12/02/19 5:08pm

Some scenes from two very intense days of eating and touring Tokyo, including deluxe salmon onigiri, Senso-ji temple, Asakusa noir, and breakfast omakase at Toyosu Fish Market.

As some of you may know I recently took a whirlwind trip to Japan where I visited Tokyo, Hakata, Kurume, and perhaps my favorite destination of all the charming town of Hirokawamachi in the space of four days. The trip was organized by my good friend Kazuko Nagao, the Okonomiyaki Queen of NYC, and sponsored by the local government of Hirokawamachi. Before getting into the wonders of Hirokawamachi—and there are many, from artisanal textiles to amazing matcha—this installment takes a look at what I ate in Tokyo. I would like to thank Kazuki Chito of @mcnaieatmecrazy who graciously guided me around Tokyo.

I’d arrived in Tokyo late the night before and hit the ground eating as best as I could. That is to say I ordered a sea bream ochazuke and some grapefruit juice from room service. The dashi broth poured over rice and fish proved most restorative after a long flight.

Luckily Kazuko-san picked a hotel attached to the Haneda Airport. Not only was this convenient for arrival, it was convenient for breakfast. Haneda’s domestic terminal and its shops lay just outside the hotel’s doors and is eerily calm and serene in the early morning. I quickly found Sato Suisan a gourmet rice ball stand. I was particularly impressed to see a gent making fresh onigiri with ikura, or salmon roe. I also took note of a really cute airplane-shaped bento named for the Blue Impulse (Burū Inparusu) the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s equivalent of America’s Blue Angels.

Next time I find myself at a Tokyo airport snack shop I’m getting a Blue Impulse bento box!

The ikura onigiri—still warm and packed with salmon roe and salmon—was a fine breakfast, but by the time we got to Asakusa at 1:30 p.m., I was pretty hungry. “This is my favorite place for tonkotsu ramen,” Kazuki-kun said as we entered Urimbo. “It’s Hakata style,” he pointed out as he ordered the noodle with egg. I quickly took my guide’s lead and copied his order. Even though the broth was rich, it was cleaner tasting and less unctuous than tonkotsu I’ve had in the States. It knocked out the remnants of a lingering cold I’d brought to Japan from New York City. (more…)

11/07/19 7:46pm

A bodacious haul of Japanese KitKats from Flushing’s Teso Life.

Now that fall’s here in full force I paid a visit to Teso Life in downtown Flushing to see if the purveyor of Japanese junk food had that most autumnal of Japanese KitKats—Kuranberi Almond KitKat. The dark chocolate covered wafers topped with toasty almonds and chewy sweet bits of cranberry are my all time favorite Japanese flavor.

There were no cranberry KitKats to be found at Teso, but I did see several  I’ve never encountered before: Setouchi Shio ando Lemon or Setouchi Sea Salt and Lemon; Ikinari Dango, named for a snack of sweet potato and red bean wrapped in mochi that’s popular in Kumamoto; Sakura Nihonshu or Sakura Japanese Sake; and Sutoroberii Chiizukeki Aji, or Strawberry Cheese Cake.

My favorites were the surprisingly refreshing lemon and strawberry cheesecake, which are both excellent chilled. Don’t worry if there’s no Japanese grocer near you, you can score your own Japanese KitKats and other goodies on my Amazon Store. Here’s what I’d really like to know though, what’s your favorite Japanese KitKat. Let me know in the comments!

11/19/13 10:28am

North Indian "mirch" (hot green chilies) front and center, with laal mirch (ground red chilies) in the background. Photo by Anne Noyes Saini.
Front: hot green peppers (called mirch in Hindi and Urdu). Back: ground red pepper.

Welcome to the third installment of C+M’s ongoing series of audio guides on how to order authentically spicy food in ethnic restaurants.

As a service to C+M readers I’m compiling a series of audio guides demonstrating phrases in several relevant languages, which can be used to navigate ordering situations fraught with tricky cultural and language barriers.

If (like me) you’ve ever tried to order a spicy dish in a restaurant and been refused (or served a clearly less spicy version), this series of audio features is for you. (more…)