Japanese Snacks

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Last post to wrap up my trip in Japan is going to be about all the random snacks I had along the way. First up, was MOS Burger near the Shibuya station. We grabbed a quick bite here while waiting for our Airbnb host. MOS Burger is a fast food chain and the second largest in Japan after McDonald’s. I got the beef, onion and cheese melt. Tons of flavour from the onions and the cheese was really good.

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In the mornings, we would sometimes go down to Family Mart to grab a quick snack. Family Mart is a convenience store, similar to 7-Eleven. We got the onigiris, which are rice shaped like triangles and wrapped with seaweed. Inside, they are filled with different ingredients, but ume or pickled plum is probably the most common. I chose the Spicy Tuna Onigiri, which was super delicious! It’s under 200 yen for one as well! Such a steal.

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At Family Mart, we also found many alcoholic beverages. We got this lychee cider, which was so good! Wish we have this in Vancouver. Only 4% of alcohol content, so the lychee fruity flavour really comes through.

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We also checked out Tokyu Food Show, which is connected to the Shibuya station. It’s located inside the Tokyu Toyoko Department store and offers many different stalls with food. We decided to get some nigiris at one of the stall. Here is the Tuna Nigiri, which was slightly disappointing. It wasn’t as fresh as the ones we had in restaurants and slightly overpriced.

 

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We also got the Geoduck Nigiri, but it was only alright as well. All the ingredients didn’t seem very fresh for the price we paid.

Address: 2-24-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

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Hokkaido Milk is very popular, so we had to give it a try. Hokkaido milk has a very unique taste and is very creamy, but light at the same time. It has to do with what they feed the cows. You could definitely immediately taste a distinct flavour, which was very good!

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While in the Harajuku area, we got hungry and spotted a crepe kiosk. It’s called Cafe Crepe Harajuku, and offers many pretty looking crepes. We chose the Matcha Tiramisu Crepe. The crepe was thin and filled with a slice of matcha tiramisu, topped with whipped cream and matcha powder. It was actually very good! Not too sweet!

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While in Yokohama, I picked up this super cute bag of ramen at a shop in World Potters. It features the Sapporo Maruyama Zoo Bear. So cute! I have yet to try it, but hopefully it’s as good as how the package looks!

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At the Cup Noodle Museum, we purchased this cute box of ramen. You add eggs on top of it, and it’s supposed to be sort of like a ramen pancake. However, we made it the other day, and it kind of failed. Definitely did not look as good as the picture. Perhaps it was because we couldn’t read the instructions properly. It wasn’t bad though.

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At the Narita International Airport, we did some Duty Free shopping. We picked up this bottle of Sparkling Ume Wine. The packaging definitely caught our attention. We had it on the plane and it was really good! Sweet and fizzy!

 

 

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We also picked up a box of the Yubari Melon Pocky. They were the giant Pockys, so they are individually packed inside. It actually had a very strong cantaloupe flavour. Yummy!

 

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At the Narita International Airport, after you pass security and customs, there isn’t much to eat in our terminal. We ended up having a last meal of Japanese food. K got the Soba Noodles which came with a side of fried potato croquettes.

 

 

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For myself, I got the Shoyu Ramen. It was quite salty and very oily! Not good at all…

 

 

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This probably shouldn’t be in this post, since it was a Korean snack we bought, but I’ll throw it in here anyways. These were banana puffs! Crispy and light chips with a strong banana flavour. It’s weird how Koreans make banana flavoured everything… So weird, but so good. We found it at Walmart in Vancouver!

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And here were our suitcase filled with our goodies. Just some of them actually… A trip to Asia isn’t complete if you don’t bring back tons of goodies!

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Fukumame ふくまめ (Ueno) – Tokyo

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There’s tons of things to do in Tokyo, but during our visit, we coincidentally were there for the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival. This year, it was on July 26. The Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival is a huge event held every year and attracts millions of people. We decided to head to Asakusa to see this event. We knew it would be crowded, but I have never been in such a huge crowd in my life. Asakusa is quite a tourist area, with the famous Senso-ji Temple. It is a Buddhist temple and the oldest in Tokyo. Both women and men were all dressed up in their kimonos as well!

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We didn’t really know where we going, so we just followed the crowds. At one point, we saw the Tokyo Skytree, a very new addition and tall building. It’s used mainly for broadcasting, but also features an observation deck and restaurant.

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We finally figured out that everyone was trying to cross the Sumidagawa or the bridge that is over the Sumida River. You’ll literally be walking one step forward and stopping when you near this area. Here, you can see the Asahi Brewery buildings and that odd gold piece of art that is on top of the Beer Hall. Not too sure what it’s supposed to be… Anyways, there are tons of patrol here and the organizers assign groups of people numbers. The police will announce when each group can start moving forward. It’s super organized even though you are literally shoulder to shoulder to the stranger next to you. Now imagine this in 30 degree weather. Yup, sweaty arms brushing up against you.

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I couldn’t get a lot of nice firework pictures since I only had my iPhone, but it was pretty spectacular. Basically, the festival is very different from any of the ones I’ve been to. The idea is to let groups of people on the bridge so that they can experience the festival for at least 5 to 10 minutes. The displays are exploded from both sides of the river and is supposed to be a competition. The fireworks literally go on for 2 hours straight so that everyone has a chance to get on the bridge. Once you’ve had your time, they announce that you must proceed forward and let the next group view the fireworks. The fireworks are pretty crazy, with complicated shapes and colours that I’ve never seen. Apparently at one point, there was a Pikachu! Leaving the Asakusa area was also a nightmare. You could barely move and by the time you got to the train station, there are people patrolling the area to make sure not too many people crowd in the station.

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I wanted to meet T since she coincidentally was in Tokyo as well so we decided to go to Ueno station for a late snack. Ueno is roughly 2 stations away, but it took us over half an hour to get there because of all the commuters trying to go home! Anyways, we finally arrived at Ueno station, and there are streets filled with bars and izakaya type of food. We decided to go to Fukumame which was on the 4th floor of a building. The restaurant is very posh looking and you get a lot of privacy with lots of barriers between tables. They are famous for their Yakitori, which are chicken skewers. I ordered the set which came with 5 skewers. To be honest, I was sort of confused at what I was eating. It didn’t exactly taste like chicken because it was very moist and soft. I feel like it was mixed with some sort of bean and battered with egg. Some had a teriyaki sauce on it, while other soy glaze, radish, and guacamole. They were good, but not meaty enough for me.

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We also got a desert to share. It was the Vanilla Ice Cream with Mochi and Red Bean. A very typical scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with whipped cream and sweet red beans. I was sad that it only came with three mochi balls, but they were very good! I can’t comment too much about the food since we only ordered two dishes. However, based on what we had, it was decent and the atmosphere was really nice for long chats. And that ended our last night in Tokyo!

Address: 6 Chome−13−9 Ueno, Taitō, Tokyo

Sushizanmai (Shibuya East Exit Branch) – Tokyo

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C’s friend suggested that we should try Sushizanmai, which has several locations in Tokyo. A popular location is actually the one near the Tsukiji Fish Market. However, we decided to check out the one at Shibuya’s East Exit. Here, they are open 24 hours! When we arrived, there was a bar table and some tables, and all were empty but around two. However, they told us they were all reserved. We were only allowed to eat at the bar table.

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Plum Wine

I love plum wine and since I hadn’t tried it in Japan this whole trip, I decided it was time to try it out. Sadly, it was slightly different from the ones I’ve had before. It wasn’t that sweet ume plum taste. It was also quite pricey for a very small glass. Should have probably bought a bottle at the sueprmarket instead.

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Maguro Tuna, Squid Legs, Scallop

The nigiris here are a lot more pricey than the ones I’ve had so far. But by no means is it crazily expensive like Jiros. I would say it’s quite average pricing and similar to Vancouver’s. Since we were here for more of a snack, we each ordered a few nigiris only. I chose the Tuna, which was probably the best I had so far. Next were the squid legs, which were decent, but not the best. I wish they had added a sauce to it. Lastly, the scallops were very fresh.

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Blue Fin Toro Temaki

I also added an order of the Blue Fin Toro Temaki. The toro was very fatty and buttery. There was actually quite a lot wrapped in the rice. Yummy!

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Fried Squid

C ordered the Fried Squid for us to share. Grilled Squid which was then battered and fried. It was decent with the squid being very tender, but I thought the batter was just decent.

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Uni Temaki

K ordered the Uni Temaki, which is sea urchin. She said the uni here was much more fresh than the one at Sushi Daidokoya.

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Maguro Tuna, Fatty Tuna, Scallop

She also got a few nigiris. She got the Maguro Tuna and Scallop, just as I did. However, in the middle, she also got the Fatty Tuna, which she said was very buttery.

I believe they also have nigiri sets, which are probably a better deal. Good quality food, but I would settle for the standing sushi bar since it’s much cheaper.

Address: 2 Chome-22-11 Shibuya, Tokyo

Kirin Ichiban Garden – Ichiban Shibori Frozen Draft – Tokyo

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Walking around Shibuya, we somehow came across the Kirin Ichiban Brewery.

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There were tons of people sitting outside in the beer garden. Apparently, it only recently opened.

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There was also the Frozen Beer truck! We got in line to see what it’s all about. In Vancouver, they only recently began to sell it at Guu. They offer several different flavours for the frozen beer. You can get original, cranberry, lime, lychee, mango or cassiss (blackcurrent).

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Cassiss Ichiban Shibori Frozen Draft

We got the Cassiss flavour, which is essentially blackcurrent flavour. The beer is flavoured with blackcurrent flavouring, so it just tastes like a fruity beer. The foam however is the frozen part. It’s like a slurpee at the top. However, the foam doesn’t have much flavour. Apparently, the invention was so that the frozen foam can keep your drink cold for 30 minutes without needing to add ice. Pretty neat. Worth trying!

Address: 3-7 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya, Tokyo

 

Yoshisoba (Shibuya) – Tokyo

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There are tons of restaurants near the Shibuya station. For breakfast, we decided to head to the street where the Standing Sushi Bar is and look for some food. We came across Yoshisoba, which is a standing noodle bar. The prices definitely drew us in. For under 600 yen, you can get a don and soba set! What a steal. First, you must insert your money in the vending machine and choose your food. A ticket will print out and you hand it to the chef. He will ask you whether you want soba or udon.

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Squid Tempura Don

I went for the set, which first consisted of the Squid Tempura Don. I was utterly disappointed with this. The tempura is not fresh at all. You can see a bunch of tempura already premade on the shelf. All he does is heat it up a little and dip it in a tempura sauce. It is then served on rice. I could barely finish this because of how soggy and cold the tempura was. The squid itself was very tender, but the batter was gross. Do not order!

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Soba in Cold Soup

The set also came with the Soba in Cold Soup. Luckily this was more decent, but still not the best I’ve had. The soba is already put in the broth. Usually the broth or dipping sauce is separate, so that you dip your noodles in as you eat. It was just average and tasted like soba you can buy at the grocery store.

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Overall, we were all very disappointed with Yoshisoba. It is cheap and will fill you up, but none of us finished our food because of how bad it was… Stay away!

Address: 4-26-5 Sendagaya, Shibuya, Tokyo

Sushi Daidokoya すし台所家 (Shibuya) – Tokyo

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Sushi Daidokoya is located in Shibuya and literally just by the corner of our apartment. Every time we walk past it, there are people in it. For me, it’s always a good sign when I see people inside a restaurant. It’s open from the morning until late night. During the day, they have some pretty good deals like Chirashi-don. Wish I had tried that… Anyways, after a tiring day in the sun, we decided to head down to grab a late night snack.

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Sushi Daidokoya offers kaiten sushi, or more familiarly known as conveyor belt sushi! However, at the time we arrived, there weren’t too many sushi on the conveyor belt. Instead, we were told we could just tell the chef what we wanted and they would place the order. Pricing is determined by the colour of the plate. Luckily, a Japanese couple sat next to us and were able to speak English fluently. They were able to give us some tips on what was good!

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The server gave us an English menu with pictures. Most orders come in two and are very well priced. Some items are pricier than at the Standing Sushi Bar (my personal favourite), but some are cheaper. Really depends on what you order. It ranges from 120 yen to 500 yen.

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Maguro – Tuna (120yen)

The tuna did not look as nice as the one at the Standing Sushi Bar, but was still very fresh. Cheap price tag too!

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3 Types of Grilled Fish (500 yen)

We ordered the 3 types of grilled fish, which were as named, all slightly seared on the top. I didn’t try all of them, but I had the one in the middle. I believe it was aburi salmon. Not bad!

 

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Grilled Fatty Salmon – Aburi Toro Salmon (240 yen)

The grilled fatty salmon comes in two as well, but someone ate the piece too quickly! This piece of salmon was more fatty than the previous one. It was lightly seared and topped with some wasabi. It melted in your mouth! Loved it!

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Tamago

The Japanese couple recommended us to try the Tamago. Here, the tamago are in thick blocks and filled with other ingredients like sausage! It was really yummy! Not your regular tamago.

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Scallop – Hotate (240 yen)

The scallop were thick and fatty. Again, I found that they put much more wasabi in the scallop nigiris. I wonder why… Still good!

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Sea Urchin – Uni (240 yen)

Say what? Sea urchin nigiri for only 120 yen a piece? That’s equivalent to roughly $1.20 in Canadian! However, we were slightly disappointed. It wasn’t as fresh and had a fishy taste. They also had the Supreme Sea Urchin on the menu for double the price though… Perhaps we should’ve gotten that instead?

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Yellow Tail – Hamachi (120 yen)

Yellow tail can be quite pricey in Canada, but this was a steal! I didn’t get a chance to try this one, but the girls said it was pretty good!

 

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Octopus – Tako (120 yen)

I tried the Octopus, which was very good. Normally, octopus can be slightly too chewy. However, this one was more tender than tough.

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Horse Meat – Sakura (500 yen)

Um ues, this was horse meat. Raw horse meat to be exact. I know it may be a taboo in many countries, but it isn’t something too rare in Japanese cuisine. Topped with a bit of ginger, you can still see some of the fat. I took a nibble from the meat and found it to be very gamey. It sort of reminded me of lamb. K ate it and said it wasn’t terrible, but not something she loved. Apparently, they serve raw whale meat here too…

 

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Raw Octopus – Namadako (240 yen)

Lastly, we had the Octopus. I found that it reminded me of cuttlefish. It’s not live octopus, so don’t worry about the suction cups like in Korea… I liked the bouncy chewy texture. Yummy!

Overall, Sushi Daidokoya is great if you want to try a large variety of fish. They also have specials written on signs on the conveyor belt, but it’s mostly in Japanese. If you’re daring and want to try some exotic items you are unlikely to find in America, then this is the place to go! Prices aren’t too bad either and the chefs are very nice even though they don’t speak too much English.

Ichiran 一蘭 (Harajuku) – Tokyo

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After the Cup Noodle Museum in Yokohama, K and I took the train to Harajuku to meet the girls. Harajuku is actually just a district in Shibuya, but it’s famous for their young fashion! Here, you’ll find girls dressed up in the craziest outfits. You’ll find people here dressed in grunge, gothic, or princess looking outfits. Lolita fashion is huge here – where they bring the concept of the Victorian era fashion into today’s modern fashion. It reminded me of cosplay outfits. We went to this mall with a huge sale, with clothing at under 1,000 yen! I guess July is a great time to visit for summer sales!

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We then made our way to Takeshita Street, which is closed off for pedestrians only. It is filled with restaurants, cafes, and fashion boutiques. You’ll find international brands here as well, but many are independent boutiques. If you love cute things, this is the street for you. I found everything a little too cute for myself personally.

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A 5 or so minute walk away, and you will find Kiddy Land! If you love cute things, like Sanrio, San-x, Ghibli, and more, this will be your dream store! You’ll find everything from Hello Kitty, to Miffy, to Rilakkuma, Snoopy, and more! I believe there are 4 floors in total, so you could spend a while here. Super cute items!

Address: Harajuku 6-1-9 Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

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After doing some shopping, we decided to grab an early dinner at around 6pm. We found Ichiran, which we’ve heard great things about. There are several Ichirans in Japan, and we had saw one in Shibuya as well. Ichiran basically only has one item they sell – the Classic Tonkotsu Ramen. However, you customize your noodles, so I guess there is some variety. Before entering the store, you will insert money in a vending machine which will print out your ticket. It’s all in Japanese, so you may need to decipher it based on the pictures. A single bowl of ramen will cost you 750 yen. You can purchase noodle refills and additional toppings for additional costs. Once you enter the restaurant, there is an electronic seating chart, which tells you if there are vacant spots. Pretty neat! Luckily, it was early, so we were able to get seats together.

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There are no servers to tell you what to do. All seats are in cubicle format.There are wooden barriers between you and the next person. We later found out that you can actually fold them if you are sitting next to your friend. However, the barriers are great if you are eating alone and don’t want to awkwardly see the stranger eat next to you. A pair of chopsticks are placed in front of you with some buttons as well.

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On the left, there are cups and a tap for hot water. There are also instructions on how to order. Just slip the ticket in front of you on the table and someone behind the wall will exchange it for an order sheet. You can then circle your choices. We got a Japanese order sheet and could barely read any of it, but apparently you can request for an English sheet. You can choose from the consistency of the broth, firmness of the noodles, cha-shu (pork) or without, garlic, level of spiciness , and green onions or not. When you are ready, place your order sheet in front of you and someone will come to collect it.

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After serving your ramen, they will place a bamboo cover down so you won’t be disturbed at all. Here was my ramen! I chose medium consistency for the broth, medium firmness for the noodles, with green onion, cha-shu and half spicy. The noodles were extremely delicious! They were very skinny, but firm and had a great bite. The tonkotsu (pork-based) soup was also one of the best I’ve had. It was light but still rich in flavour. I liked how it wasn’t too salty like many of the other broths I”ve had. At Ichiran, they also prize themselves for their original red pepper sauce. Apparently it is made of 30 different tpyes of spices and cooked for days. Only 3 chefs know the recipe! Loved the hint of spice! As for the sliced pork, it was decent. However, I wished it was more fatty. They didn’t have a choice for fatty or not.

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Overall, we were extremely satisfied with the ramen at Ichirin. The ramen isn’t too pricey at 750 yen, although we all agreed the amount of noodles were not too much. I guess we should’ve gotten a refill of noodles since they were so tasty! Love the concept of the isolation and minimal disturbance as well. Apparently it is so customers can focus on how good the ramen is! By the time we finished our meal, there was a long line up outside. Be sure to get here early!

Address: 2F 6-5-6 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Standing Sushi Bar Uogashi Nihon-ichi (Shibuya) – Tokyo

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Prior to our trip, I had done some quick Googling to see which restaurants would be great for sushi, specifically nigiri sushi. There was the popular but expensive Jiro, and a popular one was the Standing Sushi Bar Uogashi Nihon-ichi. Luckily, there are two in the Shibuya area, and one was literally right across the street of our airbnb. It is also extremely close to the Shibuya metro station. K and I decided to head here for a late night snack.

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What’s cool about a standing sushi bar is that there are no seats at all. You must stand in front of a bar table to eat, so it’s not the ideal place if you’ve walked too much and need a seat. Perfect if you want to just eat and go though. You meal will usually last from 10 to 20 minutes. Plates and chopsticks are on the lower bar table. On a higher level, they place a lotus leaf where they place the sushi on. You also make your own tea here. There is a hot water dispenser, and you just add a bit of green tea powder in your cup. You tell the chef what you want to order, and he will make it for you on the spot. They provided us with an English menu and we just pointed.

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Squid (Ika)

First up was the Squid, which was probably the best ika I’ve had! It was very fresh and had a nice bite to it without being too chewy.

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Red Tuna

One of my favourite was the Red Tuna. I liked it because it wasn’t as soft as normal tuna. It had more of a chew, similar to salmon. Very fresh again!

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Egg (Tamago)

Next, K wanted to try the Tamago. I didn’t end up trying this since she wanted both. She said it was very good! As you can see, all nigiri come in a pair. The above three items were all only 150 yen for the two pieces. That comes to only 75 yen a piece! That’s like impossible to get in Vancouver! Such a great deal!

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Scallop (Hotate)

Next, we got the Scallop, which was also one of my favourites. Each nigiri had two pieces of scallop. All nigiris come with wasabi already placed inside. It’s usually the perfect amount, but I found that they put more in the Scallop one. It might be to remove the fishier taste that scallop usually has. Nevertheless, the scallop was smooth and fresh.

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Grilled Squid Tentacles

We then realized many customers were ordering nigiri that were lightly seared with the torch to make it aburi-style. We decided to order the Grilled Squid Tentacles, which was delicious! The tentacles were lightly grilled and topped with some mayo and torched. Loved the grilled flavour and the squid had a nice chew. These were roughly 200 yen, so only 100 yen per piece! A good deal again!

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Toro

Since we enjoyed most of the food so far, we decided to just go for it and purchase one of the pricier items on the menu. The Toro! Tuna belly is expensive in Vancouver, and here, they sold the pair for 400 yen. The toro was very smooth and buttery, but I felt like I’ve had better in Vancouver. To be honest, we thought that the red tuna was more worth it! We ended up getting more of the red tuna instead since it’s of much better value. The chef also served us another pair of the red tuna, but didn’t charge us. Super nice!

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Grilled Salmon

Since the aburi nigiri was so good, we also got the Grilled Salmon. Again, the salmon was topped with mayo and lightly seared. Loved how the salmon would now melt in your mouth. Yummy!

Overall, I would definitely recommend coming to the Standing Sushi Bar. There are many locations all over Tokyo. Great value and great quality. The service was also extremely friendly! I think we paid less than 1,500 yen each and were more than full! I’d definitely come back here again!

Address: 2-9-1 Dogen, Shibuya, Tokyo