[Japan Series] Day 7 Cont’d: Namja Town at Sunshine City in Ikebukuro (池袋)

DSCF by ukijojo on 500px.com

Being the jam-packed traveler that I am, on the way back from Odaiba, I suggested to S that we check out one more district. This was Ikebukuro (池袋). It has the second busiest railway station in Tokyo and offers entertainment, shopping and dining. The destination this night was to Sunshine City (サンシャインシティ) though, a shopping mall near the station. I actually remember living in a hotel near here back when I traveled with my parents. We stumbled upon the Pokemon Center while walking through the mall. They feature lots of Pokemon merchandise, many which I think are exclusive to Japan. I swear S had a really good time looking at the merchandise here!

 

DSCF by ukijojo on 500px.com

The real reason I cam here was because my sister had suggested we visit Namja Town. This is an indoor theme park by the creator of Pacman and houses some interesting attractions. However, admission is 500 yen.

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

One attraction is the Gyoza Alley. Inside, there is a lane of gyoza shops. However, when we arrived, there were barely any people (probably because it was dinner time). It felt like a ghost town. Gyozas were also quite pricey here, especially after paying the admission to get inside.

 

DSCF by ukijojo on 500px.com
Since we were here, we decided we should still give it a try. We shared a plate of gyozas, and they were pretty good. I feel like any gyozas in Japan are good compared to in Vancouver though…

IMG by info9813 on 500px.com

The second attraction that made me want to visit was the shop at Ice Cream City. This ice cream shop features the weirdest flavours. You can choose from a collection of 50! There are normal flavours too, but of course I had to go for the unusual ones!

 

IMG by info9813 on 500px.com

The ice cream here is not cheap. To get a tasting of 6 different flavours, it costs 590 yen. But as you can see, the scoops are quite small.  Here is what I tried: Hokkaido Shirataki Potato Ice Cream, Shark Fin Noodle Ice Cream, Miso Noodle Ice Cream, Japanese Berry and Chocolate, Homemade Ice Cream Corn, and Shizouka Cantaloupe Sherbet. And guess what? The ice cream literally tasted just like each description. The shark fin had some fake noodles in it, and the miso was like eating ramen. The Japnese Berry and Cantaloupe were delicious but the odd flavours were the highlight for sure. Would I order a whole scoop of these? Probably not.

Namja Town was a bit of a disappointment to be honest. All the games inside are only in Japanese and are not included as part of the admission price. The food inside is interesting but if you add the admission and the cost of the food, then it’s quite expensive. I would skip this unless you have kids or can actually read Japanese.

 

IMG by info9813 on 500px.com

We didn’t find that there was too much to do in Ikebukuro. The area was quite similar to other areas with lots of shops and dining. However, we were sort of craving some snacks and walked past a McDonald’s… Ok I usually don’t like to eat McDonald’s when I travel, but in Asia, the menu items at McDonald’s is always so interesting. Here, the Fanta Melon Ice Cream Float caught my eye. Fizzy and bright green, the drink was a bit of a disappointment. The soft server melted in quickly and the flavour was just average. Nothing special.

IMG by info9813 on 500px.com

S opted for the Shaka Shaka Chicken which is sort of like a shake shake fried chicken. You can choose flavours like cheese or spicy, and they give you this packet of power which you dispense in and you just hold the bag and shake it. The chicken cutlet was pretty good and this was fairly cheap.

 

IMG by info9813 on 500px.com

I suggested we try the Sakura Peach Pie. The pie is flaky and quite different from the ones in Vancouver. The filling inside was delicious. Don’t expect real peaches, but it tasted just like those Japanese peach candy! Probably artificial but I love that flavour!

And with McDonald’s to end our last day in Tokyo, we headed back to our Airbnb to pack up. Off to Osaka!

Sunshine City
Address: Sunshine City, 3丁目-1番 Higashiikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo 170-0013, Japan

Advertisements

[Japan Series] Day 7: Toyota Mega Web, Miraikan, and More in Odaiba お台場

IMG by info9813 on 500px.com

Sadly, it was our last full day in Tokyo. The next day we would be traveling to Osaka. I felt like we had visited most of the districts in Tokyo but there was one area that I had visited in the past that S said he had not. This was Odaiba (お台場), a man-made island in Tokyo Bay. It used to be man made fort islands, but today it is a futuristic residential and business district famous for shopping and entertainment. For me, I find that this area is very modern and a relaxing spot for a date or with the kids. To get here, you need to take the Yurikamome, which is an automated elevated train (sort of like our sky train in Vancouver). You need to start from Shimbashi station and it will get you to all attractions in Odaiba. This is not covered by the JR pass, so you will need to pay the fare (which I believe is slightly more than usual). If you will take the train more than two times, then you can buy the 1-day pass. However, since we walked throughout Odaiba instead, it was cheaper for us to pay single fare as we only took the train round trip. What I really enjoyed was that this train crosses the Rainbow Bridge which gives you beauitful views of the harbour and waterfront. Unfortunately, it was drizzling that morning, but it is still beautiful to see. So be sure to grab a window seat or the head of the train! The whole ride will take around 15 minutes from Shimbashi.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Once we got off the train, we immediately saw the futuristic looking Fuji TV Building. This is where the headquarters of the nationwide TV station. I believe you can go inside as they have some exhibits and shops, but we skipped this.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Instead, because it was fairly gloomy out, we were worried that it may start raining. We decided to head towards Palette Town which is a complex that includes the Toyota Mega Web.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Mega Web is perfect for car lovers as it is a showroom for Toyota’s latest models and technologies. Admission is free and you can check out some pretty cool cars here.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

I was in awe with these super futuristic cars. Seriously…I thought they looked like the vehicles in the Jetsons!

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

There are also a lot of free activities that you can check out including this racing game. Many of the games are also free. There is a test drive of cars that costs 300 yen, but you also need a driving license that’s valid in Japan.

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

They even have segways you can try out, but we opted to play this racing game instead. This is great for kids, but we had a good time playing it too!

 

DSCF by ukijojo on 500px.com

On the bottom floor, there are more consumer friendly types of cars. Cars that you would see on a normal day. But hey, this car I tried out was pretty cool! I guess this is perfect for the crowded streets of Japan!

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

As we started getting hungry, we decided to grab lunch. Unfortunately, you will not find eateries on the street like the rest of Tokyo here. Most of the restaurants are inside these malls. We decided to check out Venus Fort which is a shopping mall that is decorated like Europe. Think Paris or Venetian Hotel in Vegas. They also have a Jelly Bean outlet store here if you’re into shoes!

IMG by info9813 on 500px.com

We went to their food court inside the mall and settled on one of the udon stalls. Prices here are slightly higher than outside, but still affordable for the quantity you get. S got a Hot Udon Soup with Tempura on Rice Set. Quiet a lot of food and surprisingly quite good for a food court stall.

 

IMG by info9813 on 500px.com

For myself, I got the Cold Udon Set with Tempura. The cold udon was refreshing and very chewy, just the way I like it. Tempura was not bad as the batter was quite light and flaky. Not bad!

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

After lunch, S suggested we go to the National Museum of Emerging Science (日本科学未来館). To be honest, I was very hesitant about visiting the museum since it was a science museum and I was thinking “don’t we have a Science World back in Vancouver?” and “why am I visiting a science museum on vacation?” Well somehow, S convinced me to go and we ended up paying 620 yen for admission. The museum is also known as the Miraikan and is actually bilingual although many of the activities are mostly done in Japanese. However, I have to agree that the robot (Asimo) was pretty cool. I have never seen a robot in motion in real life, so this was definitely something cool. We also saw a lot of other robots that were made to replicate human beings and the technology has definitely advanced so much. If you are into robots and science, this is the spot to check out. I mean, Japan is known for robots, right?

 

DSCF by ukijojo on 500px.com

After the museum, I suggested visiting DiverCity Tokyo Plaza since I thought S would be interested in seeing the Gundam statue. This is a huge statue and it also blinks at certain times. I’m not an anime fan, but this is still very cool and worth checking out. My understanding is that this statue has now been removed and there is a new statue being built that will be released later this month! Exciting!

 

DSCF by ukijojo on 500px.com

To finish our day at Odaiba, I suggested we check out Decks Tokyo Beach, a shopping mall, and visit the Takoyaki Museum. I’ve been here before and knew there isn’t too much to see, but it’s still a fun spot and a place to sit down and rest after a day of walking.

 

DSCF by ukijojo on 500px.com

In the center, there are many stalls that sell different takoyakis. These takoyakis are by no way better than the ones you can get in the streets of Tokyo and Osaka. However, they have some creative flavours. We chose two which included the original and one with a soft boiled egg on top. They made a nice snack!

 

IMG by info9813 on 500px.com

As the evening came, we decided to head back to the station. We got a beautiful view of the Ferris Wheel all lit up which you can actually ride on. And be sure to take the skytrain back at night because you will be able to see the beautiful Rainbow Bridge lit up. I forgot to get pictures, but I really thought it was beautiful!

Note: I won’t list all the addresses here for Odaiba since the area is quite small with maps all around. It’s very easy to get around!

 

To read about my experience in Odaiba back in 2014, click here.

[Japan Series] Day 6 Cont’d: All You Can Drink at Yakitori Marukin やきとりまる金 新宿本店 in Shinjuku

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

While we were on the train heading back from Hakone to Shinjuku, I decided to look for a place to eat dinner. Did some searching and ended up coming up with the idea to go check out an all you can drink spot. Actually, I was craving yakitori (Japanese grilled skewers) and this spot just came up. Yakitori Marukin is located just in the busy streets of Shinjuku and is popular among locals.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

It took a while to find the place because you actually needed to take an elevator upstairs. Actually, many of the good restaurants are often upstairs, so if you’re looking for food in Japan, look up! Anyways, the restaurant was filled with locals and when we arrived I think we got some curious looks. The staff could barely speak English but they were still very accommodating and welcomed us in. Luckily, they have an English menu, so I’m guessing they have a lot of tourists here still. With some pointing and nodding, we were good to go!

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

I read online that this may be one of the cheapest all you can drink restaurants in the area. Plus, they have an English menu, so it really helps. For only 598 yen + tax, you can drink as much as you want for an hour! My understanding is that you need to do a minimum of one hour, but we chose to stay 90 minutes as it gave us more time to eat. Honestly though…that is dirt cheap! We can only get a beer…sometimes not even for this price back in Vancouver!

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

So when you think of all you can drink beer, you must be thinking that the restaurant will just serve your drinks super slow so that your time is up. Well, not a problem here, because it is self serve! I was pretty mind blown at this concept! Along a wall in the restaurant, there are a bunch of bottles that dispense your liquor. The waiter will give you a beer mug and you just head over to the drink station and fill it up with whatever you want. The majority of the drinks were sochu (tastes sort of like vodka), plum wine, and I believe there were some whiskeys. There are also flavoured syrups that you can pump into your sochu so that it’s not straight liquor and gives it some more flavour. I suggest filling only a quarter or half a mug each time so that you can try other drinks if that’s your liking. Otherwise, you’re sort of stuck with that drink until you finish it! This was seriously lots of fun and the liquor is quite high in alcohol content, so you will for sure have a good night! No beers here for you beer lovers though!

IMG by info9813 on 500px.com

As for the food menu, they had one menu which listed all the yakitori items which had English on it, but there was also a menu for appetizers and other izakaya type food. Unfortunately, this menu was all in Japanese, but there are some pictures to help. As you can see, the yakitori is also relatively cheap here compared to other yakitori shops. The quality is not amazing, but it comes with this dipping sauce which is really tasty! There is a big jar of sauce on the table which is left there all night… Kind of sketchy since you have no idea if the previous diners did anything to the sauce, but they state on the menu that you are not allowed to dip your food in the sauce twice. Let’s really hope no one does that!

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

First up, we got the Chicken Thighs. Pictures are really dark as it was very dim inside, but these were definitely not as charred as I’d like. However, I really enjoyed the dipping sauce and when you’re a bit tipsy, anything tastes great!

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

There were a lot of intestines for yakitori on the menu, so we weren’t really a fan of that. Instead, we decided to try the Grilled Wing Tip. This was not bad but a bit difficult to eat as there is not much meat. I would stick to the chicken thigh next time.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

Then came the funny story… So we ordered off the all Japanese menu and I pointed at the picture thinking they were popcorn chicken. Turns out…we ordered a plate of Grilled Garlic! Yup…we did not finish this.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

Some other appetizers included this Squash Croquette. This was really yummy! And great with drinks!

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

The Gyozas were also one of our favourites. I think we ended up with two orders of this! I love how in Japan, they cook all the gyozas together and the skin becomes super crispy.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

Finally… we got it right and ordered the real Chicken Karaage. Chicken was moist and batter was crispy.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

What a fun night at Yakitori Marukin! We probably spent around $25 each in total for the food and unlimited drinks. What a steal! After dinner, we wandered the streets of Shinjuku. It might have also involved taking some shameless sticker pictures… Last day in Tokyo next!

Yakitori Marukin
Address: Shinjuku 3-34-16 | Ikeda Plaza Bldg. 4F, Shinjuku 160-0022, Tokyo Prefecture

[Japan Series] Day 5 Cont’d: Asakusa 浅草, Katgetsudo Melon Pan 浅草花月堂の店舗, Ueno 上野, and Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building 東京都庁

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

After visiting Akihabara, we decided to train to Asakusa which is known for the Sensoji temple. Funny how the first thing we saw was another Don Quijote store though! Oh by the way… if you are here around Halloween time and need a costume, this is the place to buy it! I bet you will stand out when you return to Vancouver!

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

Asakusa has a mix of modern but older buildings as well. Asakusa was known to be the leading entertainment district back in the day. During the Edo period, it was the site of kabuki theaters and a large red light district. Today it is most famous for the Sensoji temple, Tokyo Skytree Tower, and the bridge above the Sumida River. I remember visiting a few years ago during one of their famous festivals and this was the spot to watch fireworks. It was crazy hectic!

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

If you’re going to visit a temple in Tokyo, then you should probably check out Sensoji Temple, as it is probably one of the most famous in Tokyo. You’ll first walk through a large entrance gate called Kaminarimon which leads to Sensoji Temple. I believe there are two gates in total before you hit the temple.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

Sensoji is famous because it is one of the oldest Buddhist temples, built in the 7th century. However, the ones we see today were built post-war, so are reconstructions. Still, it is pretty neat, especially with the large Japanese lanterns. Admission is free and you can usually go inside the temple but when we arrived it was near closing. The temple closes at 5pm.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

You will find tourists and locals doing rituals here such as writing a wish and tying it on this bar in a knot. There is also a water fountain where you pour the water over your hands along with some other rituals which are supposed to give good luck. Look around you and follow if you want to try it out!

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

Between the first gate and the second gate, you will find a shopping street of over 200 meters, called Nakamise. You will find traditional Japanese souvenirs as well as local snacks here. At night time, it is lit up and is quite lively.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

My friend had told me there is a bakery that I needed to try at Asakusa. Tucked away in a street off this busy shopping street is Katgetsudo. They are famous for melon pans!

 

IMG by info9813 on 500px.com

Melon Pan is a sweet bun with a cookie like crust at the top. It is shaped like a melon, hence the name. It had some crystalized sugar on top, and when warm, the bun was soft and fluffy! Too bad we arrived near closing as well, or else they have other varieties to choose from, including adding ice cream inside. I thought it tasted like a pineapple bun that we commonly eat in Hong Kong. Worth trying as it is a cheap snack and Katgetsudo is known to be one of the best!

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

After snacking, I suggested we visit the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center which is nearby as I heard they have a free observation deck. The center is only eight stories, but you can still get a good view of the Nakamise shoppign street and the Sensoji Temple. It was quite gloomy that day, but I would suspect you can get some decent pictures.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

To our right, we saw the Tokyo Skytree and what is that…? A golden yam? Turns out that is the Asahi Beer Tower and Asahi Super Dry Hall! Too bad we didn’t get a chance to check it out. I believe they have a restaurant and beer on tap.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

We decided to then head over to the Ueno district to look for food. Ueno is famous for its park and also many museums. However, if you get off at Ueno station and walk out, you will find that there are tons of restaurants along the streets. There was also a street that sort of reminded us of a night market.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

We ended up finding this building that housed many restaurants and found a izakaya type restaurant called Kotekichi. They featured okonomiyaki and many omelette type of dishes. First up was a pork omelette filled with cheese and topped with mayo and takoyaki sauce. Really enjoyed this piping out.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

Next was a shrimp yakisoba. We were surprised that the shrimp were tiny dried ones. The flavour was great but I wanted fresh shrimp instead. Guess that would’ve cost a lot more though!

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

Last but not least was a seafood okonmiyaki. They actually brought us the okonomiyaki with the wrong filling so we returned this back to the kitchen and they were very nice about it. Perhaps there was a language barrier issue!

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

After dinner, we headed back to Shinjuku and S suggested we walk to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (東京都庁). He read online that we can visit the observation deck for free. What a great idea because you can get a panoramic view of the city! We visited at night time, and I believe it closes at 11pm. However, there was still a line up to go in. We probably waited around 30 minutes as they have security check and also a wait to go up and down the elevator. The view was amazing and well worth the wait, especially since it’s free!

 

Senso-ji Temple
Address: 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito 111-0032, Tokyo Prefecture

Kagetsudo
Address: 2-7-13 Asakusa, Taito 111-0032, Tokyo Prefecture

Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center
Address:
2-18-9 Kaminarimon, Taito 111-0034, Tokyo Prefecture

Kotekichi (Ueno)
Address: 1-54 Uenokoen | Uenonomori Sakura Terrace 2F, Taito 110-0007, Tokyo Prefecture

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
Address: 2-8-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku 160-0023, Tokyo Prefecture

[Japan Series] Day 5: Akihabara 秋葉原 and PABLO Mini

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

On Day 5, we trained to Akihabara Station. Akihabara district is known for electronics and the die hard anime fans.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

Once we stepped out of the station, we immediately saw buildings covered with anime art and tall buildings full of electronics. Seriously if you think Best Buy has everything, you need to check out these electronic department stores… The number of floors are endless…

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

I’m honestly not that interested in electronics, but S really wanted to visit. However, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by all the high-tech products they have in Japan. Even hair appliances were amazing! Anyways, I was looking out for food while S was taking pictures. Coincidentally, I found PABLO Mini! They are famous for their cheese tarts, but this shop sold their mini versions. Since S doesn’t eat cheese, I was happy that they had mini versions so I didn’t need to stuff myself.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

I got the original cheese tart and look how cute this mini version is! Plus, it was getting close to Halloween, and they added this cute little stick out. I’ve had the large Pablo tart, so I have to say the larger one is better. But still, if you want a quick snack, this is great. A must try and I would suggest getting the full size if you have a group to share with.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

After checking out all the electronic stores (which seems to never end), we got tired and both of us could not decide on a place to eat. Being upset, we randomly chose a ramen shop and ate. There were actually diners in there, so I could not imagine how bad the ramen could be, but I absolutely hated it. And I’m pretty sure S agreed. Look how messy the bowls were. The eggs were not cooked properly, the meat was super thick, and the broth was a thick mess. The bowl was large, but I’ve never had such a bad ramen.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

I got the Tsukemen, and again, it was disgusting. I wish I got the name down, but unfortunately did not get a picture of the outside.

Pablo Mini Akihabara
Address: 1-15-8 Sotokanda, Chiyoda 101-0021, Tokyo Prefecture

 

[Japan Series] Day 4 Cont’d: Harajuku 原宿 and Maisen Tonkatsu とんかつ まい泉

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

After shopping around Shibuya, we decided to take the train to Harajuku station. This district is between Shinjuku and Shibuya, so a great spot to visit if you are near these two stations. Harajuku 原宿 district is famous for extreme young and trendy culture and fashion trends. This is where the Harajuku and Lolita girls shop and although you will unlikely find anything to buy here unless you are into these trends, it is still worth a visit as there are a lot of wacky and cute things to find here. The famous Takeshita Street 竹下通り is where the action is at, with a closed off pedestrian only street where retailers are on either side of the street.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

The Takeshita Street is quite narrow and since it is a well known tourist attraction, it is extremely busy and packed! Other than this trendy street, there is Omotesando, which is a street known as Tokyo’s Champs-Elysees. The target for this street is higher end adult clientele, but also includes a shop called Kiddy Land which is perfect if you love all the Japanese cartoon characters or are looking for toys (Japanese toys are next level by the way!).

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

At the end of the street, you will find Santa Monica Crepes. I believe this is a chain, and you can actually find it in other districts, but crepes seem to be quite popular in the Harajuku district. They have literally hundreds of flavours! The crepes are rather expensive, going at around 500-700 yen, but they are visually appealing.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

I wanted a matcha one, but of course S said he wanted the Chocolate and Oreo Crepe. I like how the whipped cream is light and the chocolate is not overly sweet. Funny because I read that many American tourists find it rather bland. I guess it is just a personal taste. I wouldn’t say this is the best crepe, but I think it is worth trying if you are in the area. Or at least try crepes from another crepe shop.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

After wandering the streets, we took a long walk to Maisen Tonkatsu. This is a famous pork cutlet restaurant that my friends highly recommended. The price is on the higher end but this is because they are famous for using kurobuta pork, which are acorn fed pigs. They have so many varieties, and therefore the price can vary.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

At first I thought the interior was very small as you first enter here. There is some bar area, but it seems like they put single diners here mostly.

IMG by info9813 on 500px.com

Keep walking through, and there is a huge dining room! It was sort of weird actually because it reminded me of a Chinese restaurant with round tables. However, this is perfect for large groups and many tourists come here. The reason for the large space is that this restaurant used to be a public bathhouse! Pretty neat ambiance, but don’t expect any fancy decor. We found there was a mix of diners although many were tourists. The group next to us seemed to be businessmen who had brought a foreign worker here.

 

IMG by info9813 on 500px.com

First up, if you don’t eat pork, then you might as well not eat here because pork is what they are famous for. We were given this jar of sauce right after we ordered. This is the famous Tonkatsu sauce and it was so good! I poured it over my pork as well as my coleslaw. Sweet and savoury but not overly salty.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

We each got a Tonkatsu set meal. It comes with the pork cutlet, a bed of cabbage, a bowl or rice, some pickled vegetables, miso soup, and dessert at the end. When we read the menu, we were actually quite overwhelmed. The menu has many of the common languages including English, and thoroughly goes through what each cut of the pig would taste like, and then the different brands of pork they offer. Some brands include the Tokyo-X, Kurobuta, Benibuta, and Amai-Yuwaku. Prices range from around 1500 to over 3000 yen. I believe these pigs feed on different diets and are raised under different atmospheres, creating different textures. From what I remember, we got a Tokyo-X and a Kurobuta.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

To be completely honest, S and I could not really taste the difference between the two brands. I think depending on the cut, this would give a bigger difference. We both got the loin, which is supposed to have just the right amount of fat and is the highest grade of pork next to fillet cuts. As we both had the same cut, I found it difficult to taste the difference in texture. Plus, both of the brands were similarly priced, so I guess we weren’t really expecting a low end and high end difference. I have to agree with other diners that the pork cutlet was delicious and probably the best I’ve had. The outside batter is light and did not taste oily at all. The meat remained moist, and the sauce was just addicting.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

For dessert, we were given a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Nothing special, but a great way to end our meal.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

After a delicious meal, we headed back to Shibuya, and the neon lights were now all lit up. How beautiful! We did some shopping at Don Quijote which is a must visit for any tourist. This is a discount store for makeup, snacks, and pretty much anything. Perfect stop to pick up some souvenirs and stock up some goodies to bring home. You can find this store in many districts actually, but the Shibuya one is always crazy hectic with tourists.

Takeshita Street
Address:

Maisen Tonkatsu
Address: 4-8-5 Jingumae, Shibuya 150-0001, Tokyo Prefecture

Don Quijote
Address: 28-6 Udagawacho, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0042, Japan

[Japan Series] Day 4: Uogashi Nihon-ichi Standing Sushi Bar 魚がし日本一 in Shibuya 渋谷区

DSCF by ukijojo on 500px.com

On the fourth day, we took the train to Shibuya station. Shibuya is one of my favourite districts in Tokyo since it features young and trendy fashion and lively restaurants. Many fashion trends actually originate from this district. I highly recommend living in this district if you enjoy the young and trendy lifestyle and love shopping.

 

DSCF by ukijojo on 500px.com

The last time I visited, I found Uogashi Nihon-ichi Standing Sushi Bar which I fell in love with. This is a small standing sushi bar which features fresh and cheap nigiris. The downside is that there are no seats, so is not worth going when your feet are tired after a long day of walking. I suggested going for an early lunch before our legs were tired. I believe it is a chain, so there should be some other stores in Tokyo, but this one was fairly empty at around 11am.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

Many of the nigiris are under 200 yen and you get a pair of nigiris, so it comes to under 100 yen each which is a steal!

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

This time I noticed they have a set deal which was even cheaper. I think it was around CAD$10 for a variety of nigiris. I’m not sure if this is only during lunch time though. It included the red tuna, squid, salmon, and tuna.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

Also scallop, avocado, tamago, and a negitoro. Such a good deal for so many nigiris. I have to say that the avocado was quite a disappointment though as the avocado looked rather old.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

My favourite is the maguro red tuna, so of course we had to get an extra order. This is quite expensive in Vancouver, but readily available in Japan. So delicious!

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

After a quick lunch, we headed to Shibuya crossing, one of the busiest pedestrian crossings in Tokyo. All traffic stops in every direction so that the pedestrians can cross in any direction they need to. Pretty neat and fun to watch.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

If you are looking for a good spot to people watch and get some shots of this busy crossing from above, I suggest visiting the Starbucks store in one of the buildings at this intersection. Plus the Starbucks in Japan have some items that North America does not carry. We tried this Mango Smoothie which was refreshing on the hot day. Prices in Japan are much higher though unfortunately.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

Shibuya is also famous for many department stores and malls. Some of the ones we visited and I recommend include Shibuya 109 (super young and trendy for women although many of the styles are almost too trendy for me!), Tokyu (12 story department store with a basement floor full of food, Tokyu Hands (a creative life store filled with items for crafts, interior, and travel), Loft (stationary and crafts similar to Tokyu Hands), Seibu and Marui (both department stores are great for higher end fashion).

 

Uogashi Nihon-ichi Standing Sushi Bar
Address: 25-6 Udagawacho, Shibuya 150-0042, Tokyo Prefecture

Shibuya District
Address: Shibuya 150-8010, Tokyo Prefecture

[Japan Series] Day 3 Cont’d: Tsukiji Fish Market 築地市場 and Roppongi 六本木

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

After wandering the streets of Ginza, I suggested we walk over to Tsukiji Fish Market. What a mistake beacuse it was definitely more than a 20 minute walk and normally in Vancouver this is fine, but when we’ve been walking non-stop for a few days already, our feet weren’t feeling it. After making various pit stops, we finally arrived at the market. The market was supposed to move near Odaiba in late 2016, but it seems like they have delayed this until 2018.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Tsukiji Market is a wholesale market for seafood, fruits, and vegetable. The market is one of the most famous in Tokyo because of the amount of fish it handles. Tourists can actually visit the market in the morning to watch the tuna get auctioned. However, you’ll need to get here around 5am to make the cut as there are limited spots. Otherwise, you should stop by in the early mornings to catch the most action. You can’t enter the warehouse before 10am though as they are afraid tourists will disrupt business at its peak. If you choose to arrive early, you can still check out the outer market, which is an area with retailers and restaurants. This is where you can enjoy a sushi breakfast as well and some arrive as early as 5am to get their sushi! We arrived around 2pm, which is usually the time many of the stores along the market begin to close down so it definitely wasn’t as lively.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

You’ll still find some retailers open but I’m not sure how fresh the fish would be anymore as the best would probably have been sold out by now. If you love sashimi, this is the market to get your fix! Tons of chirashi-don stores.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

There are also many stalls that sell quick snacks like these grilled scallops with sea urchin on top. Looks delicious!

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

As we already had lunch and S doesn’t eat sashimi, we decided on a light snack instead. Tamagoyaki is very popular at the market! You will find some stores that have much fancier decor and packaging, but the 100 yen price at this store caught our attention.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Tamagoyaki is a Japanese omelette which has requires the chef to perfect the skill of making many thin layers or folds. It is slightly sweet and is paired with some soy sauce.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

For 100 yen at this stall, we got a large chunk of tamogoyaki and it broke apart so easily because of how fluffy it was! I’m sure some of the fancier stalls are much better, but this already satisfied my craving and tasted delicious!

DSCF by ukijojo on 500px.com

 

As there wasn’t much going on at the Tsukiji Market by the time we arrived, we ended up training to Roppongi district. Roppongi is known as the city’s most popular nightlife district for foreigners. There are many bars, restaurants, and nightclubs that cater to the foreigners. Hence, prices are also higher in this area.

DSCF by ukijojo on 500px.com

 

After walking around the area, we couldn’t really settle with a restaurant and ended up training back to Shinjuku. Shinjuku is so busy at night and fun to walk around with all the bright lights.

DSCF by ukijojo on 500px.com

 

After a long day of walking, we just wanted something fast to eat and we settled at a random shop that seems to specialize in tempura type dishes and rice bowls. This is a super casual spot and again you can purchase your ticket in the vending machine before entering.

DSCF by ukijojo on 500px.com

 

S had the Pork Cutlet on Rice which was served very home-style. Definitely nothing spectacular, but it was cheap and quick.

DSCF by ukijojo on 500px.com

 

For myself, I got the combo which included prawn tempura, pork cutlet, and some meat patty that was battered and deep fried. The oil was definitely old as the colour was very dark. The coleslaw on the side helped make the dish less oily. Miso soup and rice was also included.

Overall, if you’re looking for some quick, affordable food, then these spots may work out for you.

Tsukiji Market
Address: 5-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo 104-0045, Tokyo Prefecture

Roppongi
Address: Roppongi, Minato 106-0032, Tokyo Prefecture