After a zen inspired day visiting the historic city of Kamakura and many of the temples in Japan, we stopped at a local neighborhood shop for an afternoon ocha (tea in Japanese) and dessert. I opted for the slightly sweet Gyokuro tea and an anmitsu for dessert.
Anmitsu is one of my favorite traditional Japanese desserts consisting of sliced fruits, agar jelly and azuki beans with a delicate sweet syrup. You will also often find vanilla or green tea ice cream added in making it a Cream Anmitsu. The name anmitsu derives from the Japanese word for azuki beans, "an" which is short for anko, and the "mitsu" means sweet syrup in Japanese.
Anmitsu is served at select local Japanese restaurants and cafes. If you don't anticipate hopping on a plane to Japan any time soon, and your local Japanese restaurant doesn't serve traditional sweets, you can experiment and try the following simple and healthy anmitsu recipe at home:
MY DELICIOUS MEAL AT TAN-ETSU
Today I head off to Mid-town which is an uber hip area in Tokyo with cutting edge boutiques, the stylishly chic, and food galore. There are European style cafes, traditional Edo style Japanese restaurants, a Dean and DeLuca shop, and so much more. Today I go to to one of my favorite spots, Tan-Etsu, which serves traditional style Japanese cuisine. Tan-Etsu has the most amazing two layered bento box that arrives with a ceramic bird on top and an assortment of twenty something different delicacies. The presentation of the meal is so stunning that a part of me didn’t want to ruin the visual aesthetic, but I knew that the best was yet to come. The Japanese take great pride in serving food that is not only stimulating to the taste buds, but to the visual senses as well. From the succulent eggplant, to the savory sweet egg, the fish cakes, and the enchanting kuromame (black bean) for good luck, every delicate bite is a mouth watering experience. Another bonus with Tan-etsu is the option of dining on the terrace which offers stellar views of Tokyo both during the day and at night.
Tan-Etsu is located in Tokyo's Mid-Town District at the:
Garden Terrace 3rd Floor, Akasaka 9-7-4 Minato-Ku
IRON CHEF JAPAN
Ryori no tetsujin" was the original Iron Chef television show which first aired in Japan in 1993. I remember they would play episodes every Saturday night on the Japanese television station here in the U.S. and I was immediately addicted. I mainly watched because of the food, but do have to admit that I was a bit awestruck by the brightly colored satin outfits the Iron Chefs were clad in. It looked almost like the Power Ranger cooking show. Not to my surprise, I found out that a lot of my friends in the U.S. were also tuning in to the Japanese network on Saturdays just to watch the show. Although there was the obvious language barrier, the excitement of the show, the colorful (literally see above) cast of characters, and the complexity of the ingredients spoke fluently to everyone who tuned in. This was before reality television was so prevalent in this culture. No surprise that there is now an American version of the Iron Chef which airs on the Food Network.
The Japanese people are a food obsessed culture and they definitely take great pride in their cuisine. I am not surprised that Japan currently has the more Michelin stars of any country, including France. Everywhere you go, from the basements of the department stores to the train stations, there is food, food, everywhere! From French pastry shops, noodle stations, yakitori, sushi bars, and even vending machines that offer a vast selection of hot or cold options, you will find it here in Japan. I will be sharing some of my culinary adventures with you this week while I eat my way through Japan.