Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fresh Hot Tempura at Wakatake Tempura Restaurant

Every Japanese restaurant has tempura on their menu, however, it's rarely something I enjoy. Usually it's either oily, soggy, or the batter is way too thick. On this trip, I got a taste of how tempura should be. It seems simple, but really is an art.

We went to Wakatake Tempura Restaurant in Takanawa Prince Hotel. Each table had its own cooking station in the middle with a copper shield. The tempura chef came out and brought the plates of seafood and vegetable and placed them on thetable. The plate of vegetables contained what was ordered and other vegetables they have in season, which can also be requested as an additional.

The vegetables were prepared in front of us. The chef carefuly peeled each stalk of asparagus and sliced it to the appropriate sizes.
After preparing all the vegetables, the chef started to make the batter from scratch. It consisted of basic ingredients which were egg yolks, water, and flour. The chef alternated with seafood and vegetables, each served immediately. Depending on what was being cooked, the chef adjusted the temperature of the oil and the lengh of time it was in the oil.
The result of these simple ingredients and good quality food was marvelous! The batter was thin, yet it was so crispy and the inside was hot and soft. All attention was purely on the flavor and texture of the food and not on the batter. Although it was fried, it didn't feel oily, which is how fried food should turn out like. We rarely used the tempura sauce, instead used salt and lemon juice which brought out the flavor more. This was a great experience. I went to Tokyo last year and wasn't able to try out a tempura restaurant and this year, I am so glad I finally did. Now, I look at tempura in a whole new light and it's definitely a place I would visit again.

Tokyo Ice Bar

The first time I saw Tokyo Ice Bar was on Amazing Race Asia, season 2. I belive it's the same company as the Ice Hotel in Sweden.

Before walking into the bar, we got a poncho to wear over our clothes so that we wouldn't freeze. Walking into the bar, I was surprised that it was such a small area and it wasn't crowded, being a weekend night. We ordered some drinks, which came in ice glasses and after about 20 minutes, I realized why the place doesn't get crowded. By this time, we were freezing. Our toes were numb, and there wasn't too much to do except stand/sit around and chat. There is music, but it's not a place you can dance.

The bar:
The ice glasses:
One of the places you could sit:
After about half an hour, we were out of there. It's an interesting concept, however, it's not a place I would go to again. It's more of a place to see what it's about, but not really a place spend with friends and let time pass by. I think it's better to visit the Ice Hotel instead.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tokyo Day 2: Sashimi, Crab, and Shabu-Shabu

Day two in Tokyo consisted pretty much of shopping and eating. One of the most popular Japanese food is sashimi. I don't know the name of the restaurant we went to, but it was located near the Tsukiji fish market. The seafood we got on our plate was a good variety and was very fresh. My favorite was the uni. It was so creamy and sweet, and there was no after taste that lingers on the tougue. It was also served with fishballs and broth.

For dinner, we went to a restaurant chain called Seryna. They specialize in teppanyaki, shabu-shabu, and sukiyaki. This night, we enjoyed the shabu-shabu and crab. The crab is from Hokkaido, and it was soft and sweet. It was pre-cut so it was very easy to remove from the shell and eat.

For the shabu-shabu, beef and crab were the main items ordered. The crab texture was different from above. We cooked it perfectly that it was so juicy and soft. The restaurant is also known for their beef, the beef was thinly sliced and incredibly marbled.

The day was filled with good food. A few years ago, I didn't enjoy eating sashimi, I'm glad that I can enjoy it now. Seryna is a place I would definitely go back to.