Last week I introduced the Shibuya Cheese Stand in my Japan Times column. But due to space considerations — my extended paean to Takazawa — there was only room to sandwich in an abbreviated version of the text on the page (and hence on the JT Online site).
Here's the full version:
Who says you need pastures and milk cows if you want to produce cheese? Why not churn it out where demand is highest, right in the middle of the city? That is the admirable, out-of-the-box thinking underlying Shibuya Cheese Stand, which opened earlier this month just a short stroll from the heart of one of Tokyo's busiest shopping districts.
Owner Shinji Fujikawa learned his craft from a number of artisan cheesemakers around Japan, and also spent some time in southern Italy. He currently offers only two kinds: a firm, creamy mozzarella type and also a more crumbly ricotta made with the leftover whey.
The milk he uses doesn't have far to travel. It comes from the Isonuma Milk Farm, out in Hachioji in the far west of Tokyo. A mix of Holstein, Jersey and Brown Swiss, it's delivered each morning and Fujikawa gets to work on it within hours. Cheese doesn't get much fresher than that.
Besides selling it in packages (¥550 for the mozzarella; ¥470 for the ricotta), he also has a young crew making it into a range of very tasty sandwiches. Whether mozzarella with tomato, or with vegetables; ¥480 each; ricotta and salami (¥520); or mozzarella and egg with a drizzle of truffle oil (¥560), all are served in long rye-bread rolls.
You can eat them in the small cafe area, perhaps with a glass of whey drink on the side. Or you can take them out: Perfect for a summer picnic in nearby Yoyogi Park.
Shibuya Cheese Stand, 5-8 Kamiyamacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; (03) 6407-9806; open 8 a.m.- 9 p.m.; closed Sunday. Nearest station: Yoyogi-Koen (Chiyoda Line); www.cheese-stand.com
And those sandwiches really are tasty. The only thing is, you really need to get two of them if you want to properly fill up at lunchtime. These (below) are the mozzarella with vegetables; and mozzarella with egg.
One, though, is perfect as a snack. And just right for BYOFing to Fuglen, a very short stroll away, to have with a cup of their excellent coffee.