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Cooking Across 4 Generations

Using recipes collected from 4 generations of one family

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Ginza

Tokyo With Mum Day 8: Final Walk Around Ginza

And just like that we had reached the end of our time in Tokyo. Our flight wasn’t until 10pm swhich left us plenty of time to wander around Ginza and do some final shopping. A bonus was that the Oedo Antique Market was on at Tokyo International Forum,  a short walk from Ginza next to Yurakucho Station.

After checking out and leaving our bags at the hotel we headed to Starbucks for some caffeine fortification as it was quite a chilly morning.

We walked over to Ginza to do a bit of souvenir hunting. A couple of classic cars drove past us and wwe worked out that there was a classic car rally on.

Classic car rally - beautiful 1950's MG
Classic car rally – beautiful 1950’s MG
Classic Car Rally
Classic Car Rally

As we walked along we saw some people lined up at booths every couple of corners but couldn’t work out what was going on. Thought it was to do with sweets as there was a photo of a wagashi on the display poster. Later in the day we realised they had been selling tickets for tea ceremonies, which were being conducted by Geisha and Maiko from Shimbashi/Ginza area.

Maiko in Ginza
Maiko in Ginza
Maiko and Geisha in Ginza
Maiko and Geisha in Ginza

The antique market was fabulous. I thought the secondhand shop in Omiya was wonderful but the market really had me itching to buy. I ended up with another 5 obi. My idea is to use them as seasonal art. There was an amazing variety of things to buy and had I space in my luggage I would have bought more. I really want to buy a second hand furo and kama(cast iron brazier and kettle) for preparing the water for matcha. Next trip less clothes in the suitcase!!!

After the market we walked back over towards the Kabukiza Theatre to a couple of shops selling food and products from other regions of Japan. I bought a lovely little cast iron statue from the Iwate region shop for my Uncle and  Mum bought a cast iron bell for my niece.

Then it was time for our final lunch in Tokyo and we headed back to Chuo Dori and Ginza Core. We found a nice little restaurant in the basement and had a warming tempura don, served with miso soup and seaweed salad.

Signage for the restaurant
Signage for the restaurant
Plastic food display
Plastic food display
The restaurant exterior
The restaurant exterior
Tempura don, miso soup
Tempura don, miso soup

Then it was back out for a final bit of shopping and then the hotel to collect our bags before heading out to Haneda Airport for our flight home.

I had never been to Haneda Airport before so it was great to get there and experience it. Qantas direct flights between Sydney and Tokyo are now via Haneda, previously, direct flights from Sydney arrived at Narita. Depending on what time I wish to arrive in Tokyo I will choose between the two, morning arrivals are Haneda and afternoon arrivals are Narita, (with a stop over in either Brisbane or Melbourne).

I had a wonderful time showing Mum around one of my favourite cities and hope to get back to Japan with her for one of the flower seasons(she really wants to see the wisteria and iris seasons).

Thanks for dropping by!

Il Ristorante Luca Fantin, Bulgari Ginza Tower, Ginza, Tokyo

For our past few visits to Tokyo we have been wanting to have a meal at Il Ristorante Luca Fantin. This restaurant is part of the ever diversifying Bulgari brand, and is located on the 9th floor of the Bulgari Ginza Tower. We have previously enjoyed champagne and chocolate in the bar and can finally say we have eaten at Bulgari.

Bulgari Tower, Ginza
Bulgari Tower, Ginza

This year, on a miserably wet day, we managed to have lunch at Il Ristorante. There are three options for lunch, each with a set number of courses (3, 5 or 7) all with an amuse bouche (or three) first and for dinner, two meus with either 5 or 7 courses plus amuse bouche.

Menu
Menu

After ascending to the 9th floor you are greeted and taken through to the dining room. Floor to ceiling windows line three sides of the room, giving views of Ginza. Tables are all substantial wood, covered with a delightful golden coloured  tablecloth. Our seasonal flower on the table was a magnificent purple hydrangea. Silverware was  all Bulgari designed and made.

interior Il Ristorante Luca Fantin
interior Il Ristorante Luca Fantin
Looking out the window
Looking out the window

First to the table was an amazing selection of breads and rolls. Accompanied by some sensational Italian extra virgin olive oil and Hawaiian black salt and sea salt flakes. They are really generous with the bread as they refilled another two times.

bread selection
bread selection

Our first amuse was two types of “crackers”. Corn chip with an aioli, and fish skin cracker with a piquant sauce.

IMG_4635

Our second amuse bouche was finely sliced snow pea topped with salmon roe.

Snow pea topped with salmon roe
Snow pea topped with salmon roe

And our final amuse was corn crisp with smoke mascarpone cheese and corn chowder.

smoked mascarpone with corn chowder and corn crisps
smoked mascarpone with corn chowder and corn crisps

Insalata di verdure cotte e crude con crema di parmigiano (Raw and cooked vegetables with parmesan cream). This dish consisted of 20 types of vegetables either cooked or raw served with a very tasty parmesan cream sauce. This was an absolutely tasty and delicious dish. Some of the vegetables used were baby crrots, asparagus, baby turnips, 8 types of lettuce, flowers and more.

20 vegetables with parmesan cream
20 vegetables with parmesan cream

Spaghetti di Gragnano con gamberi rossi e lattuga (Gragnano spaghetti with red shrimp and lettuce). Thick spaghetti from Gragnano near Naples, served with red prawns and a creamy shellfish sauce with iceberg lettuce tossed through it. A nice big piece of dried lettuce was used for the garnish.

Gragnano spaghetti with red shrimp
Gragnano spaghetti with red shrimp

Baba’ bagnato al rhum con flan di pompelmo (Baba’ marinated with rum and grapefruit flan). I live a Rum baba and feel they are under rated as a dessert. This was a wedge of baba sitting atop grapefruit flan (like creme brulee), pistachio crumbles, pink grapefruit segment, vanilla ice cream and a sugar wafer ontop. So pretty it looked like a landscape in a terrarium.

Rum baba
Rum baba
Rum baba
Rum baba

We thought we were finished but no. A box of sweet “jewels” was bought out for us, along with some chocolate and coffee lollipops.

Petit fours
Petit fours

I have to say lunch was well worth the wait, and we will definitely be dining at Il Ristorante Luca Fantin when we next return to Tokyo.

Bulgari Ginza Tower

2-7-12 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

http://www.bulgarihotels.com

http://www.bulgarihotels.com/en-us/tokyo-osaka-restaurants/tokyo/il-ristorante

Itamae Sushi, Ginza, Tokyo

Our second night in Tokyo found us heading for a walk around Ginza to find somewhere for dinner. One restaurant that we have walked past many times on our trips to Tokyo has been Itamae Sushi. This time we decided to try it.

A bamboo and glass front hides a deceptively large (by Japanese standards) space. The front portion consists of an entrance vestibule and cashier stand, behind which is another door leading to the two parts of the restaurant. The front part consists of a sushi bar with booths along the side and behind this area are more private ‘tatami rooms’.

Itamae Sushi
Itamae Sushi

We were seated at the sushi bar as the restaurant was quite busy, we didn’t mind as it gave us a chance to watch the sushi and sashimi dishes being prepared. Our beverage of choice was well iced green tea, even at 7pm it was still around 30 degrees Celsius. A delicious small salad was also bought out as our appetizer.

Nice glass of iced green tea.
Nice glass of iced green tea.

The first dish we had was a plate of sashimi, unfortunately we were nearly finished before we remembered to take a photo.

What was left of the sashimi plate
What was left of the sashimi plate

Next up were some tuna rolls using rice sheets (like Vietnamese rolls). Filled with salad, and tuna they were light and delicious with a tangy sauce.

Tuna rolls
Tuna rolls

Our next dish was a sushi plate. Nothing like a plate of sushi in Japan. Prawn, squid, mackerel, uni (sea urchin roe), salmon roe, tuna and salmon were some of the varieties on the plate.

Sushi selection
Sushi selection

And a bowl of miso soup to finish. This is one of the better miso soups we have had.

Miso soup
Miso soup

All up a good dinner. They have a menu in English which also contained photographs of most of the dishes. This made ordering a breeze. It was great to watch the chefs working and to see Japanese knife skills in action, although I think I was more interested in the knives they were using. One of the things I love about eating in Japan is the matching of plate to food. No simple white plates for every dish but a plate that reflects the food and the season.

Thanks for dropping by!

Tokyo Coffee Culture

Generally you think of Japan as being a big tea drinking country, but on our first trip to Japan in 2008 we were quite surprised at the sophistication of the Japanese coffee culture. Prior to our trip we had only been exposed to the traditional coffees here in Australia, drip, cappuccinos, espresso, flat white, flat black, bad instant etc. Then along came the Nespresso style pod machines. So, seeing some new ways of brewing coffee was an eye opener.

When we have a holiday in Tokyo, we have a little tradition of visiting three of our favourite cafes, one located behind Ginza Alley in Ginza (brick building very European looking), Ko’hikan in Asakusa and Miyama in Nakano

Our very first coffee in Tokyo in 2008 was in Ginza, on a very cold and damp spring afternoon. We stumbled upon a very European looking coffee shop (wooden door and window surrounds, exposed brick, brass revolving door, elegant frosted windows, baby grand piano, you get the picture?). A menu was presented to us in English with pictures so we decided on a cointreau coffee (it was COLD, we needed the warmth from the cointreau). The waitress bought our order along with a rich slice of chocolate cake.

Cooffee and cake in Ginza
Coffee and cake in Ginza

The cups and saucers were a very elegant surprise and of course I had to peak and see who they were made by, naturally Noritake. Just so you know I am slightly (ok, extremely) partial to Noritake crockery, having been bought up with my Nan’s set that came out every special occasion.

Interior of our favourite Ginza coffee shop
Interior of our favourite Ginza coffee shop

Our next visit we ordered milk coffees. Wow talk about a bit of theatre for service. Our cups came out first, then, the waitress bought over two silver coffee pots. We thought there was one for each of us, but one had coffee and the other was hot milk. Starting low to the cups, the waitress poured equal quantities of milk and coffee, raising the pot as she did so which created a little froth on top. Of course we needed a little sweet thing to go with our coffee, a light and fluffy cheesecake.

Coffee with cheesecake Ginza
Coffee with cheesecake Ginza

Mr CA4G snuck in a visit by himself when he went for a solo visit between jobs in 2010 and had a black coffee with milk and his favourite dessert Mont Blanc.

Coffe and Mont Blanc, Ginza
Coffe and Mont Blanc, Ginza

In Asakusa we discovered Ko’hikan while walking over to Kappabashi Dori from Senso-Ji Temple. It was the first place we ever tried Syphon filter coffee. The first time we visited the water for the coffee was heated using a methylated spirit flame and this year when we went we discovered they no longer use a flame but a really high heat lamp. The coffee is placed in the upper portion of the syphon, the water is heated in the bottom globe section until it goes up the central tube into the upper section, the heat is removed and the coffee brews. As it cools the brewed coffee flows back down the tube in to the lower half of the unit and is then poured into cups and served with little glass jugs of milk. Very scientific looking.

Ko Hi Kan, Asakusa
Ko Hi Kan, Asakusa
Interior, Ko Hi Kan, Asakusa
Interior, Ko Hi Kan, Asakusa

We go to Nakano for some very specific shops for Mr CA4G, but we find we need a coffee for some fortitude. Miyama is located in the shopping centre and what caught our eye on our first visit was the cold water filter system that they use ( another very scientific looking contraption). Water slowly drips through the ground beans into a carafe underneath. The coffee is then warmed as needed. This form of filtering provides a smoother coffee without the bitterness that is often present in hot brewed coffee.

Cold filtered coffee, Miyama, Nakano
Cold filtered coffee, Miyama, Nakano
Coffee, Miyama, Nakano
Coffee, Miyama, Nakano

It is great to be amongst the locals, I can’t recall seeing any foreigners when we have been. This year we also had lunch which comes as a set (sandwich with coffee). Mr. CA4G had a burger and I had a sandwich. Very tasty and that fluffy white bread they make in Japan is so light.

And of course on Kappabashi Dori amongst all the kitchenware shops is a specialist coffee shop along with a several specialist roasters and providores of coffee beans/ground coffee. They seem to be really in to their single origins and fair trade coffees in Japan.

Union coffee supplies, Kappabashi Dori, Asakusa
Union coffee supplies, Kappabashi Dori, Asakusa
Cold filters
Cold filters
Interior Union Coffee supplies
Interior Union Coffee supplies
Syphon filters
Syphon filters
Cold filter close up
Cold filter close up
Coffee roaster, Kappabashi Dori
Coffee roaster, Kappabashi Dori

I think the only time we have had a cappuccino or latte in Tokyo was when we have breakfast in the Park Hyatt, The Conrad, or at our favourite little cafe/bakery Vie de France. When we stay at the Park Hotel Shiodome we love the over cup drip filter they have in the rooms, from Key Coffee.

Key Coffee,
Key Coffee,
Drip On by Key Coffee
Drip On by Key Coffee

Have you had a great coffee somewhere other than here in Australia? I would love to here about it!

 

 

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