October 19th, 2020 issue

Discover Miso, Virtual Old Tokyo, and Coffee + Art

In this issue we discover multiple ways to use miso, enjoy a fantastic Old Tokyo photo virtual tour, and coffee with a side of interesting art.

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1. Discover Endless Ways to Use Miso (Yes, soybean paste)

This isn’t an article about Japanese food in Japan, but a fun read about miso — the soybean paste ingredient found in so many dishes it’s practically in all of them.

I’m kidding, but it really is common — almost as common as shoyu (soy sauce) and dashi (fish broth). You will find miso paste used in all sorts of Japanese food, and as a garnish or dip even.

Miso is one of those ingredients that really adds quite a lot to the cuisine, and is often said to add “umami” — that elusive 5th flavor.

Obviously, miso soup is ultra-common, but there are so many more uses it’s remarkable — and you can find it in pretty much every grocery store in Japan. And don’t be afraid of the many types of miso: white miso, red miso, yellow miso — some barley miso, rice miso, etc.

Experiment — mix it with things like olive oil, honey, lemon juice, rice vinegar, sesame seeds, and more — come up with your favorite condiment concoction. 

Use it in salad dressings, dips, marinades and glazes. Use it with vegetables: glazed carrots, sautéed spinach and greens, mashed into winter squash and pumpkin. Spread it on fish, poultry or meat to create an umami-rich glaze. Add it to a burger or meatloaf mixture, spread it on a roast chicken, add it to ketchup as a dip for French fries and baked potatoes […] There are truly endless possibilities.” (wbur)

2. Go on an Old Tokyo Virtual Tour

Sometimes the history of a place can be really interesting. You probably already know much of Tokyo was destroyed in WWII, but there is a rich past to the city — a fantastic story.

This virtual tour shows you a ton of old black and white photos of Tokyo from almost a century ago. It’s fascinating to read and see what life was like in Tokyo back then.

Shibuya, Asakusa… Tokyo Station, Sensoji Temple, Ginza… all completely different from what they are today. Meiji era throwback photos with great commentary, check it out — and try the sushi while you’re there. ;p

It’s fun finding my favorite places in Tokyo to see what they looked like when new and in their appropriate setting, then watching them change little by little through the early 20th century.” (StarsAndStripes)

3. Stroll Through Tokyo’s Omotesando and Harajuku Areas

Here’s a video of an exploring walk around the Omotesando and Harajuku areas — a live stream with chat.

Harajuku is famous for Takeshita Dori (street) with stalls lining the street selling the latest teen fashion trends and the “kawaii” cute culture. You can find some interesting street food and souvenirs here as well.

Omotesando kicks things up a notch with more upscale boutiques and high-fashion trends. It’s a stark contrast from Harajuku — and while it will cost more, you can find some really unique goods to take home with you.

4. Coffee & Art: The Perfect Mix, at WHAT CAFE in Shinagawa

Coffee. Art. Together. An awesome combination that is worth the effort to check out if you enjoy art. ‘WHAT CAFE’ is a new cafe in Tennozu, Tokyo — opened by Warehouse TERRADA on October 15, 2020.

Espresso, French press, and specialty coffee from a shop that cares from coffee bean to cup — ready for coffee drinkers who also love art.

+Map pin to WHAT CAFE

WHAT CAFE will serve as a hub to support artists in Japan’s art industry by functioning as both a gallery and cafe in a 800㎡ space. The gallery will change out the artwork from time to time to allow for more artists to showcase their works to visitors throughout the year. There will be hundreds of pieces shown in an entire year.” (MoshiMoshiNippon)

5. Meanwhile, AI is Now Entering the Fish Markets of Japan

If this continues nothing is safe from artificial intelligence. This is an AI app that can grade the quality of yellowfin tuna so it can seek the best prices at auction.

It can replace a human fish inspector with 10 years of experience. I suppose we should have seen this coming right? Apparently the app will be expanding to bring AI into the Toyosu fish market for the bluefin tuna soon.

In theory, it could lower the price of these fish as the quality can be graded more quickly and accurately — giving the right price for the right fish — buyers, who are often sushi shop owners, can get exactly the fish they want and the right price.

Which could end up reflecting in the price at the table for us. In theory anyway.

I wonder what’s next for AI? Will conveyor belt sushi order for you the moment you enter the restaurant?

Japanese fish industries are starting to use artificial intelligence to select high-quality fish at markets and find good fishing grounds, areas where they have traditionally relied largely on experience and intuition.” (JapanTimes)

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