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Monday, April 6, 2015

Week 13 part 7 - Tsukiji and Ishikawa

One of the must-do things when we visit Tokyo is to have sushi breakfast in Daiwa in Tsukiji market. We started going when we lived there almost 15 years ago. We'd take our out of town visitors there, wait in line for an hour to squeeze into the tiny counter seats and have the set menu. Over the years the restaurant remained the same, two mirror image sides, one side helmed by the father, one side by the son. The long lines of waiting customers are herded by a little lady, making sure that people don't spill over to either side of their own shop frontage so as not to cause "meiwaku" (trouble) to their neighbors.

Even though the restaurant looks the same, the content of the set menu has become more tourist-centric. Instead of going from light to richer taste, starting with a white fish and ending with toro/uni, we were presented with toro in the beginning, which made J very happy. This is the 3500yen course, with a torigai and another piece of uni added in by us.

After breakfast we had the cakes that I bought from Idemi as dessert. I don't know about you, but I always crave for something sweet after sushi.

Although the unseasonably cold weather the previous week has caused a delay in the blooming of sakura, we're determined to find some cherry blossoms, so we set off for Chidorigafuchi, one of our all time favorite hanami (cherry blossom viewing) spots.

We walked from our hotel to the Imperial Palace and followed the moat towards Chidorigafuchi. On the way we saw a cherry blossom festival outside the National theater and went to take a look. And sure enough, there were a few trees in full bloom.

I never get tired of taking photos of sakura against a perfect blue sky.

Soon enough, we reached the stretch of moat near the infamous Yasukuni shrine that's called Chidorigafuchi (千鳥ヶ淵) There are sakura trees lining the banks of the moat so when the trees are in full bloom it looks like pale pink clouds floating above the water, like this:

But for now, we'll have to settle for this view

This would've been a perfect image of nanohana against sakura, like the sunflower against lavender fields of Provence, but alas, we're one week too early =o(

After this long walk burning off some calories we met up a friend we knew in Singapore, who has moved to London a few years ago. It seems like everyone's visiting Tokyo! We arranged to meet in one of the places I used to frequent, Salon du The of Marriage Freres on Ginza's Suzuran-dori.

I again ordered the limited edition sakura flavored dessert: a sakura and pistachio tart, but this time it was a little strange. The flavors didn't really go well together, but the tea is nice as always.

The dinner on our last night in Tokyo was a special one. We had friends from Singapore who happened to be in Tokyo at the same time and one of them managed to snatch us a booking at the three Michelin starred Ishikawa in Kagurazaka.

The restaurant is tucked away on a little side street off the main road in an unassuming building.

We started off with an amuse-bouche of nanohana and crab with crab roe sauce

Tempura of pumpkin flower and seabream. The fish was cut into cubes but still connected by the skin, texture was very firm.

A light soup of clams and turnips

Sashimi platter made up of fish that was caught this morning and flown in

I've never been a huge fan of fugu, but this fugu sashimi gave me a glimpse of why people are willing to risk their lives to eat this fish.

Roasted bamboo shoot and anago was so yummy. The waitress says the bamboo shoot was "freshly picked". I bet it was picked the same morning too =oP

Braised yam and broad bean with fish had such delicate flavors

Hot pot of Aka-ushi from Kumamoto. Seems like we've been eating Aka-beef left and right on this trip ;o)

And the final dish of the meal was rice cooked in a stone pot with grilled fish on top.

The chef came to our table to personally mix the fish into the rice while all six of us took deep breath not wanting to waste any of the sweet intense fragrance of the grilled fish.

I had two servings of the rice and J forgot all about his carb-restrictions.

Dessert was Yuzu agar agar with match sorbet, caramel mousse and red bean paste.

The leftover rice were made into onigiri and packed for us to have as breakfast. So that's what we did, along with some baked small cakes from Idemi and one of the "only available in Japan" Kit Kat flavors: Hokkaido red bean. The rice balls were still very tasty despite being cold (I didn't refrigerate them but kept them at room temp overnight)

This concluded our Japan trip, but I do want to mention the cookies that our friend K gave us. It's a matcha wafer sandwich with a thin layer of matcha cream fillings from Zen Kashoin, a traditional Japanese sweets shop that originated from Kyoto. I've had my share of Japanese sweets/cookies but these by far has the most intense matcha flavor. They have a store in Shibuya, which is definitely going on the "to check out" list on our next trip to Japan =o)