Taste Tokyo: Honey Baked Ham

image

Honey Baked Ham, Kamiyacho

I just wanted to share one of my favorite go to lunch shops, Honey Baked Ham. It’s about a 5-10 minute walk from my work, and they serve the BEST honey baked ham sandwiches! I’ve never had a ham sandwich like this back in the U.S., and finding honey glazed ham is actually quite difficult in Japan (unless you go to a specialty store), so I was in heaven when I stumbled upon this little shop this past year. They serve the honey baked ham between two fresh burger buns with lettuce, cheese, tomato slices, and a delicious honey dijon mustard sauce. I usually order their original sandwich, but they also have different toppings like avocado, coleslaw, and omelette. I would definitely recommend grabbing a bite here if you’re in the area (you can also request takeout)!

Capture Tokyo: Ginza Six

Ginza Six, Ginza

Last weekend I recently had a chance to visit the new department store that opened up in Ginza this past April, Ginza Six.The popular new complex features high-end brands (both international domestics) along with restaurants on the 6th and 13th floor, with a traditional Japanese Noh theatre on the bottom floor.

I went on Saturday and I was surprised at how packed it was! There were security guards stationed to usher people into the building, and there were even long lines of people waiting to use the escalators. I wasn’t able to do much shopping, but I was able to see a small but beautiful Japanese bonsai exhibit on the top floor stationed in Tsutaya. For those of you who are new to Japan, Tsutaya is a popular dvd/cd/book chain store. There were around 7-10 bonsai plants of various sizes and different varieties in the exhibit. I believe the more expensive and larger trees had a price range of 10,000 USD and up. I’m not sure how long the exhibit will be running, but I would definitely recommend checking it out if you are ever in the area!

Taste Tokyo: Uogashi Meicha

Uogashi Meicha, Ginza

For all you tea lovers out there, I’d like to introduce you to a cute little tea shop featured on NHK in Ginza, Uogashi Meicha. While the cafe specializes in Japanese green teas, they also hold small tea ceremony workshops once a month. The cafe is split into 3 levels. The first level is the tea shop, which features a variety of high quality teas. The second is a tea cafe for the shop’s patrons, while the top floor is where the workshops are held. We were lucky enough to visit the day the cafe was putting on a free workshop for its visitors.

The workshop had a unique concept. We were free to brew and mix the matcha or a special type of Japanese green tea ourselves, and instead of drinking what I brewed, I was to give my tea to the person who came before me to drink (whether that be a stranger or an acquaintance). They would then drink my tea accompanied with adorable little tea chocolates given by the cafe, while I waited for the person behind me to brew my tea. It wasn’t a strict traditional ceremony, but more of an informal gathering, so luckily we weren’t required to follow all the intricate mannerisms and customs of the Japanese tea ceremony. It was a nice opportunity to experience matcha mixing and tasting. It’s also perfect for those traveling alone too, because it allows you to interact with different people you would otherwise never meet!

After the workshop, we were invited to the second floor cafe to relax and taste more of the teas they had to offer. I think they must’ve served us at least 4 cups of tea (2 cold and 2 hot) along with Azuki bean Yokan (a traditional Japanese jelly dessert)! I was all tea-ed out by the end! Despite the slight overdoes on caffeine, it was overall a very lovely experience. The last time I had been to a Japanese tea ceremony was in high school, and it was a very traditional one, so this was a nice casual way to appreciate Japanese tea again. Plus, the whole experience was free (although we did end up buying a bag of tea on the way out)!

Taste Tokyo: Raw Snow Crab & A5 Beef

 

Rangetsu, Ginza

It’s always nice to treat yourself! Tonight we went to my favorite Ginza restaurant, Rangetsu, famous for their premium A5 Japanese beef. The beef is so tender that it really does just melt in your mouth as soon as it touches your tongue! The sauce they use for the sukiyaki is also delicious. It’s like a sweet soy sauce mixed with sweetened Japanese cooking rice wine that really brings out the flavor of the meat and veggies. I know I’ve already posted about this restaurant before (so you can read more about it here ♥︎Taste Tokyo: Rangetsu♥︎), but I just wanted to note that they also had a special Snow Crab Sashimi dish tonight. I personally prefer to eat my crab cooked and with butter, but this was the first time I’ve seen raw crab on the menu!

Taste Tokyo: Rainbow Bagels

S__50823258

New New York Club, Jiyugaoka

I know this trend is a little outdated, but I thought I would post about my rainbow bagel experience in Tokyo last summer, so please bear with me. When the craze first broke out last year, I was dying to try these fun-colored bagels myself (I was a huge bagel fan in college… Till this day jalapeño cheese bagels are my favorite ♥︎). Anyway, it took a few months, but Japan finally got its own rainbow bagels store, New New York Club! This little trendy boutique restaurant is located in Jiyugaoka, and it’s about a 7 minute walk from the station. They only serve a limited amount of rainbow bagels on Saturdays and a few chosen holidays . In order to ensure they didn’t sell out, I made sure we were there at 11:05 (the store opened at 11:30). There was a line of about 3-5 people in front of us, so it wasn’t too bad. This was also back in July, so the bagel craze was already dying out.

We ended up ordering two bagels. One strawberry bagel and one of their signature rainbow bagels; plus their mac & cheese dish. They had a couple other flavors, but it would’ve been way too much food for us! I would say the bagels were normal. Quite tasty, but nothing super extraordinary. I preferred the strawberry flavor over the rainbow one (mainly due to the strawberry cream cheese). The rainbow bagel itself had a really sweet light cream cheese filling that I wasn’t a big fan of. The mac & cheese was delicious though and overall the restaurant had a cozy ambience. It had a vintage old American diner feel to it, and the counter was lined with boxes of American candies (Nerds, Reeses, etc.) for decoration.

I would recommend trying out the New New York Club for anyone in Japan looking to get a taste of the rainbow bagel. I’m really curious though as to how the Tokyo rainbow bagels compare to the original New York ones!

Taste Tokyo: Ginza Shabutsu

Ginzatsu Shabushabu Course, Ginza

You can never have enough meat! Aside from Rangetsu, the high-end sukiyaki restaurant I wrote about earlier, my second favorite Ginza restaurant would have to be The Ginza Shabutsu, known for their shabushabu or hotpot dishes. We normally order the Ginzatsu Shabushabu Course, which is about 5,000 yen per person (plus we don’t need to tip in Japan so it’s quite a good deal for the amount of food you get)! The course includes top grade A5 kuroge wagyu beef, Japanese pork loin, an assortment of vegetables, noodles, and dessert. The restaurant also offers all you can eat courses for about 6,000 yen (although they don’t include the kuroge wagyu beef)!

Taste Tokyo: Boulangerie Mont-Thabor

IMG_0498

Boulangerie Mont-Thabor, Azabujuban

The one thing I love about Tokyo is its plethora of little bakeries scattered around the city! The Japanese have always admired the French for their aesthetic tastes and culinary arts, so it’s no surprise we can see a lot of French-inspired Japanese bakeries and patisseries in Tokyo. My all-time favorite bakery is the Boulangerie Mont-Thabor, located in Azabujuban. I used to frequent here often when I lived in the area, but now I only drop by occasionally for a sweet treat. It was also featured on the popular TV show, Sekai Banzuke, for its Hokkaido Milk Bread, which is my favorite (it’s quite delicious)! Made with the famous creamy and buttery Hokkaido milk, the bread is filled with layers of thin sweet cream between the soft warm bread. I would definitely recommend stopping by if you get the chance!