Yakiniku (Japanese BBQ)

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Garlic Beef

Tonight after a stroll through the charming Edo district, we hopped on a train for the excitement of Akihabara’s Electric Town. World famous for all things anime, Akihabara’s Electric Town also boasts a pretty great restaurant scene… those amped up gamers need to eat sometimes, too! We went searching for Yakiniku, do-it-yourself Japanese BBQ. After a few dead ends and a brief scavenger hunt leading to a small elevator and a narrow, 8th floor hallway with chairs for waiting, we found Continue reading

Tokyo Dining: Never Enough Noodles!

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Noodles in broth with thin sliced green onion and a poached egg

Seriously, friends. If you like noodles, you’ll love Tokyo. In addition to the ramen and tsukemen dishes previously featured here on Crowded Earth Kitchen, there exists a seemingly endless variety of noodle bowls. Hooray!

We’re Continue reading

Tsukemen (Japanese Dipping Noodles)

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Who says you can’t play with your food? Tsukemen is not only delicious for adventurous diners, it’s a guaranteed kid pleaser and appropriate for serving to finicky friends. If you enjoy sampling dishes from around the world but are also cooking for reluctant diners, Tsukemen is a must-try.

Tsumemen is basically Continue reading

Japanese-Inspired Banana Spongecake

Japanese desserts tend to be a bit lighter and less sugary than Western desserts. Also, bananas and banana-flavored treats are very popular in Japan. This banana spongecake is inspired by desserts we enjoyed throughout Tokyo. Enjoy!

Ingredients (Serves 8)

1 very ripe banana

2 eggs Continue reading

National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo Japan

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A visit to the Ueno cultural district in Tokyo, Japan would not be complete without a few hours devoted to exploring the National Museum of Nature and Science. Check out a sampling of the museum’s treasures below:

(Shown above: Yayoi Period human bones)

(Shown above: Crustaceans, Bivalves, and a cross-section of an ancient tree)

Admission is quite a value at 600 yen (approximately $5.30), which is significantly less than the cost of admission at many comparable museums around the world. The museum is open six days a week (closed on Mondays) year ’round. Be sure to check the website before visiting, in case of closure due to a Japanese holiday.

(Shown above:
A sampling of the museum’s impressive collection of telescopes and microscopes)

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Beautiful terrestrial and celestial globes made, unbelievably, from paper mache

The world is small. Have big fun!

Ueno Market

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Japanese Yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) and other grilled treats

Hopping off the JR train line at Ueno Station is recommended for any visitor to Tokyo, Japan. Ueno offers a concentration of world class museums and ancient Buddhist temples, many of which are accessible along the walking paths of beautiful Ueno Park. Today we explored an open air market in Ueno Park, and we were not disappointed!

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Japanese kindergarteners, looking spiffy in their school uniforms, were visiting Ueno Park on a field trip. So adorable! So well behaved! They melted my heart with their shy smiles.

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Aren’t these grilled fish interesting? At 600 yen (approximately $5.30) they were a fair price, especially considering that Ueno Park hosts many tourists.

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Non-food wares were expensive, but still fun to peruse. Aren’t these bonsai trees beautiful?

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Dango, a traditional sweet treat made from crushed rice, was delicious. At only 100 yen (approximately $0.89) for five bites, this was a very economical snack. It reminds me a bit of the Korean Garaetteok we made here at Crowded Earth Kitchen a while ago, with the addition of a delicious soy-based glaze.

Next time, we’ll feature photos from the fantastic Tokyo National Museum, also located in Ueno. Our world is small… have big fun!

 

 

Sushi Tokyo Ten

(Shown above: Shrimp with Salmon Roe, Akami and Toro Tunas, and Rock Lobster) 

Just outside of the busiest train station in the world sits Sushi Tokyo Ten. Simply entering the restaurant is a sensory experience, as a single step over the curtained threshold removes a diner from the chaos of Shinjuku Station and offers a calm and quiet, warmly lit enclave.

Sushi Tokyo Ten is a culinary adventure, perhaps especially for folks who think they know sushi. The reigning principle here is omakase, which translates as “I will leave it to you.” Over the course of two hours, skilled chefs prepare 20 different small plates for each dinner guest. Each plate is prettier than the last! At the end of the experience, diners leave sated and relaxed.

If you find yourself in Tokyo, I recommend spending an evening at Sushi Tokyo Ten.

Tokyo Train Station Bears

1029180200Hello again, fellow foodies and travelers. We’ve been busy exploring Korea and Japan! Throughout our most recent travels, we’ve logged many hours on trains. This means we’ve also logged many hours in train stations, which can be pretty cool places to explore! One evening, we channeled our inner five year-old and enjoyed a snack of these delightful, chocolate filled bears.

1029180203A bit like bite-sized, filled pancakes, these little bears are also available in caramel and custard flavors. A 14-count bag of these charming treats cost 580 Yen, or approximately $5.15. If the long line at the counter was any indication, we weren’t the only train travelers enchanted with these roly poly little pandas.

1029180202Stay tuned for more fun from Japan and Korea over the next few weeks here at Crowded Earth Kitchen.

 

Snacking Tokyo-Style: Plum Onigiri

riceAre you looking for an easy way to jazz up your weekday lunch?

All over Tokyo, food courts and convenience stores sell triangles of sticky rice filled with all sorts of wonderful goodies. Called onigiri, these snacks fit easily in the palm of your hand, are quite filling, and are very affordable – many cost the equivalent of $1 or less. Our whole family enjoyed sampling onigiri filled with pickles, plums, smoked salmon, and even hard boiled eggs. Our favorite were the plum-filled snacks, which we are creating today.

rice mold

Onigiri mold

You can Continue reading

Signature Recipe: Japanese Shoyu Ramen

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The results of Crowded Earth Kitchen’s ramen poll are in! Today we’re making Crowded Earth Kitchen’s version of Shoyu Ramen, the most popular type of ramen which is flavored with soy sauce. The recipe below is pretty simple to make, and offers great flavor without a long list of hard-to-find ingredients. We’re also using pork tenderloin instead of pork belly, because pork tenderloin is more affordable and more readily available in much of the US. If you’ve enjoyed ramen with pork belly, I think you’ll find the taste of this recipe very comparable.

Two tips: First, don’t skimp on the pork stock or the chicken stock. If you have time to make your own, that’s what I recommend. If not, look for good quality stock from a butcher or specialty grocery store. Ramen “is” the broth… if the broth is just OK, your finished product will be just OK. If your broth is delicious, your ramen bowls will be delicious! Second, if you have time, it’s worth preparing your pork tenderloin the day before you enjoy your ramen bowls.

Let’s get started!

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Dried shiitakes, ginger, onion, and garlic

Ingredients (Serves 6)

16 ounces dried wheat flour ramen noodles

1 cup thinly sliced greens (I used baby bok choy)

1 cup sliced bamboo shoots

3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved

(Optional) 1 sheet nori (seaweed), cut into six pieces

For the meat:

1 pound pork tenderloin

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon white wine (I used Umeshu)

For the broth:

3 quarts pork stock

1 quart chicken stock

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons fish sauce, optional

1/4 cup dried shiitake mushrooms

1/4 cup onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 inch piece of ginger, sliced thin

Directions

WIN_20160701_164234Step 1) Prepare your pork tenderloin. In a small bowl, combine salt, sugar, and white wine to make a paste. Rub this paste all over your pork tenderloin. Let your pork tenderloin rest in a baking pan, covered, in the refrigerator for at least one hour or overnight (overnight is best). Then, roast your pork tenderloin, uncovered, in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Check your pork tenderloin with a meat thermometer – the internal temperature should be 145 degrees. Allow your pork tenderloin to rest for 10 minutes. Slice thin and refrigerate.

WIN_20160701_154316Step 2) Prepare your broth. In a large pot, combine pork stock, chicken stock, soy sauce, fish sauce, dried shiitake mushrooms, onion, garlic, and ginger. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, until volume is reduced by half. This will take approximately an hour, depending upon how gently or vigorously your pot simmers. I prefer a slow simmer. Allow broth to cool, then ladle or pour through a sieve into a second pot. This will strain out all of the flavor additives (mushrooms, onion pieces, garlic and ginger), leaving you with a clear, flavor-packed ramen broth! At this point, you can freeze your broth for future use, refrigerate your broth to use tomorrow, or return your broth to a gentle boil and proceed with Step 3!

Step 3) Prepare your noodles. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and cook your noodles according to package directions. DO NOT OVERCOOK YOUR NOODLES. When in doubt, it’s better to undercook the noodles a bit, as they will continue to cook in Step 4. Mushy noodles make terrible ramen. Seriously… don’t overcook the noodles!

Step 4) Assemble and enjoy! Here’s the fun part. First, transfer a serving of cooked noodles to a large single-serving bowl (your biggest cereal bowls will work). Second, arrange a few slices of pork tenderloin, a hard boiled egg half, a few bamboo shoots, and a few sliced greens around the edges of the bowl. Don’t mix up the toppings like you would for American-style soup… each ramen topping should occupy its own place along the edge of the bowl. Third, carefully ladle hot broth over the top of everything, to warm the ingredients. The broth should just barely cover the top the noodles… don’t drown your ramen bowl in broth. Fourth, place a small square of nori on the top of your bowl and serve immediately!

When you make this ramen, I’d love to hear from you! Please let me know if you are now as ramen obsessed as we are here at Crowded Earth Kitchen!

Tokyo Food Tour! Dumplings!

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Steamed Pork Dumplings

Nothing pairs more deliciously with a bowl of authentic ramen than a side of dumplings. While snacking our way through Tokyo, we sampled an endless variety of dumplings. Feast your eyes on the photos below, and answer our quick poll at the end! We’ll use your feedback to create an amazing dumpling recipe just for Crowded Earth Kitchen viewers.  🙂

Steamed Pork and Cabbage Dumplings with Spicy Sesame Chili Sauce

Steamed Pork and Cabbage Dumplings with Spicy Sesame Chili Sauce

Giant Pan-Fried Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

Giant Pan-Fried Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

Steamed Pork Shumai with Peas

Steamed Pork Shumai with Peas

These are just a few of the wonderful dumplings we enjoyed. Pick a favorite, and we’ll recreate them for you!