Hubby and I had fancy dinner plans tonight, so I wanted a relatively easy day. We headed out to Tsukiji markets, too late to see the tuna auctions (they don't allow kids anyway and it's at 530 in the morning limited to 120 visitors per day) and too late to wander around the fish market, so we hung around the outer Tsukiji market looking at the stalls and trying to find somewhere good to eat.
We had only gone in a small distance and we came across Sushizanmai, which is a sushi chain that I had seen in Dotonbori in Osaka, and it had quite good reviews. We went in and ordered some of the best and freshest sushi we could find.
|I don't know why I ordered crab miso. I don't particularly enjoy cracking open crab legs to get meat out but the miso did have a slight crab flavour to it. It was probably because I didn't get to eat crab at Dotonbori.|
|We ordered some hand rolls of prawn and cucumber and a blue fin tuna, and nigiri sushi otoro and herring roe. The otoro (tuna belly) just melted in your mouth, it was so fatty and yummy!|
|This nigiri sushi set was for hubby, but the kids were helping themselves to it.|
|We got these salmon, avocado and salmon roe rolls for the kids but they wouldn't eat them so we ate them.|
|I felt like something different, as I had already had a chirashi sushi so I ordered this rather cholesterol heavy chirashi sushi with salmon roe, crab and sea urchin. Yum! I think I have more than satisfied my salmon roe craving.|
|Our friend ordered a tuna chirashi sushi and the otoro on it looked so yummy I had to take a photo of it. It made me wish I had gotten this instead!|
|At the end of the meal the kids got a little gift - these sushi lollipops! They are just striped candies on top with a white candy on the bottom, but they did look great, this photo doesn't do it justice.|
|The second floor had people sitting around a sushi bar. It would have been fun to sit there if the kids weren't with us.|
|When we went outside there was now a queue outside the restaurant! When we first arrived we got straight in, hopefully it was because we were a bit early for lunch, but boy were we glad we went early.|
The sushi was very fresh, the salmon roe was so soft which is different from the roe you get usually, and the fish was all very fresh, which is what I would expect from eating at the fish market. It was a shame we didn't go into the market directly to look around, but not sure if the kids would get underfoot at the market, because it is still a working business area and it must be annoying to have people wandering around whilst you are trying to work!
After that we went to Odaiba, which is a shopping and entertainment district on a man made reclaimed island in Tokyo Bay. Our friend wanted to go to Miraikan, also known as the National Museum of Emerging Science, but it was closed on Tuesdays! The Fuji TV building was interesting to look at, as was the Maritime museum (which was a big boat building). So we decided to go to Oedo Onsen Monogatari, which is an onsen (bath) theme park. The park has onsens from water they drilled out of the ground, and they are all outside public baths.
If you haven't been to public onsen before in Japan there are several rules, or rather, etiquette that must be followed.
- Wash before you get into the onsen. Onsens are for soaking only, and everyone is sitting in it so you shouldn't be dirty.
- You have to be naked to go into the onsen. No towels or clothing. That's because you should be clean when you enter, not dirty and clothing is considered dirty.
- No towels in onsen water. You can put it on your head if you're sweaty.
- Many places frown on tattoos. So no tattoos in some of the big famous public onsens. In Oedo Onsen there were LOTS of signs
So I couldn't get into the onsen but everyone else could, which was a bum, because I was the one who really wanted to go. There is a foot bath that I could go to and they do the fish therapy where they nibble at your feet. I thought that would be fun.
Everyone gets changed into yukata after you enter, so you get a locker key, and you can put your clothes in and change into yukata. There are lots of different ones to choose from and kids are welcome too. There is also an entertainment area with food, tables and games to play in a shitamachi style old Edo-period environment.
There are a few baths around the central big bath, some with nano bubbles so it's like a spa - I think there are 14 baths all up with 7 on each side. Onsen are separated into male and female sides. Hubby took my son to the onsen and they had a great time, my daughter and I walked around in the foot baths yelping as we walked on rocks that should be massaging but felt rather painful instead, and indulged in the fish therapy which tickled and was probably more a novelty than any real exfoliation.
There were a some non Japanese people there. Koreans, chinese and caucasians - I could hear them talking but there were a lot of Japanese people too, groups of girls and groups of boys, couples, families with young children - it seemed to be a place for everyone.
There was free tea and water to refresh and rehydrate after the onsen, and I had some strawberry and mango shaved ice with the kids.
After that we had to head back because hubby and I had dinner plans at Narisawa. Narisawa is a two Michelin Star restaurant that was featured on SBS Destination Japan with Adam Liaw. It also was placed at #8 in the World's Best 50 restaurants (sponsored by S. Pellegrino and Aequa Panna). With a pedigree like that, I was expecting a lot.
Fortunately I wasn't disappointed. I was asked how the food was compared to the 3 star kaiseki cuisine I had in Kyoto. The difference was that I expect kaiseki to be the best of Japan's seasonal foods, with the excellent service that traditional Japanese are famous for and have authentic traditional flavours that epitomise the culture and cuisine of Japan. From Narisawa I expected a Heston Blumenthal or perhaps Sepia's Martin Benn type of menu - where ingredients I don't expect to come together do so in a surprisingly pleasant way.
|This is the entree serving plate. This glass with Narisawa's name embossed can be seen from the side as well, which I thought was cool and took a photo of it.|
I could appreciate the use of wood in this forest theme, and the result was a dough that was more like asian steamed bread than crusty french bread. The addition of chestnuts inside bread was a surprising flavour that I enjoyed a lot.
|Fried yuba (tofu skin) with horse mackerel.|
|Broth of sea snake from Okinawa. Sea snake is a delicacy found in Okinawa in a few places. There is pork broth in here also with wintermelon and sweeet potato.|
|They showed us a dried and preserved charcoaled sea snake so we could see what we are eating. Voluntarily, of course.|
|Tai, sweet shrimp and salmon roe on a kombu and tomato broth with a bit of butter. Those are shiso flowers decoarating the plate which go nicely with the sweetness of this dish.|
|Clam in kombu buttered broth with tomato. Fantastic.|
|Deep fried lobster with grilled tomato sprinkled with vanilla and a vanilla bean. Vanilla and tomato is actually really tasty! The lobster was superbly cooked, I hate tough lobster but this wasn't tough.|
|Eggplant prepared 3 ways, sauteed, minced and deep fried, with seasonal flowers, shiitake mushroom, cheese from Nagano topped with a clear tomato jelly. Beautiful presentation and tasted amazing too.|
|Suckling pork with gingko nut and onion. The pork was done rare but the crackling was crisp, with a sauce of essence of pork with sherry vinegar. Must have blow torched the top...|
|Hamo (conger pike) deep fried, seasonal greens with sesame dressing and roasted buckwheat. A nice combination of textures there!|
|This dessert is peach sorbet in ume (Japanese plum - a bit sour) jelly and caramalised shiso.|
|Pear overdose with this pear shaped dish and pear sorbet with pear, awabe mochi flavoured with yuzu and topped with pear puree. I think they could have done with less pear puree.|
|OMG when they brought out this petit four selection, I didn't know what to choose! I asked how many we could have and they said we could have all if we wished. WOW. So of course I had one of everything!|
|This is the top row which isn't shown well in the other picture. To be honest I can't remember all of them...|