Tofu

Full of protein, healthy, tofu is a paste made out of soja. In Europe, it is usually considered as a boring item, diet oriented or special for vegan.

Here, it is part of the cuisine, and you can find all sorts of different tofus at the supermarket as well as hundreds of ways to prepare it. There are tofu restaurants, usually quite expensive.

My friend Francoise and I found one that we really enjoyed, in the Shimbashi/Ginza area, on the Ginza corridor. that was very accidentally that we spot it as it has a tiny entrance in between 2 large steakhouses and is on a 2nd floor. however, it is traditional, you are accomodated in small individual rooms separated by sliding rice paper doors and has a great menu.

With our little knowledge, we went to try out a bit of everything and it turned out to be a great dinner, we were full but not heavy. I recommended it

 

The only thing is that I am not even able to read the name of the restaurant!! it is located in Ginza corridor 7-2 on 2F – tel 03 6274 6933 – it is called Ohashi Ginza – post code is 104-0061 – you can book online!!

Nagoya – a great hotel guests love

Thursday was business trip for me to Nagoya.

As this is the beginning of the Obon week, you can imagine that train stations and airports were packed. Even though JR has planned shinkansen in the Tokaido line every 4mn (how do we do in France that they cannot manage to get one train every 90mn to arrive on time, it always intrigues me), I had to let a large number of trains go until I could get a seat!

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I approached this trip with a pure business focus in mind and hardly any expectation on Nagoya. I have been there years ago and had not found anything special to it. I knew I would have an interesting afternoon as we had to review a specific segment of clientele where we need some work done.

Let me tell, what I found was extraordinary. Although the hotel does not enjoy the best location out of all luxury business hotels in town, it is a gem!! Fully renovated, beautiful restaurants and what a team!! So far, all I heard was that Nagoya people are “different” and they don’t like to spend. Instead, it was a friendly and outgoing bunch of people, all extremely competent and professional, smiling, attached to service, client oriented.

First surprise happened upon arrival. there was a meeting to taste the winter menu, each chef for each of the 6 restaurants was describing his new menu, the recipe, the preparation, the presentation, the ingredients. All the newcomers (young people just out of university) were religiously taking notes, at the end of the session, all could taste. When I asked whether it would be too early to try the December menu in August, all looked at me astonished, they explained this is why they do it, all have notes and have time to review, learn, ask questions and the chef to prepare orders, suppliers, produce etc.

 

We then moved to our meeting. After that, I was lucky enough to be here for the welcome celebration party for the new General Manager and again what I found was amazing – a great atmosphere, a buffet that some of our clients would envy, fantastic team, the owner present and mingling with his teams, the GM very open and approachable, the employees smiling and coming naturally to me asking questions, so refreshing

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Nagoya indeed has not got much too offer in terms of heritage and monuments BUT you could consider it as a stop on the way to Kyoto (only 30mn train), to enjoy the Nagoya Meshi, great cuisine, based on red miso, eel, deepfried meat, chicken wings. and enjoy the people!! thank you ANA Crowne Plaza Nagoya for this experience.

The Boston Museum is linked to the hotel, nice place, there is a shrine, the port to visit and the Toyota site of course.

Supermarket

This very basic chore never stops to impress me, every time I go for groceries, I discover new items, try out new food, here are some differences

Beer – Coming from Belgium, I thought we had a huge choice of items in a long shelf, well, here, all beers are stored in fridge sections, in a long shelf, but 90% comes in cans and you get god knows how many different type of strength, color, flavour, mostly from a couple of brands!! I only recognise one so far (Asahi grey can) and only this one comes in 4 different formats, S, M, L and XL

Fish – as you would guess, there is plenty of choice, one thing to remember, in Japan, sushi are displayed in the ready-meal section while sashimi come in the fish area, it sounds logical but good to know. Fish is almost always great value for money and much cheaper than in Belgium or Europe in general. To give you an idea, I can get a large sashimi plate with 12 to 15 pieces for 400 Yens (3.50 euros), 2 portions of salmon fillet would come around 300 Yens (2.50 euros)

 

One thing that I enjoy a lot here are the pickles, they are healthy, tasty, not to vinegared and there are so many different choices. for a guilty pleasure and more quality and taste, I pay trips to Isetan monthly to buy the best of all

Rice is still very difficult to choose and it comes better from a rice cooker, which I have not got yet. So, I buy a different one each time and make notes to be able to discern (maybe one day). During my trip to Niigata, where rice is at its best, I could really taste the difference, it is excellent up there, trust me!! try it!

choix de riz

 

so, all in all, nothing to do with what we are used to, here is how a typical shopping day looks like

Pizza

Always handy to know where the good pizze are, pizza in Tokyo

I tried this one pizza napolista from the list and it is good, very crowded, it is a small place but it has a small terrace with 4 tables and they have good antipasti! pizza was good too indeed

Isetan, Mitsukoshi and the rest

My guilty pleasure? Spending a couple of hours at one of the large pricey department stores, they have a grocery section on the basement with beautiful products. But, in my case, what I especially like about it, is that you can try out many products which helps identifying what my next buy will be AND all products are labelled in Japanese and English so I take photos!!! Here is a view of the amazing section for raw fish, so many diferent Tuna! did you know that the clearer in color, the better it tastes?

on the right picture, are Shirasu, May is the season for those little fish that you can have with a bowl of rice (shirasudon), great in Enoshima Island (see my day out there in the Tourism section)

Now, I have a photo of the “no sugar” mention in my phone for the yogurts!!

 

Supermarket

Supermarket – what a study tour every time I am there. Packaging, products, price range, writing, everything is different. My 1st week was all about fish and vegetable as I could identify them! But I am expanding choice at every trip.

 

Tofu – one full line to choose from, so far, I tried 2 types, I am not sure I cook it the way it should be but with my own way, it works and it is good

 

Rice remains a challenge, because it is mostly sold in packs of 5kg, I dare not going for just any one in case I would like it, can you imagine? I’d be stuck with 4.9kg of rice I don’t like in the cupboard. So I am tasting every single small pack I can find and I keep the package to compare the writing in store and choose my favourite from this, hihihi

 

Meat – the cut is different here, everything comes in thin slices so tough for me to say which part of the beef it is. I only get meat at restaurants so far and it is always excellent. And by the way, let me tell that there is far better than Kobe beef, Ohmi beef created an unforgettable moment at a recent dinner, never tried something so good