I feel like I have to blog about Tokyo before I get all lazy and forget about it, and then the post never materialises. This Tokyo trip was highly highly spontaneous, meaning that other than Disney, Nick and I didn’t plan ANYTHING at all. The only planning that we did was what to eat, and that was done about an hour before we were supposed to eat. So, this list is probably still a work in progress, but… I did discover new gems, and found new places that I’d like to make a return trip to again.
Right. If you follow me on social media, you’re probably really sick and tired of hearing me rave about this place. Located in a small alleyway parallel to the Roppongi-dori, if you don’t know about it, you will NOT stumble onto it. Thankfully I stalk food blogs. Anyway, this is the kind of ridiculously expensive place that I would not have the moolah to fork out for dinner, but lunch sets are INCREDIBLY affordable at about 1500yen per set. And you get a full tray of pickles/appetizers AND extra rice after (to make your own ochazuke!) If you pry beneath the beautiful layer of marbled beef, you’d uncover another surprise of… COOKED BEEF!! Soaked with some kind of amazing beef shoyu/marinade, this was a meal that I wished had never ended.
If that wasn’t enough, it’s a private dining concept so Nick and I had a small room all to ourselves, with no other humans around!!!!!!!! Overall, I’d say this was more an experience than a meal, and I wish I ate it earlier in the trip so I could’ve gone back AGAIN. It opens at 11.30, and when Nick and I joined the queue at 11.10 we just missed the first seating, so we only got in at 12.30. Come at 11 to queue.
I know, A CHAIN!!! A tempura one at that. This is one of the most affordable meals ever in pricey Tokyo; and 500yen can get you a heartwarming bowl of tendon. Imagine: crisp tempura over a bed of pearly rice and a drizzle of that tempura sauce……. I’d add on the onsen tamago for a greater umami kick. Depending on where you go and your luck, sometimes the tempura is a bit soggy, but it is very hard to complain for the price that we paid (less than 1000yen vs Tsunahachi’s minimum of 2000yen per person). The Shinjuku branch near Mizuho building was quiet on a Saturday at lunchtime and my tempura was perfectly crisp when it got to me – the Ueno branch was soggy as hell (also on a weekend). I usually get the fancier stuff and paid 880yen for the set above.
Introduced to me by my fellow Tokyophile (is this a proper term to describe people who like Tokyo??) Marcus, Gogyo left an impression on me when I visited it for the first time in 2013. Gogyo’s ramen is unlike any I’ve ever tried, and I’d say this is THE ramen to beat. Burnt miso ramen is what you should get, and I always get extra cabbage because I always feel unhealthy without having any greens! The noodles here are thicker than normal noodles (think: the middle ground between hakata ramen noodles and tokyo ramen noodles) which helps to soak up that thick burnt miso. It packs quite a flavour punch and is a VERY VERY HEAVY MEAL. Two small eaters can share one portion. If all that I said wasn’t enough reason: Gogyo has the same owners as Ippudo – the ramen is bound to be pretty damn good.
4. Bochi Bochi
We only came to Bochi Bochi because the place we wanted to go to was full. This is the kind of place you shouldn’t go to if you hate smoke because well, people smoke inside. I wanted to cry. Okonomiyaki, it should be noted, is a dish that comes from Osaka and actually, Tokyo has its own version (which I’ve never tried. and not really interested in….). The star of Bochi Bochi however, wasn’t the okonomiyaki but the GRILLED BUTTER SOY SAUCE SQUID. I can’t believe I’ve never had butter soy sauce squid when these ingredients are so easily available and together, they seriously create some form of mad magic and results in a crazy ass combination!!!!!!
5. Kanda Matsuya
One of the things I wish was easier to find in Singapore is hand-pulled soba. There is a lot more bite and chew to the soba noodle as compared to packeted soba. And I love that the pride of the soba maker is evident in the noodles that he produces. Here I had goma soba (soba in sesame sauce). It had no frills but was easily one of the most satisfying meals around. Come at about 7 and the queue will have disappeared by then.
It was really hard to write just about a few places in Tokyo that I really enjoyed because I really liked everything I had. Most of the time when Nick and I were lazy we’d go out to the departmental stores and get some food and watch How to Get Away with Murder.. there is such a huge array of food available at the departmental stores which I think people forget about sometimes. I do miss the salad selection and you would too because:
While they are pricey and visually stunning, they do taste as great as they look. Well, at least the two salads I tried did not disappoint at all.
Last but not least,
The sweet potato x hokkaido milk soft serve at Imoya Kinjiro is worth making a detour at Nihombashi for. But if you stay at the Mandarin, good for you! This is literally about 300m away from you, and is Imoya Kinjiro’s only store in Tokyo. The sweet potato sticks are insanely addictive and I brought about 6 bags home. The staff at the store are very helpful and though we didn’t speak a word of Japanese, they did their best to help us decipher the different types of sweet potato snacks they sold. PERFECT SOUVENIRS!!! And don’t make the amateur mistake of sharing the soft serve like we did because such good things should not be shared between two people or god forbid, three humans.
I didn’t manage to eat much chirashi don in Tokyo because for some reason it’s really quite difficult to find chirashi? I think most Japanese eat sushi or sliced fish on rice (kaisendon). I’m not sure as to the difference between chirashi don and kaisendon but I feel like if you have the money, definitely fork some out for raw fish. I wasn’t very impressed by the rice bowl I had at Tsukiji so it’s not on here. (BUT Sushi Dai still remains one of the best sushi experiences in my life!!!) I also tried the chirashi at Sushi Sho this time round but I’m a bit ambivalent about it. Sushi Sho is one of Tokyo’s worst kept secrets – he’s the guy who Michelin will never write about but is really respected within the sushi scene – and for lunch he serves chirashi for only 2000yen. (I CAN’T AFFORD DINNER). However, his fish is dry aged so it’s quite different from what we’re used to here in Singapore. Nonetheless I think it’s worth a go. He opens at 11.30; get there at 11.20 and of course, if anyone has thoughts on dry aged sashimi/chirashi dons or any other Tokyo food recommendations, please let me know! I will definitely go back to Tokyo.
I’m not sure if I’d ever write about how I survived Tokyo Disneyland/sea but I feel like Disneysea is worth going and even if nobody likes Disney, just for their milk tea popcorn. Mmmmmm