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Seasonal Vegetarian Fine Dining at Fu He Hui 福和慧

Michelin-starred 福和慧 Fu He Hui is a gem in Shanghai’s fine dining scene. For lunch and dinner, you can select from four different vegetarian prix fixe menus (ranging 380RMB-780RMB), including a seasonal special. For first timers, I would recommend trying the ‘classic’ Fu He Hui menu. From decor to food, Fu He Hui is a gourmand’s oasis in the center of Shanghai city. Come with the expectation that you’ll pay a premium for your meal and prepared to be impressed.

*I dined with a party of 4 so the below pictures are a mix of the classic 780 RMB menu and the 580 RMB menu.

Beautiful minimalist decor

Beauty in the details, from the choice of cups to the wooden menu

Each party has their own private room with slightly different decor, great for private group gatherings

Appetizers on the house were stuffed potatoes with creme

Amazing pea purée tarts with feta crumble on top

Shanghainese amuse-bouches, vegetarian takes on traditional Shanghainese dishes.

My dream plate of amuse-bouches. Left is 百叶包, a tofu pouch full of 马兰头, a really fragrant vegetable known as Indian Kalimeris. In the middle is 糖醋“排骨”, classic sweet and sour “pork.” In this case, pork was substituted with king oyster mushrooms wrapped around burdock roots. Lastly, on the right is marinated tofu shaped into a traditional bottle gourd shape.

Tomato ravioli with egg yolk and delicious pea puree

Assortment of carrots with ginger, lemon, and quinoa (the carrots could’ve been a little crispier in my opinion)

Lotus fungus in a vegetable consommé

I adored this soup, the consommé had really deep flavors and was an absolute feast for the eyes. Look at those spring colors! At first I thought the soup used a variety of the Chinese black fungus, but it turns out the beautiful white fungus is Sparassis, or lotus fungus. They had a nice crisp to them which I enjoyed. The entire dish was so lovely, writing about it makes me want to have it again.

Matsutake mushroom croquette in a lovely, clear mushroom broth

春饼, a spring pancake roll (I swear the sauce they use is Peking duck sauce!)

A fun-take on the Peking duck wrap. This was a nice combination of lion’s mane mushroom, tofu skin, and crunchy cucumbers (I want to say there was arugula as well). A little on the salty side but pleasing altogether, it was a table favorite.

Termite mushrooms and soy bean sprouts, with red pepper foam on top

Fu He Hui ‘Classic Menu’ ends with a splendid ‘Shanghainese Breakfast’, which consists of traditional Shanghai pastries and congee with fermented tofu

Fu He Hui’s motto is ‘舒食,静心’, food that comforts is also soothing and calming.

福和慧 is a beautiful Chinese name. 福 means good fortune, and 慧 implies knowledge and wisdom. Together, 福和慧 implies the faithful meeting of fortune and wisdom.

I was definitely impressed by Fu He Hui 福和慧 and would visit again to try a new seasonal menu. Our table favorites from lunch were the Lotus Fungus Vegetable Consommé and the Spring Pancake. I also realized my personal favorite, a beautiful plate of grilled eggplant and black truffles, is actually not pictured in the above. I think we may have devoured it too fast for me to take a picture. Next time!

Although vegetarian fine dining is still few and far between, even in Shanghai’s vibrant F&B scene, I’m glad Fu He Hui has such a diverse menu for those that do want to try it. I brought a visiting family friend here and she was thoroughly impressed by the selection of seasonal ingredients Fu He Hui used.

Things have been so busy in Shanghai I’ve been slow with the posts. But with one of my best friends (I’ll call him for now) visiting from New York, I expect to be exploring a lot of new restaurants with him. Stay tuned!

love,
eatprayjade x.


Fu He Hui

Address // 1037 Yuyuan Road, close to Jiangsu Road 愚园路1037号(近江苏路)
Tel // 021-39809188

Sunshine Box Launch: La Maison 夜来香 x WUJIE 大蔬无界

I’m so excited to share with everybody a project I’ve been working on for the past couple of months! Sunshine Box is a box of seasonal, organic vegetables that is now available to all families in Shanghai. The idea behind Sunshine Box is bridging urban and rural communities through wholesome and sustainably grown natural produce. That is why we get our produce from Rainbow of Hope (ROH), a social enterprise dedicated to empowering farmers by providing them with reliable income via sustainable agricultural practices. Because we know you are what you eat, all Sunshine Box produce is grown without any insecticides, pesticides, growth hormones, or chemical fertilizers.

We kicked off the launch of Sunshine Box with a dinner launch party at La Maison 夜来香, a stunning restaurant in Shanghai’s French Concession area. In order to really feature the Sunshine Box, the entire dinner affair was made with ingredients directly shipped over from Sunshine Box’s farms in Western Hunan. Together, Chef Pol Garcia from La Maison & Chef Ivan Xu from WUJIE on the Bund, created a beautifully innovative vegetarian menu for the night. The resulting 6-course prix fixe menu showcased an assortment of vegetables including wild celery, carrots, bamboo shoots, and puntarelle.

Here are some photos from the event+behind-the-scene shots of the amazing team that put the Sunshine Box Launch together. Special shoutout to Graeme Kennedy and Autumn Qiu for their stunning photos which I’m using below.

Our big stash of vegetables on display. To really showcase Sunshine Box produce, we thought it would be really refreshing to have fresh vegetables as the main decor!

I put together a sample ‘Sunshine Box’ to show guests what a small box would look like.

(L) Camden Hauge from Social Supply was our amazing event planner and veg decorator! (R) Daimon, the head of service at La Maison, was the heart of our operations that day to ensure event set up went smoothly.

Table set and ready for our guests. Can you guess the vegetables on the table?

Flow of the night started with organic wine provided by Sarment on the 2nd floor of La Maison.

Voila! Our 6-course vegetable-based menu for the night.

Edible Earth with Earth Tea. A fitting start to the evening!

Edible Earth, made from a mixture of beetroot and almonds to provide both the texture and light acidity. To pay tribute to Sunshine Box’s hardworking farmers, Chef Pol placed each plate into a small ‘Sunshine Box’ to showcase the importance of soil health and sustainable agriculture!

Chef Ivan pouring the freshly made celery soup into each plate.

Celery Three-ways. A creamy blend of celery and onion soup with celery-infused egg tofu, and celery tempura. The silky tofu texture is truly a WUJIE specialty.

The cute WUJIE chefs putting the final touches on the next dish, Variation of Carrots.

Dusting the hand-ground carrots with spinach colored ‘cake’ powder.

Variations of Carrots. Imagine a carrot degustation! I particularly enjoyed the carrot nori sauce which really brought out the natural sweetness of the dish.

Kale Gnocchi. Freshly made kale gnocchi with duck egg foam in a savory vegetable broth.

Plating the marinated bamboo shoots with Chinese chives.

Bamboo Shoot Three-ways. The puree in the background with sweet peas was simply incredible. By blending together the ends of the bamboo shoots and stem lettuce, Chef Ivan wanted to make sure no part of the vegetables go to waste.

Pumpkin and Potato Creme Brûlée. I loved the hint of saffron with ginger, and the naturally sweet pumpkin cream.

Chef Pol explaining how he makes Edible ‘Earth’ to our lovely guests of the evening.

Chef Ivan demonstrating how he used different parts of the bamboo shoot to make his main dish.

The super stars of the night: Chef Ivan Xu from WUJIE on the Bund and Chef Pol Garcia from La Maison.

Thank you to everyone who came out to support the Sunshine Box launch! We loved that everybody enjoyed the creative takes on vegetarian dishes made by the two talented chef teams from La Maison and WUJIE on the Bund.

The launch dinner was also Sunshine Box’s first “Green Iron Chef,” a series of dinners where a featured chef showcases creative vegetarian dishes and concepts to the public and press. We’re always looking for fun collaborations with chefs that have inspiring vegetable-based concepts, so drop us a line if you’re interested!

love,
eatprayjade x.

Sunshine Box
Website
 // http://www.roh.heidianer.com

La Maison
Address // 210 Jinxian Lu, Shanghai, China
Tel // 
6258-2801

WUJIE on the Bund
Address // 4th Floor of Bund 22, Shanghai, China
Tel // 
6375-2861

Why Gyukatsu Motomura is a Tokyo must-eat

Gyukatsu Motomura is one of those raved about places in Tokyo that’s a must-try if you’re in town. Worth the hype wait? Absolutely. The Shibuya location has the bigger shop front but if you’re like me and always running off to the next city, Gyukatsu Tokyo Station (Yaesu entrance) is the perfect traveler spot.

In case you haven’t had gyukatsu before, it’s like the older brother of popular Japanese comfort food tonkatsu. Instead of a fried pork cutlet, you get a beef cutlet. A beautifully marbled beef cutlet. Hence the first thing you’ll do when you visit Gyukatsu Motomura is choose the size of your beef cutlet (100g, 130g, or 260g). Keep in mind your gyukatsu comes in a set with rice, miso soup, potato salad, tsukemono pickles, and shredded cabbage!

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Hidden passageway to Gyukatsu Motomura–if you exit out the Yaesu entrance, the shop is nestled in between office buildings so make sure not to miss it.

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The 130g gyukatsu+yam (とろろ) set! I loved putting the thickly grated yam sauce onto rice and mixing it up with some soy sauce. Gives you a super hearty feeling, reminds me of the feeling when warmed sukiyaki beef is dipped into egg!

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Each diner also gets a little grill alongside their gyukatsu set. This way you can warm your pieces of gyukatsu before dipping it into your sauce of choice.

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LOOK AT THAT M-A-R-B-LING!!!! Super tender pieces of beef that just melts in your mouth. I recommend trying a piece of it with soy sauce and just marveling at the consistency.

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Listening to pieces of gyukatsu sizzle as I eat was so satisfying. Try not to overcook it though!

My friend Mizuha and I ordered the 130g Gyukatsu Set with Yam (tororo in Japanese) and were both very satisfied with the portion size. As you sit elbow-to-elbow other diners in the tiny L-shaped store, the simultaenous sound of gyukatsu sizzling on grills was Tokyo at its finest. Great food, small space, and light chatter doesn’t get better than this.

Like all beloved places, Gyukatsu Motomura is known for its long lines. So as usual, my recommendation is to go at off-hours. We visited at 10:30am right before we hopped on a mid-day Shinkansen, so I think gyukatsu might have been our first meal of the day? (Funny how I’m a coffee & pastry person everywhere else in the world other than Japan!)

Anyways, for those that have been asking me whether Gyukatsu Motomura is worthy of a visit in Tokyo, here’s my overdue review!

love,
eatprayjade x.

Gyukatsu Motomura (Yaesu Entrance)
Address // Tokyo Station Yaesu Exit, 东京都中央区1-6-14
Tel //+81 3-3231-0337

Spirited Away to Miho Museum

Miho Museum is nestled in a beautiful forest complex designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei, only a short trip away from Kyoto. Located in Shiga Prefecture, Miho Museum is meant to mirror Shangri-La–an earthly paradise described in Chinese poet Tao Yuanming’s poem, “The Tale of the Peach Blossom Spring.” Not only is the Museum itself stunning, the journey there is just as magical.

Miho Museum has three exhibition sessions (Spring, Summer, and Autumn). I visited in Autumn so I saw stunning fall foliage throughout my trip. But since the Museum grounds are full of cherry blossom trees, Spring is a stunning time to visit as well. To visit the museum, you go on a Spirited-Away-like journey: there is a Miho Museum Bus from Ishiyama Station (a short ride from Kyoto Main Station), that takes you on a quiet ride up the mountain where Miho Museum is located.

Directions: Take the JR Tokaido Line from Kyoto Station to Ishiyama Station. Once you exit the JR station, go to the bus stop (1F) and take Teisan Bus 150 (Miho Museum Bus) to the Miho Museum which should be the last stop. The bus will drop you off at the entrance/reception area where you can purchase tickets. From there, you can take a museum shuttle or go by foot to the museum entrance (~10 minutes; highly recommend if you want to take in the beautiful tunnel leading to the Museum).

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The train ride from Kyoto to Ishiyama Station is a great way to see suburban Japan (JR Tokaido Line).

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Next, bus from Ishiyama Station to Miho Museum (~1 hour) and quietly enjoy the mountain views.

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After buying your ticket(s) at the reception, I’d recommend walking to the Miho Museum. It’s quite a short walk and the tunnel itself feels out of this world and truly like a magical journey.

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Steps up to the Miho Museum. When I.M. Pei designed the museum, he purposefully buried the Museum IN the mountain. That’s why the entire museum feels leveled with the trees and surrounding scenery.

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With two floors, this central walk way connects the two wings. If you peer down to below, it’s a great way to see the whole mosaic art piece on the first floor.

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The way the light filters through the entire museum in the late afternoon is just stunning.

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The main hall when you walk in–the ceiling allows natural light to flow through while creating beautiful shadows on the floor.

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The Pine View Tea Room is open from 10:30am to 5pm so if you have a chance, definitely enjoy some afternoon tea or light food here while taking in the surrounding views.

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和菓子 Wagashi: Traditional Japanese sweets and hand-whisked matcha. Since I visited in Autumn, the seasonal wagashi was kuri (chestnut).

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As the name suggests, the Pine View Tea Room has outstanding views of pine trees (no doubt all carefully maintained judging by their beautiful shapes).

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The ceiling’s geometric lines are just so pleasing to look at.

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The main hall of Miho Museum offers an unparalleled view of the Valley of Shiga.

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From these windows you can spot a bell tower in the distance; that is I.M. Pei’s first design for Mihoko Koyama and the Shumei organization.

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S P I R I T E D A W A Y: On your way out, the doors of Miho Museum offers you a glimpse of the tunnel separating you and the outside world.

The Miho Museum was designed by I.M. Pei for Mihoko Koyama, to house her Asian and Western antiquities. The permanent collection is very special. Highlights include the Standing Buddha and the Floor Mosaic depicting Dionysos’s discovery of Ariadne. I was lucky to visit during Autumn 2016, as both the North Wing and South Wing had special exhibitions.

In the South Wing, Miho Museum’s collection of ceramics and paintings by Ogata Kenzan (1663-1743) were on display. Kenzan ware and dishes are just simply stunning. Truly, they demonstrate how plating is a defining feature of Kyoto kaiseki’s identity.

In the North Wing, “Jewels of the Mughal Emperors and Maharajas” was an incredible display of Al Thani Qatari royal family’s collection. Pink Agra diamonds and Diamond Turban Jewel are a few examples of gems in this dazzling collection. The exhibition itself was also fascinating, weaving an eye-opening narrative of how Indian unmounted jewels inspired Cartier’s designs in the 1920’s.

Overall, I was impressed by the stunning collections, architecture, space, and scenery. Miho Museum is an absolutely must visit if you are in the Kyoto area. Don’t let the trip to the museum prevent you from visiting–it’s part of the journey and absolutely worth the experience.

love,
eatprayjade x.

 

Miho Museum
Address // 300, Tashiro Momodani, Shigaraki, Shiga 529-1814 Japan
Website // http://www.miho.or.jp/english/inform/inform.htm
Tel // +81 (0)748-82-3411
Email // information@miho.jp

*The Miho Museum is only open during Spring, Summer, and Autumn due to weather conditions and exhibition schedule. Check their website for exact opening times. The next exhibition date as I write this post, is March 18th-June 18th, 2017.

Brunch in Style at Blackbird

Brunch is T H E trendy thing in Shanghai right now, and there is no place more chic than Blackbird. A cafe+bar serving fun Italian dishes, Blackbird is an Instagram heaven. The cafe exudes a really charming vibe, and I especially liked the floor to ceiling windows and sleek interior design. Good coffee was a plus, so I found myself spending the afternoon there working without being disturbed. I didn’t get to try out the extensive drink list, but I saw lots of hipster cocktails I can’t wait to go back for.

By the way, happy Chinese New Year dear readers! May this (lunar) new year be full of delicious foods and auspicious adventures. This is the big holiday season in Shanghai so bundle up and brace the crowds.

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Strolling through the French Concession Area next to Blackbird. Sometimes Shanghai you can just be so pretty!

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Spotted! Hike up the gorgeous steps into Blackbird Bar & Cafe.

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Ogling at the cafe’s minimal and sleek design, it’s a really beautiful space!

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A bowl of fresh salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, and mixed greens.

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Food is here! I wish I could’ve ordered even more of a spread of food–the Black Truffle Burger on the menu sounds amazing.

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Chef-recommended stuffed portobello mushrooms–the stuffing was super juicy and savory.

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Tables with a gorgeous window view. Unfortunately they were all taken when I arrived, but definitely try to grab one of them if you get to Blackbird early!

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There was a rack of B E A U T I F U L clothes in the corner for those that want to do some fashion browsing in the cafe.

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Love the open bar and kitchen–a lot of great drinks on the menu worth trying out.

Located on Wulumuqi Road, Blackbird has a gorgeous view and some really tasty bites. I recommend the Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms for those who want a filling but healthy main. OH! But I saw all the tables around me ordering Thick Cut Fries so I suspect I missed out on a customer favorite. Other favorites include the Black Truffle Burger and Smoked Salmon Salad. I’m already counting down to my next visit!

love,
eatprayjade x.

Blackbird
Address // 1 Wulumuqi Road (close to Dongping Road), Shanghai
Tel // 18616272292

Tasty Vegetarian Lunch at Brown Rice Cafe

Finding a healthy vegetarian cafe in Tokyo is always exciting. For a city with so many different types of cuisines, it is surprising that vegetarian/vegan cafes are few and far between. While Japanese cuisine boasts tempura, tonkatsu, and deliciously fried things you can eat, its use of seasonal vegetables is always underrated. So if you’re in the Omotesando area and want a vegetable-ful lunch set, I highly recommend Brown Rice Cafe. Popular with the office ladies, Brown Rice Cafe has a simple menu: vegetarian curry, steamed assortment of vegetables, and the Daily Special. Since it’s the cafe branch of Neal’s Yard and Remedies, you can pop over next door for some organic skin care shopping after your meal!

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Brown Rice Cafe is tucked in a small street behind Omotesando Hills.

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After remodeling a couple years ago, Brown Rice Cafe has a super warm and hipster feel!

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Watch the food being prepared with the lovely open kitchen.

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The Daily Special–an assortment of mixed vegetables, miso soup, tsukemono, and the cafe’s signature bowl of brown rice with sesame powder on top.

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From left to right: burdock root and peppers salad, gently fried tofu, and steamed Chinese yam

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Fittingly, the cafe serves a really good bowl of brown rice–the grinded black sesame on top adds a great touch.

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Finish your meal up with tea and a little granola nibble.

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The Cafe is quite spacious with communal tables for solo diners to enjoy a casual afternoon.

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If you walk past the cafe on the right, you’ll find Neal’s Yard and Remedies tucked behind.

Highly recommend getting the Daily Special–it’s a great mix of seasonal vegetables and getting a sample of different Japanese seasonings. You’ll walk out feeling energized for some shopping afterwards. Harajuku is the more colorful fashion hub nearby if you’re not feeling like Omotesando’s up-scale name brands.

I cannot believe the year is ending already! I’m in Singapore this holiday season, but I’ll be posting an year end review soon. I’m taking all suggestions for Singapore, so send them my way please. Happy Holidays all!

love,

eatprayjade x.

 

Brown Rice Cafe
Address // 150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya, 神宮前5-1-8
Website // www.nealsyard.co.jp/brownrice/
Tel // +81 3-5778-5416

Discovering Tokyo’s Trendy Wine and Dine Scene: L’AS ラス

L’AS ラス is a gem of a restaurant in the quiet backstreets of Minami-Aoyama. Boasting a diverse wine list and creative Franco-Japanese menu, L’AS is an absolute must-visit with its fresh ingredients and stunning flavors. My friend Mizuha and I dined there on a Sunday night and the restaurant was buzzing with energy. The animated chatter of diners enjoying their wine pairings pleasantly echoed throughout the restaurant. After the first couple sips of wine and bites of my caramel foie gras sandwich (it tastes just as phenomenal as it sounds), I wish I discovered L’AS earlier. Highlights of our meal include the crab miso with potato purée and the roasted duck with figs. Definitely start the night off with some champagne, sit back, and enjoy the culinary adventure created by Chef Owner, Daisuke Kaneko.

At L’AS there is only the omakase menu but every so often it is changed to accommodate new seasonal ingredients and recipes. As we visited in September, we were excited to find traces of late-summer and early-fall ingredients in all our dishes–cherry, fig, pumpkin, etc. For my fellow wine drinkers, I highly recommend getting the wine pairing to go with each course (alternatively, they also offer wines by the glass). L’AS has a very hospitable crew of waiters and knowledgable sommelier so you will be properly pampered. Rest-assured that there is an English menu so definitely ask for one at the beginning–you’ll want to know all the flavors and ingredients you’re tasting.

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One of the many wine pairings of the night, this sweet wine was paired with the rich duck-liver mousse–I could’ve started the meal with this, AND ended the meal with this.

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If you do the wine pairing ‘vin de degustation’, you’ll start the night with the clink of champagne glasses!

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Grace Gris de Koshu: I adored this white wine–using Koshu grapes from the Yamanashi Prefecture, this wine was fun and fruity with a slightly bittersweet aftertaste.

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The star of the night is the L’AS special crispy foie gras sandwich with hints of caramel. Served in a little pouch, the crispy ice-cream-like sandwich was ridiculously rich and good. I definitely would go back just to have this again.

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Homemade mozzarella cheese–we were told this was JUST made in the kitchen. The consistency was chewy, akin to the Japanese mochi rice cake, and the olive oil drizzled on top really enhanced the overall sweetness.

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Seasonal vegetable pot-au-feu in a delicious beet jelly. The vegetables were fresh and grilled to a nice crispiness. I was so enamored with the beet jelly I made sure to spoon everything up!

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Crab with potato purée, crab miso, and topped with parmesan and a brilliant yolk. Served with fresh bread, the dish is meant to be devoured and scooped. The paired white wine really enhanced the rich flavor of the crab miso.

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Grilled largehead fishtail (also known as Japanese cutlassfish) with marinated eggplant and pork. I was a big fan of the crispy fish skin contrasting the eggplant texture. Interestingly, they served this dish with a red wine that pairs well with seafood (personally, I still found the wine a little too overpowering in flavor and would have preferred a lighter white).

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Roasted duck with grilled figs and a cherry-wine sauce–medium rare duck with seasonal figs and brilliant dashes of cherry? Absolutely amazing. This was a really well done dish and could easily be served as a main entrée in a Michelin establishment.

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Pumpkin ice cream with a caramel sauce and tasty candied walnuts–for all my spiced pumpkin latte lovers in the USA, you would love this!

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The intimate restaurant as it’s nearing midnight–the open kitchen is a rare sight in Tokyo but I think it adds to the aesthetics of the beautifully designed restaurant interior. Simple lines with a Scandivanian-like simplicity of furniture, L’AS evokes a comfortable atmosphere for dinner.

Rising star chef Daisuke Kaneko has his two restaurants side by side: L’AS and Cork. With L’AS being so impressive, I will definitely be visiting Cork as soon as I can. To have such a phenomenal dining experience at a reasonable price (5,000 yen for the omakase; additional for the wine pairing, ‘vin de degustation’) is truly one of a kind.

Overall, I was thoroughly impressed by the creative menu at L’AS and highly recommend a visit for both visitors and locals. Using French techniques to enhance the taste of Japanese flavors and ingredients, L’AS will definitely impress your palate.

love,
eatprayjade x.

L’AS
Address // Minami-Aoyama Kotori Bldg. 4-16-3 Minato-ku, Tokyo
Website // http://las-minamiaoyama.com/en/index.html
Tel // For reservations 080-3310-4058

Devour Amazing Chirashi at Ginza Sushi Marui

If you’re shopping through Ginza and suddenly crazing amazing chirashi or sushi, you don’t have to go far. Ginza Sushi-Dokoro Marui is tucked behind the main pedestrian crossing in Tokyo’s glitzy shopping district and one of my new favorite eateries. Tokyo can be overwhelming with its endless amounts of sashimi and sushi options but if you want a high quality yet affordable (and very filling!) lunch break, definitely grab a bar seat at Ginza Sushi Marui and watch the sushi masters perform their magic. A little tip: lunch sets are the best way to sample a Japanese restaurant’s various foods, as prices for dinner can skyrocket at least double or more! Keeping that in mind, Ginza Sushi Marui is wildly popular with the lunch crowd so get ready for a short wait on the weekdays.

While the more popular lunch option is the sushi platter, I switched things up a little and ordered a Zukeana Chirashi-Zushi, a hearty bowl of tuna and conger eel over rice. Verdict? Absolutely amazing. The large bowl was filled with surprises under the rice–little sweet tamagoyaki pieces, snow crab chunks, and delicious ikura that just pops in your mouth! Oh, and definitely don’t forget to mix in the quail egg for that extra creaminess. For 1500yen, the menu said the chirashi bowl was meant for approximately 1.5 people–which I just took to be a promise for a very satisfying meal.

 

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Ginza Sushi Marui is located on one of the side streets of Ginza’s main pedestrian road. Their lunch sets offer thick slices of sashimi at an affordable price. Portions are definitely on the large side so go hungry!

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Highly recommend sitting at the sushi counter because you’ll have front row seats for the magical sushi making!

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I opted for the Zukeana Chirashi-Zushi, a hearty bowl of tuna and conger eel over rice. This is one of their signature dishes that comes with as many bowls of miso you can pack down–all for the very affordable price of 1,500 yen!

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The best part of the chirashi bowl? Everytime you mix up the rice (which by the way, was chewy and absolutely phenomenal), you’ll find little pouches of surprise such as tamagoyaki (sweet egg rolls), octopus, shrimp, etc.

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After eating at Sushi Marui, why not explore the area? Ginza, the glitzy fashion avenue of Tokyo, is lovely on Sundays. Turned into a full pedestrian road once a week, you get a chance to walk on the avenue as you shop the various high-end fashion brands and iconic department stores.

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I blogged about this delicious bun previously during my winter trip to Tokyo, but Kimuraya sells the original (and arguably the best!) Anpan (red-bean stuffed bread, truly the good stuff).

Like all the other impressive Tokyo eateries, Ginza Sushi Marui will provide you unlimited tea and miso soup you will leave feeling very very satisfied. But if you’re a true gourmand, or just someone with a separate stomach for dessert, I’d recommend taking a walk through Ginza to digest and making your way to Kimuraya Ginza 木村家總本店. As the original anpan store, Kimuraya is one of my favorite places to grab dessert and breads-to-go. I’m a big fan of the Sakura Anpan as it has a salted cherry blossom leaf in the center of the bread which goes amazingly well with the sweet read bean paste.

If you have trouble finding the store, look for the Ginza Matsuya–it will be one street behind it. The store itself has a lovely wooden exterior, you can’t miss it!

love,
eatprayjade x.

Ginza Sushi Marui
Address // 3 Chome-8-16 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo
Website // http://ginza-maruisushi.com/english.html

在上海: Where to Breakfast like a Shanghai Localite

So you’re in Shanghai, a city where the pace of life is not for the slow-walkers or easy-goers. Restaurants on the city’s iconic riverside are all gorgeously situated with a view of the Bund. With the increasingly glitzy tastes of Shanghai locals, French cuisine is the undeniable crowd-favorite these days. But what if you want to have a taste of old Shanghai, the Shanghai where street food is validated by the amount of people waiting in line–including regulars that have visited these run-down food carts since childhood. Where do you go? Ignore the Micheline Stars Trek to downtown Shanghai where you can still taste authentic breakfast foods and see street vendors serve fresh orders of egg rolls, sticky rice shaomai, and more.

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Somtum Der: Isan Thai in New York City

Isan Thai Food Nestled in NYC’s East Village

From the Northeastern part of Thailand, Isan Thai food is distinctly different from its sweeter central-cuisine cousin (think Pad Thai). For one, it’s SPICY and fiercly so. Isan Thai also serves up copious amounts of sticky rice, Som Tam (papaya salad), and Nam Tok (grilled meat salad). I’ve enjoyed all the trendy Southasian restaurants in New York City recently but Som Tum Der has been the standout in terms of food. Big flavors, filling portions, and phenomenal grilled meats are some of the things I consistently find in my visits.

Disclaimer: Som Tum Der received its first Michelin Star in 2016. As you can imagine, people are clamoring to try this place out now that it’s earned a coveted French star. Surprisingly, only one other Thai restaurant in the world has been awarded a Michelin Star (if you’re ever in Copenhagen, go visit Kiin Kiin Thai because I’ve heard raving reviews). So try to get a reservation if you’re going during peak hours–I never had trouble getting a table last summer but these days, the restaurant is always looking packed! Anyways, be sure to check out the delicious dishes below when you visit, and definitely get ready to drink too many glasses of water as you inhale authentic spicy Thai food.

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Somtum Der, located in East Village/Alphabet City (Avenue A, between E 5th and 6th Street) looks like a hole in the wall from the outside.

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The bright wood decor of the restaurant is both trendy and friendly.

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A fun row of bar seats for those diners who want to face the Chef (and spice rack) as they dine!

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They have a variety of iced teas available–some interesting ones include Longyan and Rosella tea.

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This platter was a summer special when I visited–it contains the Isan region’s famous papaya salad, fried shrimp, fish cakes, salted vegetables, boiled eggs, and more. It’s a great way to sample a bunch of regional side dishes.

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This crab meat Pad Thai IS OUT OF THIS WORLD! Somtum Der offers a selection of dishes that are part of their central Thai cuisine menu–so fear not for you Pad Thai lovers out there.

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Gaeng Om Kai: a chicken soup with local herbs, this Isan style soup is super tasty for those that want a lighter dish

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Fried chicken thighs–I swear, Somtum Der might not be a fried chicken joint, but this ranks as one of the best fried chicken dishes I’ve had in New York City. Big statement, I know.

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Marinated pork with two sticks of grilled sticky rice–a definite must-have for first timers.

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And lastly, meet the friendly staff of Somtum Der!

It’s finally summer in New York City again! If you have any new restaurant finds, as usual, please send them my way. I’ve actually been really obsessed with spicy and sour foods recently (explains why I love Somtum Der), I find that those flavors always go amazingly well with an ice cold beer in the summer.

with love,
eatprayjade

Somtum Der
Address // 85 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009
Hours // 12pm-11pm
Tel // (212) 260-8570