Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sushi Saito @ Akasaka, Tokyo - 鮨さいとう @ 赤坂, 東京

Cuisine: Japanese (Sushi)
Map: Sushi Saito @ Akasaka, Tokyo - 鮨さいとう 赤坂, 東京
Price: JPY10,500 per person at lunch (what I paid for)
Visited: 21 January 2011
Food: 9/10
Atmosphere: 6/10
Value for money: 9/10
Service: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

Sushi Saito (鮨さいとう) is a tiny restaurant which can accommodate only 7 customers at a time. The chef, Takashi Saito, will prepare and serve sushi delicately himself. As you eat, Chef Saito would explain what he serves in friendly English. The decor is just a typical Japanese style but cordial ambient. The place is just a few minutes walk from Takeimesanno Station and Toranomon Station, and right opposite US Embassy (bear in mind the place can be difficultly spotted). Rice at Sushi Saito is another distinguished point from others, it is saltier and sourer than others': rice is kept warm in a separate container and brought out just a small amount at a time. This would enhance the flavour of fish.

Chef Takashi Saito

I was firstly serviced with green tea, which was strong and bitter, and Seaweeds in Red Vinegar.

Seaweeds in Red Vinegar

I can confidently say that this could be the best Tai () I have ever had. It was extremely tender, tasteful and easily swallowed; not mushy soft like where else (8/10).

Tai () or Red Snapper

Buri () was just sweet and mild: a magnificent delightful piece of sushi (9/10).

Buri () or Adult Yellowtail

Kohada (小鰭) was next served. Usually Kohada would have a mild fishy scent but not the case for Sushi Saito. It was lightly marinated with vinegar (8/10).

Kohada (小鰭) or Japanese Gizzard Shad

Next three were tuna series: Akami (赤身), Chu-toro (中とろ), and O-toro (大とろ). This is the ingredient Chef Saito probably most proudly present. It was mentioned that tuna was aged for a time before being served. Once each piece was sliced to the appropriate thickness, it would be left for a little before handled and served. Akami was specially marinated giving it best taste and tenderness. Chu-toro and O-toro both melted in the mouth suddenly, savoury it must be. These were the best tuna sushi I have ever tried: must say that there were even better than those of Sushi Mizutani (10/10).

Akami (赤身) or Top loin of Bluefin Tuna

Chu-toro (中とろ) or Medium Fatty Bluefin Tuna Belly

O-toro (大とろ) or Fattiest of Bluefin Tuna Belly

Next inline was Ika (烏賊) with a touch of lime juice and salt. The texture was firm and shiny. It was very fresh: no need for soy sauce at all (8/10).

Ika (烏賊) or Squid

Chef Saito then prepared the heaven taste of Kuruma Ebi (車海老). It was smooth, tender, juicy, and sweet with a bit of fat on the head part (10/10).

Kuruma Ebi (車海老) or Japanese Imperial Prawn

This was the first time to experience Shiro Ebi (白海老). This was surely not a mistake. It might be very soft (melted-like feeling) but sweet and fresh (9/10).

Shiro Ebi (白海老) or White Shrimp

Saba () with plum leaf (Oba) stuffed inside was delightfully fresh. The combination with plum leaf was splendid. Although, it was sweet and tender and could not be easily found where else: the one at Sushi Mizutani was still better (8/10).

Saba () or Mackerel

This was then followed by Aji () with grounded Aoba (青葉). The smell of grounded aoba was pleasant and refresh. The texture was nothing chewy but pure smoothly tenderness (9/10).

Aji () or Horse Mackerel

Kobashira (小柱) was great but could be better. Despite its freshness, the taste was rather light (5/10).

Kobashira (小柱) or Mactra Clam

Ezo Bafun Uni (蝦夷ばふんうに), when it came to this sea urchin from Hokkaido, I must admit that this was not just a piece of excellent sushi but  a piece of creative art it is.  This creamy piece of sushi would just melt in the mouth giving out its sweet scent to combine with wasabi (10/10).

Ezo Bafun Uni (蝦夷ばふんうに) or Sea Urchin

Last but least, Anago (穴子) was served in 2 different styles: one with salt and the other with nitsume sauce. They were a miracle duo. While nitsume sauce was sweet, the combination of conger eel with a touch of salt also balanced the taste. They both were warm and prepared just before served (10/10).

Anago (穴子) or Conger Eel

Shio Anago (穴子) or Conger Eel with Salt

Nitsume Anago (煮詰め穴子) or Conger Eel with Thick Soy Sauce

Kampyo Maki (乾瓢巻) was then served to finish the course. This was terrific: sweet but salty, crisp but soft (8/10).

Kampyo Maki (乾瓢巻) or Dried Gourd Roll

Miso Soup

Sushi Saito truly deserves the 3 Michelin Stars. Although, the atmosphere within the place may look really normal and small to some but service is great and Chef Saito is heartedly friendly and lively. Most important is each piece of sushi is carefully prepared with experiences and technique from the very best ingredients, resulting in delicate taste and intoxicatingly delicious. From my experience, Sushi Saito is none less than Sushi Mizutani @ Ginza from the taste: a wonderful journey indeed. As a big fan of sushi, even if I have to ride a dolphin across ocean, I would gladly revisit this restaurant from time to time.

Sushi Saito @ Akasaka, Tokyo
1st Floor, Jidousha Kaikan Building
1-9-15 Akasaka
Tokyo 107-0052

鮨さいとう @ 赤坂, 東京
〒107-0052 東京
都港区 赤坂1丁目9−15

Open Hours: Lunch 11:30am - 02:00pm, Dinner 05:00pm - 10:00pm. Closed on Sundays
Tel: +81 (0) 3 3589 4412

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mutekiya Ramen @ Ikebukuro, Tokyo

Cuisine: Japanese (Ramen)
Price: JPY1,200 per person (what I paid for)
Visited: 21 January 2011
Food: 7/10
Atmosphere: 3/10
Value for money: 7/10
Service: 3/10
Overall: 5/10

Mutekiya Ramen situates in Ikebukuro area of Tokyo near Seibu Department Store. This ramen shop is rather small and can accommodate not more than 20 customers at a time. Hence, it can be easily spotted with the long queue outside the shop. I would recommend those who wish not to wait for long queue (could be up to 30 minutes) to visit Mutekiya before 11:30am for lunch and before 05:00pm for dinner, otherwise go for late night supper. Mutekiya has claimed to boil its stock for more than 16 hours before it is ready to be served, which would result in thick broth with sweet succulent taste.

The Famous Sign Post of Mutekiya (無敵家)

The Restaurant Symbol of Popular Honmarumen (本丸麺)

Recommended Ramen

Kani Miso Aji Men (カニミ) was a ramen with soup based on a combination between kani (crab paste) and miso (bean paste). Without doubt, the first thing I felt was tenderness and juiciness of chachu (pork). The soup base was a little salty and fishy like, of course from kani. Boiled egg was very soft and sauvory, expecially the perfect egg yolk (7/10).

Kani Miso Aji Men (カニミ)

Nikutamamen (肉玉麺), this is indeed a must try ramen at Mutekiya. The tonkotsu soup (pork bone broth) was ultimately rich and thick (though rather fatty). Chachu was again tender and thickness. Egg with runny yolk was enjoyable. Additional touch from fried garlic could be intimate (8/10).

Nikutamamen (肉玉麺)

Nikutamamen with Fried Garlic

Yakigyoza (餃子), unlike the ramen, was rather normal from my point of view. Even though, it was crisp on the skin but filling was to little. The good point was hint of yuzu which was subtle (5/10).

Yakigyoza (餃子)

Mutekiya Ramen is indeed a superior ramen shop. Just for the taste, I would regard this as one of the top ten ramen. Definitely a must try and worth a return journey, even I have to queue.

Mutekiya Ramen @ Ikebukuro, Tokyo
1-17-1 Minami Ikebukuro
Tokyo 169-0051

麺創房無敵家 @ 池袋, 東京

Open Hours: 10:30am - 04:00am
Tel: +81 (0) 3 3982 7656

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tokyo Special Journey: Patisserie & Chocolate

During last weekend, 21st - 23rd January 2011, I had a chance to visit Tokyo again as one of my beloved friend was getting married. I then decided to spend some of my free time visited a few patisseries. 

I began with Dalloyau @ Ginza. The atmosphere of this shop of easy but cozy with a complement of great services. However, it lacks of English speaker which is typical for Japan.

A beautiful setting of shop front and windows
Contemporary setting of the Dalloyau @ Ginza

Food counter with deliciously looking of food

Touchy window show along staircase

I, myself, had Pêche Bel Armand for my afternoon dessert (without tea T__T, why not?). It was a parfait with a combination between raspberry sorbet, peach, whipped cream, and meringue sticks. It was beautifully decorated. Meringue was not too sweet. Peach was well poached and glazed: it was not too soft. Whipped cream was a little sweet which went perfectly with sour taste of raspberry sorbet (7/10).\

Pêche Bel Armand

Dalloyau @ Ginza, Tokyo
6-9-3 Ginza
Tokyo 104-0061

ヤウ @ 銀座, 東京

Tel: +81 (0) 3 3289 8260
I then walked to the nearby chocolate shop, Pierre Marcolini @ Ginza. Pierre Marcolini, originated from Brussels, has always been my most favourite chocolate connoisseur. Personally, I must say chocolate from Pierre Marcolini is even tastier than that of La Maison du Chocolat.
On the ground floor of the shop, there are takeaway counter and ice-cream counter. From first floor, there are seats available for those who wish to eat in. The decor is again comtemporary with dimmed light.

Simple but beautiful front

Variety of chocolate to be chosen

Sans Sucres & Grand Cru de propriete Mexique

Pierre Marcolini @ Ginza, Tokyo
5-5-8 Ginza
Tokyo 104-0061

ピエールマルコリーニ @ 銀座, 東京
東京都中央区銀座 5 丁目5-8

Tel: +81 (0) 3 5537 0015

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Len Zen Boat Noodle (เล่นเส้น ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ) @ K-Village, Bangkok

Cuisine: Thai (Noodle)
Price: THB180 per person (what I paid for)
Visited: 9 January 2011
Food: 5/10
Atmosphere: 4/10
Value for money: 4/10
Service: 3/10
Overall: 4/10

Len Zen is conveniently located on the 2nd floor of K-Village. The restaurant has claimed to use the traditional recipe of Ayuddhaya noodle. The decor is in a contemporary community mall restaurant with tables and benches. Apart from beef and pork noodle, Len Zen also offers varieties of rice dishes.

Lime Juice with Honey and Soda was something could not be a mistake. Surely refreshing after a long tired day. I also had Crispy Pork Garlic, Crispy Pork Rinds, and Crispy Seaweed to start off the dinner. They were all crisp and cracked, sure yummy and addicted.

Lime Juice with Honey and Soda

Crispy Pork Garlic

Crispy Pork Rinds

Crispy Seaweed

Next to arrive on the table were Fried Tofu (3/10) and Grilled Tendon Ball (7/10). Fried Tofu was definitely a mistake here. It was rather oily and too soft with ordinary sauce. A more crisp skin would be delightful. On the other side, Grilled Tendon Ball was splendid. It was springy but tender and flavourful.

Fried Tofu

Grilled Tendon Ball

When it came to noodle part. I was disappointed with stew noodles. They were just tasteless and the bowl was filled with too much noodle. However, noodle soup had shown something more promised. The soup was tasty with hints of flavour from herbs. Much better than stew noodle indeed.

Vermicelli with Beef Ball and Stewed Beef 1

Vermicelli with Beef Ball and Stewed Beef 2

Narrow Rice Noodle with Beef, Beef Ball, and Stewed Beef in Soup 1

Narrow Rice Noodle with Beef, Beef Ball, and Stewed Beef in Soup 2

Fried Organic Pork with Garlic and Rice, and Stewed Pork Leg with Rice were also tasted. I must say these were just ordinary dishes with ordinary taste from my perspective but organic pork. The good part was it was not oily and salty for this kind of dish. However, not a highly recommended dish but in case noodle is not preferable, otherwise enjoyable.

Fried Organic Pork with Garlic and Rice

Stewed Pork Leg with Rice

Len Zen Boat Noodle can be a place for a quick meal with friends but surely not somewhere to hang out for quite a period. This may be a place to try out in case you happen to be at K-Village. However, a specific journey to have a meal at Len Zen may not be the case.

Len Zen Boat Noodle @ K-Village, Bangkok
93, 95 Soi Sukhumvit 26
Klongton, Klongtoey
Bangkok, 10110

เล่นเส้น ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ @ เควิลเลจ
ยูนิต เอ220 ชั้น 2 เควิลเลจ
93, 95 ซอยสุขุมวิท 26
แขวงคลองตัน เขตคลองเตย
กรุงเทพ, 10110

Tel: +66 (0) 2661 3438
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