Japan Eats

Japan Eats meets Tokyo Weekender

We’re pleased to announce that Tokyo Weekender has picked up some of our content and is featuring it exclusively on their site.

Click here to read the October exclusive which presents a list of healthy restaurant, supermarket and general dining options in Tokyo.

Marcus and I were also featured in this interview piece a couple of months ago in which we answered a bunch of questions about eating out in Tokyo and our culinary preferences.

Please swing by Tokyo Weekender and check out what they’ve done with their site. We’re hoping to get some more articles published over there, so feel free to share what you like on Facebook and Twitter.

Recipe: Seafood oyakodon

A seafood version of the classic Japanese rice bowl

Oyakodon (‘parent and child rice bowl’) is a Japanese lunch time favorite. Made with chicken and egg on a bed of rice, it has a sweet soy flavor.

This version uses salmon instead of chicken and salmon roe in place of an egg.

Salted salmon is easy to come by in Japan, but if you’re having trouble finding it, sprinkle salt onto fresh salmon.

Seafood oyakodon

Seafood oyakodon

Ingredients (serves 2 people)

  • 2 bowls of cooked rice
  • 200 g salted salmon
  • 40 g ikura marinated in soy sauce
  • 20 g radish sprouts
  • 10 sheets of shiso (green perilla)
  • Half a sheet of nori (dried laver)
  • 2 tea spoons of sesame seeds


Grill the salmon and break it into flakes. Carefully roast the sesame seeds on a low heat. Cut the radish sprouts 2 cm wide and roll the shiso and slice into 1 mm thin strips.

Cut the nori into pieces 3 – 5 cm wide, then place these in a stack and cut into 1 – 2 mm strips with scissors.

Scoop rice into a bowl and sprinkle sesame seeds over its surface. Lay the salmon flakes on the center, then decorate the area around the salmon with the radish sprouts.

Place the thinly sliced shiso on the salmon flakes and then add the ikura over the shiso.

Finally, sprinkle the strips of nori over the ikura as artfully as possible to garnish the dish.

Recipe: Tori to renkon tsukune (chicken and lotus root meatballs, teriyaki style)

Liven up your next bento with these chicken and lotus root meatballs

Tsukune are meatballs, usually made from either chicken or pork. They make a delicious meal, or an excellent addition to a bento (Japanese luchbox).

Here, we’re adding a twist to usual recipe by adding renkon (lotus root). The grated lotus root softens the meatball mix, while the other – roughly chopped – half of the vegetable provides some texture.

If you prepare this for a bento, garnish with shichimi (assorted spices) instead of asatsuki. The more adventurous can even use leftovers as filling for teriyaki meatball sandwiches (just add lettuce and mayonnaise!)

Chicken and lotus root meatballs

Chicken and lotus root meatballs

Ingredients (serves 3 – 4)

  • 300 g of chicken mince
  • 150 g of lotus root
  • 1 egg
  • 10 g of ginger (1 clove)
  • 50 g green onion
  • 1 teaspoon of sake
  • 1 teaspoon of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of potato starch
  • 2 tablespoons of sake
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of mirin
  • 1 tablespoon of white sesame seeds
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons of chopped asatsuki chives


Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to a bowl containing roughly 2 cups of water. Peal the lotus root and place it in the water for ten minutes to whiten it and take out any bitterness.

Take the lotus root out of the bowl and remove any moisture with the paper towels. Chop half (75 g) of the lotus root roughly into pieces 1 – 5 mm square. Grate the other half of the lotus root.

Finely chop the ginger and green onion. Take a bowl and mix the chicken, ginger, onion, lotus root, sake, soy, egg and potato starch until sticky.

Pour 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil into a frying pan and warm it on a low heat. Moisten your hands with water and shape the batter into balls, then sauté with the lid on the pan. One one side becomes brown, turn them over. Sauté both sides for 5 – 6 minutes in total on a low heat. Repeat the process until you finish the mixture.

Next, prepare the teriyaki sauce. Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl. Once you have finished cooking the meatballs, turn the heat to medium and pour the sauce into the frying pan. When it comes to the boil, turn the heat to low and dunk the meatballs into the sauce – 1 minute for each side.

Boil the sauce down until it thickens. Plate the meatballs and pour the remaining sauce over them. Garnish with a pinch of sesame seeds and chopped asatsuki chives.

Recipe: Grilled mushroom wafu salad

Shiitake, maitake, shimeji. The perfect ingredients for an autumn-inspired salad

In Japan, mushrooms are considered the flavor of autumn. This easy to prepare salad is seasoned with salt and citrus to emphasize their complex flavor.

Here I used three types of mushrooms common in Japan – shiitake, maitake and shimeji. If you are struggling in your search for maitake or shimeji, experiment with other varieties. Portobello mushrooms, for example, aren’t common in Japan, but should work equally well in this recipe.

Grilled mushrooms wafu salad

Grilled mushrooms wafu salad

Ingredients (serves 2)

100 g of shiitake mushrooms
100 g of maitake mushrooms
100 g of shimeji mushrooms
1 sheet of deep fried tofu pouch
1-2 of citrus juice (kabosu or sudachi are ideal, but you can use limes, lemons, etc.)
1 pinch of salt


Clean the mushrooms with a brush. Next, cut away the stems of the shiitake mushrooms.

Cut away the roots of maitake and the shimeji. Divide them into a little bunches for grilling.

Next, grill the deep fried tofu pouch in a toaster or on a grill until it becomes brown and crispy on the outside, then slice into strips 4 – 5 centimeters in length and 1 centimeter wide.

Now grill the mushrooms for 3 – 4 minutes on a medium to high heat. Once cooked, slice the shiitake into bite-sized pieces and roughly mix the mushrooms with the deep fried tofu pouches.

Plate the mushrooms and season with a pinch of salt. Serve with a slice or two of a citrus fruit such as kabosu.

Japan Eats Podcast: Episode 13, “In praise of izakaya″

This week, we discuss Japanese izakaya with guest Dave Perry.

The Japan Eats Podcast is presented by Garrett DeOrio, Marcus Lovitt and Christopher Pellegrini. To listen, click play on the audio player below:

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You can also subscribe to the fortnightly Japan Eats feed via iTunes or directly with our RSS feed.

Find the Japan Eats Facebook page here. Have something to say? Drop us a line.

In this week’s Japan Eats Podcast, Marcus Lovitt and Christopher Pellegrini are joined by guest Dave Perry.

Here are some links to what we discussed this week:

You can e-mail us at lovitt@japaneats.tv

Follow us on the Japan Eats Twitter feed. And please “Like” Japan Eats on Facebook.

Recipe: Sudachi ponzu (citrus and soy sauce)

Make your own batch of this citrus and soy sauce.

Ponzu is a type of sauce made from soy and citrus fruit. In Japan, fruit such as kabosusudachi or yuzu are used to make ponzu. I chose sudachi because it’s currently in season. A little later in the year, I would have chosen yuzu.

Sudachi ponzu (citrus and soy sauce)

Sudachi ponzu (citrus and soy sauce).

You don’t have to use a Japanese citrus fruit when making ponzu. It can also be made with citrus fruit more readily available in western countries: lemons, limes, and so on.

The basic proportions are 5 parts fresh juice: 5 parts soy sauce: 2 parts mirinHanakatsuo is roughly flaked dried bonito, and is mainly used for creating dashi, the stock on which so much Japanese cuisine is built.

I recommend you use a glass jar or bottle to store ponzu, as this minimizes the chances of oxidization. You can try it after a week but I suggest you have it after it has been stored for a month. Make it now, and it will be perfect to have as a dipping sauce for nabe (hotpot) at the end of the year.


  • 500 ml soy sauce
  • 500 ml sudachi juice
  • 200 ml mirin
  • 5 – 10 g hanakatsuo
  • 10 – 15 cm of konbu (kelp)


Squeeze the juice from 1.5 kg of sudachi fruit.

Mix all of the the ingredients in a large bowl (one which can hold 1.5 – 2 liters). Let the mixture stand for 24 hours and then remove the hanakatsuo and konbu. Store in a large jar or PET bottle and keep it in the fridge.

Japan Eats Podcast: Episode 12, “Calling sports″

This week, we road test soy sauce infused with wasabi, as well as two unusual toppings for ice cream.

The Japan Eats Podcast is presented by Garrett DeOrio, Marcus Lovitt and Christopher Pellegrini. To listen, click play on the audio player below:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You can also subscribe to the fortnightly Japan Eats feed via iTunes or directly with our RSS feed.

Find the Japan Eats Facebook page here. Have something to say? Drop us a line.

In this week’s Japan Eats Podcast, Garrett DeOrio and Marcus Lovitt are joined by James Steele.

Here are some links to what we discussed this week:

You can e-mail us at lovitt@japaneats.tv

Follow us on the Japan Eats Twitter feed. And please “Like” Japan Eats on Facebook.

Recipe: Kabocha no korokke (pumpkin croquette)

As the mercury drops, stay warm with these tasty pumpkin croquettes.

Almost every Japanese department store has a food hall located below ground. These depachika offer a huge range of food from across Japan as well as overseas. Whether you’re looking for Japanese sweets, French cheese or Chinese dumplings, the depachika has it all. Some of the most popular food halls in Tokyo are below Shinjuku’s Takashimaya and Isetan department store. I’m also a frequent visitor to Tokyu Foodshow beneath Shibuya station.

Croquettes – made with everything from potato to crab – are a depachika favorite. They’re usually presented on trays and you make your selection with a pair of tongs, placing them in a plastic container. This recipe uses kabocha (pumpkin), but with a bit of experimentation, you’ll find you’ll be able to use it for many of the other flavors you come across in your department store wanderings.

Note that the pumpkin paste should be cooled before you shape the croquettes – they handle more easily after brief refrigeration.

Pumpkin croquette

Pumpkin croquettes

Ingredients (serves 3 – 4)

  • 500 – 600 g pumpkin (400 g after removing seeds and skin)
  • 50 g onion
  • 30 – 50 ml milk
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh cream
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • A pinch of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of corn (canned corn is fine)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 cups of bread crumbs
  • Vegetable oil for frying


Remove the pumpkin seeds and cut it into 3 – 4 cm squares before peeling away the skin. Place the pumpkin in a pre-warmed steamer and warm it on a medium heat. Once the water is warm, place the pealed pumpkin into the basket and cook for 15 – 20 minutes, so that they become soft. Use a skewer to check if the are cooked all the way through.

Mash the pumpkin with a fork.

Mash the pumpkin with a fork.

Place the pumpkin in a heatproof bowl and mash thoroughly with a fork. Add the milk and fresh cream then mix carefully. Place a frying pan containing a teaspoon of vegetable oil on a medium heat. Chop the onion into 5 mm squares and saute them for 2 – 3 minutes. Once transparent, add to the bowl containing the pumpkin.

Now warm the bowl in a microwave for 3 – 4 minutes to remove moisture. While the pumpkin is still warm, add 1 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of black pepper. Mix well. Add 2 tablespoons of corn and mix roughly. Now allow the pumpkin to cool.

Prepare 3 trays, each containing:

  • beaten egg
  • flour
  • bread crumbs

Moisten your hand with a little vegetable oil. Take roughly 2 tablespoons of the pumpkin filling and shape it into a ball. Repeat until you’ve used all the filling.

Coat each of them with flour, beaten egg and bread crumbs (in that order).

Pour the vegetable oil into a deep frying pan (3 – 4 cm deep) and warm to 170 degrees. Carefully place the croquettes into the oil, turning them over occasionally.

When the croquettes turn light brown, use a metal spoon to retrieve them and drain on a tray.

Serve them on a plate with tonkatsu sauce.




Restaurant Review: Yama to ten (Shinjuku)

Soupless in Shinjuku

Spicy abura soba

Spicy abura soba

Abura soba shops are popping up all over town these days. A lot of the shops that specialize in this soupless style of ramen serve abura soba and not a whole lot else. The fact that restaurants can have only one item on the menu is clear testament to the popularity of this dish.

Yama to ten (山ト天) in Shinjuku diversifies a bit by featuring a few in-house versions of abura soba as the centerpiece of a modest izakaya menu.

Highly recommended is the spicy abura soba (辛味温玉) which will set you back 600 yen. Heap some freshly chopped onions on top, douse the whole thing with vinegar and raayu, and then mix it all together with your chopsticks. The soft ramen noodles soak up the oils nicely, and they play well with the onions, chashu, bamboo shoots and shredded bits of dried seaweed.

There’s also the standard abura soba for 500 yen and a couple of other options that usually run in the 600-700 yen range.  For those who are better with colors than with kanji, the spicy abura soba is the big button at the top of the ticket machine that has a red background (second from the left).

The shop’s modest menu is also tucked full of izakaya-style dishes that go well with a beer. Everything from gyoza (380-480 yen) to a side of kimchi (290 yen) to sausages (480 yen). A draft beer goes for 420 yen, and the rest of the drinks menu mostly deals with shochu-base drinks such as sours, hais and umeshu (most are 380 yen). You can also order a half bottle of house wine for 980.

Because it’s an izakaya, the whole place is smoker-friendly. If you’d like to avoid the fumes, then we suggest stopping by after the busiest lunch hours and before business picks up again at around 6 PM. They have some tables off to the sides of the counter that are mostly untouched by smoke when the place isn’t busy.

Directions: Yama to ten is part of a new izakaya-themed, mostly open-plan dining area on the MB3 floor (the ‘M’ is not a typo) of Odakyu Halc. In other words, go to Bic Camera near JR Shinjuku west exit and head downstairs. The main entrance is down the stairs that are located near the B2 entrance of Odakyu Halc supermarket.

Odakyu Halc (Haru Chika)
Hours: 11:00 – 24:00 ( LO 23:30 )
Tabelog review (Japanese): http://r.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1304/A130401/13119474/

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