Home to more than 13,000,000 people and except for some slurping, the first thing that comes to mind thinking about Tokyo is quietness. And maybe heated toilet seats.
In Japan, originally known for the green tea, there’s a rapidly growing tendency to drink coffee. Good, mostly dark roasted coffee.
Coffeebar Omotesando is nestled inside a Machiya, a traditional 60-year-old wooden Japanese house, off a side street in Omotesandō. It’s not easy to find, from the outside you just see a small courtyard, but once you get through the wooden gate and step over the porch you enter the minimalistic (tea ceremony like) room with a cube frame where you find the barista in a lab-style coat pulling his espresso shots. The cube motif can be found everywhere; even the cakes are small cubes.
The coffee at Omotesando was very good but Japan has more places with mind-blowing caffeine. See my list below!
Tel: +81 03 5413 9422
Daily: 10pm – 7pm
Nearest Station: Omotesando Exit A2/Meiji-Jingumae
– Bridge (really good espresso!)
The Tsukiji Fish Market appears in every guide book about Tokyo. It is the largest wholesale fish market in Tokyo, and one of the largest in the world. Get up before sunrise to visit the tuna auction. We were too late for that but still had a nice impression of the huge fish market. The best time to arrive is 4:00am: First come first serve! After the wholesale market you can visit the outer market which is packed with stalls selling fresh seafood, wasabi, cutlery and other specialty items. If you don’t feel like sushi after you’ve seen all the fish, Tsukiji also offers lots of other options, including big bowls of ramen, which we desperately needed to warm up after the cold, cold market. Rene Redzepi: ‘If you have any interest in food, Tsukiji fish market is as important as visiting Egypt’s pyramids. You have to go, especially now, in its last days in its current location. Ahead of the 2020 Olympics, they’re tearing it down after 80 years and moving it to the city’s outskirts, where they’re building a new version which probably won’t have the same wonderful vibe.’ (source)
Yesterday was Noma’s last service in Tokyo. A reservation waiting list of 60,000 people, but we were one of the lucky ones. The happy dance we did when we found out we got ourselves a table was followed by a few months of waiting. Longing..
As Redzepi wanted to experiment with Japanese ingredients, his only option was to move his entire restaurant. He shut the doors of his restaurant in Copenhagen and took his complete crew and philosophy to Tokyo. That means leaving all the Nordic ingredients behind and sourcing local foods in Japan. They created an entirely new menu, from appetizers to dessert using things like cherry blossoms, wasabi and citrus. Ingredients that never could be local in Denmark. 11 february 2015, lunch, Noma, Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo
Entering the restaurant on the 37th floor we were welcomed by the familiar faces of the crew we saw the summer before. Once we sat down the chef himself came to welcome us back and after that it didn’t take long until the raw botan ebi (shrimp) seasoned with Nagano forest ants was staring at us from an iced plate. Our last visit learned us the ants provide a citrus flavor so we were not surprised to see them again but I must admit we did have to pull ourselves together for putting the still moving shrimp which was trying to get of the plate in our mouths. Who thinks Noma uses ingredients like this just to shock you is wrong. It’s the essence of what food is about and it’s surprising to notice how things like insects and living animals are not integrated in the (mainly Western) kitchen yet. When our food still has eyes or is still moving we get frightened even though slurping fresh (alive) oysters is nothing new to us. Many chefs claim to be local and sustainable nowadays, but 100% local in Copenhagen means no use of some basics as black pepper or citrus to season the food. This is where the ants come in and bring similar flavors. After reading Rene Redzepi’s diary I learned his inspiration to use ants came from Brazilian chef Alex Atala and the diary made me understand, appreciate and respect his vision and his work even more than before. I would recommend everyone interested in food and/ or creativity to read it. Just like in Copenhagen the next dishes rapidly followed to keep our focus on the food.
Citrus and long pepper:Shaved monkfish liver: Koika cuttlefish “soba”:Æbleskiver stuffed with steamed mustard leaf greens and wasabi, garnished with flowers pickled in apple vinegar: Sea urchin tart: Scallop, dried and blown up with beech nuts and kelp: Hokkori pumpkin with cherry wood oil and salted cherry blossoms:Fermented garlic: Wild duck:Wild cinnamon and fermented chocolate mushroom: My personal favorites: The citrus and long pepper dish: a variety of different Japanese citrus (suntan, Hassaku, Mikan and Iyoukan), drizzled with kombu infused wild sesame oil and garnished with Sancho and pipātsu (sliced long pepper).
The fermented black garlic origami leaf with the Nagano ants again was almost like candy, like Dutch licorice. I wanted a bag full of that.
And, with my sweet tooth and Rosio (secret crush) serving it, the fermented mushrooms in chocolate on a bed of moss was the perfect closure of the meal. Redzepi’s treatments on the food were totally respectful of the Japanese tradition but he took them into completely new dimensions. He is always challenging himself and his team to go beyond and even though he’s got the best restaurant in the world he’s still learning and trying to get better. The temporary restaurant in Tokyo could be seen as a step to take Noma in Copenhagen to the next level. Meanwhile, in Japan, he has been a big inspiration for local chefs and customers to go beyond the confines of Japanese tradition. This was a huge succes!
So this was it, my second visit to Noma. Even though I might have enjoyed the food on my first visit just a bit more the experience in Japan and the welcoming crew made this another memorable visit. We didn’t want to leave the dining room when the dinner was over and I feel like I’m getting addicted cause I can’t wait to go back to Copenhagen! But first things first: feeding my piggy bank again..
When entering the restaurant we received a loud but friendly ‘konnichihaaaaa’ right away which made us feel very welcome and put a smile upon our faces right away. After the Japanese ritual of taking off our shoes on a square meter at the entrance, quite a challenge with shopping bags and winter-clothing, we got guided to the bar where we could see the staff in action. Good entertainment!
Jou mon is a small izakaya (i = to stay and sakaya = sake shop) but like real Japanese they make most of the space. It’s lively and bustling with a friendly atmosphere.
With a wall and a bar full of shochu jars and bottles of sake I had to try at least one of those. I’m not too familiar with sake yet but I’m always curious and what’s a better place to start drinking sake than Japan?
Jou Mon is all about sake and barbecue. The food is simple, yet perfectly prepared with the classic barbecue flavor. We let ourselves get surprised by the chef with the quail egg in pork belly and beef tenderloin as my personal favorites. We chose some amazing yellow fin sashimi and a spicy noodle soup ourselves and ended our dinner with a sweet sesame dessert. This dinner and the candyman at the door made us leave with a smile and definitely satisfied!
5-9-17 Roppongi | Fujimori Bldg. 1F, Minato