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Guest Post

It’s Friday, I’ve got three days to get a mag to the printers, finally nail the ending for an article on a butcher (for the love of god give me a simile!), and just I’ve realised I’m dressed like Shakin’ Stevens. Activate group blog team nippon!

seaweed broth sample lady

Irrashai! I’m the seaweed broth sample lady. I’m here to offer you a sample of seaweed broth while there aren’t any postings. Oops here comes my supervisor.

motteruwrestler


I am a wrestler who grapples with things. These savoury snack sticks represent the burden I am carrying on behalf of Anthony. Am I being a bit obvious?

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when life gives you lemons and unnaturally good pastry skills


As I’m not likely to be heading to Paris any time soon, Tokyo would be as convenient a place as any to try the wares of the highly rated Pierre Herme. Pierre Herme is a pastry chef that brings delight to more discerning women than any other, additionally and not entirely unrelated he is also the patron saint of large hairy men who hope to attract the avid attentions of large numbers of women. The shop is in Aoyama, by coincidence, a five minute walk from where I was handily going to pick up a wad of cash. Off I went, found it, and waited 20 minutes out the front anxiously trying not look like somebody waiting for the pub to open so they could have their first pony of sherry for the day (see also clinic, methadone).

I’m not sure what I was expecting, given the praise heaped upon his macaroons I would have been disappointed with anything less than the sensation of a thousand angels brushing their sugar dusted nipples across my tongue in ecstatic unison. Discretely, for such a moment, I was fortunate enough, in lieu of a booth, to have the second floor cafe all to myself. One small potentially embarrassing situation was with the menu with a set containing three items and I wasn’t sure whether I just ordered the set and got all three and looked like a glutton or asked for one and seemed unusually parsimonious. I settled for saying signature set and them mumbling mousse with an airy hand wave that could suggest etcetera if need be.

espresso-herme


First to present itself was a small spongy treat accompanying my espresso. Me and the waitress managed to communicate that it was fig and that was the filling with cinnamon of a raspberry sponge thing. The sponge thing actually had the same texture of an extremely fresh licorice allsort and was much enjoyed for it.

The signature set arrived and it was three glasses which could be described as three ways of making desserty chocolate and then putting something on top. The first was coconut milk, tapioca, and passionfruit. The next was coffee ice-cream. And the last was mascarpone with cubes of pain d’epices on top (can’t catch me, Je suis le pain d’epices homme!). This was the best I could distill from the friendly waitress pre-espresso, fig was hard work enough. Mind you not friendly enough to turn a blind eye and let me snap away with my indiscreetly large camera.

And yes it was nice. Since I don’t sensorially respond strongly to desserts and I don’t make enough to appreciate from a technical perspective. It’s like showing the innards of an F1 engine to someone who only knows they’re the things that go broom. Undeniably it was charming, the mousse part begged to be dissassociated with hair volumisers, the other chocolate part was chewy like toffee without being chewy like toffee, and the ganache had the buttery sensual import not seen since…well…I won’t go there again.

pierre herme interior

As I absentmindedly pecked away, trying to get the spoon to fit that not quite distance to the bottom of the choccy shot glass, in the flicker of light from the leafy mirror I imagined Pierre himself appear in front me. ‘What did you think?’ he asks. ‘Well it was nice’ … ‘like grandma’s biscuits’ we say in unison. I suggest he use some meat or fish and maybe instead of ice-cream he could have a nice rich gravy or perhaps a tasty hollandaise…it would at least make you a little less unsavoury. And as I look up to see the response to my imagined tremendous joke he has vanished and I was back to pecking at my glass under the watchful gaze of the third attendant in the cafe to watch over me.

I pay. It was around $25, not a ridiculous amount by any stretch but I then go and spend a similar amount downstairs on three macaroons, a couple of chocolates and a Pierre Herme tattoo sheet, hoping perhaps, his charms might rub off on me.

macaroons

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wagyu beef with a red wine and shiitake jus, roasted sweet potato, fried crab claws, asparagus and greenything

Hello. Yes I’m in Japan and my first night didn’t end up at an izakaya or shouting at people but since my friend Andrew had a nice new apartment and Danny promised he’d bring a bottle of French Sparkling Rose, and Uyen would talk loudly and keep us amused and I had a litre bottle of Laphroaig Quarter Cask, perhaps I could dinner and I did. A stop in a Tobu Department store got us a fillet of katsuo, a slab of squid, ten crab claws, and four 50gm steaks, a sweet potato, some shiitake and a few greens. The katsuo was seared just on the outside and sliced, the squid scored and lightly cooked and then that went on a bed of lettuce and spanish onion with a dressing of soy, mirin, cider vinegar, ginger, garlic chives and sesame seeds.

wagyu with the thoughtfully added lumps of lard


The sweet potato was diced and slowly roasted with olive oil and rosemary. The asparagus and the nanohana(?) was boiled and tossed with a little seasoning. The crab claws were dipped in milk and then dredged in flour with salt pepper and togarashi and then deep fried. The wagyu steaks handily came with cubes of lard and it was cooked in that a bit close to medium than medium rare. Sauce was a jus made by sauteing spring onions and two finely chopped shiitake mushrooms in butter and then reducing some red wine and straining. To bring up some bite and for a geographical nod I grated a little fresh wasabi in there and glossed it up with a little butter. Assembled as above and it was quite lovely. The nanohana had a slight bitterness, the sweet potato was, well sweet, from slow roasting and crunchy, the steak was unspeakably tender and the crab lifted it all from being meat and three veg. The steaks sizes weren’t going to impress anybody at Sizzler but you have to wonder if we couldn’t just eat less and enjoy it more. No? Uyen has great fractal eating habits and would reduce the plate to ever decreasingly sized but equally proportioned servings which was impressive.

tastiest strawberries ever


Dessert was perfect strawberries with a splash of balsamic and yes well it was an evening without fault. Andrew captured it better than me and he’s got a few lovely pics amongst many here, here, here, and here.

It’s a good thing, and it’s all good, and it’s a good to have friends, and its good to enjoy good things. But you know this.

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Johnny One-Cup

“All you need for a movie is girl and a gun and a bowl of cooked white rice, a raw egg, a can of tuna, some wasabi, and sprinkles.”
Jean-Luc Godard


Extra Bonus: Ah hear ya go, bonus Cook sister!: EoMEoTE #8 – all the drama!! round-up is up release of original drafts:

Johnny Noguchi stepped off the Yamanote line smelling of booze. He didn’t care. His station was never what it seemed. Maybe it should have been more like it he thought it should have been like if he thought more about what it was like but the Lets Kiosk was long shut. A night not spent following up a lead ended up at Pub Honeybee


Johnny Noguchi stepped of the freshly opened doors of the Yamanote line. Fuck ‘em if he smelt like booze. Following up a lead ended up at Pub Honeybee wondering why the manko singing yesterday got to chat to the college student and he got matronly comfort. Lets Kiosk shut a while back. No drinks from there. Up the stairs, were they always this high? No ticket.


Fuck! thought Johnny Noguchi as he looked at the bowl of hot rice he’d cooked earlier before going out to find a lead where he’d ended up again at Pub Honeybee where he’d drunk sho-chu while waiting get the attentions of the younger hostess who spent all her time with the blue suited manko who sung Yesterday. Mixing in the raw egg that he’d bought at the Lawsons


Johnny One-cup walked up the station stairs that he’d walked down earlier in the day. He might have thought about this some but he had too many other things on his mind like how he’d ended up at Pub Honeybee instead of following up leads and what to eat when he got back to his apaato.


Into the conbeni, past the racks of pudding breasted bikini cover girls, sweeping past the rows of snacks – cronky, blinky, spinky, and honk, and chocolates that looked liked mushrooms. He wondered why mushrooms never looked liked chocolates and then remembered the expensive autumn mushroom matsutake that looked like a penis, not a chocolate though, but good to remember. He grabbed two eggs in a plastic container, two large cans of Sapporo black label, and made his way to the counter.


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teshigotoyaentry

My last night in Tokyo, several days of frantic eating, drinking and shopping had ground me down to the point where not even the shop based joys of Shibuya could stop me from wanting to throw up and go to some quiet dark place. Not the ideal prelude to a final evening in Tokyo but I was ahead on points. I fell upon the mercy and wisdom of tokyo goat who had so far provided a roof over my head, a camera in my hand, and a suitably undisciplined voice of reason. Destination was an izakaya in Ikebukuro that had a big door but with a little door. Through the rabbit hole then. Personally I expected to be clubbed on the head but all turned out much much better.

teshigotoya menu

Reading a Japanese menu is always a challenge, so I usually pick the easiest to read one’s first and interpret/guess the rest at my leisure. First from the specials menu was hanpen (fish cake), and kurogomadoufu (black sesame tofu) served with a sprinkling of sea salt. Quite delicious cold with a savoury pannacotta texture.


The beers finished and we moved quickly to the business end and some sake. Asking the waitress she recommended one, Ginban sake from Toyama, but eventually confessed to not having a clue but we thought we’d try it anyway, the place was clearly good enough to take a punt on their sake list. Bought by the glass, a 1.5 litre bottle is bought out and poured into our o-choko overflowing into the small laquer masu it sat in. Lovely dry and clean.

teshigotoyatsukune

The vegetable dish arrived, I’m not sure what it was but it was written as ninnikuyasai (garlic vegetable), tasting more like spring onion, grilled and served with (dengaku?) miso. Tsukune, yakitori made from minced chicken, which came out unusually on a paddle. Fish next and the choice was hokke (atka mackeral). This is a whole fish flattened out and then grilled. Very Japanese but so often done very badly, typically luke warm after having had the life cooked out of it. This one wasn’t, it was beautifully moist. The scattershot menu choice of the Okinawan dish of goyachamporu( bitter melon with eggs, tofu, and bacon) had the many textures and tastes in this dish blended well.

teshigotoyahakkaisan

Next sake, Hakkaisan, which is possibly the best regarded sake in Japan. We had the Genjou [looks at scribbly notes flower? Seymour?] and the Shibori. Both smooth and tasty but the Shibori’s taste was boosted by the higher alcohol content. We had half an hour to enjoy them while our takenoko chahan (rice with bamboo shoot) slowly cooked in front of us. And we finished with this, miso (goat is right, the good stuff is subtle) and the Tengumae Ginjou sake. Being good sports, the staff let us finish off the bottle, bless.

toshigotoyamiso

And that was that, we squeezed our way out of the door. To have such a wide range of food, done so very well, in charming setting with friendly staff and good company capped and exceptionally good trip to a wonderful place.

Teshigotoya has a website and a map here.

The three exceptional photos here were by the talented and prolific Andrew Mc Lucas, the first guest photographer here none less. There are still more pics of the night by two snap happy Aussies at Flickr.

teshigotoyakitchen

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I’ll be

goat-focuses…a while getting things sorted and transporting myself but get the hell over to the flickr studio of the Tokyo Goat. You’ll be glad you did. Satellite goodness, go! Pathe-Spiceblog presentations soon.

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lateinshinjukuThe key features of navigation are to know your locations and then work towards your destination.

It’s 2:30am and you’ve been drinking since lunchtime and when you finished up by making up words to Jethro Tull and saying goodbye to the others and setting off on your own because you are independent bar finding man. But the bar you knew wasn’t where you thought it was and when you do find it you’ve seen too many places with men in suits and their head resting on the bar fast asleep and you see your immediate future self and think fuck it and pull the pin and grab a taxi. You know the suburb so you go there and drift off and on as the Taxi takes a few back streets and you’re near and you see the shop that’s next to the road that you walk home to. You get out while the taxi driver asks if this is where you want to get out and then you get your bearings. Mental 360 map around Origin Bento to get back and no road works, there are four possible streets and none of them are it and the narrow squat of two and three story buildings don’t give any line of sight. It wouldn’t be unusual for there to be two Origin Bento shops in a similar area. Start to panic. Tokyo is fine if you know where you are going, but it’s a labyrinth and no standards of north and south work with road curvature. Usual instinct driven place finding instincts just fall away. Lost. Fuck. It’s not a time to be wandering around on the off chance of finding a landmark. You have one point, you try to find another and ask a homeless guy where Meijiro station is. He takes the time to explain it in three different ways. You go straight and turn right and walk. You can work backwards from there. Walking, it’s another Origin Bento, the pieces fall into place, you turn right and you’re on the road to your home while you’re here. There’s a light on at the door and it’s unlocked and there’s still that bottle of duty free whiskey to help wth relief. Pics later, I’m off to bed.

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ranbo

Take 3. The post that refuses to post. I’m getting it this time. Jidori chicken shop in Nobeoka. Cooked by placing the meat directly on the coals. Not cooked on coals when raw. Ha! We scoff at salmonella salmonella scares and enjoy our chicken with Akakirishima shou-chu made from a special purple sweet potato. Lovely, moist bouqet with hints of peach. The shops’s kanji translates as “storm boy” but the shop master assures me it’s from the Sylvester Stallone movie. Good for them. We like our shops small, hidden, and excellent.

ranbofire ranbomaster chickensashimi

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debasaaaaaaaaargh Apologies, just a couple of pic only posts from Tokyo as I’m out of typing action from a faintly riduculous karaoke related injury. At a karaoke box, last song of the night, 2/3 of the way through nailing “Debaser” and the glass partition I was leaning against gave way and I followed it – falling a metre onto my back. Bit of claret, distressed karaoke staff, a trip in an ambulance and over a dozen stitches in my right hand, back, and head. Lots of laughs at the hospital at my stretchy smurf hat they gave me and when I dozed off on the table and started snoring. Kudos to the hotel staff for not blinking an eyelid when I came back at 2am just wearing jeans, shoes and bandages. All in all aok, could have been nastier, and learnt that there are worse things at karaoke than having to wait your turn.

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hanamisushisake

sakurasakura2

hanamifeckIspiltmedrink

hanamimissingthepoint

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tetsujin28

Back (I lived there for seven years) to Japan for a fortnight. I’ll be freelancing in Nobeoka at a takoyaki stall for a week and then to Tokyo for some shopping and feasting. I’ll try get a few posts up but if you tire of blogminder tetsujin28′s head crushing efforts, there’s always Flickr.

Possibly locked in for buying someone a camera, and definitely for pics of vending machines, but if there are any requests let me know. I’m thinking of mercy calls for hard to find albums.

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