Category Archives: About

Happy New Year 2017!

Happy New Year 2017! Hope everyone had a great holiday season. I have good new years news — I have started to share my photos of Japanese food via Instagram. Since starting my first few posts were only viewed by several people, but recently I have gained increased attention from viewers all across the globe. I will continue to upload nice photos — mostly from Japanese restaurants in NYC (and may be a few surprises, too!) — so you can visit them when you virtually stop by.

Instagram: ninjaeatsnyc

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Three years after starting this blog, there are still new Japanese restaurants opening in various places in NYC, and I am very exited to visit as many as possible and share here in my blog. Hope you enjoy the entries this year!!

Say No to Gloves

As I mentioned in my previous entry, here in NYC there has been a huge argument over a new NYC regulation that risks ruining a treasured culinary heritage of sushi.  A potentially new requirement to wear gloves — “Food shall be prepared and served without bare hand contact unless the food will be heated to a minimum temperature”, says the code. In fact, the Health Department recently shut down a famous sushi restaurant partly because of violations of this provision.  As a Japanese sushi lover who grew up on sushi prepared by the naked hand, I have to say that sushi chefs use their hands to make sure the sushi is fresh — with gloves they simply can not feel the texture or best part of the fish needed for the preparation.

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2016 will be the year to fight this potential requirement.  According to the Daily News article, the NYC Health Department has demonstrated reasonable flexibility on similar/related issues like this in the past, and I hope they will demonstrate good judgment with this issue as well.  As a Japanese who has eaten sushi nearly all of my life, I can attest that nearly all Japanese people would be dead by now if the concerns of the NYC Heath Department were true. Fingers crossed that sushi chefs in NYC will prevail.

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Final Year of Tsukiji

Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!  – Happy New Year 2016!  I am eager to see what the Japanese food scene will look like in the new year and what new discoveries await!  To start I would like to inform you of major news from Tokyo as well as a potential change for sushi masters in NYC.  I will use my first blog entry of 2016 to talk about the Tsukiji Fish Market relocation later this year.

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With the relocation, you most likely will not hear the name “Tsukiji” any more. The Tsukiji Fish Market opened in 1935 and has become one of Tokyo’s most popular spots for tourists to observe tuna auctions early each morning. In all, about ¥1.8 billion (or approximately $15.4 million) worth of fish, seafood and vegetables change hands each day at the market.

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The Market has outgrown its current location and vast improvements to modernize the site would have been extremely costly while still having the limits of a relatively small location.  From a tourist perspective, Toyosu is across the Sumida River in a location that is not walkable from Ginza, and hence much less accessible.  But relocating the market to a modern facility will provide an approximate 40% larger space with state-of-the-art refrigeration.  This is a huge benefit as it will allow the Tsukiji quality to remain as it is today while taking advantage of the latest technology — so we all can eat the freshest seafood!  And the workers will be able to remain focused on dealing with the fish rather than dodging curious camera-wielding tourists looking for the perfect photo opportunity.  While the current location simply could not sustain the demand as popularity has grown over the years, it has an old-time atmosphere that I hope will not be forgotten as the new Toyosu location creates its own history.

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Documentary: Wa-Shoku ~Beyond Sushi~

“Wa-Shoku – Beyond Sushi,” is a passionate documentary of the men and women who dedicated themselves to spreading Washoku throughout America. Washoku means Japanese traditional cuisine. Washoku has been added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2013, raising Japanese people hopes of enhancing its global recognition.

Today, Japanese food has entered in to the main stream and gained popularity in NYC. However, sometimes I ask myself what are the ingredients contained in my ordered food, and how does the restaurant handle raw fish as sashimi-grade seafood requires sensitive and delicate handling. One of my motivations to start this blog was to share my experiences with authentic, high-quality Japanese cuisine here in NYC. This film really helps people to understand what the real Washoku is.

Screening began on Friday, April 24 and will run through Thursday, April 30 at Cinema Village in Manhattan. Restaurants and chefs in NYC are featured in this film! After the show, I had a chance to speak with one of the producers and his team. We exchanged information about Japanese restaurants in NYC, and I was honored that they accepted my recommendation of Wasan for their first dinner in the city!

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http://washoku-film.com

 

 

 

National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC

Before moving back to NYC restaurant reviews, I can not leave DC without touching on the history of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Each year the festival commemorates the gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Tokyo to Washington in 1912. The gift and annual celebration honour the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries. The festival offers various events that promote traditional and contemporary Japanese arts and culture, natural beauty, and delicious food!

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Events are mostly free and open to the public.

National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC

March 20 – April 12, 2015

http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org

Akemashite Omedetou – Happy New Year 2015

Happy New Year 2015

I have spent the winter holidays in Japan and visited many Japanese restaurants so far. Tsukiji district is the place I never try to miss while my trip home. There are various good restaurants – not only sushi – around the market. Tokyo city government announced that the fish market relocate to Toyosu area within few years. Before the relocation, I wanted to visit as many as restaurants around there. Some of them had already decided to close the business and won’t move to new location.

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Being back in Japan always gives me great opportunity to follow the latest trends of Japanese cuisine and actually experience it. This makes available for me to compare with Japanese restaurants in NYC. In 2015, I am looking forward to introducing more restaurants here in NYC to share readers.

Akemashite Omedetou!

Is that really Japanese food?

In my opinion, there are three types of Japanese restaurants outside of Japan. First is an authentic one operated and managed by native Japanese chefs. Most of these restaurants originated to serve Japanese expatriates, embassy personnel, and other citizens living abroad. However, as Japanese food entered in to the main stream and gained popularity, it attracted more and more local food enthusiasts. Most dishes offered authentic, high quality ingredients similarly offered back at home.

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Second is contemporary Japanese fusion. This category is typically run by chefs whose mission is to deliver innovative food strongly inspired and influenced by Japanese culture. I personally love these restaurants because it is so fun to see their ideas and expressed creativity. When I lived in Texas, I often dined at Uchi Restaurant run by Tyson Cole. I really enjoyed his interpretation of Japanese traditions that were converted into contemporary delicious recipes. For example, Cole’s Maguro sashimi and goat cheese was one of my favorite appetizers – and this combination won’t easily be found anywhere in Tokyo!

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The third category is a general “Asian Grill and Sushi” type of restaurant, and this style can be easily found all over the world.   The majority of this group started as offsets of other Asian restaurants, such as Chinese, where Japanese dishes were simply added to menus for better profits. Sometimes I ask myself what are the ingredients contained in my ordered food, and how does the restaurant handle both raw seafood and woks in the same kitchen, as sashimi-grade seafood requires sensitive and delicate handling.

Which Japanese restaurants are the best in the city?

Wherever I lived in my life thus far, I was always asked which Japanese restaurants are the best. Even though the short answer should be “it depends”, I always try my best to give a personalized answer based on the need (first date, business dinner, reunion with a close friend, and so on). I tried to visit as many authentic Japanese restaurants in cities where not only could I discover delicious food, but also share my knowledge and experiences. In fact, this is how I started my quest to identify the best culinary finds!

Now I live in NYC – a place that offers a variety of food from around the globe – and am excited to explore and share reviews of many different Japanese restaurants.