Menya Musashi Kosho

You know you’re onto something good when you’re the only foreigner in a restaurant, and, when it comes to ramen, the only woman. This was my experience walking into Musashi in Roppongi, and it was one of the best decisions of my trip. Mostly a tsukemen restaurant, I chose the ramen option and have zero regrets. This is one of the best ramen I have ever eaten. The noodles were thick and actually had pepper inside them, which I’d never seen before. You can choose your quantity of noodles (size doesn’t change the price) and it comes with bamboo shoots, spring onion and two pieces of char sui pork. Watching the pork being cooked on a special grill plate, I knew this would be unlike any other ramen pork. Full of flavour, incredibly thick and tasty, this was without a doubt the best I’ve ever had. Oh and the broth – the broth was unctuous, thick and buttery with such a beautiful flavour I didn’t really think about how to describe it or break it down, it was just there to be enjoyed. Definitely a must-visit for ramen fans.

Menya Musashi Kosho, 4-12-6 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan, no website

Dumbo

I have been crushing on the Dumbo Instagram account for a while, so made a point of visiting when in Tokyo. The little store (seats about 6 people along the window) also offers takeaway, and is clearly a popular spot. I ordered a raspberry doughnut, (¥350), although there were a great range of flavours on offer, including passionfruit, almond caramel, maple vanilla and plain glazed (there were 11 options when I visted). The doughnut itself is huge! It was approximately the size of my hand, and there was plenty of glaze to ensure enough raspberry flavour to cover it (plus two raspberries on top). The doughnut was really soft and springy, the kind of treat you sink your teeth into and it just crumples into compressed layers of deliciousness. Mmm. This actually made it possible to eat a whole one by myself, given how light the texture was. The raspberry glaze was incredibly tasty, with just the right balance between the sugary glaze and the sharp, tart raspberry taste. There was literally nothing about this experience I didn’t love, including the cozy atmosphere and friendly staff. Highly recommended – I can’t wait to go back.

Dumbo Doughnuts and Coffee, 2-17-6 Azabujuban, Tokyo, Japan, http://www.dumbodc.com/

Tsuta

There’s dedication to food, then there’s this. Ever wondered what Michelin-starred ramen tastes like? So does pretty much every other person in Tokyo. We arrived at Tsuta around 11am and put a ¥1000 deposit down per person, and were told to come back for a 2pm sitting. We did, and finally got a seat at the counter at around 3:40pm. The atmosphere here is serious – no-body speaks, you just focus on enjoying your food and appreciating the passion and skill that has gone into making it. I ordered the Ajitama Shoyu Ramen (¥1200), with a soy sauce-based broth, seasoned egg, pork slices, bamboo and Japanese leek, plus a puree of mushrooms in truffle oil. You can smell the truffle oil as you walk in, and whilst the flavour doesn’t stand out in the broth, it serves to enhance the other flavours, including the beautiful mushrooms and roast pork slices. The noodles themselves were thin and had great bite to them, and the broth was beautifully balanced. Yes, it was a lovely bowl of ramen. No, it was not worth the incredibly long wait time. Be warned – there’s no tonkotsu (pork bone broth) option, so all the ramen here are of the lighter variety. A unique experience, but one I’m unlikely to repeat.

Tsuta Japanese Soba Noodles, 1-14-1 Sugamo, Tokyo, Japan, http://www.tsuta.com/

Aloha Table

Poke bowls seem to be the food of the moment, so while I was in Tokyo recently I stopped in at a Hawaiian-style restaurant to try one in a city known for its fresh seafood. I picked the lunch set (which included unlimited soup, cold drinks and coffee) with the tuna, avocado and octopus poke bowl (¥1274). The soup of the day was ginger, which was more like a consomme, clear and refreshing with a moderately strong ginger flavour. I helped myself to a glass of original lemonade (delicious) and then got stuck into my beautiful poke bowl. There was plenty of octopus, each slice fresh and coated in a lovely, slightly spicy marinade (possibly a Korean chilli sauce?). The tuna cubes were plump and very tasty, and the fresh avocado added a nice creaminess to the whole thing. The rice underneath was nicely seasoned and had a mix of white and black rice, leaving the bowl a pleasing purple colour. The bowl was just the right size for a casual lunch, and I didn’t feel rushed to vacate my seat (perks of a late lunch). Highly recommended for something a bit different in Tokyo.

Aloha Table, Iidabashi Sakura Terrace, 2-10-2 Fujimi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan, http://iidabashi.alohatable.com/

Yayoi

As you may have guessed, I’m a big fan of Japanese food, so love visting The Galeries in Sydney, which is full of great Japanese dining options. Yayoi had been on my wishlist for a while, and when I finally made it, it didn’t disappoint. I ordered the Yayoi Gyozen ($30), the recommended meal set. It came with four beautifully presented dishes, so was a perfect sampler of their menu. The salmon teriyaki was a treat to begin – tender fish, sweet teriyaki and a nice mix of textured veggies to accompany it. Tick. The wagyu beef sukiyaki was similarly tasty, with thinly cut slices of beef and noodles with plenty of sauce, this portion was surprisingly filling. Tick. Next was the pork tonkatsu. with a super flaky, crispy batter on the outside and tender pork inside, not to mention the lovely tonkatsu sauce and a sprinkling of sesame. A light drizzle of lemon lifted this dish into supreme awesomeness. Tick. Finally, I savoured the salmon salad at the end, enjoying the refreshingly simple taste of the sashimi salmon and accompanying lettuce and sprouts. Tick. Everything was delicious, tasty and just the right size. Perfection.

Yayoi Teishoku Restaurant, The Galeries, 500 George Street, Sydney NSW, http://www.yayoi.com.au/

Patissez

There’s nothing like a good burger, and when colleagues suggested a weekday lunch outing to Patissez in Manuka, who was I to complain? The staff accommodated our large group well and luckily the weather held out. I decided to go for the KFC (Katsu fried chicken) burger, with cabbage and daikon slaw, kewpie mayo and katsu sauce ($18). The food came out in good time considering the size of the group, and the burger was served in a tray witha good helping of fries and a pot of aioli. The burger had a slightly firmer bun than I prefer (the bread was very filling), but the katsu chicken was a real winner, crisp on the outside and not overly crumbed, and soft and tender on the inside – cooked to perfection. The slaw had a nice mix of fresh cabbage and pickled daikon, so there was a good vinegary element from the pickle, plus the delightful creaminess of the kewpie. The katsu sauce was a bit different to the ones I’m used to from Japan (lighter in colour and a little more like curry than I expected) but was still tasty. The fries were just a tad dry for my taste, and the serving a bit big, but overall it was a great mid-week lunch.

Patissez, 21 Bougainville Street, Manuka ACT, https://www.patissez.com.au/

Kindred

Oh my, this restaurant has stolen my heart. Nestled in a cozy old house, with a hearty, warming menu, Kindred serves delightful food in style. I started with the chicken liver parfait, served with sourdough, apricot chutney and pickled vegetables ($16). The parfait was utter perfection – silky smooth and well-balanced in flavour, it was also light, fluffy and easy to spread. The sourdough was the thickest, tastiest I’ve ever had, drizzled in a little olive oil and lightly toasted, it was the perfect accompaniment. The pickled veggies added a nice, vinegary tartness to the dish, counterbalanced by the sweetness of the chutney. Perfect. For the main, I chose the pappardelle with lamb ragu and green olives ($26). The dish was so beautiful, although after a couple of mouthfuls I realised there were no olives! The staff hastily fixed this, and the dish was brought up to perfection. The pasta was thick, house-made and silky, and the ragu clung to it well. The lamb melted in your mouth, and I want to know whatever mix of herbs they use! The portion size was just right, and I found myself wishing I lived around the corner to be able to dine here more often. Definitely a new favourite.

Kindred, 137 Cleveland Street, Darlington NSW, http://www.kindredrestaurant.com.au/