Memorable dishes from 2008

As 2008 goes down in history as one of the gloomiest years on record, apart from the unabashed joy of Obama's victory and the sending of George Bush and his cronies back to Texas, we feel more than a little privileged to have eaten all these dishes – and the others that could easily have made it to the list. (It gets embarrassing listing dish after dish from the same restaurant so we've tried, mostly successfully, to restrain ourselves to one or two examples.)

These are all dishes that had something special – maybe an extraordinary flavour or texture, or they were just right where and when we were eating them, or they were so deeply satisfying, or they looked so beautiful you had to love them … there are as many different reasons as dishes.

They are listed roughly in the order we ate them – it was hard enough to choose them, much less rank them. They are from restaurants in Tasmania, where we live, other parts of Australia, Singapore, Paris, Provence, in the heart of Beaujolais territory, Bangkok, San Francisco, New York, Barcelona, and Tokyo.

These were our six most memorable meals, (excluding many lunches at Café Pecora, which no longer exists). Dishes from all of these meals as well as many others are in our list.

Momofuku Ko, New York

Per Se, New York

Baan Prachachuen, Bangkok

Chote Chitr, Bangkok

Kyubey, Tokyo

Le Ribouldingue, Paris

And some interests that morphed into new obsessions during 2008:

Sandwiches, especially pork

Beaujolais, especially Jean Foillard's Morgons

Khanom jeen



Cauliflower and scallops at Piccalilly in Hobart, Australia


1. Cauliflower terrine and scallops – a delicious matching of flavours.

Cnr of Hampden St & Francis St, Battery Point, Tasmania, Australia. T +61 3 6224 990.

Goat at Strathlynn near Launceston, Australia


2. Wet roasted capretto with potatoes, carrots and horseradish.

Perhaps 'wet roasted' is a euphemism for 'braised' but, whatever the method, this was particularly satisfying, in large part thanks to the vegetables from nearby Yorktown Organics.

95 Rosevears Dr, Rosevears, Tasmania, Australia. T +61 3 6330 2388.

Many dishes at Café Pecora (now closed) south of Hobart, Australia


Maybe we have so many dishes from Café Pecora on our list because we ate here so often between January and when it closed on Easter Sunday, certainly far more often than at any other restaurant on our list.

But, Café Pecora served the most delicious and certainly the most beautiful food we ate in Tasmania last year and held its own against any meal we ate elsewhere as well, especially when taking the price into consideration. Its chef-owner Luke Burgess and partner Katrina Birchmeier, had a wonderful collection of suppliers, many of them gardeners rather than farmers, and Luke valued and respected their produce.

We think the ones we've chosen are probably our most memorable dishes from 2008 – but it hasn't been easy to cull the list and it would probably change if we looked again tomorrow. Most things we ate at Pecora could make it on this list but we had to draw a line, even if it looks like we didn't.

3. New season's garlic soup with smoked eel and summer savoury – as delicious as it was pretty

4. Tomato and bread soup with king crab and basil oil – luxurious but built on such basic principles.

5. Also very beautiful - cured stripey trumpeter drizzled with a very thin but creamy ajo blanco and decorated with seven different types of flowers.

6. Creamy potato tortilla, squid ink dramatically painted on the plate, and pickled celery.

7. Stracci, ragu, peas and asiago.

8. Head cheese with purlsane.

9. Beef short ribs with tripe.

10. Just set vanilla pannacotta with biscotti crumbs.

11. Chocolate marquis, dulce de leche and pistachio.

12. Silvanberry sorbetto, meringata and mascarpone.

Please Luke and Kat – open a new restaurant soon.

Two dishes at Meadowbank near Hobart, Tasmania


13. Pot Roast quail with a herb stuffing, braised peas and lettuce.

14. Warm blood plum and almond tart – a lesson in simplicity and skilful cooking.

699 Richmond Road, Cambridge Tasmania, Australia. T +61 3 62484484

Tongue at the Source near Hobart, Australia


15. Ox tongue – braised, then crumbed then pan-fried – with roasted beetroot, onion caramel cream and salsa verde. Natural companions.

655 Main Road Berriedale, Tasmania, Australia. T +61 3 6277 9900.

Rice at Niu Che Shui Famous Glutinous Rice at the Chinatown Food Centre, Singapore


16. A simple dish of glutinous rice with a crisp topping of dried fish, garlic and nuts – how could something so apparently simple be so complex and interesting?

Chinatown Centre, Smith St, Singapore.

Chicken at Lian He Ben Ji Claypot at the Chinatown Food Centre, Singapore


17. Claypot chicken with Chinese sausage – definitely in the deeply satisfying category.

Chinatown Centre, Smith St, Singapore.

Tofu at Xiu Ji (Ikan Bilis) Yong Tau Foo at the Chinatown Food Centre, Singapore


18. 7 pieces of Yong Tau Foo with noodles (one bowl with rice and the other with wheat), but to make it an absolute feast we ordered some hand-made parang fish cakes and a side order of ikan bilis.

After eating this dish, we'll never think of tofu the same way again. The main photo shows two servings – the pieces of tofu in broth, one served with a rice noodle dish and the other with wheat noodles – and there are a couple of close ups so you can appreciate the skill of the cooks at this tiny Singapore hawker stall.

Chinatown Centre, Smith St, Singapore.

Roasted meats at Jiang-Nan Chun (Four Seasons Hotel), Singapore


19. Roast meat platter – probably one of the simplest dishes on the menu of this fine restaurant but one of the most delicious.

Suckling pig, roasted duck, soya sauce chicken, barbecued pork, with jelly fish and boiled peanuts for contrast. A benchmark for this classic dish – and a reminder of how juicy the meat can be if treated with respect.

190 Orchard Boulevard, Singapore. T +65 6734 1110.

Lardo and Beautiful Vegetables at Racines in Paris


There are two dishes from Racines on our list – not bad for a tiny natural wine bar:

20. Fausto Guadagni's marble entombed lardo, part of this generous plate of charcuterie.

21. Salad of spring vegetables from Alain Passard's vegetable garden – radishes, carrots, cucumber, pretty petals … and more.

And at 12€, a bargain compared with eating the same vegetables at Arpege.

8 Passage des Panoramas,2e, Paris, France. T +33 1 4013 0641.

Caillettes in La Verre Vole in Paris, France


22. Caillettes – France's ultimate meatball - flavoured with offal and herbs, served with an excellent potato purée and well dressed salad.

It was all perfect with Jean Foillard's 2006 Morgon 'Côte du Py', France's ultimate Beaujolais.

67 rue de Lancry, 10 e, Paris, France. T +33 1 4803 1734

Lamb at Crillon Le Brave in Provence, France


23. Leg of lamb is hung in the fireplace and allowed to slowly roast.

Pieces are sliced from the leg when you order and served with a pot of ratatouille. It's so good we make sure we have it at least once a year.

Hotel Crillon le Brave, Place de l'Eglise, Crillon le Brave, France. T +33 4 9065 6161.

A pie at Le Vivier in Isle Sur La Sorgue in Provence, France


24. But not just any pie – a very beautiful pigeon pie, with a base of foie gras, and layered with porcini and its leg served with a simple little salad on the side.

We need more than one photo to properly represent how delicious this was and how beautiful it looked.

Le Vivier received a Michelin star in 2008 – maybe this dish helped.

800 Cours Fernande Peyre, Isle Sur La Sorgue, France. T +33 4 9038 5280.

Pork and eggs on the street in Sala Deng, Bangkok


25. A classic Thai hawker dish, this steaming pot of pork knuckles and eggs, scented with star anise and garnished with coriander was irresistible.

The condiments – a thin, spicy yellow chilli sauce, fresh green chillies and garlic – were good too.

This photo is of the enormous dish it came from:

Near the corner of Silom and Sala Deng, on the river side of Sala Deng (not that it's anywhere near the river!), Bangkok. Thailand.

Yellow curry at Krua Apsorn in Bangkok, Thailand


26. A sour and spicy yellow curry with prawns and lotus stems was just one of several really good dishes at this authentic Bangkok eatery.

Samsen Rd, between Wat Rachathiwat and the National Library, Bangkok, Thailand. T +66 2 241 8528. There's also a branch at Thanon Dinsor, T. +66 2 685 4351, which opens until later at night.

Rice at Baan Prachachuen in Bangkok, Thailand


27. The khao chae at this wonderful daytime only restaurant was a revelation.

A summer dish, iced water scented with flowers is poured over a bowl of rice, and then served with an array of strong, richly-flavoured cooked condiments and beautifully presented fresh vegetables. And this was only one great dish.

This restaurant was so good we found a way to get back to Bangkok later in the year so we could visit it again.

Pouring the chilled water into the rice:

Beautiful raw things to go the dish – green mango, spring onions, and galangal:

And rich condiments (including a chilli stuffed with pork and then wrapped in an egg net (see close up)

37 Prachachuen, Soi 33, Prachachuen Road, Bang Su, Bangkok, Thailand. T. + 66 2 585 1323.

Pork at Bistro Moncur in Sydney, Australia


28. Slow roast pork shoulder, with white polenta, cavolo nero and delicious, light meat juices – proof once again how well meat responds to 'soft' cooking.

116 Queen St, Woollahra, Sydney, Australia. T +61 2 9327 9777.

Clams at Giuseppe Arnaldo and Sons in Melbourne, Australia


29. Raw clams, sprinkled with spring onions and tuna 'bottarga', from the Crudo menu.

Crown Casino, Southbank, Melbourne, Australia. T +61 3 9694 7400.

Chicken at St Judes Cellars in Melbourne, Australia


30. Half a grilled chicken, served family style with bread sauce and a bowl of potatoes roasted with bay leaves and one of broccoli, given a real lift with anchovy pangrattato.

389-391 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia. T +61 3 9419 7411.

Mushrooms at Attica in Melbourne, Australia


31. Mushrooms, pureed chestnut, a froth infused with casa canestrato, showered with Tasmanian black truffle, grated at the table.

74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea. T +61 3 9530 0111

Crispy fish at Baan Prachachuen in Bangkok, Thailand


32. This crispy fish floss was a new dish on our second visit to this restaurant.

Unfortunately the menu is in Thai script and we can't translate what we ate but as well as the crispy fish, there was plenty of fermented shrimp paste, dried shrimps and crisp leaves, possibly curry leaves.

37 Prachachuen, Soi 33, Prachachuen Road, Bang Su, Bangkok, Thailand. T. + 66 2 585 1323.

Snakehead fish on the street in the Bangrak district in Bangkok, Thailand


33. The dense, meaty texture of this char-grilled snakehead fish and its fiery accompaniment made it memorable.

And why is it called snakehead fish? This should explain:

Night time only open air food stall behind Lerdsin Hospital, Thanon Si Wiang, Bangkok (near the back of State Tower).

Salads at Chote Chitr in Bangkok, Thailand


34. The dressings in Chote Chitr's Banana flower salad and eggplant salad are among the most complex and interesting flavours we've ever experienced.

Eat this food and you'll never be satisfied with your average suburban Thai restaurant again. The hor mok was fairly special too.

146 Prang Puthorn (off Tanou Rd), Bangkok, Thailand. T +66 2 221 4082.

Khanom jeen – a new obsession in various places in Bangkok, Thailand


35. Khanom jeen – lightly fermented fresh rice noodles, eaten with a rich curry sauce (specialised khanom jeen places offer a choice of sauces) is eaten with lots of condiments; such as fresh and pickled vegetables, fresh herbs, eggs, dried shrimps, and various chilli sauces.

Here are some of the most satisfying results of our search for this addictive dish.

(a) A composed khanom jeen at Baan Prachachuen (see no 27). This one had a complex sauce and the most sophisticated condiments and all the work was done for you – no choosing your condiments.

(b) A morning street stall on the corner of Thanon Si Wiang and Thanon Charoen Krung, not far from the Shangri-La hotel in Bangrak. Three steaming pots are arranged to one side of the stall. The back one contains spare fish balls – the two front contain a pork curry (pork on the bone, which is given depth with pigs blood), and a lighter fish ball curry. You choose one of these two sauces. It's poured over the khanom jeen, then you sit on a stool at the trestle table and help yourself from a lovely selection of the freshest herbs and vegetables, dried fish and chilli and fish sauce.

(c) Slightly more upmarket – it's a small restaurant – is a place just off Thanon Silom called Khrua Aroi Aroi, that translates its name into Delicious, Delicious, Delicious (see the photo of the sign). We had another pork khanom jeen here but with the addition of intense, sweet tomatoes the taste was quite different and equally as good. Condiments come in a colourful, divided bowl that's placed in the centre of the table. There's also an English menu, which helps.

It's in Thanon Pan, just of Thanon Silom opposite Wat Khaek Silom (aka Sri Mariamman Hindu temple) T. +66 2 635 2365.

(d) Our last khanom jeen in Bangkok took a little effort to find but was well worth it. Little more than a hole in the wall, it specialises in khanom jeen. There's no English menu but provided you have idea of how to eat it, it's easy enough to order. The curries are delicious but the array of condiments, laid out in bowls and trays on the tables, is amazing – and all perfectly fresh. We had a spicy fish innards curry and a milder one that was basically shrimp paste and chilli sauce but there is green chicken and at least one other as well.

The condiments included morning glory, Thai basil, various pickled vegetables – some lightly and others with stronger pickles, raw beans, tiny raw green eggplants, bamboo shoots, shredded cabbage, cucumber and even whole eggs.

It's in Soi Suan Plu (also known as Sathon 3), which is off Thanon Sathorn, one of Bangkok's biggest roads. It's quite some distance along Suan Plu from Sathon, on the side of the road closest to Thanon Rama IV, but it is walkable - from memory about 15-20 minutes. We walked there from the Sala Deng BTS station. Our photos suggests it's just past where Soi Hutayana (Suan Plu 6) intersects with Soi Suan Plu. The Khanom Jeen shop is in a small tree lined section of the street and its front is open to the street. You should know you've reached it when you see all the pots on the stove but if you get to Suanplu market (where the woman who supplies the khanom jeen has a stall), which is on the opposite side of the road, you've gone too far.

Gnocchi at Smolt in Hobart, Australia

AUGUST (and quite a few other times!)

36. Gnocchi with mushrooms, sage and brown butter is feather light and the sage and mushrooms are a great combination. An excellent first course, and one we ate several times.

2 Salamanca Sq, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. T +61 3 6224 2554

Asparagus at Fino in Willunga, Australia


37. Asparagus, goose egg dressing, almonds at Fino - perfectly seasonal, and the delicious goose egg and almond dressing was also great use of local produce.

The desserts were impressive too, including this beautiful lemon curd tart.

8 Hill St, Willunga, South Australia. T +61 8 8556 4488.

Dumplings at Dumpling King in Adelaide, Australia


38. These chilli oil dumplings must be one of the best value dishes in Australia and, like all the dumplings, here are delicious.

As an alternative, order a plate of dumplings, and eat them with the wonderful deep-flavoured dried shrimp and chilli sauce, which you can also buy to take home.

Cnr Grote and Moonta Sts, Adelaide (China Town), South Australia, Australia.

Slow cooked lamb at Glencoe in Tasmania, Australia


39. Slow-cooked aillade of lamb with Tasmanian potatoes was just right for a spring Sunday lunch.

Glencoe B&B, 1468 Sheffield Road (B14), Barrington, Tasmania, Australia. T +61 3 6492 3267.

Soup at Piccolo in Tasmania, Australia


40. Spring vegetable soup – and it really was, full of fresh, seasonal vegetables and looking a picture. Served with good bread, it was a substantial lunch.

323a Elizabeth Street, North Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. T +61 3 6234 4844.

Crab cakes at Nettie's Crab Shack in San Francisco, USA


41. Not being American, maybe we haven't eaten enough crab cakes to judge, but from our limited experience, these have to be some of the best.

The potato crisps and lemon mayonnaise were pretty good too.

2032 Union St, San Francisco, California, USA. T +1 415 409 0300.

Textural Fantasies at SPQR in San Francisco, USA


42. Almond milk granita with espresso crema. Both the granita and the crema were amazing, not just the flavour but the extraordinary textures – especially the granita. A perfect dessert.

1911 Fillmore St, San Francisco, T +1 415 771 7779.

Sandwich at Sentinel in San Francisco, USA


43. It was a good year for 'sandwiches', especially filled with pork.

There was the pulled pork sandwich at Boulette's Larder, also in San Francisco, and in New York, Momofuku Ssam's and Fatty Crab's steamed pork buns, bánh mì (the special version) at Saigon Sandwich in Paris and at Momofuku Ssam, but the pork loin with fig jam, manchego and a touch of frisée from Sentinel was our favourite, even if we did have to eat it on the street. And you have to love a place with a sign that says 'No tomatoes until next summer - sorry'.

37 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, California, USA. T +1 415 284 9960.

Breakfast at Boulettes Larder


44. Forget greasy plates of eggs and bacon. Two dishes – house-made yoghurt with persimmon with pistachios and poached eggs with fresh black eye peas – at Boulettes Larder were as beautiful a breakfast as you can imagine.

A poached pear with vanilla ice cream at lunch (we managed to fit in two visits in a week) was also excellent. Come to think of it, so was everything else, including the Obama / Biden advertising on the menu.

1 Ferry Building Marketplace, San Francisco, California, USA. T +1 415 399 1155

Every dish at Per Se


45. A meal at Per Se is as good as it gets - a complete experience where no individual dish dominated but everything was quite perfect, from the famous 'oysters and pearls' to some deceptively simple dishes that showed off delicious vegetables.

The extraordinary staff, who accommodated our every request with more than just tolerance, helped.

We chose the chef's tasting menu and the vegetarian menu, and with four people at the table were able to order both dishes where in some brackets there was a choice of two. In all, we tried about 20 dishes. These ones are our favourites from them all, and interestingly are mainly from the vegetarian tasting menu.

'Oysters and pearls' – Island Creek oysters (from Duxbury in nearby Massachusetts) and Sterling white sturgeon caviar (a farmed caviar) in a sabayon of pearl tapioca.

This apple 'canelloni', the cylinder just visible in the photo, was served with the sweetest of beets, sylvetta (a type of rocket), an apple'chip' and toasted caraway seed infused crème fraiche.

Also from the vegetarian menu, this was a slow poached Ameraucana hen egg with lentils du Puy, given body with root vegetables, dandelion greens and “beurre rouge”, served with a delicate brioche croûton (croûton was an understatement – it was quite ethereal).

Also from the vegetarian menu, a seasonal agnolotti, filled with Salvatore Bklyn ricotta (from Brooklyn, only a suburb away) served with glazed celeraic, crosnes (which the internet tells us is the small white tuber also known as Chinese artichoke) and celery, with a black truffle cream. (The truffle may not has been as local as some of the other ingredients but it worked well.)

And a delicious apple dessert.

10 Columbus Cir, New York, New York, USA. T +1 212 823 9335.

Short ribs at Fatty Crab, New York, USA

46. This short rib rendang, braised with kaffir limes and coconut, was one of several very satisfying dishes here – uniquely American but with flavours firmly rooted in Malaysia.

643 Hudson St, New York, New York, USA T +1 212 352 3590

Frozen foie gras version 1 at Momofuku Ko in New York


47. Copious amounts of grated frozen foie gras over riesling jelly and hazelnut brittle. No wonder it's one of the most talked about dishes of 2008.

Photos are now discouraged which we respected, which is a pity because we'd love to have a visual record of what we ate, but there are some out there. For this dish, try:

163 First Ave. New York.

Pizza at Grandaisy Bakery in Sullivan St, New York, USA


48. Foolishly searching for the Sullivan St Bakery in Sullivan St, we came across Grandaisy Bakery, where we had the particularly delicious classic potato and rosemary pizza.

Later we discovered that we were sort of on the right track after all. It's at the original address of Sullivan St Bakery and its owner Monica Von Thun Calderón operated the original Sullivan St Bakery at this location for many years. We were pleased we made the mistake – it felt just right and the pizza was delicious. It would have been a shame to miss it.

73 Sullivan St, New York, New York, USA. T +1 212 334 9435.

Unadorned pork chop at Terroir in New York, USA.


49. Overnight Terroir, an East Village wine bar, became our new favourite place.

With less than a week in New York and a list of places to visit a mile long, we somehow managed to call in here three or four times. Mostly it was to try work our way through the inspiring list of wines by the glass, read some more of the Jerez exposé, and have a small snack but one night we settled in for dinner, which included this memorable and monumental pork chop, for which we also have Bev Egglestone, the farmer of the pig, to thank. Food doesn't come much simpler than this, but with the recommended bottle of Palari 2003 Rosso del Soprano we were very happy. We also had a great meal at big sister restaurant, Hearth, a couple of doors away.

413 E. 12th St. New York, New York, USA.

Beef stew at Diner in Brooklyn, USA.


50. A delicious beef stew on white polenta at Diner, the neighbourhood place we'd all love to have round the corner.

A generous handful of dressed herbs on top lifted it into special territory. Writing the day's specials on the paper 'tablecloth' was a great idea too – who can remember all of a recited list?

85 Broadway, Brooklyn, New York, USA. T +1 718 486 3077

Ragout at Inopia, Barcelona (or was it the lamb skewer)


51. Fantastic tapas and small dishes - the Catalan sausage and mushroom ragout was especially good - but we've probably never had a better lamb moment than eating Inopia's skewered lamb. Sadly, now closed!

Both dishes are in this photo.

Tamarit 104, Eixample Esquerra, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. T +34 934 245 231.

Classic Lyonnaise quenelle at Cafe des Sports in Fleurie, France


52. A classic pike quenelle with a crustacean sauce was much more than survival food. It was a rustic dish and very satisfying.

This was an unexpected surprise. Having not been able to get a table at Restaurant Le Cep, we ducked into Cafe Des Sports with little expectation. Immediately seduced by a wonderful wine collection, with many natural wines, including of course, Beaujolais, we knew we would survive.

Le Bourg, Fleurie, France. T +33 4 7404 1348.

Veal tartare at Bistro de l'Hôtel de Beaune in Beaune, France


53. On this trip, we'd managed to avoid white truffles despite their occasional appearance on menus.

We were trying to choose locally-sourced ingredients. Piedmont wasn't on our itinerary so we were going to be strong and resist the temptation. But our resolve melted once we saw the Alba truffles at Bistro de l'Hôtel de Beaune and were enveloped by their perfume. We ended up choosing two truffle dishes – a very good risotto and this memorable veal tartare. It was cut coarsely, nicely but lightly seasoned and dressed with olive oil. Then, at the table, truffles were thinly sliced so they rained over it.

5 rue Samuel Legay, Beaune, France. T +33 3 80 25 94 14.

More veal, this time at Jules Verne in Paris, France

54. Not exactly the blanquette your average French housewife might make, but this frothy milk-fed veal en blanquette was luscious nonetheless.

Southern Pillar, Eiffel Tower, Avenue Gustave Eiffel, Paris, France. T +33 1 4555 6144.

Frozen Foie Gras version 2 at Restaurant Itinéraires in Paris, France


55. It must be the year of frozen, grated foie gras. At Restaurant Itinéraires it came piled generously on the side of a soup bowl, together with a jug of a rich Jerusalem artichoke soup which was poured at the table.

We wish we could remember what the slightly syrupy bits in the base of the bowl were, because all the components came together to make a most complete dish, and the texture of the foie gras as it merged with soup was quite extraordinary.

5 rue de Pointoise, Paris (01) 4633 6011.

Leeks at Jeu de Quilles in Paris, France


56. Leeks in a vinaigrette – a very lovely vegetable-based first course, even if we were next door to one of Paris's most renowned butchers (Desnoyer).

It's open for lunch only.

45, rue Boulard , Paris, France. T +33 1 5390 7622

Tripe at offal haven Le Ribouldingue in Paris, France.


57. A wonderful meal, with some great dishes including roasted bones, a veal kidney, and this luscious, unctuous tripe dish, simply described as 'tripes au vin blanc'.

The potatoes (probably rattes) soaked up the rich juices, while retaining their soul.

10, Rue St Julien Le Pauvre, Paris, France T +33 1 4633 9880

Cochin chicken at Tanyu Kurumaya in Tokyo, Japan


58. Grilled chicken thigh at Tanyu Kurumaya.

Until we went to Tokyo, we were completely ignorant of Nagoya Cochin free range chicken, which it seems is treated with the same respect the French treat a Bresse chicken and subject to a similar type of appellation process. At Tanyu Kurumaya, it was front and centre on the menu, and was absolutely delicious. We had skewers of charcoal grilled Cochin chicken skin and skewers of livers, which were excellent, but the grilled chicken thigh, which was cooked on the bone, was extraordinarily juicy and full of flavour, both from the bird itself and the cooking.

Caretta Shiodome is a large shopping centre and this restaurant is in one of the basement floors and easily located.

Caretta Shiodome B2F, Higashi-Shimbashi 1-8-2, Tokyo, Japan. T +81 3 5537 2020.

Cold tofu and yuba at En in Tokyo, Japan

59. This was our tribute meal to yuba (tofu skin and another new experience) and tofu.

We'd eaten great cold tofu at Tanyu Kurumaya as well, but this entire meal had yuba and tofu as its theme, with many variations. The large photo is a simple dish of cold tofu with fresh grated ginger and, the second photo shows a small bowl with fresh yubu. The view from the 42nd floor was good too.

Shiodome City Center 42F, Higashi-Shimbashi 1-5-2. Tokyo, Japan. T +81 3 5537 2096.

Sashimi and sushi at Kyubey in Tokyo, Japan

60. Mackerel with shisho leaves, spring onion and garlic.

This was one of those meals where you get to set new benchmarks for what something you're reasonably familiar with should taste like. We've chosen the 'mackerel sandwich', which was enlivened with a fine paste of fresh garlic, fresh shisho leaves and spring onion, because it was beautifully executed and was such a surprise, but every morsel, served one piece at a time, with lots of respect and plenty of humour was excellent. Stories of a six year apprenticeship to learn how to cut fish for sashimi and sushi make much more sense after this demonstration of craftsmanship.

There are several Kyubey restaurants. We ate at the 5th floor counter at the main restaurant in the Ginza, where four chefs, and a small army of back room helpers fed 14 lucky diners.

7-6, Ginza 8-chome, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan. T +81 3 3571 6523

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Our book recommendation

This week we recommend the excellent book by Marco Canora, a chef whose food we admire having eaten his food at Hearth and Terroir.