Posts Tagged ‘ginza’

Donuts in Tokyo

I love donuts. It goes to figure we would look for donuts while in Tokyo. Before heading over, I was curious to see if there was any difference. In a nut shell, they are less sweet than their American counterparts, and have different presentation and flavors. Overall though, I think I prefer the super junky donuts of the US, but for variety I’d go to Japan.

First up is Doughnut Plant. This isn’t a Japanese chain, it actually started in New York, but it is prominently displayed in several subway stations, so I figured I’d give it a try.

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I tried the pumpkin cake doughnut, the apple cinnamon glazed donut, and the kinako glazed donut. The pumpkin and kinako ones were fails. No flavor, strange after tastes. The apple cinnamon one tasted the most like what I would expect a fatty donut back home to taste like – it was moist, cinnamony, and soft.

Next up is Mister Donut, which apparently wasn’t always an Asian company but became a predominantly one when an Asian company bought the franchise/chain. These donut shops are all over Tokyo. We went to the one in Akihabara.

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I ordered a chocolate dip crueller which was sliced in half and filled with light creme, and a strawberry cake donut. The strawberry cake donut was pretty flavorless as well, but the crueller was delicious – the chocolate was perfectly hardened and had the right crunch when biting into that and the soft donut filled with creme that wasn’t too sweet. A good afternoon treat!

Here’s a better shot of the entire counter:

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Okay, for something a little less donut looking but still a donut, we went to a bake shop called Kimuraya. This was in the Matsuya Ginza shopping mall on one of the bottom floors. We ordered a curry bun, and an azuki (red bean) bun.

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The curry bun was delicious, even when cold. Kyung and I each ordered one, and it came in a deep fried bun filled with fragrant and delicious curry with bits of meat.

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The azuki bun was even more delicious – chock full of red bean that was not overly sweet, in a deep fried soft bun covered in sugar. I love eating these azuki ‘donuts’ and I eat them at home all the time too!

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Torafugu Tei – Ginza

I’ve eaten fugu fish and it’s been 5 hours and I’m still alive so I think that’s a good sign. Right!?

Kyung wanted to try fugu fish before we left Tokyo. Since our vacation days are winding down and we only have 48 hours or so left here, we scrambled to find a restaurant that prepared fugu fish. Fugu is not one of those fish you can find by just randomly stumbling into a sushi restaurant. According to Wikipedia, only a few places can legally prepare fugu fish, since the fish is so deadly if it’s not prepared properly. We asked around, and it seemed that even the locals didn’t know where to go really. I did some searching on Google and found a Yelp like local review tool for Tokyo called SunnyPages. From here I found reviews for a place called Torafugu Tei, a chain in Tokyo that specializes in fugu fish only.

We dashed into a cab in the rain and made it to the restaurant. The restaurant is inside what looks to be an office building, so from the outside you can’t really tell there’s a restaurant inside (though the office like building is on a street with many restaurants). We walked into the building and found the restaurant, which is split across several floors. We sat one floor below the main entrance, and you get to sit in a traditional dining room where just your party is ensconced in a small wooden room where you take your shoes off, and you sit around a table with an electric table top heat conductor in the middle. Very high tech!

We stared at the menu and decided to order the set course #1.
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Our first course was fugu skin sashimi that came in a citrusy ponzo sauce.
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The skin was thick and had a texture similar to cold pork belly. It was very refreshing with the light sauce and had a similar flavor to many starter sashimi dishes you would get at a restaurant that is Michelin rated. So far so good!

Second course was actual fugu sashimi, thinly slivered and arranged on a plate in the traditional fugu preparation style, which is a chrysanthemum (the flower for death). It came with a hint of lemon, more ponzu sauce, and various flavored greens like green onion.
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This dish was very refreshing as well. After I ate it, my inner cheeks started getting a weird tingly/itchy feeling that lasted for about 10 minutes. I kept stretching my jaws to get rid of the feeling. Kind of weird.

Next course was the deep fried fugu. The coating was very well seasoned, and the crispy texture of the outside complemented the soft and creamy fish inside. The only thing that was a bit bothersome was the fact that the fish was complete with bone, so you didn’t want to crunch into your fish too hard.
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After that was the fugu soup (like hot pot). This part was very shocking – we received large pieces of raw fugu that were STILL MOVING. See twitching fish here!

We boiled the fugu pieces with various light veggies like tofu, mushrooms, and cabbage shabu shabu style.
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The broth didn’t end up having too much flavor, unfortunately.
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We later took the soup and made rice porridge with it – that was yummy. We mixed in additional ingredients.
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The porridge came out much more flavorful and hearty. We added rice, raw eggs, seaweed, salt, and soy sauce. There was also pickled ume (plum) and daikon to add additional flavor (I loved the ume but not so much the daikon; Kyung gave me all his pickles).
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We ended with a simple slice of canteloupe.

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The simplicity and familiarity of the fruit after having such an exotic and unusual meal was a stark contrast. The meal was definitely a once in a lifetime experience, and while we were a bit worried about the poison, clearly we’re still here!

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