Thursday, January 14, 2016

Kanmidou (甘味堂), Tokyo

Having only a few nights in Tokyo, it was imperative to ensure that each night was planned properly. So for Thursday night, my friend booked Kanmidou (甘味堂), upon a recommendation made to her by her colleague. Located in posh Nishi-Azabu, we walked up a flight of stairs (as per the image above) and was ushered into a lovely dining room almost like someone's house. Warm, soft, lighting, cushions, the works. The photo below shows you the homely atmosphere.

We started off with "gonmido okunokami" sake - which was a sparkling sake with notes of vanilla, honey and pear. Pretty nice. The bottle is seen below:

The first course was a refreshing appetizer of uni and tofu, served chilled. Really delicious start to the dinner: silky tofu and rich uni is a classic combination. (7.5/10)

Next up was the sashimi platter. There was karaigai (flatfish), buri (wild yellowtail), and tuna. All of the fish was good, especially the buri with its flavourful and rich fish oils. (8/10) (Image below)

Next up: Hokkaido oysters - these were particularly delightful, briny, sweet and flavourful. One of the standouts. I've eaten Hokkaido oysters before but none of them came close to this sort of flavour. (8.25/10)

Salad with mushrooms was next - I guess we needed our greens. Served with cheese. (7/10). Competent.

We also had Nene sparkling sake: green apple, zesty, fragrant, hint of almonds. Website at 

Next up: chawan mushi, a standout dish and one of the best chawan mushis I have eaten. Extremely fragrant dashi broth, waves and waves of intense seafood flavour, accentuated by pieces of ikura and kani (crab). (8.75/10)

We were up to the gratin next, a traditional izakaya dish. The gratin here was very cheesy, with mushroom and oysters, a soft and creamy texture. (8/10).

The main course finally arrived: beef steak, which had a powerful robust beefy flavour, very flavourful indeed, and with a really long finish. Went well with just a bit of salt, though the accompanying sauce was moreish as well! (8.5/10)

The last course was a chicken hotpot - comfort food for the soul. (8/10)

Would I come back? Sure! But then again there are many izakayas in Tokyo that I have had the pleasure of visiting. This is comparable to Kotaro (ranked one of the top izakayas in Tokyo). Worth checking out. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Shutoku 秀徳

I first read about Shutoku 秀徳 from Mona's blog (truly a fantastic read especially if you're a Tokyophile), and this was backed up by a recommendation from a very well-esteemed member of Chowhound. We were in Tsukiji market and wanted to try a nice restaurant in the market. Having had my fair share of Sushi Daiwas and queuing in lines, I suggested trying Shutoku for the experience - who knows, it just might be awesome.

We peered our head into the door and found that the place was full, but the proprietor told us that some of the guests were already finishing and that it was possible to come back in half an hour's time for lunch. Thank God - we scutted off to have a average kaisen don at the restaurant around the corner (I didn't even bother with the name, it didn't look popular) and came back half an hour later to be ushered to the counter seats of a sushi bar as we watched the action unfold.

The younger chef spoke relatively good English and managed some conversation with us, albeit that he was serving some other guests. We were served by an older chef, who spoke minimal English.

The older chef (photo above) looked a true shokuhin though - he was just quick and meticulous.

The first course we had was sawada nigiri (Spanish mackerel) with sea salt. This was good, clean, rich tasting, and flavourful. 

Next up - the hotate, again with sea salt. Sweet.

The tamago was not bad, although it's the savoury kind.

Next up - "hata", which had a delicate flavour and a chewy texture.

The akami was next - the tuna was very good, very soft, with a deep rich iron flavour. Excellent. Apparently the tuna's from Canada.

Bafun uni was next - again, topped with sea salt (the proprietor here seems to love his sea salt. Maldon, he boldly proclaimed). You have a kick from the sea salt, and then the richness and intensity of the sea urchin with a briny aftertaste. 

Next up, the chutoro was even more flavourful, with rich and sweet fish oils, and a soft texture. This was great.

Ika - soft, tender. I mean, it's just squid.

Ebi, with salt and yuzu. This didn't really work that well for me though, since the yuzu overpowered everything.

The otoro was great - rich, flavourful, sweet, clean, and soft - very good, strong flavours.

The anago, again with sea salt, was also done very well; flavourful and soft, very good. 

We ended up with an ikura hand-roll.

The chef, Masaya-san, is a really charming and friendly sushi chef who speaks good English as well. The poster on the left of the screen can be generally translated as - in one grip, you infuse your entire soul. One thing I forgot to mention was that the shari is made with akazu vinegar but it's balanced well such that it doesn't overwhelm the neta in any way. Masaya-San inquired whether there were many restaurants in Singapore which used akazu vinegar and I told him that I wasn't aware of any (though I may be wrong). He informed me that he was going to set up shop in Singapore sometime in May or June 2016! Hooray. The food here is really good and it's a steal - my meal above cost me only Y4,000, whereas it would have cost perhaps Y10,000 to 12,000 in a high end Ginza sushi restaurant for lunch and double that price (Y21,000 onwards) for dinner. For Y4,000 - the quality of the sushi here is excellent. Exceptional place and I will definitely return. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sushi Suzuki, Tokyo (鮨 鈴木)

An up and coming new sushi restaurant has opened in Ginza - Sushi Suzuki (鮨 鈴木). I was informed by a leading sushi expert on a food forum that I should go pay Suzuki-san a visit. And so I obeyed, and was rewarded with a deeply satisfying sushi experience, so much so that I've already booked a return seat when I return to Tokyo in December!
Suzuki San
We started off with hirame, which had good flavour, a bit stronger than one would get from a usual hirame - a clean and flavourful piece. A good start, I thought. 8/10 
Hirame (Flounder)
Next up, I was served amadai, a fish that had a clean flavour, really sweet and delicate, with a great balance between the rice (shari) and the fish (neta). Lovely stuff. (8.25/10)

We were served with the tuna course next - the tuna (akami) was from Oma and aged for 10 days. This had a good flavour, a strong tuna flavour, accompanied by the shari which was in perfect balance. A great piece (8.5/10)
Akami (Lean Tuna)

As usual, the chu-toro was next. This chu-toro had great flavour, more oily, of course, but still with that iron taste that one gets with a good tuna. Pretty good as well. (8.75/10)
Chu-toro (medium fatty tuna)

 And lastly, the o-toro. This was great, very good flavour of fish oils, a strong rich taste of tuna fat. Yummy. (9/10)
Otoro (fatty tuna)

One of my favourite sushi courses is kohada (gizzard shard) and the one here at Suzuki was excellent: the neta was intensely flavourful and sweet, and well accompanied by the shari - again, a very balanced piece. (9/10) 
Kohada (gizzard shard)

Next up was sayori, a fish with just the right hint of sweetness from the fish, and again, a very balanced piece. (8/10)

A bowl of miso-soup came next: these were flavoured heavily with mushrooms, which are an interesting touch. 

I was then served akagai, which was very fresh, crunchy, sweet, with a slight metallic taste (in a good way). (8.25/10)

Ikura was next - these were not bad but rather delicate compared to those you'd find back home. (8/10) 
Ikura (salmon roe)

Next, we had bafun uni - intense and creamy, bafun uni was great. Powerful flavours. (8.5/10)
Bafun uni

Next up: shiro-ebi marinated in konbu and yuzu. This was rather interesting in taste, with the umami of the kombu and the refreshing flavours of yuzu. Nice. (8.5/10) 
Shiroebi marinated in konbu and yuzu

Next up was squid (ika), which was tender and having some depth of flavour. Normally squid is rather bland to my taste, but this was quite good. (8.25/10)

Kuruma ebi was next - these were good: very sweet, flavourful, and prawny. Probably not as prawny as the ones I had at Harutaka the day after though, but they were still good in their own right. These were served cold (unlike Harutaka which was warm), but they were still great. (8.5/10) 
Kuruma Ebi

Hamaguri was next: the taste was excellent, slight sweetness of the shellfish with good texture. (8.25/10)

Anago was done very well too: very soft, with a pleasant eel flavour. (8.25/10) 

 The penultimate dish of the afternoon was the tuna handroll - which was pretty delicious, consisting of a few cuts of tuna wrapped in seaweed and rice i.e. in a handroll. Pretty decent, though perhaps I would have added some nikiri for taste (I'm quite a fan of tuna marinated in nikiri). (8/10) 
Tuna hand roll

And one of the highlights was the tamago, which I thought was very well done. It was just sweet custard, with a lightly charred flavour which was exceptional - very nice. This was a standout tamago. (9/10)

Suzuki-san gladly obliged taking a photo with me - even draping the cloth so that the name of his restaurant could be displayed. And at Y8,000, it wasn't bad! I think he gave me some extra pieces though! Sushi Suzuki has been one of my best sushi experiences so far: it's the level of consistency that he brings to the table in that each piece of nigiri is very good; sure the tuna may not wow as much as Tokami's and the kuruma ebi may not be as brilliant as Harutaka's, but there's this consistency about Sushi Suzuki and the balance of flavours that he creates between the rice (shari) and the neta (fish) that is exceptional, rendering each piece a unified whole. I'd gladly put Sushi Suzuki back into my rotation of sushi restaurants when I come back to visit Tokyo. I hope it wouldn't be too hard to get a reservation in the future! (It'd be sad if this place becomes another Saito). 

The address is:
6-5-15 Ginza, Ginza Nogakudo Building, 5F Chuo 104-0061
Telephone: 03-5537-6868 (+81-3-5537-6868)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sushisei Honten, Tsukiji

I'm in Japan for work (don't be jelly, it is only once in a very long time) and I'm having a bit of free time, so I thought I should go to the Tsukiji market to check it out before it moves. 

I didn't have much time to queue for Daiwa and Dai, so in the end I ventured to Sushisei Honten which apparently has a very long history. 

It was between that, and a few other recommended places such as Sushi Kagura, Sushi Maru, and so on.

Sushisei is located the Tsukiji Outer Market (I realise I haven't been there! only been to the market where Sushi Dai is located). Thankfully there were seats even though I went at almost 11.30, close to lunch time. 

Ordered the omakase for Y3,500 before taxes. I had: chutoro, otoro, buri, hotate, iwashi, aji, botan ebi, kani, uni, ikura, and the small white needlefish. All were good, especially the chutoro (very flavourful) (I learnt that the tuna is from oma), iwashi, and especially the uni. the otoro was a bit sinewy, unfortunately.

Not bad!

There are other shops as well, especially one that my friend went to called "sushi ban wu" (that's the Chinese characters) - I'm wondering if any of you know the Japanese translation?