December 27, 2012

More power to Tohoku!

Just near the Shinbashi Station(新橋駅), there is "Fukko-Shien-Sakaba(復興支援酒場)", an izakaya established for supporting the Tohoku three Prefectures of Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi which were devastated by the Earthquake and Tsunami on 3.11. Surprisingly, ALL the profits of this izakaya has been/will be contributed to the three Prefectures. They have already contributed JPY15,000,000. I've also already visited here twice.
Entrance of "Fukko-Shien-Sakaba"
Inside (many customers enjoyed.)
Beer!
Boiling soybeans
Starter (small hot pot for each person)
Sashimi platter 
Tempura 
Grilled miso
Tohoku fu (dried bread) pizza
liver of sea toad
Yokote fried noodle
So, the more we spend in this izakaya, the more contribution will be made. All the staff is from the Tofoku Prefectures. Most of the ingredients and sakes are also from the Tofoku Prefectures. Through amusing their staples, we could be small help for re-establishment of the affected areas. 

Not only the concept, but also the dishes were delicious. Everybody was happy. Staff members were cheerful with big voice. Sometimes they sang songs. At the end of the party, they took a picture of us and we shouted together "Ganbappe, Tofoku!." It means "Go for it, Tofoku" in their local dialect. 

This kind of contribution is easy and sustainable. If you go izakaya in Shinbashi where millions izakayas locate, why don't you visit this izakaya? This izakaya will by available until December 30, 2013. My rating is 3 out of 5. 5 out of 5 for the concept! Gochiso-samadeshita!

Fukko-Shien-Sakaba(復興支援酒場) 
http://www.dreamlink.co.jp/topics/fukkousakaba/

American oyster bar in Marunouchi

On underground in a building of Marunouchi(丸の内), we have a branch of American oyster restaurant called "Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant(グランドセントラル オイスター バー&レストラン)." The other branch in Japan is at the Shinagawa Station(品川駅). The atmosphere is elegant but casual. Their tablecloth of red-gingham check was cute.
Lobby of the building in Marunouchi 
Entrance of "Grand Central Oyster"
Waiting  space with a Christmas tree
Dining room of  "Grand Central Oyster"
Raw oyster platter 
Breads
Clam chowder
Oyster Rockefeller
Fish and chips 
Their raw oysters were fantastic! The best one in this year. The condition was great. I felt I could eat without end... Other dishes were also nice. In particular, fish and chips using fresh cod was very nice (usually I found frozen cod is used in many casual restaurant).  But only breads were not so good...Price is moderate. Not expensive. Oyster platter (6 pieces) costs JPY3,800 and cooked dishes costs around JPY2,000. The portion is big and service is good. My rating is 3.7 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita! 

Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant(グランドセントラル オイスター バー&レストラン)
http://www.oysterbartokyo.com/index.php

December 26, 2012

Cakes of Robuchon

I found cute and delicious cakes at "LA BOUTIQE de Joel Robuchon(ラブティック ドゥ ジョエルロブション)" in Marunouchi(丸の内). Joel Robuchon is one of the most successful French chefs in the world. He won three Michelin starts. So, cakes of his shop are definitely more than average.
LA BOUTIQUE du Joel Robuchon
"Noel"
"Coeur rouge"
As you see, one is like a Christmas tree and the other is the shape of a heart. So cute! 
Particularly, ”noel" composed by white chocolate was impressive. Combination of white chocolate, pistachio and fruit(raspberry?) were well balanced. Each cake costs around JPY500. My rating is 3.9 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

LA BOUTIQE de Joel Robuchon(ラブティック ドゥ ジョエルロブション)" 
http://www.robuchon.jp/laboutique  

December 25, 2012

Glittering Tokyo!

I like this glittering season. We can see many beautiful illuminations all over not only Tokyo but also Japan. Christmas is just a seasonal event here. No religious meaning for most people. That is Japaneseness. This country always adopts only positive or useful aspects of concepts outside. So, in Christmas...we enjoy gift exchange(or children wait for Santa Claus) and gorgeous dinner!
Tokyo Sky Tree became a Christmas tree!
Popular Christmas tree of Mikimoto
Building itself is rapped as a gift
Marunouchi street with illuminations 
Tokyo main Station
Tokyo hikari vision (projection mapping 3D show)
The glittering city eased up our chilly feeling in winter. Sometimes, some people criticize this seasonal event, but I appreciate it in a positive manner. Whoever Santa Cruise is, everybody can be happy to receive gift other than birthday:) Moreover, this kind of event boosts consumption! You know, Japanese are very careful people who don't use money and like saving. So, it is good for economic stimulus as well:) Enjoy your day! 

December 24, 2012

Enchanting ryokan in Kinugawa

If you go to Nikko, it is recommendable to stay in ryokan, Japanese-style hotel in the Kunugawa hot spring area(鬼怒川温泉郷). As you see in the below pictures, Kinugawa in the season of autumn color was very beautiful. I couldn't be tired of continually seeing the scenery. The enchanting view with fresh air purified my feeling.  Kinugawa River cruise is a touristic spot not to miss! The boatman was joking us, and it was very fun.
Kinugawa view from the terrace of Bettei Sasane
Kinugawa River

Kinugawa River cruise 
The ryokan called "Wakatake-no-Sho, Bettei Sasane(若竹の庄 別邸笹音)" along the Kinuagawa River was very fascinating. When we approached the ryokan, the staff members were waiting for us outside! Moreover, they kindly upgraded my room to their best suit room! The room was traditional Japanese room with a private big hot spring. It was...comfortable! Even in the washroom or on the floor, there were heaters so that we didn't feel chilly. The private hot spring was super! I took this more than five times during the stay.
A tatami-style corridor in my staying room 
Main room
Private hot spring attached to my room
The Bettei Sasane's dinner (as well as breakfast) was wonderful. The meals are served in a private room in the ryotei restaurant. The menu was composed by fish, meat and vegetable in a balanced manner. The taste was definitely good. It is equivalent to the level of posh Japanese restaurants. The decoration of Fall and various plates used for each dish were beautiful.  
Starter
Japanese sake
Sashimi platter and soup
Crab and dried bean curd sushi(left) and Japanese gratine(right)
Grilled scallop and beef steak
Beef for shabu shabu
Vinegared mizuna (left) and tempura (right)
Rice and miso soup 
Green tea mousse 
 My rating is 4 out of 5 for Bettei Sasane. Staying cost per person is from JPY35,000 including room, hot spring and two meals. Considering the high quality of food, service and own hot spring bath, the price is quite adequate. I love this kind of Japanese resort:)

Wakatake-no-Sho, Bettei Sasane(若竹の庄 別邸笹音)
http://www.wakatakenosyou.co.jp/sasane/index.html

Nikko in Autumn

Nikko(日光) in Tochigi Prefecture(栃木県) is a popular spot for autumn colors in Fall. The city is definitely famous as the UNESCO World Heritage of Shrines and Temples of Nikko. If you have never been there, it is worth for visiting at least once. The most striking thing is Toshogu Shrine(東照宮), which dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu(徳川家康), founder of Tokugawa Shogunate. Tokugawa shogunate lasted for approx. 300 years in peace, which greatly contributed to the modern Japan. The Toshogu Shrine is magnificent with colorful and detailed wooden decorations. Particularly in Autumn, it is more beautiful.
Torii gate
Approach
Nikko-Toshogu 
See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
Sleeping cat
Near the Toshogu Shrine, the Nikko Kanaya Hotel(日光金谷ホテル) is located. The hotel was established in 1873 as the first resort western-style hotel in Japan and the building is designated as important cultural properties. Many celebrities such as Einstein, Helen Keller, etc. stayed the hotel.The classical atmosphere is very nice. 
Nikko Kanaya Hotel
From the window of main dining of Kanaya Hotel
Consomme soup
Corn soup
Croquettes of crab meat and cream 
Beef steak
Profiterole au chocolat
Sorbet
Their main dining offers orthodox French dishes and yoshoku. The taste is delicious without discussion. Classical, conventional but not old. The dishes cooked in careful manner gave us great satisfaction. Tasting yoshoku after visiting the Toshogu Shrine is very nostalgic and I like it. The above lunch set costs JPY3,500. My rating is 3.7 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

Toshogu Shrine(東照宮)  http://www.toshogu.jp/
Nikko Kanaya Hotel(日光金谷ホテル)  http://www.kanayahotel.co.jp/nkh/index.html