B by the Brooklyn Brewery
B by the Brooklyn Brewery

B by the Brooklyn Brewery

Tacos tell a story of tradition and diversity unique to the region

How is a particular dish or drink created? By unraveling a restaurant’s signature you reveal the chef's personality and philosophy, their commitment to the ingredients, and even the attitude of the producers. Exploring the story behind the cuisine, the dots that shape Kabutocho turn into lines that connect them. In this fifth installment of "Dialogue of Food” we delve into the world of tacos. “B by the Brooklyn Brewery”, colloquially known as ‘B’, hails from New York and serves delicious craft beer alongside tacos with a Japanese twist.

Brooklyn Brewery began as a private, locally owned and operated business. Today the brand is now a global leader in the world of craft beer. B opened its doors in 2020 in the basement of HOTEL K5 as the world’s first flagship shop of Brooklyn Brewery, serving delicious tacos alongside the brand’s well-known beers.

The menu is overseen by Shigeo Kitade who is the owner and chef of the “Kitade Shokudo” and “Kitade Tacos” restaurants that can be found around Nihonbashi. Alongside chef Kenta Mashiko, we discuss the concept of “Nihonbashi Tacos,” which have been featured on the menu since last year. We also chat about the latest addition to the lineup: ‘Edo Tacos’.

“Tacos are characterized by their mouthfeel. The way the ingredients interplay with each bite. I think the real appeal of tacos is the impression they make on the palate as the various textures and flavors overlap,” says Kitade. “At my restaurant, I don’t want to completely reproduce traditional Mexican cuisine, but rather I want to develop a “Tokyo-Mex” interpretation. I want to incorporate a Japanese perspective with a certain sensibility. We use domestically produced tortillas with locally sourced ingredients. That way we give them a Japanese essence without having to import all the ingredients from Mexico.

●EDO Tacos – Sushi

The latest addition to the menu is the “Edo” menu, which features Mexican tacos topped with Japanese ingredients. The first dish, otherwise known as the ‘Sushi Taco’, features fish and rice wrapped in a tortilla. Here the tortilla is topped with fresh tuna, making for a dish that truly is Mexico meets Japan.

“The brewery’s marketing team initially gave me the idea of a ‘sushi taco’. I thought about how to combine the two and tried wrapping nigiri sushi in a tortilla, and it was surprisingly good! In fact, tortillas go pretty well with rice. I was conscious of mixing the sushi and tortilla in the mouth, so I added some variation in texture by placing a tortilla cut into small pieces and fried and added sansho (Japanese pepper) as an accent. I couldn’t really taste the flavor of the soy sauce alone, so I added a little extra by using it in agar-agar form.”

This piece using sea bream, on the other hand, was inspired by tai chazuke (a rice dish that is served by mixing the rice with tea). The flavor of white fish is so different from that of tuna. We added spiciness, which is an essential essence of tacos and then consciously incorporated Japanese condiments.

“Here we add sesame, shiso, ginger, and yuzu. We also use ‘kanzuri’ which is a fermented seasoning made from chili peppers grown under the snow; it gives the spice another dimension. However, it’s not too spicy, just enough to enhance the umami of the sea bream. I think Mexicans would probably say, ‘Give me more hot sauce!’ if they were to eat it. This menu item is also popular among foreign customers. The aromatic tortilla perfectly embraces a variety of flavors and textures, creating a dish with a high degree of perfection.”

●EDO Tacos – Tempura conger eel

Following the success of the Sushi Taco, the second dish of the Edo Menu featuring a large piece of conger eel tempura was introduced in July. “The second dish that came to mind was the conger eel,” says Kitade. “We all talked about combining tacos with ingredients that are uniquely Edo.” The sweet “tsume” sauce is made by boiling down soy sauce and mirin (sweet cooking rice wine) and is served with aonori (seaweed) mayonnaise. The batter is made using beer, so of course the dish goes perfectly with a glass of craft beer.

“The clean flavors give a refreshing feeling to the oily taste. But in essence, it’s fried food, and beer always goes well with junk food! In the U.S. it would be hamburgers and french fries. So for our interpretation, we used fried food, but instead matched it with Japanese tempura eel.”

The placement of the conger eel, which protrudes far from the tortilla, was an idea that came from the kitchen team. Mashiko, who works as a chef at B told us in retrospect what happened. “The previous month’s sushi tacos had a strong impact on customers, so we decided to use a large conger eel, “something that was also visually stunning,” he said. “We always add a little extra to the conger eel by searing the skin with a burner to remove the odor and sliminess.”

●Nihonbashi Tacos

The Nihonbashi Taco, with its beautiful contrast of red and green colors, is a popular menu item that inspired the aforementioned ‘Edo Taco’. The filling is made up of ‘kakiage’ (tempura fried vegetables) served with red ginger. Kitade says, “Tacos really suit strong ingredients and also strong acidic flavors.”

“The tortilla wraps up the sourness nicely. I have always loved standing-only noodle restaurants in Tokyo, and tempura with red ginger is a staple. So, I decided that if I were going to combine tacos and kakiage, a Japanese ingredient, I would definitely want to make it with red ginger. The combination of sourness with the oily taste of kakiage makes it perfect for both tacos and beer.” The smoked paprika and cherry tomato sauce underneath the ingredients add an extra layer of flavor and aroma.

In August and September, the restaurant plans to introduce a new lineup of “Edo Tacos” in rapid succession. “We are planning to offer a menu that no one has ever tasted before, inspired by Edo’s unique wild boar meat and sukiyaki. Kitade’s ideas and suggestions always exceed the expectations of those of us working in the kitchen, so we hope you all look forward to more of his creations!” commented Chef Mashiko.

For Kitade himself, the creation of the menu items served at B has great significance. “The development of new menu items at B is not limited to “incorporating the essence of Edo and Tokyo,” but also provides an opportunity for me to take on new challenges that emphasize diversity and impact. The members of the kitchen are also very receptive to my ideas and requests. I can just outline my vision and needs, and they immediately understand the rest of it. I want to express to others the B way of doing things, but I also enjoy it as an experience for myself.

B by the Brooklyn Brewery

Shigeo Kitade

A lover of reggae music, Kitade has traveled to England and the U.S. While working as a DJ, he also came to realize the joy of restaurants and began working as a bartender and restaurant chief in New York. He was moved by his first encounter with Mexican tacos, and upon returning to Japan opened “Kitade Shokudo” in Iwamotocho, Chiyoda-ku, in 2013 with the desire to spread tacos as a new food culture in Japan. Since then, he has opened sister restaurants “KITADE TACOS” in COMMISSARY Nihonbashi, GRANSTA Tokyo Station, Shimokitazawa, and Ningyocho. He also supervises menus for restaurants including B by the Brooklyn Brewery.

B by the Brooklyn Brewery

Kenta Mashiko

Born in Ibaraki in 1995. He grew up listening to Hip Hop during his school days. After graduating from college, he worked in the food and beverage industry. He has been in charge of the kitchen at B since its opening in 2020, cooking tacos on a daily basis.

Text : Misaki Yamashita

Photo : Naoto Date

Interview : Misaki Yamashita