My Least Favorite Restaurants in Tokyo - Havana Cafe

Tokyo is known being the worlds largest city and having an array of restaurants, but I wanted to point some attention to my least favorite places to go to in Tokyo. 

The places I decided on had some things in common. The first is that none of them are Japanese restaurants and the other is that they are very popular places.

havana cafe

The first on my list is - Havana

Havana is a casual Cuban restaurant in the trendy Roppongi area. It does a great lunch and dinner business and the crowd is a mix of young professionals & older salarymen.

I was excited before going to this place, since I really enjoy Cuban coffee and I was looking forward to experience some authentic Cuban cuisine. When I entered I was greeted with the traditional Japanese greeting and then I was offered a seat at the bar. I requested a table, but was told that since I am by myself I must sit at the bar.

Without looking at the menu I asked them what kind of coffee’s did they have and they told me UCC. That’s very typical Japanese coffee and I asked if they have any Cuban coffee and the replied, “Cubans make coffee?” I then knew it was going to be a rough experience. I asked to have the most popular dish on the menu and I received a plate of tacos. Three tacos on store bought tortillas and the meat was flavored with that taco chili powder that you can buy in the grocery store. I then looked at the menu and saw that the entire menu was pseudo Mexican cuisine with the exception of a chicken curry dish, which was the exact same as taco dish, except they used curry powder instead of taco powder. I then asked them if they have anything Cuban at all and they point to the speakers and said, “The music is Cuban too!!” They were playing the Gypsy Kings.

It's all about the Market

One of the great pleasures I have living in Tokyo is going to Tsukiji Market. I actually live in Ginza, which is a short 10 minute walk to the fish market. 

I go to the market twice a week and every time I am surprised, that this chaotic, crowded and exciting market can bring me such joy. 

Recently, the amount of non Japanese tourist has increased dramatically. Some from the states and a lot for Europe. Visiting the market is nice, shopping is much better!

My favorite thing to buy there is the salmon. The picture in this blog shows the salmon I purchased, almost 3 kg of fish for ¥3,000 or less than $30USD. This versatile fish is not only healthy, but delicious and easy to prepare. Tomorrow, I think I’ll stock up from their great assortment of Katsuo Bushi, but that’s another topic. When leaving Japan, Tsukiji is the place I will miss the most.

It's all about Limes

Limes

Limes have been in the news a lot recently, not because of the flavor or their popularity, especially in the summer months, but because of their price.

I have been hearing about “lime apocalypse” for sometime now, with price reaching as high as 90 cents each. Triple the cost from the usual 30 cents, the new green gold have been profitable for some and a concern for others. Recently, I have been told that the price is stabilizing and consumers are rejoicing and limes have returned to be in high demand.

 

Zest

This made me realize that many people who love the refreshing juice of limes often discard the zest. The zest the outer skin of the lime and is highly concentrated in flavor and when used with the juice, can minimize the amount of limes needed or can boost the intensity of flavor.

 

Other alternatives

There are other citrus here in Japan, such as yuzu and sudachi, which are very seasonal and can be very pricy as well. There is also the standard lemon, which has come down in price in the last decade by nearly half, to less than one US dollar. Another alternative is the lime leaf. Although slightly different in flavor, I often use them in marinades and custards to give a softer, more subtle flavor. In addition, they can be kept in your freezer for months, until needed.

 

In Japan

Here in Japan the price of limes hasn’t fluctuated much in the past months, nor has the price changed much in the last ten years. The average price for limes are $2.00 each. Japanese people don’t consider this to be expensive, since they have never been less than this amount, so it becomes the standard price. This being the norm, being resourceful becomes even more important.

So when you grab your limes this summer, don’t forget that half the flavor is on the outside.

It's all about New Tsukiji Market

As I am sure you are aware Tsukiji Market, the world’s largest fish market is planning to move to a new location. There has been some global interest to where it is moving to and since I live a ten minutes walk from the present Tsukiji Market I decided to visit the new location. 

It's all about Kabocha

This great squash is versatile and delicious and a symbol of the autumn season.

 The most classic way you will find kabocha in Japanese cuisine is in tempura and simmered dishes.  Just roasting it in the oven with a little sea salt is also a great way to enjoy kabocha, but in our episode  of kabocha the chef decided to use it in a ravioli.

It's all about Christmas in Japan

Well, it’s Christmas time in Japan and although Japanese people don’t celebrate Christmas in the traditional manner, they do celebrate it.  The city is alive with Christmas music and people are lining up for hours to look at the holiday illumination.

Where do people in Japan go for their Christmas dinner?

City Market Cuisine

City Market Cuisine is a video blog and blog with two different approaches. 

The first, is all about  the ingredients and the second is all about the preparation. With City Market Cuisine the ingredients are the star and they are given the cinematic respect that they deserve as you are guided visually through the preparation of each ingredient