Every food lover knows . . . when the temperature starts to drop, it’s oyster time.
These popular delicacies of the sea can be savored in a number of different situations and preparations. They’re traditionally eaten raw on the half shell or off the grill, but some innovative Japanese chefs have found new ways to bring out its rich flavors. How about some oyster shabu-shabu?
Oysters are also versatile when it comes to celebrations and go well with craft beers, wine or the finest Champagne.
Being an island nation, this country enjoys a variety of oysters from north and south Japan. Local diners can also enjoy a bounty of fresh imports flown in daily from overseas.
Here are some of the best places in Tokyo to indulge yourself.
The Cave de Oyster
The Cave de Oyster recently opened in Tokyo Station's massive labyrinthine shopping and food area spreading beneath the station.
Run by Humanweb Inc., a leading oyster restaurant operator in Japan that is looking to expand the Western oyster bar culture in Japan, the restaurant debuted its innovative concept on Nov. 19. In a fusion of typical Western-style oyster bars, Cave de Oyster brings Japanese twists to its dishes.
To ensure the cleanliness of its oysters, Humanweb established its own oyster cleaning center in Hiroshima Prefecture. The company not only publishes its test results but also came up with an original way of cleaning oysters using deep ocean water that is said to be the best way to clean oysters.
Customers can enjoy the exclusive oysters in a variety of ways, with the signature dish being a dozen fresh raw oysters served in a Japanese tiered food box (¥5,371~). The pickled oyster carpaccio served with wasabi and yam (¥1,204~) is also recommended.
To best accommodate a variety of travelers moving through the station, four types of seating will be available, including relaxing table seats, a counter from which diners can see the chefs cooking and a casual standing area where guests can mingle.
In the middle of the space, there is a wine dispenser that allows guests to use a pre-paid card to choose from about 40 varieties of wine, including vintage bottles, Champagne and chablis that perfectly complement the oysters.
Kakigoya (Oyster Hut, Tsukiji dining room)
The only specialty restaurant for shellfish in Tokyo’s massive Tsukiji fish market, Kakigoya offers a variety of the freshest ocean delights, including oysters, scallops, clams, as well as shrimp that are all delivered directly from the fish market.
The restaurant offers oysters cooked in a unique way called gan-gan yaki (steamed with sake in a can). The cooking method leaves the oysters very juicy and with a fresh, rich taste.
Customers can enjoy a seafood party with friends and families over wine or ice-cold beer. Recommendations include a three shellfish set (¥2,680), the gan-gan yaki (¥1,800 for 10 oysters), fresh Japanese oysters (¥680) and grilled giant scallops (¥480). Prices exclude tax.
For dinner, both the food and drink menus are expanded to give customers more opportunities to enjoy delicious seafood and drinks. Kakigoya has English-speaking staff and an English menu.
Japanese oyster restaurant Kakishabu-ya, in Tokyo’s chic Ginza district, offers a range of unique oyster dishes.
The manager of the restaurant is proud to introduce shabu-shabu hot pot cooking, which he feels is the best way to enjoy oysters. The taste of blanched oysters enjoyed with vegetables and ponzu (a tart citrus sauce) is very rich and sweet, the manager says.
To allow customers to compare oysters, Kakishabu-ya offers sampler plates of fresh oysters from either three different harvest areas or oysters prepared three different ways (¥1,200).
The restaurant is particular about its deep-fried oysters and uses frozen one-year-old virgin oysters from Hiroshima Prefecture (four oysters for ¥800).
The manager is in contact with oyster producers in many areas and purchases fresh seasonal oysters every day and customers are encouraged to ask about the ones on the menu.
A variety of sake, wine and other beverages is available to allow guests to enjoy oysters with their drink of choice.
The Tokyo Oyster Bar & Cafe, Shirokane
Tokyo Oyster Bar was established in 1999 in Tokyo’s Gotanda area and as the first oyster bar in Japan, it has served both imported and domestic oysters in various styles such as fresh, steamed, ajillo and grilled.
The oyster pioneer’s newest branch in the Shirokane district of Tokyo, opened last December, and offers not only oysters, but also authentic French gratins, quiches, seafood platters and many other dishes served with fine French wine at reasonable prices. Popular menu items include risotto with crab and sea urchin (¥1,600), duck confit (¥1,400) and duck with foie gras (¥2,200).
Celebrating the coming of winter, the best season for oysters, the restaurant is offering fresh raw oysters at a 30 percent discount.
In a modern and stylish French bistro setting, customers are able to enjoy table or counter seats, as well as two private rooms that make the restaurant the perfect location for any occasion.