Tsukji Fish Market – sushi for breakfast


Breakfast at Tokyo Tsukji Fish Market isn’t your convencional toast and coffee affair. Tsukji Market wakes up in the wee hours of the morning. The buzzle starts when the produce start to arrive and the internationally known tuna action. If you plan to see the action remember that you need to be in line at around three in the morning to try to get a place to see the procedure.

We decided against waiting in line at three in the morning since we would much rather stay in bed until a more decent hour. Nonetheless, we did want to arrive to the market early in order to have breakfast and get a feel of the morning vibe.

Divided in two parts, the inner part is closed to visitors until 9:00 in the morning because, let’s face it, tourists are a pain when you are trying to get your job done. In the inner part is where you find fish, fruit and vegetables and the outer part is where you can find restaurants, stalls and shops. We found that it was full of weird vegetables, fruit and fish that we had never seen before. We could only guess what it was and what it could be used for.


Meals are served among the many sashimi stalls and many people come to have breakfast here. You get your sashimi dish, soup and water in one of the many narrow restaurants where you sit at the counter, entering through one door and then exiting through a door at the back.


Great raw fish and a totally different way to enjoy breakfast!

Den – Japanese creativity


Den is one of those fun places in Japan that you really don’t want to miss. Spanish Hipster, who by the way has a great blog, urged us to go and he was right. Den is a laid back, fun restaurant where creativity seeps into every dish. Den is a reinterpretation of Japanese classics mixing new and tradition.

As most restaurants in Japan, for us foreigners, they seem to be hidden away. Den is located down a narrow alley with an entrance full of cookbooks, mostly presents from clients, which make your waiting for the table rather enjoyable as you catch up on some browsing. The restaurant itself is rather small like most restaurants in Japan and the decoration is sparse where white and a light wooden shade dominate the space. As in most Japanese restaurants, it is most common to sit at the counter as you watch chef, Zaiyu Hasegawa, and his sous chefs in action. Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa has a playful, funny side which is reflected in his dishes. Not to say that even though he hardly speaks any English, you are constantly cracking up. His staff help a lot as many speak perfect English and are able to explain the dishes and the history behind each one.

We started off with Monaka which is traditionally a Japanese dessert, but they wanted to add a twist and serve it as an entree. The waffle is filled with foie. Right from the beginning you know that this is all about having fun and goofing around.


Morning dew collected by the team. Nooo,  it is actually tomate vinegar which you then add to the second dish which is under the lotus leaf which has my beloved passion fruit.

Since they ran out of food they quickly solved the problem by calling out for some KFC.


Instead of KFC, we got the much better version of DFC (Dentucky Fried Chicken). These chicken wings are stuffed! How do you stuff chicken wings so that you don’t even realize that they are stuffed? How long does it take and who do you get to perform such surgery? This painstaking ordeals can only be done to perfection in Japan. Inside the box you will find either a plastic chicken which you can take home and who is actually perched on our bookcase now as I write this post. Or you get your country’s flag. They take the time to know where you come from and insert the flag into your meal making for great conversation and letting you feel at home at the same time.


Amongst the sage, rosemary and thyme is the marvelous chicken wing. They also explained to us that the reason behind this dish is because apparently KFC is a favorite in Japan and a lot of families like to have it on Sundays.



Then came the fish which had been marginated for five days with natural wasabi grated on top.


Veal with a smoked flavor. Delicious.


The next dish is a salad. At Den they serve it as a main dish instead of a side because Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa wants customers to pay special attention to the actual vegetables. Apparently in Japan, vegetables are always added to a dish but they don’t tend to be a dish on their own. At Den they want you to take the time to realize that vegetables are delicious on their own. Can you spot the fun side to this dish?


Yes, the fun side is edible.

To finish off, rice with my beloved fish eggs and I believe tiny eel.

This dessert made with cheese mousse and tea is freshly dug up from their garden. Original and delicious and got us wanting to do some gardening in Japan.


To finish off, Starbucks coffee?? Noooo, StarComebacks, with truffle, caramel and milk.


Fun and surprises are guaranteed at this 1 michelin star restaurant. Congratulations to all the team for making us foreigners feel such at home.

Den Jimbocho
Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa

〒101-0051 2-2-32
Jimbocho, Kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Tel. 03-3222-3978

Magnolia Bakery – also in Tokyo

As you well know I am a Magnolia Bakery fan, I just wanted to let you know that if you are in or planning on going to Tokyo anytime soon, there is a Magnolia Bakery in Shibuya, near the very popular Omote Sando Street which is great for shopping. A friend recommended this area and I have to say that I loved it. Full of shops, both international and Japanese brands. The streets are lined with cool buildings.

Magnolia Bakery is a bit tucked away in the basement of GYRE which is a shopping center.


Rokurinsha – best ramen ever

I spent nearly a year before our trip to Japan dabbing into their culture, trying to get a grasp of what was in store. I read Haruki Murakami, who actually today continues to be on my bedside table as I have fallen in love with his style and captivated by his stories. Highly recommended! I also read a couple of mangas. No doubt I went into countless blogs. I was on Youtube watching documentaries and I also watched David Chang during season one of The Mind of a Chef where he talks about ramen amongst other things.

All this info was in my head when we arrived to Japan. One of the dishes that I wanted to try was ramen but was encountering a problem and it was the weather. It was way too warm in August to even think of sitting down to a warm bowl of soup so we left in on the back burner.

There are times where luck goes your way and it happened on our way back from a small village town of Tanigawa where we had stayed at a ryokan onsen. On our way back to Tokyo a typhoon was arriving. The closer we got, the more it rained. We kept checking on internet to read that Narita airport had been closed, so we figured it would probably be a good idea to play it low key during the remainder of the day. When we arrived to Tokyo station it was pouring outside and it was cool. Yes, the weather had changed and the temperature had dropped and it was cool! All of a sudden, ramen came to my mind. Today was the day for ramen! We were in Tokyo Station where you find Ramen Street, this is a street inside the subway station packed with ramen restaurants. It was past two so we had built up an appetite.

Once we found Ramen Street, we were trying to find a place which would serve ramen as many of the restaurants were already closing. We found one that was open but had no queue but right next to it we found another one which did have a queue and we remembered one of the most important things we had learnt: ALWAYS GO TO THE PLACE WITH THE QUEUE. So there we went, in the most Japanese manner of waiting in line. Since it really wasn’t lunch time in Japan we didn’t have to wait long before we got to the vending machine. Seriously, this is my favorite vending machine of all times! Here you choose which ramen you want and you get a ticket. Then, when there is seating, you either sit at a table or at the counter where you get to see them at work. We got to sit at the counter.

When I tried the first spoonful of the broth I was hocked to its rich taste. I was fascinated by how much I enjoyed the flavor and kept craving more. True umami!


We left not knowing that this was the restaurant where David Chang had gone. When we got back to the hotel my husband started investigating and he was the one who told me that we, unintentionally followed his footsteps. Suddenly I remembered being back home, and the excitement I felt watching David Chang having ramen and the feeling of wanting to go to Japan to try it. I couldn’t help but smile to know that fate had taken me where I wanted to go.


Ramen Street

Tokyo Station

Sushisho Masa – the place for sushi

Sorry to have been absent for so long but it has been a busy summer. Now that fall is upon us, I hope to share all my new discoveries with you. This summer we went to Japan and I have to say that we were extremely excited about our visit to Sushisho Masa after hearing brilliant reviews from friends who urged us that this was the place for sushi and boy were they right! This was our first trip to Japan and I am hoping that it won’t be our last since we have fallen in love with the country. For all of you who have already been to Japan, you will know that restaurants are quite small, most of them sitting around eight to fifteen. This, for us westerns, comes as a surprise since we are used to big restaurants. Sushisho Masa is no different, there are seven seats and since we were a party of four we almost took up the whole place.

Another thing that will come to a surprise for westerns is that this mecca for sushi is located in a basement, but this is not strange in Japan since you can find michelin star restaurants in basements, subways stations (hence the subway stations in Japan are a world of their own). Once you find Masa, thank God the hotel, who by the way are normally the ones who have to make your reservations in Japan, gave us the address and a picture of the façade. The name is written in Japanese characters, this also quite typical in Japan, therefore making it quite hard to find. We walked down the stairs to a very plane and simple bar, here the protagonist is the fish not the decor. It is a real treat to sit right in front of Chef Oka and watch him and his crew at work.

Chef Oka has a fun side to him bring a sense of liveliness to the whole experience and his crew is charming, trying to make you feel at home even though there is a slight language gap. Some of his helpers speak English and what they don’t know, they make up in effort, bringing out a fish picture dictionary so we could figure out what we were eating. The dinner was laid back and tons of fun. The best part, the food of course. Some people have asked me what is the difference between the sushi we normally eat back home and the sushi in Japan. I have to say that for me the big difference is that back home we aren’t afraid to innovate with sushi and in Japan it is all about product and quality. Would you agree? But I also have to say that there is a huge difference from your typical sushi place in Japan and Masa. To start off with, the quality is superb. I am a huge fan of salmon eggs and here they were so creamy that I wanted to cry.

At Masa, each bite is previously thought out. Let me explain. They have been to the market in the wee hours of the morning to pick out the best possible product, the fish has been cleaned and cut, the rice has been made to perfection and once the piece of sushi is assembled, Chef Oka knows precisely how he wants you to perceive the taste. He will either say, “as is” so you know that you are not to even slightly dip the piece in soy sauce or he will say just the tip so you may procede to adding a couple drops of soy sauce.

As you can probably imagine, the menu depends on what is in season and what fancied Chef Oka’s eye at the market. The length of the menu is up to you, you can make it as long or as short as you want. Once we were half way through, those were roughly around twenty five pieces of sushi, he let us know. We, of course, said that we were fine and that he could keep them coming.

I am not going to go into detail about sushi pieces but I will show you pictures so that you can get an idea of what our meal was like. Some of them are raw and some of them have been grilled.

To drink, you might be wondering?, we went for white wine and sake but there is also beer.






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Trasteo- Valladolid just got exciting

I can’t believe that it is already August! I hope everyone is having a great summer. In case you live or are planning on going to Valladolid anytime soon, I strongly recommend that you check Trasteo out. Teo Rodríguez has recently opened his restaurant right in the heart of Valladolid, at 11 Claudio Moyano Street. The restaurant has a modern vibe and I have to say that I loved the decor. There are several areas where you can eat starting with the typical barra where you have many high stools. Perfect for a quick bite or for wine and tapas.

The more “formal” dining area where you can sit and enjoy a tapas tasting menu for around 38 euros. Price varies depending on the number of dishes.


The menu is appealing and exciting. This is not your typical (and boring) black pudding on regular bread type of place. I found it rather difficult to decide what to order since I wanted to try everything. Since I don’t want to bury my bikini at the bottom of my closet, I had to settle for a more toned down approach.

The wine list has an interesting selection of both national and international wines. It is always nice to see a variety of sherries and small producer champagnes on the list.

I am quite a fan of Spanish omelettes and I found Teo’s interpretation to be funky and really tasty. The potatoes are in a sort of paddy at the bottom, then a cured egg yolk (who doesn’t just drool over the mention of the word egg yolk??) and topped with a red onion foam. I definitely wouldn’t mind having this for dinner every night.


“Carabinero” (Cardinal prawn) tartar with jalapeño gazpacho. I, being a lover of spicy found, would have loved for the gazpacho to have more of a kick.


Tuna fish “ham”, this plate reminds you of the typical Spanish ham, tomato and bread. In this case, the tomato is a spherification which just pops in your mouth. On the side, some Sardo bread.


Ravioli XL size stuffed with mushrooms and with an incredibly delicious ramen broth. This was one of our favorites.


Back cheek of a tuna fish with dehydrated scales. Tuna fish tends to be dry but this area of the fish is so juicy.


Chicken meatball XL size, filled with a fricassée sauce. This was without a doubt, a comfort food dish. I can just imagine having this on a cold winter evening with a glass of wine next to a roaring fire.


For dessert, watermelon tataki with yuzu ice-cream. This is a fresh dessert. Ideal for summer.


To finish off, brownie topped with violet ice-cream and a hint of passion fruit.


Congratulation to Teo Rodríguez and his team! We are looking forward to going back.


11 Claudio Moyano Street, Valladolid

Telephone: 983 45 50 90


Umiko – Japanese fusion


The first time I went to Umiko I liked it but I have to say that I didn’t fall in love with it. As the months passed, many friends would talk about how much they liked Umiko and that it was among their favorite Japanese restaurants in Madrid. After so much chatter I decided that I really had to go back and now I am also a fan.


It is located near el Paseo del Prado and Alcalá Street, at 18 Los Madrazo Street. Here, two young chefs who worked at Kabuki with Ricardo Sanz, Pablo Álvaro Marcos and Juan Alcaide offer their version of Japanese fusion. The restaurant is small so getting a table can be tricky but it is worth the work. Good quality and tasty nigiri in a very laid back, fun atmosphere.

Being the oyster fan that I am, I always want to try them. I liked their version of the oyster in tempura. It adds to the natural taste of the oyster without covering it up.


We had dry ramen, it is dry because it doesn’t come in the typical soup format. The sauce came from the head of the carabinero (large red prawn). It is also a good idea to suck on the head so that you can enjoy every last drop of the taste.


Tuna Tartar


Red mullet nigiri with its spine. The spine was deep fried so that it gave a crunchiness to the nigiri.


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