Ben Greenfield in Tokyo #4
Ben’s last day in Tokyo was so packed same as other days. We have been busy to enjoy, learn and experience Japanese culture in Tokyo and Ben started his last day in Ginza and took hours of private Japanese cooking lesson by a very well-know/trained chef, Ishizuka, the owner Ishizuka, as a head chef, found this restaurant after awarding Michelin stars for 5 consecutive years. I was a translator/camera man/guest for him. Ginza is famous for being a trendy hotspot, but it's also a downtown area with shops that were founded over a hundred years ago. Department stores and luxury boutiques line the route from Nihonbashi to Ginza. It's a long established tradition to shop and stroll while the road is closed to traffic. Luxury hotels, world class cuisine from talented chefs, and a
collection of glitzy clubs will make this area popular with anyone looking for a night out. The restaurant is small but neat and tidy.
Let’s see what Ben cooked!!
Ishizuka is an authentic Japanese restaurant. The owner chef creates "course of the day," listening to each customer's request. Using only superb ingredients such as vegetables and seafood that are just harvested or caught, each dish he creates is unique, and no identical dish will be served. It surely surprises even regular customers. Well, when I got note for cooking class, that explained everything. The menu Ben was going to learn and cook are all authentic Japanese dishes, but those are very seasonal and basic, but definately not for mom made or easy homemade dish. For some, Japanese cuisine has earned the reputation as being fussy, demanding the sourcing and preparation of complicated ingredients. Not so in the average Japanese household, where recipes are deceptively simple, can be recreated at speed and most importantly taste ever-so-good It was very professional, but somehow simplified/modified for Ben. just hats off to the chef.
How to make Dashi (stock)
Ben has learned 2 different types. Katsuo-dashi (Bonito stock) and Iriko-dashi (dried sardine stock) Dashi is a class of soup and cooking stock used in Japanese cuisine. Dashi forms the base for miso soup, clear broth, noodle broth, and many kinds of simmering liquid. Dashi provides an authentic taste of Japan. Its an essential ingredient at the heart of Japanese cuisine, and you can try it in everything from soups to simmered dishes and dipping sauces.
Boiled vegetables marinated with tofu paste. Broccoli, asparagus, cucumber, shitake mushroom and figs are marinated with tofu and pinuts paste. In Japanese, shira-ae means “marinated in white style“ tofu and pine nuts make an elegant white sauce for this appetizer.
Savory egg custard “chawanmushi“ (literally meaning "tea cup steam" or "steamed in a tea bowl") is an egg custard dish in Japan. Unlike many other custards, it is usually eaten as a dish in a meal, as chawanmushi contains savory rather than sweet ingredients. The custard consists of an egg mixture flavored with soy sauce, dashi, and mirin, with numerous ingredients such as shiitake mushrooms, shrimp, chicken, yuri-ne (lily root), and ginkgo placed into a tea-cup-like container.
Chef Ishizuka gave us a special service, which was seasonal sashimi for me and Ben because he wants Ben to learn how Japanese chef prepare sashimi fish. Many non Japanese, I mean some Japanese too, think sashimi is just fresh raw fish, however, each fish has different flavor and umami, so each way of preparation is different. Some fish are wrapped with kombu, which has tons of flavor, and other fish are cooked only skin to get rid of fishy smell.
Agedashi Tofu is one of those magical dishes where a few simple ingredients come together in a harmonizing synergy that elevates the dish from humble to divine. It's made with blocks of soft tofu that are coated in a thin layer of potato starch before being lightly fried. Then, the tofu is served in a savory dashi broth, but this dashi broth is very iregular because chef made it sticky for crispy surface of fried tofu. Ben did amazing job at making shrimp tempura!
Grilled rock fish wioth Yuzu citrus flavor. Rock fish was marinated in soy sauce and grilled in Japanese binchotan, log-shaped charcoal made from a variety of oak that combines the best aspects of lump charcoal and briquettes. Like lump coal, it burns blazing-hot—up to 900 degrees. This can not be reproduce faithfully in U.S because Japanese chacoal is very different (Yes, of course expensive. You gotta go to NYC) The principal ingredients of "yakimono (grilled foods)" are fish, shellfish, meat and vegetables. Foods are pierced with a skewer or placed on a wire net and grilled over an open fire. "Yakimono" may also be made using an iron skillet or oven broiler. The basic type of "yakimono" is "shioyaki", in which salt is sprinkled over the food before grilling, but this time, marinated fish by chef Ishizuka.
Steamed rice with sweet corn cooked in an earthenware pot. This earthenware is absolutely cheating. Ops, wrong word, this earthenware is the supreme. One can not speak of the culture of cuisine of Japan without mentioning donabe, earthenware pots. Called the oldest pottery in the world, it has been produced from the Jomon period of Japan, over 10,000 years ago, until now, the 21st century. The attractiveness of Donabe is that it has a robustness, while being pottery, that allows for it to be put on a flame when preparing food as well as having a feel and beauty that pots made from metals do not possess. Therefore, through being a utensil for cooking with superior functionality, it can create a cuisine of rich and abundant flavors, and by serving dishs in it itself, one can enjoy cuisine while also enjoying its beauty as a ceramic utensil that is a work of art.
Ishizuka uses Donabe from Kumoigama are made from select earth, one by one by the hands of a craftsman, and have a the highest level of quality and an incomparable beauty. You can buy Kumoigama by Ippentou Nakagawa in US. I wish I have a kumoigama donabe.
Ko no mono 香の物
Tome wan 止椀
We finished meal with Japanese 101. Rice, miso soup and pickled vegetables. This is how you finish Kaiseki Japanese cusine. kaiseki is a type of art form that balances the taste, texture, appearance, and colors of food. To this end, only fresh seasonal ingredients are used and are prepared in ways that aim to enhance their flavor. Local ingredients are often included as well. Finished dishes are carefully presented on plates that are chosen to enhance both the appearance and the seasonal theme of the meal. Dishes are beautifully arranged and garnished, often with real leaves and flowers, as well as edible garnishes designed to resemble natural plants and animals.
We had such a wonderful time at Ginza Ishizuka. Ben learned and cooked a lot. I was very busy for taking pictures and movies, but chef Ishizuka served me one he cooked!(Ben mostly ate what he cooked) He is absolutely professional and very friendry. Ben asked him a lot of question and he tried to answer in English as much as he can. I did see not only his experience, but true passion to share his knowledge and Japanese food culture to non Japanese people. Next time I want to visit this place for my private.
With a good connection to the place of production, before a direct delivery from the producer, he visits the producing area of sashimi and negotiates the method how to cut the fish with the fishermen in person. Although there is only one course provided, the chef communicates with the guests positively to create the cuisine together. Ginza Ishizuka provides more than 15 kinds of sake, includes the brand which is difficult to obtain. You can enjoy the freshest seasonal ingredients in this extraordinary atmosphere. Without fail or doubt, here is an ideal place for business meal or to invite important guests.
1-13-8, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 1-minute walk from Ginza Itchome station (Exit 10), Yurakucho Line
TEL. 03-6228-6908 (+81-3-6228-6908)
Monday - Friday Night: 17:30 - 23:00(L.O.21:30) Saturday Night: 17:30 - 22:00
Monday - Saturday Day: 11:30 - 14:30(L.O.13:30)
Sunday, National holidays
After private cookinmg lesson/lunch, we walk walk walk in Ginza. We stopped by few department stores (there are a lot!) and Ben enjoyed seeing Japanese grocery and gift store. Depachika (meaning basement of department store) are expansive, dazzling food halls that lurk beneath each of Tokyo's major department stores, where vendors sell everything from bento boxes for lunch to formal gifts like green tea or nori packaged in fancy tins to everyday groceries. Gifts are a huge business at depachika. They're traditionally given twice a year in Japan — during summer and at the end of the year — as well as when visiting family and friends or to celebrate a special occasion. Popular options include alcohol, attractively packaged sweets, and flawless seasonal fruit like mangos, cherries, grapes, and muskmelons, presented in wooden boxes. Ben got gift for his family and I was happy for him.
We stopped by at good local coffee shop and enjoyed mid day coffee and did some work. Funny story, Ben suddenly stood up and I imediately thought that he was about to do jumping jack. Guess what? Bingo! I stood up and did some shadow boxing because we didn’t want to be too much sedentary. We were absolutey strangers in middle of Tokyo.
After mid day work at coffee shop in Ginza, we walked to Tokyo tower area. That was pretty dicent distance. As you read this blog, both of us just keep eating, but actually not. all we had at Ishizuka was very meaningful portion and have been walking all day long. Real party is about to start now! I was so excited because my manager in Japan/ CEO of Sports Gain I work for, come and have a dinner with us. I chose this place for the last night dinner. The restaurant features beautiful pine trees and a pond where Koi carp swim. Passing in front of the garden lantern and waterwheel and walking on the steppingstones, you will find yourself back in time in the town of Edo, the Tokyo of 200 years ago. We enjoyed the extraordinary atmosphere in the restaurant with extensive Japanese gardens located at the foot of Tokyo Tower.
We were escorted to a private room where we were presented with each dish separately to examine and taste in private. Each dish is presented with the highest form of presentation and taste.
Ukai’s homemade tofu is crafted with high-quality soybeans and spring water, and has a rich and sweet taste. Tosui-tofu, which is made by putting tofu in Tosui soup created by adding dashi to soymilk,
and age-dengaku, which is made by frying sliced-tofu and then cooking it with wood charcoal, are two of their specialties. Tofu is the main dish in any course menu, and we enjoyed seasonal seafood and vegetables. Sorry, too much isoflavone, but they use organic and prepare tofu in traditional way, which is soakin soy beans and sprouted and digestable. I hope Ben won’t get man boob.
Nestled in a city environment near the Tokyo tower. This place is in a world all its own. The moment you walk through the gates you find yourself in another world were city noise disappear and you come face to face with a well kept garden, tranquility and calmness takes over your senses. The menu is seasonal and every dish is carefully selected and delicious. The food was wonderful - a mixture of vegatables, tofu, seafood and meat. The service was very good too. The staff were attentive and informative. Kazumi, my manager, opened “Dassai” ultra popular brewery in Japan has a huge following and for good reason – they make great sake. Ben liked different types of sake including Dassai. It was the last night we all enjoyed precious time in Tokyo.
I talked a lot with Ben and couldn’t believe I had spent time with this guy in my home town. His contents such as podcast, blog, shared articles and his friends who are top professional at each field have been inspiring me and I have learned more than when I was in Master’s program. My focus right now is professional MMA career, but someday I want to be a professional like a Ben, who follows ansestor’s wisdom and modern science in order to make people’s life healthy and happy. Thanks for this opportunity and Thanks Ben for coming to Japan!
Tokyo Shiba Tofuya Ukai
4-4-13 Shiba-koen, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0011
TEL. 03-3436-1028 +81-3-3436-1028
Weekday lunch 11:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (last order)
Weekday dinner 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (last order)
Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays: 11:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (last order)
Regular holidays: Twice a month on Monday, year-end and New Year holidays
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