Wednesday, March 24, 2010


If for some reason you haven't been keeping up with Kyoto drive-time radio but would like to listen to me talking with a very nice man about tofu, the internet has made this possible. The interviewer is Tamotsu Nakano, professor, columnist, radio host and all-around excellent guy. He and his wife were kind enough to show me around Kyoto a bit when I was there working on my tofu story for Bon Appétit.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010


Tofu! Tofu? I know what you're thinking. But trust me: Fresh tofu in Japan is an altogether different species than the bland water-logged loaves we get here. There are regional varieties all over Japan but Kyoto is the acknowledged center of tofu making, tofu culture and general tofu obsessing. Check out my story in this month's Bon Appetit, in which I run around the city, learn from artisinal tofu producers how they turn soaked beans into delicate blocks or fried sheets, visit an ancient yuba (tofu skin) maker, eat boiled yudofu in a centuries old ryokan and tofu donuts in the street and a lot of other things along the way. Jeff Lipsky's pictures in the print magazine are beautiful; I'll post a scan when I get a copy. For now here's a link to the online version.

(Above: with Genichi Morii, tofu maker at the famous shop Morika, which, as you know, uses calcium sulfate rather than standard magnesium chloride as a coagulant).


Thursday, May 21, 2009


On the left: Healthy shishito peppers. On the right: Grilled salty chicken skin. Balance.

Bookstore, Shibuya.

Tasting Japanese whiskies.

Probably if I lived here I would stop taking pictures in convenience stores of fluffy bread snacks. Probably.

Tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) + Tsukemen (dipping ramen) = shirt stains, sweat.



Bobby Valentine to me: "So you're a Yankees fan or a Mets fan or you don't really give a shit?"
Me: Ummm.
BV: Have a donut. [Note: there was a box of donuts on the table]
BV manages the Chiba Lotte Marines. My friend Shun works with him and was kind enough to invite me and another Tokyo pal, Shinji, to the home game last night against the Yokohama BayStars and to introduce us to his boss. The Marines lost but it was a fun night out.

One of the many dozens of beer girls that roam Japanese baseball stadiums, bowing before they make their way up the aisle to dispense draft beer from their keg-backpacks. If you imagine a cross between a st. bernard, a school girl in knee socks and a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger you sort of get the idea.

Chiba Marine Stadium, Chiba Prefecture, outside Tokyo.

This is not the real ball they play with. This is a person dressed as a ball.

Light Up the Passion For Your Team. Other motto, on back of every chair: "A Passion for Our Dream, A Commitment to Our Flag."

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Sunday, May 17, 2009


Yuba is "tofu skin," a delicate, creamy silky thing made by carefully lifting the thin film that forms on top of gently simmering soy milk. I like yuba and have eaten in many times but never really gave any thought to how it was made until the other morning when I visited an old yuba maker in Kyoto. I sat in the back of the room and watched a young guy (a member of the family who has run the place for centuries) presiding over these vats of steaming soy milk, just barely at a simmer. When a skin had formed, he'd run a wooden dowel across a vat and pull up a translucent sheet of yuba and let it dry on a rack. It is slow work, a sort of mesmerizing ritual. Hours and hours and hours, one by one harvesting these dainty, weightless sheets, waiting for another skin to develop on the warm surface. The young tofu maker's aunt gave me a bowl of warm, freshly made yuba, scrunched up in a bowl with just a few drops of soy sauce. Simple, oishii, delicious. The family cat sat next to me in a styrofoam crate. The aunt brought a plate of salty, deep-fried yuba. An old man washed out the giant pots used to soak the soy beans. The young guy kept walking around his vats, watching. The cat yawned off for a nap. After a morning snack, I was ready to do the same.


Thursday, May 14, 2009


I'm working in Kyoto for a week. Bright and sunny here a good time to walk the city. This morning I'm going to see more temples, wander through the food market, do some interviews and try to stop eating pillowy frosting-filled white-bread snacks from 24 hour convenience stores. From top: Little, sweet, miso-slathered fish. A famous tofu maker outside his shop. A not-famous tofu apprentice in his hair net. Watering the concrete (wet stone outside a restaurant or shop is a sign of welcome). Kyoto, 5/13–14.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Top to bottom: Botswana, Lisbon, London, Tokyo, Nairobi, Hong Kong, Tokyo.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Tokyu Hands Dept. Store, Shinjuku, Tokyo. (1.1.07)

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Found: In Translation

A Japanese magazine (COURRIER JAPON) translated my New York Times T Travel magazine story about eating everything in Tokyo into JAPANESE. Cool. I am much, much funnier in Japanese. And skinny.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Hotel for the lazy, lactose intolerant

Headed to Tokyo this morning. Can't wait. One night here, then onto Claska and the Park Hyatt.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

from the files™ : tokyo 05

This isn't a food-porn blog and nobody is reading it. So I'll share this with myself. Had dinner last night with Adam Rapoport and Mitchell Davis at one of the shiny beige steakhouses that are everywhere in the city these days. The meat was fine but hard to compare with what we'd had in Tokyo at a tiny, basement sushi-bar style steakhouse called Shima. April and I were back there last year & I took this picture of Chef Oshima weighing our portion of the pink-as-bubble-gum marbled Kyoto beef. Now I've made myself hungry again.