All tagged japan

Favorite Dishes of 2012

In compiling this list, I faced the difficult task of choosing dishes that stood out on their own, outside the context of the meals in which they appeared. My favorite dishes from this year are very different from my favorite meals, which can be viewed here. For me, 2012 was an incredible year. It brought me from Noma to Sukiyabashi Jiro, from Tickets to Saison and Masa. Nearly 200 Michelin stars later, 2012 was the most diverse eating year of my life. But despite the many dishes I've consumed (and pounds I've gained) in fine-dining restaurants, the dishes that stick out in my mind this year are the simplest ones. Not the caviar and foie gras from Europe, but rather the shellfish tostadas from Mexico's Baja peninsula and fresh fish from Tokyo.

Of all the places I’ve visited this year, these are the dishes that particularly stood out ranked one through twenty five.

Favorite Espresso of 2011

In 2011, the growth of third wave coffee shops exploded. Tokyo was particularly interesting, where a newly developed taste for great coffee started to compete with its thousand-year-old tea culture. New York, likely the city with the most third wave shops in the country, saw a large delivery of sophisticated La Marzocco machinery enabling baristi to control espresso extraction in ways not before possible. This was not only a great year for food, but for coffee as well. As most baristi will agree, coffee is temperamental. The hardest part of the extraction process is consistency. A great espresso comes with no guarantee of one just as good the next. It is imposible to name a single shop with the most consistently good espresso, because there is no such thing as consistently good espresso. It is only possible to share where and when all the variables, ranging from the barista to the weather, aligned to create an incredible extraction.


Over the past decade, Roppongi has become the center for Tokyo's nightlife. Full of bars and restaurants, Roppongi is loud, bright, and full of things to do. In contrast, nestled high on one of its hills, is a small oasis named Takamura. Takamura, built over sixty years ago, is a Japanese kaiseki restaurant serving private dinners in one of its eight rooms. The service, as well as the food, are exceptional. The architecture is traditional: wooden construction with rice paper doors and tatami mats. Diners are greeted at the door and taken to their room. The space is small and cosy, however despite the thin walls and presence of other diners, it would be hard to be convinced of their existence.

The table is a modified floor-seating arrangement with a two-foot depression into the floor. This means diners can sit at floor level without sitting uncomfortably with their legs crossed, like sitting in a chair. Underneath the table is a heated floor; so on cold winter nights with the wind howling and garden chimes softly clanging everybody inside is warm and comfortable.


Beige Tokyo, Alain Ducasse's Tokyo outpost, is located at the top of the Chanel flagship store in Ginza. The floor to ceiling windows are framed with thick black borders, much like a pair of Chanel thick-rimmed glasses. The space is decorated in beige tones bringing an element of warmth to the otherwise stark atmosphere. Waiters and waitresses quietly whisk about in custom-fitted black suits. The sleek and stylish restaurant, designed by Karl Lagerfeld, is a must-visit for fashion-conscious diners. Beige is essentially a restaurant by a high-end designer in collaboration with Alain Ducasse. The food is also pretty good. The menu highlights traditional French ingredients, most of which are flown in from Europe. The dishes read in Alain Ducasse style with a simple ingredient made bold by a bombardment of luxurious accoutrements. The restaurant's dishes are consistent and familiar.

La Veduta

This past New Year's Eve we found ourselves in Osaka, one of the "kitchens of Japan." Unfortunately for us, the time around New Year's is a dead zone in Japan: nearly every restaurant is closed for the week-long New Year's holiday. There were some restaurants open, but they were all located inside the major hotels. There was a part of me that wanted to stick to Japanese-only "local" food, but another that was pretty hungry. Having never tried Italian cuisine in Japan, I made a last-minute reservation at the newly opened Italian restaurant at the St. Regis: La Veduta. The dining room was gorgeous: oversized chandeliers illuminating an open kitchen with large windows providing a view over downtown Osaka. Our maitre'd was Piemontese, a pleasant surprise of authenticity being nearly 6,000 miles away from Italy. The menu was prix-fixe which took the stress out of ordering. We ordered a glass of champagne and mentally transported ourselves to Europe.