Tag Archives: Tokyo

Toraya – Tokyo, Japan

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Toraya at Tokyo Midtown

Toraya  Tokyo Midtown

(81)  35.413.3541
Tokyo Midtown Galleria B1, 9-7-4 Akasaka, Minato-ku; Tokyo 107-0052, Japan

www.toraya-group.co.jp

Open Hours:
11:00 – 21:00    Daily

Toraya  is the oldest existing wagashi (Japanese  confections) store.  Dating back to the mid sixteenth century in Kyoto, where it became a purveyor to the imperial court under the reign of Emperor Go-Yōzei (1571-1617).  Towards the end of the Edo period Toraya moved their center of operations to Tokyo, leaving  behind the orginal store in Kyoto.

Currently, The flagship store  is in Akasaka, and  other locations in the main luxury department stores around Tokyo.

The Toraya store in the lower lever of Tokyo midtown,  a commercial, business and residential complex in Roppongi, is a great example of the modern life of this 400+ year old business.  It is an excellent location to go for delicious Japanese sweets.  This Toraya location also serves as an art gallery and a cafe as well as an amazing  wagashi  related souvenir shop

Wagashi  are Japanese  confections) in which main element is azuki bean paste.  This is made by cooking the beans with sugar, mashing them and finally straining the mix through a fine sieve to produce a smooth paste called gozen an (koshi an).  When  the paste is not strained it is called ogura an (tsubu an).

In addition to bean pastes,  other wagashi ingredients can be  agar-agar, rice flour, Kanten (a fiber rich gelatin  made from seaweed) and oldest domestic sugar which is made with rare kind of sugar cane from Tokushima prefecture, commonly made into molded dried sweets (higashi)

Wagashi confections are based on the principle to appeal the five senses; appearance, taste, texture, scent and sound

In Kyoto there are two locations:

The principal store, combined with decent sized tea house, is on a street west of the Kyoto Imperial Palace and garden.  The teahouse holds a lovely small library and some of the tables have a picteresque  garden view.
Address: Karasuma-Nishi-iru, Ichijo-dori, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto

The other is next to the Fujii Daimaru department store on Shijo-dori – the road that connects the Gion district with  wetern Kyoto.
Address: Gokomachi-Nishi-iru, Shijo-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto

There are many wonderful Wagashi shops in all of Japan and trying the different styles and specially Toraya!

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Le Grand Bleu – Tokyo, Japan

above photo © Le Grand Bleu

Le Grand Bleu

(81)  33.585.5650
Minato-ku
Tokyo , Japan

www.maniac-co.jp/boutique

Open Hours:
11:00 – 22:00    Daily

Le Grand Bleu is one of those shops, that unless you are on the inside ultra-hip fashion Industry you would never find or even take a second glance at if you happened to stroll past.

On a quiet street, not far from the Reiyukai Shakaden Temple, sits a true rock fashion boutique.  Complete with new and vintage clothing, accessories, and jewelry from all over the world.  Every world rockstar touring Japan makes a stop here.  The US based equivalent would be LA’s Maxfield., though, Le Grand Blue gives off a much more authentic vibe.

Le grand Bleu is part f a Maniac Corporation group of stores including  Circus,  Forbiden Fruit and BEDROCK in Omotesando, well worth the visit, if you are into this type of thing.

 

 

  

 

Tapas Molecular Bar – Tokyo, Japan

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above photo © Mandarin Oriental

Tapas Molecular Bar

(81)  33.270.8188
Mandarin Orintal Hotel
2-1-1 Nihonbashi-Muromachi

Tokyo 102-8328, Japan

www.mandarinoriental.com

Open Hours:
11:00 – 15:30     Lunch
18:00 – 00:00    Dinner

While highly-touted, we found Tokyo’s Tapas Molecular Bar more Vegas entertainment than Michelin Star-worthy.  Usually we would not review a restaurant that does not excite us, but here we do as it is so heavily marketed.

Chef Ngan Ping Chow, originally from Hong Kong, is rather entertaining, a very good performer with knowledge of different languages  and the main attraction.  He creates decent examples of current modernist techniques.  This is a good introduction for people not immersed in modernist cuisine, a.k.a. tourists.  Tapas Molecular bar is definitely not for gourmets, as the food is not breathtaking in flavor at all.

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On top of  the food quality, the service not to the Japanese high standards.  When you are paying $100’s for a meal, small gaff’s become more noticeable; like most high end restaurants with multiple course menus, TMB hands you a menu at the end of your meal,  the beauty and form in-line with the artistic expression of the restaurant.  Here, we received a simple printout that did not even reflect the meal  we had.

Ok – enough of that – now onto the meal (which admittedly photographs beautifully!)

Dinner commences with a small toolbox containing a small hammer, mini shovel, tweezers, saw and a tape measure  with the menu printed on it (which was pretty slick).  This is followed with a series of dishes.

 

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