Many of Japan’s traditional foods are fortunately both healthy and delicious. Keep your immune system flourishing by adding these Japanese superfoods to your next grocery store haul!
Matcha was consumed in Japan long before it was a trending latte flavor—it was first introduced from China by a Japanese Buddhist monk in 1191. Matcha is made from whole, high-quality green tea leaves, de-stemmed and ground down to a powder. The powder is mixed with water so you consume the whole leaf, unlike regular green tea, where the leaves are steeped in hot water then removed.
Matcha is traditionally consumed in tea ceremonies, where the drink is prepared step-by-step with elegance and respect. In modern-day Japan, matcha can be found in assortments of drinks, desserts, candies, and baked goods, and can be recognized by its deep green shade.
Matcha is packed with antioxidants—up to 137 times more than other types of green tea—which help to reduce cell damage and fight chronic diseases. Drinking matcha may also help protect against heart disease by lowering “bad” cholesterol, and increase your metabolism. Matcha contains a lot of caffeine, about three times more than regular coffee or green tea, so expect heightened brain function, but without the crash: an L-theanine compound also found in matcha alters the caffeine to prevent a crash in energy levels, while also inducing feelings of relaxation.
When preparing your own matcha, be sure to use hot, but not boiling, water for mixing (about 80ºC).
To the Otsuka ramen scene, Nii is a brand new arrival. Their modern ramen dishes are as tasty as their restaurant is comfortable. Nii is run by the same group behind tsukemen shop Takemoto.
Ginger Shoyu Ramen
Their hot item is a shoyu ramen infused with ginger from Kochi prefecture. There’s a little mound of grated ginger too. It has a hint of fish and like Nagaoka style ramen, there’s some pork fat bat hovering on top.
But it’s still a light bowl and that ginger and kaiware sprouts make you feel healthy and revitalized.
Madai + Nodoguro Ramen
Their no. 2 on the menu is a splendid sidekick. They deliciously blend madai (sea bream) from Uwajima with nodguro (blackthroat seaperch).
Pepper corns reinforce the already peppery shoyu seasoning. The noodles in this one are more translucent and really grab the broth. Lastly, they use steam convection for the pork chashu and then grill them.
Nii is clean and comfortable on the inside. This is what a modern ramen shop looks like.
At the end of the video below, I give a shout out to Nii!
In summary, Nii is a welcome, high-level addition to the Otsuka ramen scene.
For ramen in Otsuka, locals love Kita-Otsuka Ramen (北大塚ラーメン). This unassuming ramen shop serves salty shoyu ramen with a big blanket of meat – come hungry!
Best Ramen in Otsuka?
The Otsuka area is home to Michelin star ramen shop Nakiryu. But little Kita-Otsuka Ramen is favored by locals the most. The older Mongolian couple that run it make one type of ramen and they make it right.
It’s a simple but wonderful bowl of messy shoyu ramen. It’s ¥650 for the standard. But the most photo-worthy is the ¥850 chashumen. This comes with a blanket of fatty but delicious pork chashu.
The shoyu broth is dark, salty and packed with calories. But upon completion, you won’t feel as heavy as eating a porky tonkotsu ramen.
The spicy versions of this ramen cost exactly the same. They’ll add peppery minced pork with raiyu chili oil in the corner of the bowl.
Perhaps not so Hole in the Wall
From the outside, the shop looks like a car that hasn’t been washed in a while. In other words, it looks like your typical neighborhood ramen shop. But it’s different on the inside.
One of several banh mi shops in this part of Takadanobaba, Ngon Ngon also serves pho, and they’re furnished with fifteen seats if you want to eat here rather than take out. There are six sandwich variations to choose from, and the ones we’ve tried have a nice variety of ingredients, good meaty flavors and crisp vegetables. Full-size sandwiches start at Y550. …continue reading
We weren’t surprised to learn that Joto was a top-prize winner in the fiercely contested Kanda Curry Grand Prix. While their Japanese curry is fairly orthodox in style, it incorporates fresh, high-quality component ingredients, assembled in flavorful combinations and carefully prepared.
Tonkatsu-spinach is one of the most popular curries, and the generous helping of spinach does a good job balancing out the saltiness of the roux, while the pickled cabbage, rakkyo and fukujinzuke provide a tart counterpoint. The overall combination brings out the meaty flavor of the pork cutlet, whose crunchy coating adds textural appeal.
Other popular choices include tonkatsu-cheese, eggplant-cheese, beef sukiyaki and fried shrimp. The counter-style shop is pleasantly decorated and relatively comfortable, and take-out service is available. Curries start at Y860. …continue reading