Japan

Go Here, Eat This: Pai Men Miyake

Most of my "Go Here, Eat This" posts focus on places in Boston. Today I'm going to encourage you to take a little trip. If you wanted to find genuine ramen, farm-fresh ingredients, locally raised, organic meats; if you wanted to discover the joy of true yakitori seared over binchotan coal; if you craved a new local oyster you're not going to find at your local Boston raw bar; you could take a trip to Japan.

Or, you could take a short road-trip North of Boston to Portland, Maine.

It is so worth the drive...Here's why...Pai Men Miyake.

Pai Men Miyake

It's a terrific local spot that features farm fresh produce and meats. As in THEIR farm. Really, how can you improve on that for sourcing?

See that fire on the stove on the right there? That's intentional. It's Binchotan coal. We'll get to that in a moment. First, we had to try the pork buns because the meat comes from pigs they raise. Besides, who doesn't want to start with pork buns?

I was delighted to find that two oysters were offered and one of them I'd not only never had, I'd never heard of. John's River Oysters are from the local river. Pemaquids we do see from time to time here. Housemade cocktails and mocktails were excellent as well. I also tried a local microbrew that was fine to accompany the yakitori.

Pai Men Miyake Pork Buns

Binchotan is a very special compressed "white" Japanese charcoal that burns extremely hot and evenly. It is precisely the type of coal one needs to produce proper Yakitori. Mad proper, yo. Too often some insipid chicken on a skewer slathered in teriyaki sauce passes for Yaktori. 'Tis an abomination, I tell you! Yakitori is perhaps the Japanese version of Nose-to-Tail whole beast cookery, taking many bits of different animals often the ones discarded and turning them into enticing little bites on skewers. I could make a meal of them.

  • Kawa - Crispy chicken skin - what's not to love.
  • Bonjiri - Chicken tail - the fat and crispy skin bonus bite.
  • Butabara - Pork belly - easy to love.
  • Motsu - Pork intestine - amazing, the slightest earthiness gives a hint of its origins but really appealing and yes, delicious.
  • Gyu tan - Beef tongue - tender in a way that the tongue in a deli sandwich hopes to be.

Pai Men Miyake - Yakitori

And finally, the noodles. This is the thing we came for. I had been whining about the lack of proper ramen in Boston. I'm excited we may finally be getting a ramen-ya in Porter Square (I know there's the food court inside the Porter Exchange, but I cannot queue up for an hour for ramen. Constitutionally incapable.)

The middle bowl is kake soba. Konbu and shiitake broth. The dark green is wakame, a sea vegetable and scallion. The broth was so umami-rich, I nearly asked to switch.

I ordered the house ramen pai tan ramen is a pork and chicken broth. That's a slice of their home grown pork belly, a soy-marinated egg that hovered in creamy deliciousness between poached and hard boiled. Crispy sheaf of nori. This dish took me straight back to Tokyo. Actually, for the second time. The yakitori had me recalling my trip to Japan maybe 15 years ago now. I ventured out one night on my own and ended up in an Izakaya style restaurant that specialized in yakitori. The only thing that would have made that night any better would have been to share it with someone.

Well, at least we now have each other, Doc. And, thanks to your sleuthiness, we have Pai Men Miyake. Can't wait to go back!

 

 

Pai men Miyake

188 State St, Portland, Maine Tel: 207-541-9204

Hours:

Monday-Saturday 12pm-12am Sunday 12pm-10pm

 

An unpopular electric eel at the International Boston Seafood Show

I am not eccentric. It's just that I am more alive than most people. I am an unpopular electric eel set in a pond of goldfish.

Dame Edith Sitwell

 

I think this quote appeals to me because I'm often the one who says the unpopular thing that needs to be said. When everyone else is too polite or too timid to say it, I'm often the one that speaks up. I'm okay with that. This feeling of being that eel comes to mind as I head out to the International Boston Seafood Show.

I'll be among a small minority there who are concerned with conservation issues. Unpopular, indeed, among the sellers of all manner of endangered or threatened species. I just remember being floored by seeing miles of tuna and so many other species there with deals being made for what remains of them to be further diminished for profit. It's really one of the hardest things about the show.

Kibo and Hope

There will be glimmers of hope and that's what we look for. Who is practicing sustainable aquaculture? Who is working to reduce by-catch and waste? What are we doing to balance the needs of all species ocean and even land-based mammals, like fishermen? Ultimately, unless we talk about models that work for local economies whether it's in Costa Rica or Gloucester, we will be fighting an unwinnable battle to preserve the last of species like cod or tuna.

That's why I'm so excited to be working with The Friends of MarViva and thrilled to be learning about their success and ongoing challenges in the Eastern Tropical Pacific.

Just last week, it was announced that this new species of shark was discovered in that region.

Kibō is Japanese for "Brimming with Hope" and is the name of an e-book I urge you to order today

From the Random House website:

Kibō was written by Japanese culinary authority Elizabeth Andoh, who was in her Tokyo kitchen when the Great Eastern-Japan Earthquake struck.  Over the following months she witnessed the strength of the people of the Tohoku region--one of the largest miso- and sake-producing areas in Japan--as they struggled with the effects of the resulting tsunami and nuclear accident. She was inspired to write Kibō(meaning "brimming with hope") to not only tell the story of the food of the Tohoku region but also to document the experiences of its people, both before and after the disaster. This lushly photographed original eBook will honor the region and its rich culture on the first anniversary of the earthquake, with a portion of the proceeds going to Japanese recovery efforts.

 

I will go see who's who and what's what and I will go to a special seminar by the Japan's Ministry of Agriculture and Chef David Bouley.

Stay tuned. Eat sustainable seafood. Keep Hope Alive.

Be concerned with integrity over popularity.

Remember to Remember Japan

I woke up Saturday morning, annoyed at my alarm, thinking "Crap it's early to be getting up - and it's Saturday?!" I was fuzzily aware of being a little warm, pinned as usual by my snuggling cats and wrapped in the arms of my always-warm husband. He said, "I'll give you a ride. Stay in bed a few more minutes. I'll put coffee on."

Then I realized I was going to volunteer at the BakeSale for Japan. I was in my clean, dry bed, surrounded by my loved ones, about to have a hot shower, a luxurious cup of coffee, and probably some pretty tasty handmade baked goods. 

I knew I could say with a fair amount of confidence that my family was well. I knew my friends and people I care for would have safe food to eat that day, a roof over their heads, and a clean bed to go home to that night.

I knew with a fair amount of certainty that I would get the medications I take daily. Being pretty healthy, their absence would not mean risking stroke, diabetic shock, heart attack or any other life-threatening situations. But I had the reassurance of them, anyway.

I knew that after my volunteer shift, I could look forward to the cosy, predictable routine of our weekly errand runs. We would go to our regular stores and find most, if not all, of the items on our grocery list. We could shop for some wine. I could mortify my husband by pestering women in saris about produce I didn't know. What is this for? How would I cook this?

We could go to find new area rugs for our bathroom - there was a sale! We could buy new rugs not because we had none, but simply because the ones we have were past their prime, slightly frayed. We could wash the old ones and donate them to the shelter where rescue kitty #2 came from.

All of our achingly mundane, satisfyingly routine, would pass. Tasks would be ticked off our list, sandwiched between a quick dim sum breakfast and a light dinner at the bar at a favorite Trattoria.

All these activities are immensely gratifying to us. Even errands. We have fun no matter what we're doing. And we are grateful that we have each other. Me every day, him most days. I hope.

All of these things would not be true if I had woken up in Sendai. One or both of us could have perished, or watched helplessly as the other slipped away in the rushing tsunami. Or we could be separated, unsure if the other's name would turn up on the names of the dead recovered. Or one of us could have disappeared, never to show up anywhere.

We might've been lucky enough to have both survived, but lost our families, our house, our beloved cats, our livelihoods.

If we needed medications, we could be in serious danger now with no hope of finding a pharmacy, a doctor.

We could be sleeping in a gymnasium with borrowed, soiled clothes and hundreds of strangers or neighbors in the same situation. Instead of handmade pasta with chicken livers, sage, and vin coto; we could be sharing a riceball. A single riceball for our daily shared ration. If we were lucky enough to still have each other, we would split it. We would both feign lack of hunger and try to give the other just a little more. 

This is the reality we must acknowledge for so many thousands of Japanese. The horror of their loss, their bleak future, the weight of their grief is almost unbearable - even from a distance halfway around the globe. It seems easier to focus on our own issues, like which bathmats to buy, how to cook a puru banana, or traffic. Or, we focus on how the "Crisis in Japan" affects us. Radiation in our milk seems easier to contemplate than the immeasurable suffering and grief of so many people in Japan, the country of my birth. 

But Japan needs us to remember. They need us to keep remembering in the months ahead. If you missed the BakeSale Saturday, you will have many chances to help. Remember to remember.

There are reasons why a relief effort fundraiser like Saturday's BakeSale for Japan matters beyond the money and awareness raised - although these are both very important. Events like this matter because they remind us of good in the world and of the generosity of strangers.

I will never forget the little girl who offered a dollar and said "This is for Japan - and I don't want anything in return!" Then she skipped away, so happy.

Don't focus on your heavy heart. Be grateful for what you have but don't forget Japan. Giving feels good. Help in whatever way, small or grand, you can. Just do something. You will be enriched for it and feel less helpful in the face of the horrific news as it continues to unfold, as surely it will.

And in the months to come. Remember to remember. Japan is counting on us.

 

The Japanese Disaster Relief Fund is another avenue for donations, big or small. Domo arigato gozaimasu!

New Ways to Aid Japan- Bake sales, Groovy Gear

 

Dear Readers - many of you have kindly been asking after my family and friends in Japan. I'm happy to report we have finally connected with all our family and friends.

While we are relieved, it is obvious to the world that much of Japan is still in dire need of our help. Donations to relief organizations are important but I know there are many other ways we can help as well. I'm trying to find a way to make in-kind donations of clothing, blankets and such and will post when I find some way that we might do that.

For now, here are some...

...THINGS YOU CAN DO:

The Japan Society is hosting a vigil tonight at the Old South Church. I believe seats are still available, but limited. It's free but you must register to gain attendance.

They are also organizing a Concert for Japan. Saturday April 9th. 100% of proceeds from this event will go to the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund.

Japan Society presents a 12-hour concert benefiting organizations that directly help people affected by the earthquake and tsunamis that struck Japan. With dozens of music acts and performances throughout the day, confirmed performers for the gala blocks, organized by John Zorn, include Philip Glass amp;amp; Hal WillnerLou ReedLaurie Anderson and ZornRyuichi Sakamoto; and Bill Laswell and gigi band. In addition, special activities will be available for all ages, from making origami cranes and washi lanterns for good wishes to unlimited access to Bye Bye Kitty!!!.

ENTRANCE FEE
$5, cash at door (Does not include gala blocks, auditorium seating is first come, first served.)

CONCERT SEATS
$100 per gala block (includes Entrance Fee and assigned seating)
Limited to Two Tickets per order per gala block
Advance sales begin Tuesday, March 22 at 11:00 AM

Confirmed gala blocks are:

1:00 PM Gala Block
Philip Glass, & Hal Willner
Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson & John Zorn

6:00 PM Gala Block Ryuichi Sakamoto solo
Bill Laswell with gigi band

Food and drinks will be available for purchase.

Concert for Japan is generously supported by Mitsubishi International Corporation and Kikkoman Corporation

 

Okay - all you bakers and crafty types. Here's a creative effort going on - it's a nationwide Bake Sale! I saw a tweet about it and had to find out more. Here is what I learned from Tara Bellucci. Thanks Tara for taking the initiative to mobilize Boston's baking bloggers into action!

From Tara:

About the national Bakesale for Japan:
Samin Nosrat is a SF Bay area cook/teacher/writer (Pop-up General Store, Tartine Afterhours) whose bakesale for Haiti raised $23,000 last year. This year, she's expanding to include bakesales across the country. As of today on the national facebook event, there are currently 20 locations in the US. The charity is Peace Winds, a disaster relief organization.

All events are on APRIL 2 from 10-2 local time.

Specifically about BOS:
I write for Apartment Therapy and I saw this post about Samin and the bakesale on our sister site, The Kitchn. I tweeted about the article, mentioning that I would bake/volunteer if there was a similar thing in Boston. Samin replied and asked if I wanted to organize the Boston event, and so here we are. Ula Cafe has graciously offered to host; they've been looking for a way to help as one of their staff is Japanese.

BAKE.

 

  • You DO NOT have to be a professional cook/baker to participate!
  • Bake as much as you like! The more stuff we have to sell, the better! We literally cannot have too many baked goods.
  • All items must be delivered with a complete list of ingredients, as well as an item name.
  • Please plan to deliver your goods in containers you will not need returned.
  • Gluten-free/ dairy-free/ vegan items are welcome and should be clearly labeled as such.
  • Japanese specialties such as mochi and other delicacies are more than welcome.
  • We sell everything by suggested donation, so the more delicious/special the items, and the nicer the packaging/presentation, the more money we can get! Please keep this in mind (i.e. no cake mixes and regular old rice krispie treats, please).
  • If you are donating goods from a certified/licensed food business, you are welcome to label the goods with your logo/identity.

 

 

VOLUNTEER.

  • We will need people to organize, collect, and distribute baked goods, as well as work the sales, day-of and prior. Please email bosbakesale@gmail.com to sign up.
  • We will be folding 1,000 paper cranes at the bakesale locations. If you can fold/teach people to do so, please go to Tumblr page here to sign up.

DONATE.

 

  • If you would like to donate directly to Peace Winds, please look up BOS Bake sale on FirstGiving.org.
  • If you’d like to donate a non-food item, such as artwork, a gift certificate, etc, please email bosbakesale@gmail.com with specifics.
  • If you can donate origami paper, food/water for volunteers, etc, please email bosbakesale@gmail.com with specifics.

 

 

✿ SPREAD THE WORD! FRIENDS, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, SCHOOL, WORK.

Please “attend” the Bakesale for Japan event on Facebook and invite your friends to do so. It has all the details for each of the events happening nationally. Ask businesses to post our event flier or donate to the cause.

Shelter boxes are an interesting idea. I don't have any personal knowledge of them or how the company works but I do know they were on the ground in Japan within 24 hours. We know there are going to be many folks in need of shelter for some time.

Boston's Chef community is so generous and they're chipping in, again. A Multi- chef meal with many generous donations and 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Japan Red Cross will be held at Boston's Oiishi restaurant on Washington Street.

 

 

Let’s Help, Answering the Call!

Oishii Boston hosts fundraiser to support disaster relief efforts in Japan

WHAT: Ting Yen, owner of Oishii Boston, will host the “Let’s Help, Answering the Call!” disaster relief fundraiser at his restaurant on April 3rd with all proceeds benefitting the Japan Red Cross Society. Ting Yen has enlisted the help of fellow local chefs that are all rallying for the cause. At the event, Anthony Caturano (Prezza), Dante de Magistris (Restaurant dante & Il Casale), Evan Deluty (Stella), Luis Morales (Radius), Kang San (Oishii Too Sushi Bar) and Jeff Nace (Neptune Oyster) will join Ting Yen to create culinary history in a fun, interactive way for an incredible cause.

WHERE: Oishii Boston – 1166 Washington Street, Boston

WHEN: Sunday, April 3rd at 5:30pm

COST: $100 per person (100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Japan Red Cross Society)

TICKETS: Tickets are available by calling Oishii Boston at: 617.482.8868

We are digging deep and sending me. Will I see you there?


For those who like wearable rather than edible art, or maybe in addition to, I have two cool finds.

 

Joan's Jewelry is often seen on stars like Cameron Diaz on their red carpet struts. Joan is a jeweler with a heart. The motto "Philanthropy is Beautiful" is born out by the long, long list of charities she has designed signature pieces to support. 100% of the profits from the sale of this beautiful pendant go to the charity of your choice supporting those affected in Japan.

 


The folks at Cafe Press are also printing these cool T-shirts, in a limited edition. CafePress will donate $10 to the American Red Cross - Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami for every Limited Edition Japan Relief T-shirt sold at www.cafepress.com through March 31 , 2011.