Get ‘em while they’re cold! Tokyo restaurant has chilled chicken skewers in collagen blocks

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RocketNews 24:

 

Japan takes skin care pretty seriously. Aside from all the parasols, cosmetic-grade sunscreens, and arsenal of lotions stocked at every drug store, some people look for a skin-beautifying boost in the foods they eat.

Collagen-rich dishes are particularly popular, especially when cooked in a hot pot. But what if you don’t just want food that contains collagen, but globs of it that contain food? Then this Tokyo yakitori restaurant has just the thing with its chicken skewers inside blocks of collagen. 

The hook at restaurant Zenyaren, located in Otemachi, the heart of Tokyo’s financial district, is that it gathers various types of regional chicken skewers all under the same roof for diners to enjoy. As tasty as yakitori is, though, it’s usually served piping hot, right off the grill, which means it isn’t the most refreshing thing on a hot summer day. That’s why Zenyaren created its newest menu item, cool yakitori.

 

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The two stick set, which costs 380 yen (US $3.75), gets you one skewer each of tsukune (minced chicken meatballs) and kashira (actually pork cheeks, but served at many yakitori restaurants). Both skewers are encased in a block of collagen gelatin.

This would probably be a good time to point out that there’s no solid medical or scientific evidence showing that eating collagen actually has any benefits for your skin. Even if you’re skeptical about the unspoken yet implied positive effect on your appearance, there’s still one more reason to give this unique dish a try. Being wrapped in gelatin keeps the meat extra juicy, since even as you bite into it, any liquid that squirts out gets absorbed into the coating to preserve all of its flavor.

 

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Still, we can imagine some people being a little squeamish about eating something that looks so different from ordinary yakitori. Zenyaren is only serving up 20 sets of cool yakitori each day, and if you don’t order yours quickly, you can be sure 20 other customers looking for beautiful skin or tasty chow will.

 

Restaurant information
Zenyaren / 全や連
Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Otemachi 1-7-2,Tokyo Sankei Building, Basement level 2
東京都千代田区大手町1-7-2 東京サンケイビルB2F

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Travelers on Trip Advisor pick Japan’s 30 best restaurants

 

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RocketNews 24:

 

Travel website Trip Advisor recently released its annual list of the 30 best sightseeing spots in Japan. Featuring centuries-old shrines, futuristic cityscapes, and no fewer than four whale sharks, it’s an impressive collection of much of what makes Japan such a unique and awesome country.

Honestly, if you had the time, we wouldn’t try to talk you out of an itinerary that hits all 30 places. Of course, with that much sightseeing, you’re bound to work up an appetite. Thankfully, Trip Advisor is back again with its top 30 restaurants in Japan.

As with the sightseeing list, the rankings are based on reviews from Trip Advisor users who dined at the restaurants. While there’s no shortage of high-priced Japanese fare, there are a few budget-friendly eateries that made the cut too, along with some foreign cuisine as well. Let’s dig in and get this multi-course meal started with number 30.

 

30. Abucha Nigoten
Hokkaido,  Abuta-gun, Kucchan-cho, Yamada 191-29

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Visitors to the Niseko ski resort on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido rave about this Japanese eatery’s sushi and hot pots.

29. The Niseko Supply Company
Hokkaido, Abuta-gun, Kucchan-cho, Azayamada 190-13

If you’re looking for western food in Niseko, the Supply Company is known for its crepes, pastries, and fondue, plus its invigorating coffee and relaxing beer.

28. Niseko Pizza
Hokkaido, Abuta-gun, Kucchan-cho, Yamada 167 3J, Sekka Building basement level 1

Not far from the above entry you’ll find this Italian restaurant that’s popular with the foreign community.

27. Jomon
Tokyo-to, Minato-ku, Roppongi 5-9-17, Fujimori Building 1st floor

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Not only does Jomon serve up outstanding yakitori chicken skewers, its location on one of the secluded backstreets of Tokyo’s rowdiest nightlife district means you won’t have to worry about barkers trying to drag you off to their hostess bar on the way there.

26. Tsunahachi
Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 3-31-8

Just a few minutes’ walk from the always bustling Shinjuku Station, Tsunahachi’s mix of great tempura and moderate prices has had diners lining up out front for years.

25. Kani Doraku
Osaka-fu, Osaka-shi, Chuo-ku, Dotombori 1-6-18

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Japan has a number of restaurants that advertise their specialty with a giant animatronic crab, but none is more famous than the Kani Doraku branch in Osaka’s Dotombori entertainment district.

24. Sukibayashi Jiro
Tokyo-to, Minato-ku, Roppongi 6-12-2 Roppongi Hills Keyakizakadori 3rd floor

Ever wanted to dine at the same sushi restaurant as sake-sampling heads of state and demanding Chinese exchange students? Here’s your chance.

23. Katsukura
Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Shimogyo-ku, Higashi Shiokojicho, Kyoto Station Building Senmontengai The Cube 11th floor

If you’re not interested in sushi, because of an aversion to raw food, this Kyoto Station restaurant specializes in deep-fried tonkatsu pork cutlets.

22. Yamato Sushi
Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1, Tsukiji Fish Market, Building 6

Back to Tokyo, back to sushi with this restaurant located inside Japan’s largest seafood market.

21. New York Grill and Bar
Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Nishi Shinjuku 3-7-1-2 Park Hyatt Tokyo 52nd floor

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Yes, you can drink and dine just where Bill Murray’s character did in Lost in Translation. Sip your Suntory whiskey, marvel at the fantastic view of Tokyo, and wonder just how Bob and Charlotte managed to get bored in such a massive city with so many places to explore.

20. Kyoto Gogyo
Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Nakagyo-ku, Yanagibabadori, Takoyakushi Kudaru, Jumonji-cho

Japan’s ancient capital isn’t all rarified restaurants and delicate delicacies, as proven by the many fans of Kyoto Gogyo’s ramen.

19. Maiizumi
Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 4-8-5

Once again, deep-fried pork proves to be a hit with a wide cross-section of travelers, as yet another tonkatsu restaurant, the Aoyama branch of Maiizumi, makes the list.

18. Kamimura
Hokkaido, Abuta-gun, Kucchan-cho, Yamada 190-4, Shiki Niseko 1st floor

The Niseko ski resort shows up again, this time with the Michelin-ranked French/Japanese fusion Kamimura.

17. Midorizushi
Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Dogenzaka 1-12, Shibuya Mark City East 4th floor

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Located beneath several floors of offices, you’ll want to get here before the lunch rush for some of Tokyo’s best reasonably-priced sushi.

16. Ro
Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingumae, 6-2-4

If you’re not looking for the latest fashions, you might be tempted to pass on visiting Tokyo’s shopping mecca of Harajuku. If you’re into deep-fried gyoza pot stickers, though, you owe it to yourself to wade through the fashionistas and try the ones at Ro.

15. Chojiro
Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Shimogyo-ku, Hashimoto-cho, 103-2

You’ll see a few revolving sushi restaurants in any large Japanese city, but Trip Advisor’s didn’t find any they liked more than Chojiro.

14. Ninja Akasaka
Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Nagata-cho 2-14-3, Akasaka Tokyo Plaza 1st floor

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Even if it wasn’t designed to look like a secret ninja castle, and even if the wait staff didn’t perform incredible magic tricks at your table, Akasaka’s ninja-themed restaurant would still be worth a visit for its beautifully inventive and delicious food. Make sure you reserve a table ahead of time, though, as a two-hour wait isn’t unheard of.

13. Ukai
Tokyo-to, Minato-ku, Shiba Koen 4-4-13

This branch of the Ukai chain, located near Tokyo Tower, specializes in tofu, which is served in private dining rooms surrounded by beautiful gardens.

12. Tapas Molecular Bar
Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Muromachi 2-1-1 Mandarin Oriental Tokyo 38th floor

With space for only eight diners and just two seating per night, reservations are essential for this molecular cuisine restaurant in the luxury Mandarin Oriental Tokyo hotel.

11. Kaiseki 511
Tokyo-to, Minato-ku, Akasaka 4-3-28 Dia Plaza Akasaka basement level 1

Although it’s located in the upscale Akasaka neighborhood of Tokyo, Kaiseki 511’s specialty is kobe beef.

10. Ichiran
Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Jinnan 1-22-7 Iwamoto Building basement level 1

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While travelers gave the no to the Shibuya branch in Tokyo, there’s a whole chain of Ichiran ramen joints. The first time I ate in one on the outskirts of a red light district in Yokohama, I thought its unique setup, with privacy-insuring walls and a screen that ensures even the waiter doesn’t see your face, was to protect the privacy of diners who stopped in for a bite after spending time at one of the local hostess bars. The reality isn’t anything so untoward, as Ichiran’s owners simply want to make sure nothing distracts you from the delicious noodles they serve.

9. Ippudo
Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Nakagyo-ku, Higashi Toin, Nishikikoji Higashiiru 653-1 Nishiki Building 1st floor

Edging Ichiran for the top ramen restaurant on the list was Ippudo. The original location of this pork-broth specialist is in Fukuoka, but you can find branches of the chain in Tokyo and Yokohama as well.

8. Yamazaki
Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1, Tsukiji Fish Market Building 6

Tsukiji gets still more help in building its reputation as the best place in Japan for sushi with this restaurant located inside the market.

7. Narisawa
Tokyo-to, Minato-ku, Aoyama 2-6-15

Trip Advisor’s number-seven restaurant actually did better in Hospitality Magazine’s rankings, where it was picked as the best in Japan for its innovative French-inspired menu that includes such unique offerings as dirt soup.

6. Hofu
Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Nakagyo-ku, Fuyachodori, Ebisugawa Noboru, Sasayacho 471-1

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This restaurant, which specializes in steak and beef cutlet, was Kyoto’s highest-ranked restaurant on the list.

5. Wakkoqu
Hyogo-ken, Kobe-shi, Chuo-ku, Kitanocho 1-1, Shin Kobe Oriental Avenue 3rd floor

It’s no surprise that Kobe’s top restaurant serves Kobe beef.

4. Kyube
Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Ginza 8-7-6

This sushi restaurant, located in Tokyo’s Ginza, came so close to taking the sushi crown away from Tsukiji.

3. Dai
Toyko-to, Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1, Tsukiji Fish Market Building 6

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No, that’s not a photo of the entrance to Tokyo Station during rush hour. It’s just the line for lunch at Dai, Japan’s highest-ranked sushi restaurant.

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2. Center4 Hamburgers
Gifu-ken, Takayama-shi, Kamiichino-cho 94

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What’s more surprising, that Japan’s number-two restaurant is located in rural Takayama, or that it uses the region’s prized Hida beef to make mouth-watering hamburgers?

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1. M
Osaka-fu, Osaka-shi, Chuo-ku Namba 1-1-19

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Surprisingly, Trip Advisor’s top-ranked restaurant isn’t in Tokyo or Kyoto, and it doesn’t serve sushi or tempura. Instead, the Hozenji Yokocho branch of M in Osaka is ready to satisfy your carnivorous cravings with marbled Matsuzaka beef. Oddly enough, Matsuzaka beef isn’t raised in Osaka, but in Mie, two prefectures to the east.

Apparently the logistics aren’t a problem though, as travelers chose M as their favorite restaurant in the country.

 

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Travelers on Trip Advisor pick Japan’s 30 best restaurants

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Foreign residents pick their favorite snacks to pair with Japanese beer

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A few years ago, I was hanging out with a friend in Tokyo. Being recently married meant that for the first time in several years I was living in an apartment more spacious and comfortable than a bunker, and I invited my buddy back to my place for a beer.

I called my wife to give her a heads-up that I was bringing home a guest, and when we arrived, I was surprised to see she’d gone down the block to the store and picked up a selection of snacks for our impromptu drinking session. In hindsight, this really shouldn’t have been so unexpected, as beer is almost always accompanied by food in Japan.

Our memories are a little hazy, but we seem to remember being taught, “When in Rome, drink as the Romans.” Taking this to heart, recently a group of foreign residents in Japan shared their favorite munchies to pair with Japanese beer.

While most people who relocate to Japan eventually adapt to the local cuisine, some dishes can be an acquired taste, such as spicy cod roe or chicken cartilage (both are outstanding, by the way). Japanese beer has no such learning curve, however, and you’d be hard-pressed to find an expat here who likes a drink now and then but doesn’t appreciate the local brews.

It’s always seemed fitting that Ebisu beer shares its name with a full-fledged god.

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Japanese beer received kind praise in general from the 20 foreign residents polled, with fans citing its smooth, rich flavor. Brewers in Japan often roll out limited-time versions of their products with the change of seasons, such as amber beers in the fall and whites in winter, which participants also said they enjoyed.

Asahi’s packaging asserts that it is “the beer for all seasons,” however.

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Still, the focus group did have a few quibbles about Japanese beers. One American male lamented the lack of Japanese-produced ales, likely a byproduct of the country’s relative lack of the hard water preferred for their brewing process. An arrival from Tunisia grumbled that Japanese beer’s alcohol content wasn’t quite as high as he’d like.

This is an extremely simple problem to rectify.

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But when foreigners in Japan are pounding down a few cold ones, what do they chow down on? One man from Brazil said he goes for either umeboshi (pickled plums) or chocolate. Actually, neither of these are completely unheard of in Japan, with umeboshi being a popular at-home snack for older men, and chocolate often being on the menu at bars, particularly upscale ones.

▼ Umeboshi and Premium Malt’s: affordable luxuries.

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If neither sour nor sweet is what you’re looking for, you could follow the lead of the Greek man who suggested Pote Long, a popular brand of crispy potato chip-like snack sticks. Regular potato chips are also a common beer partner, and Japan has a ton of unique flavors.

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Of course, sometimes you crave a little protein, in which case there’s no better choice than meat. Respondents mentioned the Japanese-style fried chicken karaage, which is usually seasoned with garlic, soy, and/or ginger, as well as the chicken skewers known as yakitori. And if it’s right after payday, you could take the advice of the Taiwanese man who gave his answer as yakiniku, or Korean barbeque.

We’re sort of blurring the line between “snack” and “meal” here, though.

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By far the group’s favorite snack to have with beer, though, was edamame, also known as soybeans. Yes, the same edamame that get recommended by nutritionists and show up in vegetarian eating guides. Toss a little salt on them, chill before serving if it’s summer, and you’ve got a light, tasty, healthy snack that you can eat with your fingers.

Edamame are essentially the Japanese version of crunchy mini pretzels. You don’t have to be drinking a beer to enjoy their flavor, but the combination is highly recommended.

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Source: Nico Nico News

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Foreign residents pick their favorite snacks to pair with Japanese beer

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The Sound Table x Yardbird HK x Wish “One Night in Atlanta” Recap

Last weekend, The Sound Table Bar & Restaurant and Atlanta-based boutique, Wish, welcomed one of Hong Kong’s most well-respected Japanese Yakitori restaurants, Yardbird to the city of Atlanta. Following a preview of the trio’s collaborative T-shirts last week, the night was hosted this past Saturday evening within The Sound Table’s Edgewood Ave. space where Lead Chef Matt Abergel and Yardbird’s Lindsay Jang were both in attendance for the two seating engagement.

Those who were lucky enough to get a seating were able to sample Yardbird’s extension menu all curated and prepped by Abergel himself. The multi-course meal was also paired with custom cocktails and Sake from the bar while a late night afterparty was thrown with sounds by Pat Mahony of DFA, LCD Soundsystem and Eug (Public Release, FACE).