The Japan Series — Imogen Dreams of Sushi

“Are we going to eat a lot of sushi in Japan?” my 7-year-old daughter, Imogen, asked before we left on our trip.

“You betcha,” I assured her.

“Just sushi!?” she clarified hopefully. And it was my sad duty to inform her that we would probably eat ramen and tempura and yakitori and other things as well.

Immy’s first sushi meal in Tokyo

In case you’re checking into this blog for the very first time, this is a theme that comes up with some regularity. That is, that Imogen loves sushi. She is an expensive date.

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The Japan Series — Salvation at the 7-11, Big Pig and More!

Our flight arrived in Japan around 3:30 p.m., which for us was 9:30 p.m. the previous evening. We left Los Angeles at 11 a.m., and flew 10 hours in daylight, although when we arrived in Japan it was the next day. On the flight, they served breakfast, lunch, and then breakfast again.

It was around 6:30 by the time we figured out how to take the trains into Tokyo and locate — on streets that do not have names — our Airbnb. We were hungry, although we weren’t sure if we were hungry for dinner or breakfast. I offered to go out and find some take-out while the family got settled, which suited everyone just fine.

Flynn and Willa at the Airbnb in Kanda

Tokyo, from a non-Japanese-speaking westerner’s perspective, is a bit confusing at first when it comes to food. There are many, many restaurants — our little pedestrian walking area of Kanda was chock full of them — but it is challenging to figure what many of them serve. You look into the dark restaurant, there are six seats, and bodies are hunched over plates of something. Many restaurants serve only one thing — eel, for example, which would not have gone over well with 3/5 of my family. The point being, that a jet-lagged gaijin fresh off the plane trying to find some quick, not-to-exotic takeout in a non-tourist neighborhood of Tokyo was not going to have an easy time of it. More

More Neat Tokyo Tricks

As I’ve explored in previous posts about tempura, ramen, sumiyaki, sushi and other specialities Japonais, dining in Japan can be very segmented. Stroll about a street in Tokyo and you’ll find restaurants devoted to each of these particular styles of cooking (or not cooking) and many more.

Tonkatsu with Japanese cole slaw and egg/mirin dipping sauce

Tonkatsu with Japanese cole slaw and egg/mirin dipping sauce

Browsing the aisles of my favorite Japanese market the other day, I found a beautiful Kurobata pork loin on sale. Now pork loin can be one of the stupidest of meats, mostly because it has zero fat. But the Japanese have a nifty way of rectifying that problem with the dish, tonkatsu. More

Sean Ramen vs. Ivan Ramen

My pal Greg, who has expanded my cookbook horizon in the past, got me an interesting book for Christmas. It’s called “Ivan Ramen.”

So this Jewish guy Ivan from Long Island moves to Tokyo, it seems, and decides to open a ramen shop. (Sounds like the set-up for a bad joke.)

Ivan

Ivan

Ramen is an interesting food. To most of us, it’s something that comes in a brick in a package to be added to hot water. In Japan, it’s essentially a fast food, but is treated with an amount of reverence not afforded our chicken nuggets or fajita wraps. More

The Legend of Hannosuke

“They may have tasted good sushi in the United States of America, but chances are they have never encountered authentic superb tempura.” — A sign promoting the opening of the first Hannosuke America

When I was in Tokyo, one of the things that impressed me was the profusion of restaurants, counters and stands devoted to a single particular type of food. There were of course sushi bars. But there were also tempura bars. And there were joints serving only chicken on skewers, and others serving only chicken hearts, gizzards and tendons on skewers. There were shabu shabu places, sukiyaki places, places that served horse, places that, sadly, served whale.

The legendary Mr. Hannosuke-san

One of my favorite meals in Tokyo was the dinner I had for my birthday with friend Joe at the tempura bar in the New Otani Hotel. I didn’t know tempura could be served at a bar, nor that it could be so good. More

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