When it comes to Christmas shopping for food lovers, Tokyo has something for everyone. With so much on offer, knowing where to go and what to get is half of the work. Let Metropolis help you out with our selection of epicurean goodies.
1. A set of tasting cups for sake from the Miyasaka Brewery in Nagano available at the Masumi shop (¥1,575; www.masumi.jp), along with a set of half-bottles of the wine (¥3,450) will be a treat for the nihonshu aficionado. There is no better way than to taste and compare a variety of saké all made from the same brewery. Miyasaka’s honjozo, junmaishu, junmai ginjo, and junmai daiginjo half-bottles are sold in a box set. These can be ordered online, gift-wrapped and delivered.
2. For fun stocking stuffers, Iwako makes erasers of different foods like sushi, ramen, and bento (set of six for ¥315; www.iwako.com/shop/1/food.html#food1) sold at several different stores in the outer market of Tsukiji. Curious where to find the regional Kit Kat (¥840) flavors like wasabi, ichimi togarashi (chili pepper) or azuki (swweet bean)? Look no further than Tokyo Station’s Shokoku Gotochi Plaza (www.tokyoeki-1bangai.co.jp/shop/61). The shop is located in the First Avenue section. It also happens to be across the corridor from Tokyo Ramen Street, so grab a bowl while in the basement arcade of Tokyo Station. While in the area, be sure to check out Morinaga’s flagship store, Morinaga no Okashina Okashiya-san (www.tokyoeki-1bangai.co.jp/shop/61), for Hi-Chew candies (¥100) in flavors like lychee, sour lemon, and golden kiwi.
3. For the cookbook lover, Ivan Orkin of Ivan Ramen has penned an autobiography and cookbook, Ivan Ramen: Love, Obsession, and Recipes from Tokyo’s Most Unlikely Noodle Joint (¥2,930; insert link to Metropolis article). The book includes recipes for his signature ramen, so complete the gift with a ramen bowl, renga (soup spoon) and chopsticks. Nobu: The Sushi Cookbook (¥4,410) includes detailed photos on cutting fish and how to make nigiri zushi (hand pressed sushi).Nobu’s cookbook also includes a recipe for hako zushi, a pressed sushi more commonly found in the Kansai region. Complete this present with a wooden oshigata sushi mold (¥3,500) for making pressed sushi at home. Complete the package with a sharkskin grater used only for fresh wasabi (¥1,313).
4. The secret to enjoying distilled spirits in Japan is the round ice ball. The ice melts slowly and is beautiful when presented in a wide-mouth glass. The spherical balls traditionally are hand-carved by a bartender, but plastic ice molds (¥480) are practical and fun. Present it with a bottle of Japanese whisky. Or, for a more local flavor, head to the Okinawa Washita Shop in Ginza (Chuo-ku, Ginza 1-3-9). In the basement there is a selection of awamori (from ¥1,000), the shochu from the tropical island, and colorful Ryukyu glasses that are perfect for the big ice balls.
5. Interesting areas to explore for gifts for the foodie in your life include Tsukiji’s Outer Market. Be sure to check the market’s online calendar before going as it is closed on Sundays and some weekdays. Kappabashi, the wholesale district for kitchenware and tableware is always fun to carefully peruse. A department store’s basement, depachika, has a myriad of packaged food gifts, from sweet to savory. Better yet, head to the events space in a department store, usually the top floor, for the seasonal oseibo section. Oseibo are year-end gifts that Japanese people will send to friends and colleagues. Here you will find a wide variety of gifts at different price points. At Takashimaya you can order food gifts made by star chefs like Yoshihiro Murata of Kikunoi in Kyoto. Best of all, most of the oseibo gifts will be delivered for free shipping, so be sure to bring along the address and phone number of the recipient.
6. A lovely set of lacquer chopsticks is something that the receiver can use almost everyday. For Tokyo’s widest selection, Natsuno in Ginza (6-7-4 Ginza, Chuo-ku; www.e-ohashi.com) has hundreds of chopsticks in a variety of designs. Complete the gift with some hashi-oki chopstick rests.
Metropolis Magazine website