Browsing articles from "August, 2012"
Aug 31, 2012
Ben

Juice: Your Recovery Stop After a Work Out or All Nighter


Squeezing the good stuff out of the superfood boom that rattled the West a few years back is Sky High Juice Bar (TN Aoyama Bldg, 2-3-4 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku; www.skyhigh-tokyo.jp), where you can sip on concoctions of chemical-free liquids squeezed from all manner of mostly organic pods, husks and berries. To get over your night doing something more damaging in Shibuya, try the detox sweet green (¥1,000) with kale, celery, cucumber, cabbage, apple or pear, plus lemon and ginger for a little added zing and color. Other blends are offered to target whatever your problem might be, be it skin, blood, or an inability to sing in tune.

source: Metropolis

Aug 27, 2012
Ben

Warayakiya: “Seariously” succulent in Roppongi

Having walked past Warayakiya many times, and always thought it looked beautiful but probably too touristy and very expensive, we decided to try it out when friends were in from out of town. Turns out we were wrong on both counts.

We booked Saturday morning for that night to be rewarded with the best table in the house—one running the length of the open front windows. Seating is also available on the deck outside, or at the counter to witness the chefs employing the technique from which the restaurant gets its name.

The warayaki cooking method from Kochi in Shikoku uses straw instead of coal for a greater burning temperature. The 900-degree Celsius fire is perfect for lightly searing food without touching the insides. A favorite recipient of this nifty trick is Kochi’s specialty, katsuo (bonito).

This is the flagship dish of Warayakiya (¥1,280), and the slabs of red seared fish, served with slices of garlic, wasabi and crystal salt on the side, are like buttery steaks. The meatiness is locked up in a soft, wanton texture, and we eschewed soy sauce in favor of the crystal salt to avoid undue influence on its purity. It’s worth coming here for this dish alone.

But while you’re at it of course, you might as well order more from the pictorial menu (available in English). We tried the deep-fried eel (crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside; ¥680), the seared mackerel sushi (spectacular; ¥880), and a surprise hit: the deep-fried sweet potato (¥580) that tasted like an exquisite fairground treat.

While all this was going on we were tucking into varieties of sake at an alarming rate (from ¥380). The entertaining list features a grid with two axes: sweet versus dry on one, light vs. strong on the other, with the labels distributed accordingly. We carried out some tastings and failed miserably at guessing which was which. Though we did successfully get drunk.

The décor, with a wooden porch-like facade, subtle lighting and a summer breeze wafting in from the street, gives a classy burnish to the proceedings—as does the mostly Japanese urbanite crowd chattering and noshing away. The only incongruous element to the experience was, happily, the price. For ten or so dishes, half a dozen tokkuri of sake, two rounds of shochu sours (from ¥480) and even a digestif to round it off, the damage was an undamaging ¥4,000 per head. Maybe it’s got something to do with the price of straw.

[Menu] Japanese,English

[Price] ¥4,000 per person with drinks

[Seats] Counter to watch the straw blaze

6-8-8 Roppongi, Minato-ku

Tel: 03-5410-5560

[Nearest station]  Roppongi

Open Mon-Sat 5pm-5am, 5-11pm Sun & hols

 

Aug 17, 2012
Ben

Four Beaches Not Far From Tokyo

When most people think of Tokyo they don’t think of beaches, but with hot summers they’ll soon end up in one’s dreams. Luckily living on an island a beach is never too far away, and only a short drive or train ride away.

Since the weekend is nearly here though this guide will be short highlighting only four beaches. All of these great weekend spots are within an hour or two of Tokyo and make for a great one day vacation.

photo: Peter Lidell

Just south of Tokyo is Kamakura, a great historical town that also has a few beaches. Along with the beaches are the beach front bars that have a reputation as both great day and nightspots… read more about Kamakura

 

photo: Catherine Hagar

Just a little further south of Kamakura is Chigasaki, a small beach town famous for opening Japan’s first surf shop. All the beaches aren’t just for surfing though with some great spots for families and swimmers alike… read more about Chigasaki

 

photo: Franki Webb

If it’s Cancun, or a Latin American vibe, that’s being sought then Onjuku in Chiba is just the beach! With lobsters in sombreros, Mexican restaurants, and more this is as close as you’ll get to Mexico in Japan… read more about Mexico Japan aka Onjuku

 

photo: Bryan Baier

Sometimes in Japan white sand and blue water can be hard to find, but only 2.5 hours south of Tokyo is Tatadohama beach. With its beautiful water its sure to remind of Okinawa and Hawaii…  read more about Tatadohama

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Those are just 4 of the many great and convenient beaches surrounding Tokyo. Make sure to not just read about them but also plan a getaway this weekend!

Aug 9, 2012
Ben

Craft Beer Market

By David Labi

Slurp through 30 types of beer at a vibrant, open-fronted bar in the Bohemian urban-suburbia of Jimbocho, courtesy of Craft Beer Market’s second branch. The first one in Toranomon has been such a success since opening last year that this new locale was unveiled a couple of months back to some media fanfare. Which perhaps explains why, when arriving there at 5pm, the entire place was booked out. We’d heard a reservation was recommended, but figured getting there early would be fine. Wrong.

We managed to wrangle a table for a limited two hours. That gave us an excuse to order practically everything on the menu in record time.

Most ales are Japanese, from Shikoku, Saitama, Kanagawa and more, with international wildcards thrown in. We kicked off with a Belgian cherry beer less sweet than its aroma, which layered the palate reasonably. Various other beers came and went, but none were particularly satisfying. The hoppy beers seemed too hoppy, while the fruity beers were too fruity or not fruity enough. Some were wonderful on the first sip, only to be scuppered by a bizarre aftertaste. We’re not craft connoisseurs, but it was quite difficult to find one that really worked. The victor was a Kanagawa yuzu beer. You couldn’t taste the yuzu but the ale was great.

The otoshi—tasty tostados of tuna salad—turned us onto the food menu, with assorted snacks and Japo-Mediterranean fusion. Pass over the paltry ham (half portion; ¥900) for the rotisserie chicken that revolves seductively above the shiny taps. A whole bird comes quartered for ¥1,600, with a lip-smacking flavor to its crispy skin. The skinny and herby chips (¥600) are abundant, dusted with chilli powder for some bite.

All this tucker couldn’t soak up the gallons o’ ale. At ¥480 a glass, it’s more economical to get pints for ¥780, but the desire to try kept us on the glasses. Plus most come only slightly chilled, and even a glass’s dregs could get a little soupy.

The place is smartly laid out with high, square wooden tables, bottles and kegs on display and a chalkboard beer map of Japan. But the best part is the Tokyo rarity of an open front that allows the summer breeze (if any) to float in. Smokers are confined to a small corner box, and there’s a small standing-only area.

In the end we were glad to be kicked out at 7:15pm, as a longer stay would have led to bankruptcy. The costs mount up as you’re chugging down the glasses, and the food, though generally respectable, is not cheap. All in all it was fun tasting a range of Japan’s craft beer, but gimmicky flavors might make you wish for a smaller, and better, selection.

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[Menu] Menu in Japanese

[Price] Beer ¥480 (glass), ¥780 (pint)

[Smoking] Mostly nonsmoking

[Seats] Anywhere, but reserve!

 

1F, 2-11-15 Jimbocho, Chiyoda-ku
Tel: 03-6272-5652
Open: Open daily 11:30am-2pm; 5-11:30pm
Nearest stn: Jimbocho
www.metropolis.co.jp
Aug 3, 2012
Francesco Agresti

Top 10 Japanese Travel Destinations for Foreigners

One of Japan’s greatest strengths is its wide variety of locations and scenery. In fact, there are so many that the average traveler can only squeeze in just a few spots into their itinerary. That is why we have compiled a list of this year’s most popular and talked about destinations to help ease your decision making process. You simply can’t go wrong no matter which ones you choose!

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