Mentaiko pasta (spicy cod roe pasta) is a very popular take on Italian pasta. It is made with spicy cod roe, olive oil, butter and often topped with seaweed and shiso leaves. It is surprisingly simple, but oh so delicious because of the freshness of the ingredients. The spiciness really complements the butter taste, and is quite light.
Spajiro has a few branches around Tokyo (Roppongi, Meguro, Akasaka Ginza), and the main store is in Ebisu. The main store looks like your typical izakaya from the outside, but they specialise in wafu pasta. The have mentaiko and mayonnaise pasta for ¥930. It's a little spicy, but the taste combination is delightful.
Uni (sea urchin) Pasta
Uni Pasta (sea urchin pasta) is also delightfully simple, but the fresh ingredients really take over here. It's made with butter, cream and fresh sea urchin roe and often topped with nori seaweed. This dish is generally a little pricier than the other pasta dishes featured here, but it's well worth the try and not incredibly expensive either!
Ristorante Della Collina is said to have the best uni pasta in town. It is made with fresh sea urchin, tomato sauce and cream. It's really delicious and not rich. Even those who don't like sea urchin can easily enjoy this delicious dish.
Shirasu pasta is lightly flavored Japanese dish, made with cabbage, shiso leaf, seaweed and baby sardines (tons of tiny fish). Appearance-wise, if you're not a big fan of fish, this might not seem appealing, but it's actually really delicious and the taste isn't overwhelming.
Yomenya Goemon makes pasta with Japanese ingredients. Their Shirasu pasta is made with shirasu, cod roe and yuba (tofu skin). For the non-accustomed, this might be a comination of strange Japanese ingredients, but if you look past that, it's awesome! For around ¥1,050 you can get a pasta dish as a set. Quite the bargain!
Ume (marinated Japanese plum) leaf pasta is generally made with shimeji mushrooms, and garnished with small pieces of seaweed. It can seem like an unusual combination, but for those who like the slightly acidic taste of ume, it is quite the delight!
Kamakura pasta has branches all over Tokyo, so you can easily find one near you. They specialise in pasta with a Japanese twist in a laid-back setting. Their pasta dishes are in general around ¥1,000 and so is the ume pasta dish.
Natto is fermented soy beans and is all kinds of healthy. A lot of people might be repelled by the slimy texture and strong smell, but just like blue cheese, it can be an acquired taste. It contains loads of vitamins and minerals and it's extremely cheap if you want to make it at home. In general, it is made with natto, onions, some butter, and garnished with shiso leaves and seaweed. Once again, SIMPLE, but tasty and healthy!
Kabenoana has natto pasta made with cod roe and squid. This restaurant also serves Italian cuisine but in a Japanese way. Natto style might not be for everyone. I think you need to work your way up to eating natto, but eating it cooked might not be as bad as eating it as is. But hey, you've been warned!
Napolitan pasta is a hugely popular dish in Japan and is usually quite cheap. Napolitan pasta was apparently invented in Japan after the arrival of American troops. It was first made by Shigetada Irie, the general chef of the New Grand Hotel in Yokohama. He was inspired by the military troop's food rations, and made the now staple dish with spaghetti and ketchup. Although it is no longer made with ketchup, it is still widely eaten throughout Japan. Now, it is commonly eaten with tomato sauce and sausage. Would you give it a try?
Although there are tons of places to try the (cheap) dish, why not try it at the original location...the New Grand Hotel in Yokohama. Their Coffee House still serves this "classic" dish.
Have you ever tried any of these dishes? What did you think of these crosses between Italian and Japanese cuisine. Let us know if you found any of these combinations surprising.