Restaurants of the week
Kyorakutei is a good place to get an education in soba. This old-school restaurant in the backstreets of Kagurazaka features a grinder in its storefront window, where the noodle master makes soba by hand. You’ll also get to compare the two different types of buckwheat noodles: the regular soba, which is made by cutting a small percentage of wheat flour, and the juwari soba that’s a craft by itself as it uses pure 100 percent buckwheat. Darker in colour compared to the regular soba, the juwari soba at Kyorakutei is one of the best we’ve had. The texture is firm with a bit of give, and it has a beautiful nuttiness that makes it delicious even on its own. The best way to appreciate the texture and flavour is to eat it cold with a side of dipping broth. We also have to tip our hats off to Kyorakutei for executing its tempura with great finesse when most noodle restaurants simply treat theirs as merely a cursory accompaniment to soba or udon. Get the seasonal tempura, especially when pike conger and ayu (sweetfish) are in season. There’s more items on the menu – from udon and hiyamugi (thin and light wheat noodles that’s prevalent in summer) to grilled conger eel (anago) and sake – but for first timers, you can’t go wrong with the soba and tempura.
This tempura specialist, which opened in 2017, is run by Akihiko Nakajima, who is a former apprentice of Tetsuya Saotome (owner of Mikawa Zezankyo, who is often dubbed as the master of tempura). The restaurant was originally a popular lunchtime spot as it offered a rice bowl heaped with ten pieces of shrimp tempura for just ¥650. As of summer 2018, Fukuan only serves a ¥3,500 dinner course for those eager to try a variety of seasonal tempura. The 12-item meal starts with Fukuan’s signature deep-fried breaded shrimp and concludes with a warm bowl of ochazuke. You may be surprised at how light the meal is from start to finish and it’s not the least bit greasy – all thanks to chef Nakajima’s skillful frying technique that adds a crispy layer to the ingredients without losing their natural texture and flavour.
Land is a small Meguro restaurant with a big ambition – to reinvent the Japanese curry. Mr Naito, the bearded, bespectacled chef-owner whose bicycle hangs from the wall by the entrance, says he wants to make Japanese curry as distinctive and highly regarded as its Indian or Thai equivalents. Judging by the food Time Out sampled, he’s well on the way to achieving his goal after just a year and half in business. Japanese curry sometimes eschews aesthetic arrangements and culinary sophistication for the unrefined guilty pleasures of a heaped rice, a few lumps of meat and a one-dimensional brown sauce. But Land’s new-wave curries (¥1,500-¥1,900) are something else entirely. Naito’s complex, aromatic sauce, made with chicken stock, onion, garlic and a 15-spice mix, performs gymnastics on the tongue. The rice is topped with artistic panache – the vegetable and fruit curry includes flame-grilled courgette, sweet potato, fennel and edible rose petals, as well as a side of mashed potato. Other winning touches: a rare consideration for veganism (sundried tomato and navy bean soup), excellent Kona beer sold by the bottle, several healthy salad options, and an innovative range of chais and cocktails. One word of warning. Don’t go before a hot date. Unless the person you’re meeting finds the smell of onions and garlic attractive, that is.
Time Out Tokyo x Wagyumafia
We’re teaming up with beef specialist Wagyumafia for another dinner event. For those who didn’t get a chance to attend our exclusive Wagyu night back in March, you’ll get another chance to dine on some of Japan’s best Wagyu beef. At this special yakiniku night on May 20, you’ll get to experience WM by Wagyumafia, the world’s most expensive standing yakiniku joint, which is usually only open to members. However, for this special evening, WM by Wagyumafia is welcoming anyone who wants to join in on this indulgent Wagyu dinner. The name 'Wagyumafia' may ring a bell for those who have drooled over its famed Wagyu cutlet sandwich that's been hailed as the world’s most extravagant sando. However, you’ll get to taste something more premium and indulgent at this beefy dinner. Come hungry and expect to be wowed by top cuts of Wagyu beef and unparalleled knowledge that will help further your appreciation for this high-quality Japanese speciality. Hisato Hamada and Takafumi Horie – the two personalities behind Wagyumafia – will be at the event, showcasing food demonstrations and live cooking while sharing their love for Japanese Wagyu. During the dinner, you'll get to sample a variety of cuts from this premium beef, so you can really learn to appreciate the difference in taste and texture. Plus, you get to cook the beef to your liking over custom-made shichirin grills. It’s really the ultimate dinner for all Wagyu lovers out there. There are three seatings (7pm and 9pm), limited to 2
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Best spicy ramen in Tokyo
Tokyo has more noodle joints than you can shake a stick at, especially when it comes to ramen. The ubiquitous noodle dish is complex in its own right, with its wide variety of toppings and soups that take years to perfect. Aside from the classic tonkatsu (pork), there are also chicken and fish broths, and various combinations of the three. In recent years, you’ll also find restaurants peddling vegan ramen. While Japanese flavours don't usually lean towards the spicy side of things, you can still find chili- and pepper-infused dishes in Tokyo, like these game-changing bowls of spicy ramen. Eager to sample a hot bowl? Be warned: these ramen really do pack a punch, and you'll love it.