nishi-azabu

Sushi Takumi Murase, Tokyo

With the help of Mutsumi’s cousin Yoko, I was able to score a coveted seat at the popular sushi restaurant Sushi Takumi Murase in Nishi-Azabu…

While no pictures of the interior of this Tokyo hot spot are allowed, I was given the okay to photograph my lunch to share with Eataku readers! Here’s a look…

Hamaguri clams in warm broth with white scallion…

Aori squid that’s been wrapped in konbu…

Kohaha that’s been aged one week…

Masu trout with wagarashi, or Japanese mustard…

Grilled kinmeidai with grated daikon…

Iwashi marinated in vinegar…

Shinshoga, or freshly cut “new” ginger…

Tuna that’s been aged two weeks…

Hokai shima shrimp with a squirt of sudachi…

Anago eel…

Futomaki…

Shijimi clam broth…

Tamagoyaki egg, on the right, and egg and shrimp grilled over binchotan coals on the left…

Yuzu sorbet to close out the meal…

With a large window that opens into a garden to these amazing wooden ice boxes where they store fish, the design of Sushi Takumi Murase is wonderful to behold as well!

Definitely worth checking out!!


SUSHI TAKUMI MURASE

1-2-3 Nishi-Azabu, 1F

Minato-ku, Tokyo

Japan

+81-3-3479-5240

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The Sushi Chef and the student - Sushisho Masa

Over 2 hours and 40 precision crafted courses later, I left a tiny 7-seater sushi bar in the basement floor of an unassuming suburban block with an entirely different perspective on sushi, Japanese cuisine and a chef’s passion for perfection.

Sushi Sho Masa delivered an incredible omakase that sampled a range of seafood so staggering, I felt I consumed every single species of seafood in the ocean. From aged ootoro to creamy uni I left it all with the chef who also served up less obvious choices like monkfish liver - all of it was so so good.

Each and every piece was expertly trimmed to perfection and seasoned with just the right amount of salt smeared on or a squeeze of citrus that lifts the already stellar quality produce to levels unheard of outside of Japan. Watching the master in action is like seeing a brain surgeon conducting a small orchestra.

Most importantly, I took away something that few restaurants can provide: a learning experience. I was like a keen student watching Masakatsu-san teach us about the produce he uses, the use of freshly grated (on a shark skin board) wasabi to lighten oily fish and smashing shellfish on the chopping board from a height to watch it magically curl up from its fridge induced sleep. It’s incredible stuff.

The chef and his small team of 3 young male assistants were extremely accommodating for non-Japanese customers like us. The team made every effort to explain even the most obscure of fish names, sometimes by flicking through an encyclopaedia of seafood! So kawaii!

We also quietly giggled watching an assistant get scalded for missing the beat on a dish and scratched our heads when served a small wedge of a perfectly ripened tomato randomly between courses. Coincidently (and unsurprisingly), it was the best tasting tomato I’ve had.

By the time the chef cut a block of tamago, I knew the conclusion was near and my stomach also agreed it was about time to go. I turned to my Japanese businessman neighbour to my right and asked him if this is his favourite restaurant. He nodded slowly with much conviction and replied an affirmative ‘Yes’ as he kicked back into his seat. I respectfully nodded in agreement.

2

Another temple. You’d think by this time I’d get sick of it. Well, not if I’m visiting a branch temple of Sōtō Zen’s head temple!

The betsuin or branch temple is an interesting concept. It’s essentially a convenient way for people to visit a major temple without actually heading out there itself, especially if said temple is located clear across the country. In this case, Chokokuji, right smack dab in the middle of Nishi Azabu, is a branch temple of Eiheiji, one of the head temples of the Sōtō school. However, Eiheiji is in the boonies of Fukui prefecture, and thus not terribly convenient to visit on a moment’s notice. However, Chokukuji is centrally located and within walking distance of several subway stops and bus lines. Most importantly for me, it was within walking distance of Nogizaka.

Well, somewhat. I ended up walking through Aoyama Cemetery and wandering through Nishi Azabu before more or less stumbling across Chokokuji. While there’s not much noteworthy about the grounds, one of the temple structures contained a huge wooden statue of Avalokitesvara. I was suitably impressed.

Gogyo Ramen, Tokyo

Sometimes I think the Japan Times follows me around when I’m in Tokyo and eats where I eat. :)

It turns out we’ve coincidentally been dining at a lot of the same places recently.

Robbie recently posted this article about Gogyo Ramen in Nishi-Azabu, which made me realize that while I tweeted and talked about Gogyo, I never posted about the joint. Well, here you go…

The gyoza were wonderful…

Their famous kogashi, or “burnt/burned” ramen…

Once you drop in, you can immediately see the charred lard in all its glory…

It’s like deglazing a frying pan to get the good bits… it adds flavor and crunch! :)

Gogyo also uses a thicker style of noodle…

If both Eataku and the Japan Times recommend Gogyo, how can you go wrong? :)

GOGYO RAMEN

1-4-36 Nishi-Azabu

Minato-ku, Tokyo

+81-3-5775-5566

www.ramendining-gogyo.com

h.NAOTO twitter 2015.10.22

h.NAOTO‏
今日は昨年度大波乱の仮装と有吉反省会で話題のあの方がようやく西麻布ギャラリーに来ました
Today this person that last year participated in many costume parties and who became a topic of news because of ARIYOSHI’S Meeting for Reviewing finally came to our gallery at Nishi Azabu.

h.NAOTO
  今日はようやくShinya先輩が来ました。。。 今年はどんなお姿に! 明日から楽しみです !
Finally Shinya came to the store… What kind of costume will it be this year?! I’m looking forward to tomorrow!

Recommend Event : zeitkratzer × Terre Thaemlitz

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Date : Fri Sep. 30 , 2016

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Venue : SuperDeluxe

B1F 3-1-25 Nishi Azabu
Minato-Ku, Tokyo 106-0031, Japan
Tel 03-5412-0515 / Fax 03-5412-0516

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19:30 open / 20:00 start / 2,500 yen (one drink included) each night

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superbonus (Terre Thaemlitz, 1999)
500-year orbit (1997)
sloppy 42nds (1998)
down home kami-sakunobe (2006)
turtleneck (1997)
hobo train (2006)

*post-performance talk follows

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ツァイトクラッツァー × テーリ・テムリッツ

「音楽、とりわけ新しい音楽は、絶え間ない汚染を通して発展する」とし、ルー・リードからクセナキスまで、フォークソングからノイズまで、ジャンルを超えるどころか無化するレパートリー、縦横無尽のコラボレーション、ユニークでクオリティの高い幾多の音源で知られる9人のミュージシャンと2人のテクニシャンのアンサンブル、ツァイトクラッツァー。演奏家の側から「現代音楽」を再定義する、彼らのインディペンデントな活動の一端をご紹介します。初来日公演。

一端とは言っても、zeit - kratzer — 時代の - 掻き傷/時代を - 引っ掻く者 — の世界観と実力をお伝えするには、少なくとも3公演は必要です。彼らの幾多のコラボレーターの中でも灰野敬二とテーリ・テムリッツが住む日本ならではのプログラムとなりました。

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スーパーボーナス (テーリ・テムリッツ, 1999)
500年間の軌道 (1997)
42丁目のべとべと2連チャン (1998)
上作延村立 (2006)
タートルネック (1997)
浮浪者 (2006)
*ポスト・パフォーマンス・トークあり

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More info

http://www.soundlivetokyo.com/2016/en/0927-30.html

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Listen/purchase: hobo train by zeitkratzer & Terre Thaemlitz

Kurosawa Udon, Tokyo

After several failed attempts, I finally made it to Kurosawa Udon in Nishi-Azabu…

Run by the son of legendary Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa, the curry udon here came highly recommended by a friend. But every time I’ve gone in the past, they’ve been closed. Until last week!

While they have an extensive menu of differing noodle dishes, Hisao Kurosawa is known for two specialties, curry udon and menchi katsu, which is a deep-fried hamburger patty…

They were sold out of the super popular menchi katsu by the time I got there, but I was able to slurp down a bowl of their thick curry udon topped with kurobuta pork! Here’s a look…

Beautifully marbled…

I was surprised to find red and yellow peppers inside…

The thick noodles are all prepared on the premises…

The back of their bills all provide a reminder of the family’s legacy…

At 1200 yen, about $12.00 US, a bowl Kurosawa’s curry udon is a little pricier than some of the local ramen, but for films fans looking to soak up some ambiance in a classic Japanese setting, it’s well worth the cost.

KUROSAWA UDON

6-11-16 Roppongi

Minato-ku, Tokyo

Japan

+813-3403-9638

http://www.9638.net

Afuri Ramen, Tokyo

I’ve been to Afuri Ramen before, having visited their Ebisu branch, but when I saw they’d also opened up a shop in Nishi-Azabu near my hotel, I just had to drop in for a bowl…

Your trip to noodle nirvana is only the push of a button away…

Pick a seat and hand over your ticket…

Choose your soup…

One’s a chicken-based stock made with fish and konbu, the other is a tanmei soup prepared with “chicken oil”.

Once you decide, here’s where the magic happens…

As usual, I went with their popular Yuzu Shio Ramen as I like the balance achieved with the citrus and the chicken fat…

I moved the seaweed for you for a better look at the whole bowl…

Close up…

However, this time I opted out of their thicker noodles and went for the thinner and harder ones…

I actually liked the taste and texture better!

Now with six shops in Tokyo and more on the way, Afuri is one of the city’s fastest growing chains. And after you try their unique ramen, it’s clear why!

AFURI

1-8-10 Azabu-Juban

Minato-ku, Tokyo

+81-3 3585 1156