Tsukji Fish Market – sushi for breakfast

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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.

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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.

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

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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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Kirei by Kabuki – a place to eat at Madrid airport

Spring Break is just around the corner. Finally some much awaited relaxation and down time. The destinations are always most appealing be it a mountain retreat, a beachside getaway or an exciting city ready to be discovered or rediscovered but what usually gets up upset right before we reach our destination and every time more are the long waits at the airport, the auto check-in counter that never seems to be able to read your code and of course, the ridiculously over-priced yet tasteless food you get at airports.

Since the airport that I mostly use is Madrid’s I am so happy to say that there is finally a place where you can grab a bite to eat where the food is actually tasty. The service is quick, as they know that airport travellers are always on the go.

The food is not only freshly prepared sushi/sashimi but you can also get pasta, vegetables, wok and soups. The menu isn’t very extense but there is certainly something to satisfy your hunger and need to get something tasty to put a smile on your face right before you head off.

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Kirei by Kabuki

Airport – Adolfo Suarez Madrid Barajas

Terminal 4

Nakeima – insanely good

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When I go to a very original, unique place which is anything but your typical cookie cutter joint, the difficulty lies in how to transmit the experience, but I will give it a go 😉  Behind Nakeima there is a vision, a know-how and an urge to just have fun. Located at 54 Meléndez Valdés Street near Argüelles in what must have been your typical Spanish bar. I have even taken the liberty of envisioning the former place with a slot machine. The venue is long and narrow with a couple of high tables, and when I say a couple I literally mean two. On the left is the long bar where most of the people sit overlooking the prep area where all the magic occurs. The decoration is minimal with some fun “chalk”paintings on the wall, a tv screen which a flower screen saver display, and behind the bar you will find work essentials, a bookcase full of cookbooks, a display of knives and not much else. But one does not venture to Nakeima for interior design purposes. It takes effort to dine here. You might be surprised by this comment but if you plan to have lunch or dinner at Nakeima you must be prepared to endure the two hour wait before opening time. You get there, get in line, cross your fingers and hope to be one of the lucky twenty. If you plan to have dinner at nine o’clock, you must be there by seven. This is a good time to catch up on your kindle reading, FB, Twitter, improve your Candy Crash score or what have you. At eight thirty, the doors open, much like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and your name and your party’s number are written down. When there are twenty future dinners on the list, the person goes back in and now you have precisely thirty minutes to go have a beer before the doors reopen and you can finally go in. If you are not there at nine o’clock on the dot and your name is called out you lose your place. Sniff Sniff.

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Once prompted on your stool, you have to choose what to order. There is a menu written on the wall but it is there merely for decorative purposes as the menu varies greatly. One of the guys tells you what is on the menu that day and you decide.

They offer quite a bit of wine variety from Spanish whites and reds to some French, cava, champagne, manzanillas… and there are a lot you can order by the glass.

I have to say that we practically ate the entire menu and absolutely everything was delicious. You would try a steamed bun and think, I would eat a dozen.

We had:

Oysters with ponzu. What can I say, I am an oyster lover!IMG_5514

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Fuji – First Japanese restaurant in Spain

Who would have thought that the oldest Japanese restaurant in Spain is in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. I guess this is due to the fact that the port has had so many transcontinental ships coming in over the years and the island has always welcomed foreigners.

Fuji is located on Fernando Guanarteme Street near some very iffy buildings. The restaurant decor has been recently redone but it still wouldn’t be my choice for a romantic dinner. Nonetheless the food is good quality and it is well prepared and they have recently been introducing more creativity into their elaboration.

The food is authentic. You get well prepared sushi and sashimi but you can also go for cooked Japanese dishes. Desserts, like in most oriental restaurants, can be easily skipped. The wine list offers little excitement but there is always the Japanese beer option.

Don’t forget to ask for their specials of the day.

We had tuna with three spicy sauces served with mango and avocado.
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Algae salad with mustard. I really have to figure out how to prepare this at home.
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Sama sashimi. Sama is a fish which is characteristic of the Canary islands.
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Flambeed prawn sushi

Quail egg sushi

Fuji roll with avocado, eel, crab and salmon eggs

I would like to wish you all a very tasty 2016 and in case you are wondering where you can get warm, sunny weather in winter, let me share some pictures recently taken in Las Palmas, Canary Islands.

Playa del Ingles

Las Canteras Beach


Fuji Restaurant
56 Fernando Guanarteme Street
Las Palmas, Canary Islands

Sushi Bar 99 Hermosilla

Over the years, 99 Sushi Bar has made it onto my list of “restaurants where I am always willing to go”. For some reason, I started to ponder on the, “why do I like this restaurant so much?” After giving it some consideration I have come to the conclusion that there are two reasons; the first being, that it is always good, it is reliable restaurant where you know that you are going to be rewarded with good food. The second is their prawn tempura with spicy sauce. Do you know that list of dishes from around the world that we all carry in the back of our mind and secretly dream about? Well, that tempura is one of mine. At home, we actually refer to the dish as popcorn because once you start you can’t stop.

Located on the first floor with a street-level entrance at number 4 Hermosilla Street between Serrano and Paseo de la Castellana, the restaurant is well decorated with dim light. There is also sushi bar where you can see the sushimen in action. At the entrance you will find a wine cellar encased by glass door; the wine by the way is very reasonably priced and list is quite interesting. I love the way Mónica Fernández handles both the restaurant and the wine list. She is excellent at helping you organize your meal and chose your wine.

On our last visit we had:

Prawn tempura with spicy sauce – my “popcorn”

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