Japan day 13: knife and Kappabashi

Toshimi Saitou, chef of Yokohama Ramen Saito, suggested me to visit Kappabashi “Kitchen Town” in Tokyo. Lazy Penguin suggested to buy a good Japanese kitchen knife. So today’s mission: buy a knife in Kappabashi.

The street is close to Ueno Station, this blog has a detailed story about the location. Today is Labor Day, so most people are having a free day.

When I arrived at Kappabashi, half of the stores were open.

I found a knife shop (Kitchen World TDI Knife shop) and I was overwhelmed by all the Japanese knives.

The owner told me that any knife is good. The prices range from 4000 yen to 40.000++yen (30 euro to 300 euro). Probably even higher, but I didn’t dare to look at those.

My budget: 10.000 yen. I picked a knife which looked nice and was nice to hold and cut. The curly waves in the blade come from 37 layers of steel. It’s called Damascus steel. Wikipedia says: This “Modern Damascus” is made from several types of steel and iron slices welded together to form a billet, and currently the term “damascus” (although technically incorrect) is widely accepted to describe modern pattern welded steel blades in the trade.

I bought the 4th one from the left, a black handled knife with dimples. The dimples create air between the ingredient, so it will not stick to the knife. For example, when you cut a cucumber, the slice will fall from the knife easier.

I can’t wait to use it at home! Internet says it’s very sharp and it stays sharp for a ling time. When I am going to sharpen it, I will need to do some research to do it properly. So I won’t damage my precious. I will let you know the experiences by then!

Have a lovely day!

⬆ One of the kitchen shops

Japan day 12: Tokyo Gyukatsu Motomura

We are back in Tokyo again. Tokyo is really a metropolis compared to Kyoto. Broad roads, tall buildings, big and hip shops..

But Tokyo also has the smallest restaurants like Beef Kontatsu “Gyugatsu Motomura”. I think I found this restaurant on Google maps with 4+ stars. The place has one stroke of walking area, with the kitchen across of the eating counter. There are 9 seats I believe.

When we arrived there was a short line, about 40 minutes waiting. But it was really worth it; soft beef in a thin crispy dough layer. You could dip it in soy sauce and wasabi, which reminds me of sashimi. And there was a horse radish sauce, which was my favorite. We ate very fast, because people are waiting outside and it was so quiet. Everyone was just enjoying the food.

The price for all of this? 1200 yen, which is about 9 euro. So cheap for such high quality meat. Lazy Bear and I agree, this was more delicious than Kobe beef. 😬

When we left, the line was twice as long. But it’s worth it!

That’s it for today. Let’s end it with a smore ice cream from Dominique Ansel Bakery.

Japan day 11: food bucket list

Yesterday I talked about a food bucket list and a reader asked what else there is on my list. The list didn’t exist (yet) on black and white, only in my head. So here is my food bucket list for Japan.

To eat:

– good sushi, tuna sashimi, salmon sashimi [✓ ate today]

– desserts from Dominique Ansel Bakery Japan

– tempura, fried stuff

– yakitori, meat on a stick [✓ ate today]

– chicken wings from Yamachan

– natto on rice, fermented soy beans

Already ate:

– Kobe beef

– onigiri from 7eleven

– flan from 7eleven

– curry bang

– ramen

– okonomiyaki

– takoyaki

– meat over rice, beef don

– udon

– shabu shabu, hotpot

– Coco curry

– Kura Sushi, win a toy

– ekiban, lunch box in the train

Good sushi

Today we finally ate sushi. It was at a small store near Nijo castle. When we arrived no one was there yet. So I have been able to film some sushi action. I will make a video about the restaurant, because the experiences were so pleasant.

Inside there were three old chefs. One chef could speak some English, so he took our order. Luckily the menu had photos. We picked a sushi set with tempura and one with a mini hot pot. Two chefs skillfully started making the sushi in front of us. And in the back the third chef was preparing the hot stuff.

The sushi was just perfect. Soft tuna with fluffy, light flavoured rice. Every sushi piece had the perfect mouthfeel and taste. There was a small bowl of rice with egg pancake slices, fish eggs, unagi and fish meat. The taste was so well balanced. Every bite was perfectly flavoured. The hot pot soup was also very good, sweet and salty. This has been one of my favorite food experience here in Japan. One chef also advised us how to eat the sushi, which sushi not to dip in the soysauce and how to eat the hotpot. Very nice of him to teach us some food culture.

Yakitori, meat on a stick

For dinner we had stick food. It was not that mind blowing. Just okay sticks. The chicken+leek was the best. I think we need to go to a better place to eat yakitori. So my food bucket list for Japan is almost done. Still 4 things I want to try.

Tomorrow: back to Tokyo. More ekiban on the train!

Japan day 10: Kobe beef

So today we ate Kobe beef. This was on my food bucket list. Check ✔, also done. So how did it taste?

Soft, squishy, a little vain, but sweet beef. *Squish squish* with every chew. It’s like eating the fat part, but not that greasy. From a lot of YouTube videos I heard: “melts in your mouth”. But for me it’s not really melting on your tongue, but just very soft, creamy and squishy. The texture doesn’t really feel meat-like. The taste is really nice combined with on of the three sauces: soy sauce, Himalaya salt and their special miso sauce. But it doesn’t have the biggest beef flavor, more of a subtle beef taste.

The bill? € 210,- per person. Yes, that’s a lot of money. Ate it all. We had a menu set with a beef starter, oxtail soup, salad, 100g Kobe beef, veggies, desserts and an after drink. Is it worth it?

Meh, not really. Other (sous vide) beef is also very good. This is just an eat-experience you can’t create yourself. So if you are a fan of meat, you should have tried this once. Also, the service of the restaurant was excellent. Very attentive and thorough. You also pay for that experience.

Kobe beef at home?

Can prepare Kobe beef yourself? If you buy the Kobe beef.. I wonder if you can easily buy it if you are not a restaurant. Let’s Google this..

Omg! It’s hard to find Kobe beef outside of Japan. But lately they are exporting cows to Europe. You can buy Kobe beef in the Netherlands according to this list. Larry Olmsted talks about eating Kobe beef outside of Japan, but you have to be careful, it might be not the real deal. It’s an interesting article…

So, would I want to eat it again? No, not really, it’s too expensive. And I prefer the meat texture and beef taste of a sous vide steak. One day, Lazy Penguin will show you how to make it.

Japan Kyoto day 9: cultural differences Japan vs Netherlands

I feel that the photo stories are getting boring, so today I will talk about some interesting things I have noticed. Some cultural differences compared to the Netherlands.

Cultural differences

Stay left. In Japan they drive on the left side. Walking on the street is also on the left. Standing still on the escalator is also on the left. Walk on the right. In Osaka they do it the other way around. In the train and subway stations you will see arrows on the ground for guidance.

Run for the traffic light. People often run towards the traffic light when they see it is green or when they know it will be green soon. I have never seen this in NL. Only when the green light starts to blink, I will walk a bit faster.

Food lines. Often you see lines in front of restaurants, but I noticed, it doesn’t mean it is totally full inside. I think they do this so they can give you full attention inside. When we went to the 550 year soba restaurant with the line, there were quite some tables free inside.

Mind your own business. People in the train really keep their eyes to themselves. They won’t stare at Western people, unlike in China. Also people walk very considerate. They notice you from afar and will walk a bit the side. Europe and China experiences are more like *bump bump*.

Less bowing. 8 years ago they bowed more. These days no one has bowed for us. Interesting… But I like this much better. A lot of bowing made me feel uncomfortable.

Toilets. The toilets here are the best advanced inventions. A comfortable heated seat, water sprays for you bottom area, music for hiding pooping sound. Every station has very pretty and clean toilets: nice interior, better lighting than the station part and even a make-up area. I wonder when Japanese people go to Europe and try those cold seated toilets. Do they think: “Wow, what an ancient toilet.. but man! Do they have thick and soft toilet paper!” I wonder…

Also the showers are so comfortable. In our hotel we have a whole little room for scrubbing you body first in front of a mirror and a bath tub next to it. You can make the whole room wet, because every corner is water proof. And there is a very good exhaust system to get rid of the water.

Photos of the day

We went to the bamboo forrest. Was okay to see, there were a lot tourists of course. When I played Okami (PlayStation game) the bamboo forrest was more magnificent.

Shrine at a shopping area.

Ramen at Ippudo Nishikikouji. This was my favourite bowl till now. Chicken like broth, but is was pork, not too strong flavour. Medium thin noodles, firm bite. Fatty pork. Nice spice kick. Haaaa… I just love ramen <3

Tomorrow Kobe! To eat Kobe beef 😋 nomnomnom…

Japan Kyoto day 8: Kiyumizu-Dera temple

On a lovely autumn day we went to the Kiyumizu-dera temple. The journey was long and a lot of streets were battled. Finally we were there, but the building was under construction. But fear not, the view of red, yellow and orange trees made it all up. And the inside interior of the temple was still nice to behold. The end.

More stories

Below are some fried potato croquettes. I tried the Kobe beef version and it was sweet and savoury.

A cute raccoon, at least, I think it’s a raccoon…

For dinner we had CoCo Curry, a franchise which specialises in curry. It had a light curry taste, but it tatses really good. I had 3/10 spice level, which has a good kick.

Arcade games

Lazy Bear won a Tako from the grabber machine! After two tries! Woohoo! We also played some games at the namco arcade. There are so many arcades here with shooting games, rhythm games, grabber games, coin games, photo boots etc.

Another The End.

Japan day 7: Osaka

We visited Osaka today and saw a beautiful aquarium, ate yakitori at two places and ate famous okonomiyaki. Dotonbori, street full with lights, shops and food. Gigantic water tanks in the aquarium. Takoyaki = gooey dough balls with a octopus piece. Verdict: so soft and savoury. Okonomiyaki = gooey pancake filled with cole, bacon, shrimp, kimchi, pink ginger, octopus. Topped with sweet sauce, mayo and mosterd. Verdict: a bit too sweet after a lot of bites. But love the softness. When we left the Okonomiyaki restaurant Ajinoya, a huge line appeared. We didn’t have a line. Yes! Avoided the line. I am tired of a long day, so a small post for today. Good night/good afternoon/good day, wherever you are ^^