Sweets @ Minatoya みなと屋 (Tokyo, Japan)

March 27, 2019 in Japanese

I honestly enjoy kakigori (shaved ice) hunting when I am in Japan. Just the ice alone makes a huge difference. So besides Mamatoko, the other kakigori shop that I went during my February 2018 trip was Minatoya.

Tucked inside Sasazuka’s shopping arcade, Minatoya was a 5 to 8 minutes walk from Sasazuka station. Besides kakigori, the shop also sold takoyaki. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try the latter as I only prepared sufficient stomach space for kakigori. Oops. And from the menu (pages 1, 2), I ordered:-


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1) Kakigori #1, ¥900 (above) – Cacao, カカオ.


2) Kakigori #2, ¥1000 (above) – Mont blanc, おいもんぶらん.


3) Kakigori #3, ¥850 (above) – Kumquat (kinkan) milk, 金柑ミルク.

4) Kakigori #4, ¥900 (above) – Pistachio milk, ピスタチオミルク.

The ice at Minatoya was really light and fluffy. I mean… Although the cookies were placed in the middle of my cacao kakigori, the cookies came out clean and dry. Now, that’s really impressive cause it’s despite a ‘mountain’ of shaved ice layered over it. The brown stain (as pictured) was only there because I scraped my spoon against the cookie.

And having tried 4 flavours, I recommend ordering the ones which have milk. I especially liked the mont blanc-kakigori. Though one should also try ordering their signature pumpkin (かぼちゃ) kakigori which has drizzled caramel sauce too. I meant to, but I got distracted by the seasonal flavour (kumquat milk).

MINATOYA みなと屋
2 Chome−41−20 Sasazuka, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 渋谷区 笹塚 2-41-20 岡田ビル 1F)
+81 3 6383 3120, Website, Tablelog
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Tues, Thur – Sun : 11:00 – 19:00
Ambience: 6
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Wed

Dinner @ Sushi Inomata 鮨 猪股 (Saitama, Japan)

March 23, 2019 in Japanese

And during my February 2018 trip, one of the sushi-yas that I went to was Sushi Inomata! In fact… With the exception of Kioichi Mitani, I booked my other sushi meals based on instagrammer @andrew_gyokudari‘s recommendation; I asked for places that’s within his Top 10 which are also not impossible to book, and he recommended me Sushi Inomata, Sushi Ryusuke and Sushi Suzuki. He also recommended Sushi Arai but I had already gone there. Also, I read Sushi Arai has since become difficult for non-locals to book head chef Arai san’s counter. But I digress…

For 6pm dinner, my hotel concierge assisted to make reservation 1 month prior. And when my reservation was confirmed, I was pre-informed the meal would range between ¥20,000 to ¥25,000.

But the thing was… Within that short 1 month from making-the-reservation to the-actual-dinner, they changed their menu. From February 2018, Sushi Inomata only offered a fixed 22 courses menu. My friend and I didn’t realise that till the end of our meal. And yes… Dinner at Sushi Inomata was supposed to be a solo affair. But when my friend learnt I was going there, she expressed interest.


And it was interesting that Sushi Inomata allowed me to make adjustment to my existing reservation via Instagram. Made me wonder for a moment if they would accept new reservation through Instagram. And yes, we exchanged texts in English. It was during our meal at Sushi Inomata that I realised it was chef-owner Kiyoshi Inomata’s fiancée wife who was replying me.

Sushi Inomata was not in central Tokyo. Located on the outskirts of Tokyo, it was a 45 to 55 minutes (metro) journey to Kawaguchi metro station followed by a 15 to 18 minutes walk. And once everyone arrived and settled down, we commenced our dinner with:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Squid. We were told it’s aged for 4 days.

2) Dish #2 (above) – Flounder (hirame).

3) Dish #3 (above) – 1-week aged black throat sea perch (nodoguro).

4) Dish #4 (above) – Needlefish (sayori).

5) Dish #5 (above) – Adductor muscles of clam (kobashira).


6) Dish #6 (above) – Sea urchin (uni).

7) Dish #7 (above) – Marinated tuna (maguro zuke).

8) Dish #8 (above) – Vinegar-marinated mackerel (shime-saba).

9) Dish #9 (above) – Sweet shrimp (amaebi).

10) Dish #10 (above) – Ark shell clam (akagai).

11) Dish #11 (above) – Whale tail (kujira).

12) Dish #12 (above) – Premium fatty tuna (otoro).


13) Dish #13 (above) – Cucumber sushi roll.

14) Dish #14 (above) – Stuffed squid.

15) Dish #15 (above) – Milt (shirako).

16) Dish #16 (above) – Medium fatty tuna (chutoro).

17) Dish #17 (above) – Marinated premium fatty tuna (otoro).

18) Dish #18 (above) – Gizzard shad (kohada).

19) Dish #19 (above) – Hand roll of marinated tuna (maguro zuke) and premium fatty tuna (otoro).

20) Dish #20 (above) – Pickled gourd sushi roll.

21) Dish #21 (above) – Egg omelette (tamago).

I only had 21 dishes because I requested not to have oyster as I wasn’t sure if I fully recovered from my oyster phobia. My friend had fewer dishes than me since she clearly knew her likes and dislikes. Because she was still hungry and I was greedy, we tried requesting for add-ons. And that’s when we realised head chef Inomata san had changed to a fixed 22 courses menu. He was apologetic he wasn’t able to offer us additional nigiri sushi.

My friend and I continued to linger a little before requesting for the bill. Although it was odd our bill took a long while to come, my friend and I didn’t mind the wait because we were quite entertained at the sight of the remaining drunk high customers. Keke. And what touched us was after the husband and wife saw everyone off, head chef Inomata san came up to us and explained he couldn’t oblige earlier because of his other customers. That’s when we realised he turned down the other customers’ requests for additional sushi too. So yes, we were touched because he must have realised my friend was hungry since she had significantly fewer dishes. I think she skipped at least 4 to 5? And he made us a sea urchin rice bowl each. We didn’t take any picture cause he requested us not to.

Including a cup of green tea, my meal came up to ¥29,800 (inclusive of tax and service charge).

Will I recommend Sushi Inomata? I definitely enjoyed myself. Sushi was great. Instead of refined, one should think of his style as bold and… Rough? Influenced by Hatsunezushi, head chef Inomata san aged (jukusei) his fishes. Though not all. His sushi was also heavier on the palate as his rice was seasoned stronger with sake less vinegar. My friend and I had lots of laughter thanks to his warm and very adorable wife too. Head chef Inomata san, the shy and gentle bear, couldn’t converse in English. So when my friend and I couldn’t understand him, his wife would take out her pocket translator and translate on his behalf. So cute. We honestly loved the husband-wife team. I only wish their restaurant was more accessible.

And since my February 2018 dinner at Sushi Inomata, there have been more changes. The space was renovated, and Sushi Inomata has collaborated with Hatsunezushi from March 2019. So instead of their former 6 operating days, Sushi Inomata is only open on Wednesdays and Thursdays with 3 seatings.

SUSHI INOMATA 鮨 猪股
Sunlive Saiwai-Cho Courthouse, 1-12-23 Saiwaicho, Kawaguchi, Japan (埼玉県 川口市 幸町 1-12-23 サンリーブ幸町コートハウス)
+81 48 211 4175, Tablelog
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Wed – Thur : 14:00 – 22:00
Ambience: 7
Value: 7
Service: 9
* Closed on Mon, Tues, Fri, Sat & Sun

Sweets @ Mamatoko 氷舎 (Tokyo, Japan)

January 19, 2019 in Japanese

After having my first good shaved ice (kakigori) at Asakusa Naniwaya, I made it a point to visit at least 1 (reputable) shaved ice shop every time I was back in Japan. And for my February 2018 trip, I managed to visit 2. Yeah! One of which was Mamatoko. I was pretty excited about Mamatoko because it appeared on instagrammer @little_meg_siu_meg‘s feed. I even took down notes of what to order based on her raves. Though one should also note the flavours were seasonal.

After alighting at Nakanoshimbashi metro station, it was a 10 minutes walk to the shop. And thankfully, there wasn’t a queue. Probably because it was winter and the fact that I reached at a non-peak timing of 3pm.

And one shouldn’t be surprised at how small the unit was. Upon entering, a table (for 4) was on my immediate right while 5 counter seats were in front of me. And the owner took orders from customers through the opening on a wall which separated the kitchen her working space and the dining area. And unfortunately for me, the owner couldn’t speak English and her menu was in Japanese. The regular items were written on a chalkboard while seasonal flavours were updated on their Instagram. I struggled a fair bit, but I managed to order:-


1) Kakigori #1, ¥850 (above) – Soy sauce, brown sugar, milk and sake lees cream (お醤油黒糖みるくに酒粕クリーム). Ordered from the regular menu because of @little_meg_siu_meg‘s recommendation, this was an interesting combination of soy sauce and sake lees.



2) Kakigori #2, ¥900 (above) – Edamame rare cheese (枝豆レアチーズ). A seasonal flavour. And of the few variations offered with edamame, I intentionally chose ‘rare cheese’ cause I was curious about it.


3) Kakigori #3, ¥1000 (above) – Light brown miso with walnuts, milk, brown sugar syrup and roasted soy (kinako) cream (白味噌くるみみるくに黒蜜きな粉クリーム). Another seasonal flavour. Ordered because I wanted to try roasted soy (kinako) cream.

I regretted not doing my homework before visiting Mamatoko. I assumed the owner would understand some English but I was caught off-guard when she couldn’t. And because of our language barrier, I couldn’t customise my shaved ice since I couldn’t interpret the menu, and thus not able to order the add-ons. I ordered my shaved ices merely by pointing to its respective name on the menu.

I definitely recommend Mamatoko for shaved ice. I am certainly not an expert in this field, but the shaved ice was exactly how a good shaved ice should be. The ice was needle-thin and dissolved immediately in my mouth. It was almost like eating water. Flavoured water. Ha.

MAMATOKO 氷舎
3 Chome-7-9 Yayoicho, Nakano, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 中野区 弥生町 3-7-9 メゾンモンターニュ)
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Tues, Thur : 14:00 – 19:00
Ambience: 6
Sat – Sun : 13:00 – 18:00
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Wed, Fri