• Eclectic Japanese cuisine at Kafuka

    It is unusual for japonica to write twice about the same restaurant but Kafuka deserves a follow-up. We recently managed to secure seats there at short notice, and were rewarded with an eclectic meal that was both impressive and entertaining. Chef Ito, who greeted us with a friendly smile and a warm “konbanwa,” or “good evening,” served a tasting menu of creative dishes and comfort food that was a steal at Y6,000. From where we sat at the counter, we were… Read more »

  • Fruit-Flavored Soy Sauce

    Shoyu, or soy sauce, is an essential seasoning in Japanese cuisine that has found a place on tables around the world together with popular Japanese dishes, ranging from sushi and tempura to teppanyaki. But even with the growing eclecticism of contemporary cooking, which has encouraged creative chefs from San Francisco to Stockholm to experiment with Japanese ingredients such as wasabi (Japanese horseradish) and yuzu (Japanese citron), it is still rare to find shoyu or shoyu-based seasonings in western-style meals. Toshihiko… Read more »

  • Kodaiji Wakuden

    It takes some nerve to start a restaurant business in Kyoto, particularly if you are an outsider. As home to Japan’s imperial court and nobility for over 1,200 years, Kyoto is also the birthplace of Kyo-kaiseki, an elaborate, multi-course meal widely considered the pinnacle of Japanese haute cuisine. What’s more, the people of Kyoto who see themselves as the ultimate arbiters of culinary sophistication, are notoriously dismissive of those who hail from anywhere else. So, it must have been a… Read more »

  • Kafuka – Innovative Japanese Cuisine

      Tokyo has no shortage of high quality Japanese restaurants but rather inconveniently, most of them only offer full-course menus, complete with dessert. The problem with set courses, though, is not just that some of us, myself included, end up eating much more than we would like to. Because portions tend to be of identical size in any professional restaurant, regardless of whether the guest is a big or small eater, this practically guarantees that some food will be wasted…. Read more »

  • Kyoaji – a Taste of Kyoto Kaiseki in Central Tokyo

    It is regularly voted the best Japanese restaurant in Tokyo. The proprietor is a legendary chef, who inspires adulation among his loyal fans. As one of an exclusive community of “ichigen-san okotowari” (or “introduction required”) restaurants, foodies, both foreign and Japanese, agonize over how to secure a seat there. But there is nothing grand about Kyoaji, even though it is arguably one of Tokyo’s most highly regarded kaiseki restaurants and, undeniably, one of the most difficult to get into. In… Read more »

  • Sasya Kanetanaka

    Tokyo is teeming with restaurants that serve excellent food, whether Japanese, French, Italian or Chinese. The city is also a showcase of trendy interiors, ranging in style from mid-century modern to Scandinavian hip and Italian minimalist. But when it comes to combining top-notch Japanese cuisine with a contemporary, minimalist setting, there are few places that can match Sasya Kanetanaka(茶酒金田中) in Omotesando. Housed in what used to be the Hanae Mori building and is now the oak omotesando building, Sasya’s first… Read more »

  • Restaurant Feu

    Once past the bustling commercial complex that is Tokyo Midtown and the imposing National Art Center on a side street to the left, there is little to entice pedestrian traffic down Gaien Higashi-dori, the street that connects Roppongi to Aoyama. Gallery Ma in the Toto building, which holds interesting exhibits strictly for the initiated – such as a show that was on this summer of architect Kenzo Tange’s photographs of his work in progress – and the bookstore just below… Read more »

  • L’Embellir

    Whether you are looking to impress your partner or entertain a business associate, L’Embellir in the heart of Aoyama would be a good choice for several reasons. To begin with, it is conveniently located just a few blocks from the Omotesando crossing on the narrow boutique-lined lane that leads to the Nezu Museum – a walk that never fails to provide a glimpse of some of the most creatively decked up Tokyoites around. Even if you don’t wear Prada (and… Read more »

  • Ichirin

    The minute you step into Ichirin (一凛), it feels like a different world. The space is serene yet unstuffy, with a light wood counter dominating one side of the room and two tables generously positioned apart from each other and away from the counter, offering a bit of privacy. A young lady, clad in a white outfit that is often seen on Japanese chefs, quietly escorts you to your table and takes drinks orders, as if performing a time-honoured ritual…. Read more »

  • Kitera

    There are a number of theories about the invention of soy sauce but at least one legend has it that tamari soy sauce was invented in Wakayama, the prefecture at the tip of the Kii peninsula, south of Kyoto. Tamari, which is a specifically Japanese soy sauce, is made almost entirely from soy bean. The story goes that Kakushin, a Zen Buddhist priest who had traveled to the Kinzanji, or the Temple of the Golden Mountain, in China, returned not… Read more »

  • Crab

    There are certain things any self-respecting foodie in Japan needs to eat when in season – bamboo shoot in the spring, hamo (daggertooth pike conger) in the summer, matsutake (pine mushroom) in the autumn, and in the winter it would have to be crab. Although I do not consider myself a fanatical foodie, I had the good fortune this winter to be served specimens of some of the highest-grade crab in Japan, not once, but twice. The first crab came… Read more »

  • Sukiyabashi Jiro

    Jiro Ono rolled the rice in the palm of his hand and slipped a slice of fish on to the vinegared mounds, wordlessly working his trade behind the counter. His eyes darted quickly from one customer to another, keeping tabs on how they were progressing with their meal. As soon as he saw an empty plate, the grand sushi master would promptly place the next course of sushi on it, quietly urging diners to eat up, leaving hardly a moment… Read more »