Home' Scoop : Scoop 52 Contents Futari onegai shimasu.
All foodies need to do before booking flights to
Tokyo is commit the above sentence -- Japanese for
"table for two, please" -- to memory.
Start your culinary adventure at the humble
Japanese pub, the izakaya. They bear more than
an uncanny resemblance to suburban Japanese
eateries in Australia. After you ve conquered, say,
okonomiyaki (cabbage pancake) and multiple
bowls of tonkatsu ramen (pork cutlet noodle), it s
time to climb the Japanese food pyramid.
High-end izakayas like Yui-an (2-6-1 Nishi-
Shinjuku, Shinjuku, 03 3342 5671) are the logical
step up. From its vantage point atop the Sumito-
mo building, Yui-an delivers postcard-perfect views
of Tokyo. Pick one of the tasting menus and leave
yourself in the capable hands of the kitchen who ll
interrupt your viewing and drinking experience
with treats such as chicken and mustard hotpot
and crunchy vegetable chips.
But it s not until you start eating at specialised
restaurants (places where chefs cook just one style
of Japanese food, for instance sushi, sashimi, katsu
or yakitori) that you start to get a feel for how
seriously Japan takes its food. Be in the wrong
place at the wrong time and witness chefs and
foodies animatedly debate what rice variety grown
in what region is best suited for sushi. Fortunately,
sushi in all its guises is accessible to all, with prices
ranging from 100 yen ($1.30) 7-11 offerings
through to intricate multi-course, $300-a-head
tasting menus at intimate six-seater, Sushi Saito
(1-9-15 Akasaka, Minato-ku, 03 3589 4412).
In the Ginza, check out Tempura Ten-Asa
(8-7-19 Ginza, Chuo-ku, 03 5568 6200) or Asagi
(6-4-13 Ginza, Chou-ku, 03 3289 8188) where,
like all class tempura joints, batters are whisked to
order for maximum lightness. In Japan, candidates
for luxe hot oil treatment go beyond the usual pro-
tein and vegetable suspects -- expect to find treats
such as ginko nuts, eel backbone and baby puffer
fish being delivered hot out of the oil to your plate
by chefs wielding big metal chopsticks.
Foreign cuisine is well represented in Tokyo,
but perhaps none more so than French, thanks
largely in part to the constant stream of Japanese
chefs coming from (and going to learn in) France.
One of the most successful is Tateru Yoshino who
has a Michelin-starred diner, Stella Maris, in Paris
to go with his three Japanese dining rooms. Under
the watchful eye of skilled chef Junji Ozawa,
Tateru s Shiodome restaurant (1-7-1 Higashi-Shin-
bashi, Minato-ku, 03 6252 1155) does more than
just keep in-house guests at the Park Hotel fed,
serving flawless Nippon-accented French creations
as well as Stella Maris classics.
In terms of both ambition and elevation, Tapas
Molecular Bar (left) on the 38th floor of the
Mandarin Oriental (2-1-1 Nihonbashi-Muromachi,
Chuo-ku, 03 3270 8188) is perhaps the loftiest of
the current diners. Book early to snag one of the
eight available seats each service and watch as chef
Jeff Ramsey redefines dinner and a show with his
two-hour, 20-course production starring out-there
dishes such as roast pepper caviar, arctic potato
chips and deconstructed miso soup. sm
If you are joining the growing throng of people heading to Japan's
snowfields, don't miss the chance to sample Tokyo's wide variety
of fantastic fare. Max Veenhuyzen prepares a culinary o-toshi
(appetiser) for those planning a Japanese eating spree.
tantalising Traditional dining in Asakusa, Tokyo
PICTURE (TOP) Norman Burns
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