago (conger eel), but it was sold out. I got my anago fix at the little counter selling, for lack of a better term, American style maki-zushi rolls. Had the anago-cucumber-sesame seed-avacado roll. Not bad. Not great. But not bad. Also grabbed a Chinese style crab roll wrapped in fried yuba, which I guess is usually a dim sum item. No good. And for desert, a small maple pastry, with walnuts and pastacios. This was flavorless. Oh well. BUT, a couple of things caught my eye for next time. First, spotted a tiny little Vietnamese counter shop in the middle of everything advertising like 6 different types of pho. It looked pretty popular. Also intriguing at the tako yaki stand was the advertisement for curry-tako yaki, which seemed to have pork and squid in it or something. Whoops, can't remember exactly. I didn't want to eat 8 balls myself and they wouldn't sell me 4, but I'm interested in trying these. Curry though...

Curry Everywhere
It does kind of seem like curry is popping up everywhere in everything. Saw a ramen shop offering curry tonkotsu ramen. Wow. Even more unbelievably, spotted in Akihabara, the electronics shopping district, a shop advertising "curry miso natto rice". There was a picture of it and it had a lot of shades of brown. If you want to try this, you'll need to down a bucket of Altoids afterwards.

Oden in a Can
Speaking of Akihabara, it's not electronic, but I picked up the new canned "o-den" from a vending machine the other day. It comes out in a heated can. Tastes alright even. 200 YEN.

Shinagawa Station onigiri-
Shinagawa Station used to be the dumpiest big Yamanote station until a few years ago, when the area and the station have been really developed. The Shinkansen stops there now and so does the Narita Express. Can't remember the name of the place, but literally right before the stairs down to the Narita Express tracks, there's a counter in a department store
or upscale food court that sells various rice balls and tamago-yaki. Enjoyed picking up a few for my last vestige of Tokyo food on the way to the airport. Nice tai-meishi (fish infused rice ball), salmon ball, and a tasty crab-tamago-yaki.

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  1. Cool post...i'll keep all of the above in mind for my next trip...

    i was in Tokyo two weeks ago, but just for two days on the way back from Thailand...hit my fav Shibuya izakaya (Gyoro Gyoro) and an Okinawan joint in Nakano that had that awesome goya (bitter green gourd veggie) scramble w/ tofu...

    1. That goya dish was goya champuru. Having just come from 10 days in Okinawa, I tried to have as much of it, along with new fave, Okinawa soba, as I could. On my last night there, my cousin served a dessert of finely grated goya and apple, mixed with lemon and honey. It was incredibly refreshing, and the bitter goya and sweet apple create an intriguing flavor balance.

      I arrived in Tokyo yesterday. Looks like black soybean tea is the new bottled flavor (or, at least, it wasn't around as prominently my last trip, in February). I hope to spend many happy hours wandering department store basements, etc., myself!

      Silverjay, I noticed that the CoCo Curry branches in Hawaii had natto available as a topping. I would have tried it, but it was too hot for curry when I was there! On the subject of natto, as an omiyage, my cousin gave me some packets of natto soup. Haven't had a chance to try it yet, though, either.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Debbie M.

        Love goya champuru. Great dish and goes well with awamori. The Okinawa soba is called "soki soba", which basically means like pork spare rib soba. I love the thicker noodles and the vinegar with the hot peppers, and of course the big chunk of spare rib. I was supposed to go to one of the better Okinawa restaurants in Tokyo this last trip, but couldn't make it...Enjoy your trip!....I still have a couple of more write ups to post...

      2. Actually, soki soba is the one with pork rib, but the one that I love is called sanmai-something soba (unfortunately I don't have the book on me that has the entire name), but it means something like three levels, because it's topped with rafute, pork belly that is simmered in kurosato and awamori until it's as tender as velvet and incredibly delicious. Here's a not too great picture:

        For some reason, this shows up on some menus as "Okinawa soba," while soki soba is always soki soba.

        You enjoy your trip, as well, and I'll look forward to your write ups. I was on the food floor at Isetan today, and almost passed out from the close proximity of Jean Paul Hevin and Pierre Herme -- deep chocolate heaven. I'll hit Nabi to Komodo on the restaurant floor at Shinjuku My City for some champuru before I leave, but tomorrow I'm planning to head for Shiodome for some incredible curry udon.

        Somewhere I'll fit in some culture, museums, etc. ...

        2 Replies
        1. re: Debbie M

          Okinawa soba looks great. I've only been to Okinawa once actually and most of my Okinawa food experiences have been in the metropolis...I'm headed back in a few weeks. Write up any great finds you come across!

          1. re: Debbie M

            Mmm, I love that curry udon place, especially their banana tempura.

            Just a head's up for anyone who's never been to Shinjuku My City - look for signs saying Shinjuku Lumine Est, since that's their new name.