[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

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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!

 

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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!

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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!

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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

 

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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.

 

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

 

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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

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[Japan Series] Day 6: Day Trip to Hakone 箱根

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On Day 6, we decided to visit Hakone 箱根 since Tokyo appeared quite sunny. I wanted to make sure it would be a sunny day because I wanted clear skies to see Mt. Fuji. Hakone is less than one hundred kilometers from Tokyo so many tourists will visit this spot from Tokyo. It is famous for the view of Mt. Fuji which is nearby and their hot springs. Many tourists choose to stay a night, but I found the accommodation quite expensive and lugging onto our large luggage on transportation such as a cable car did not make sense for us. Instead, we did a one day trip, which I can assure you is sufficient time. I had done lots of planning ahead of time, and learned about the Hakone Free Pass.

The Hakone Free Pass is a discount pass for tourists traveling in the Hakone area and covers all modes of transportation. It is only available for 2 days or 3 days of unlimited travel. However, I did some calculations and if you are going to take the whole route with all modes of transportation, the 2 day pass is a good deal even just for a one day trip. We chose the 2 day pass and the price breaks down further depending on where you purchase the pass. This really depends on where you are departing from. If you depart from Shinjuku station, the 2 day pass costs 5,140 yen. However, if you have a JR pass like we did, it is cheaper to take the JR train to Odawara station on your own since the JR pass provides unlimited travel and covers this route. If you are like us, then once you arrive at Odawara station, you should go to the tourist info center and purchase the Hakone Free pass. This will only cost 4,000 yen. Check out our JR shinkansen (bullet train)!

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Once we arrived to Odawara Station (小田原) and purchased the Hakone Zone Free Pass, we quickly headed to the station for the Hakone Tozan Train. We didn’t get a picture of the outside since we had to rush on the train as it had already arrived. The Hakone Tozan Railway (箱根登山電車) is Japan’s oldest mountain railway, hence the train is operated by a train conductor

 

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To be completely honest, I was quite skeptical about taking this train as it looked really old and it was going really slow. However, it was actually such an experience and lots of fun! The train goes through narrow valleys, over bridges and even through tunnels. I hear that there are flowers during the spring, but unfortunately when we went, it was mostly just green bushes. The whole ride takes under 40 minutes.

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I think the coolest part was that switchbacks are required. The train makes three stops along the way because it will hit a dead end, and the train conductor then needs to get off and go to the other end of the train so that the train can go the opposite direction. Think about a zig zag sort of route since it needs to climb up a mountain. Definitely something I have not seen before. Along the way, there are a few stops where there are art museums. One of the most famous ones is the Open Air Museum. This actually seemed quite interesting, but since we had a tight schedule, we skipped this. Thinking back, I think we would have had enough time to stop by for an hour. The last stop on the Tozan Railway is Gora Station, where we got off.

 

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At Gora Station (強羅), you can choose to visit some other museums and parks. This is also where many tourists will choose to visit an onsen (hot spring). However, unless you are staying overnight, most tourists will continue on and skip this area. The next mode of transportation is the Hakone Tozan Cable Car. So many people were waiting for this cable car, so when we got on, it was extremely crowded! Luckily, it was only a 9 minute ride. The windows are very wide on this cable car so you can check out the mountainous views. To be honest, S and I found this part to be a bit underwhelming. The views were average compared to the ones we have in Vancouver. I think the views on the cable car at the Grouse Grind are much more impressive. This gets you to Sounzan Station. The Hakone Tozan Cable Car is 9 minutes of heaven and connects the town of Gora, with its many hot springs (onsen), and a popular sightseeing spot, with Sounzan Station.

 

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Again, there isn’t much to do at Sounzan Station (早雲山), so most tourists will continue on to the next mode of transportation. Next up was the Hakone Ropeway (箱根ロ-プウエイ). Before heading on, the staff will give you a wet towelette to cover your mouth and nose. This is because the air will get very gassy as there are active volcanoes here.

 

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The ropeway takes around 30 minutes in total, but there is one stop in between that most people will get off at. The views here are spectacular. Here you will see Owakudani’s sulfur fields and the volcanic gasses. On a beautiful day, you should also be able to see Mt. Fuji, but unfortunately we could not see it as the clouds were in the way. Was pretty disappointed since that was the main reason I suggested coming here, but it still ended up being a fun trip.

 

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Here, we are approaching Owakudani (大涌谷). Remember to get off at this stop as there are lots to see! Owakudani is an area around a crater created by a eruption of Mt. Hakone 3000 years ago.

 

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The area is an active volcanic zone where you’ll see sulfurous fumes. It is quite hot in this area and definitely very gassy. It smells sort of like rotten eggs. If you have respiratory problems, this is probably not the right place for you.

 

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In this area, there is also the Hakone Geo Museum, where you can learn more about Mt. Hakone.

 

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What a view from Owakudani! Too bad we couldn’t see Mt. Fuji in the background.

 

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There is not much food here, but since it was lunch time, we needed to get something to fill up. I read online that the black eggs are a must try. The eggs are cooked in naturally hot water and the shell is blackened by the sulfur. The myth is that if you eat one of these eggs, it will prolong your life by seven years!

 

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Of course we had to get these black eggs! I think they were around 600 yen for 5 and the minimum order was unfortunately 5 eggs. Oh well, since we needed to fill up. The eggs are really just hard boiled eggs. Didn’t taste any different, but the shell is black so that’s a bit fun! Piping hot! They also have black coloured soft serve but I read online that it’s not that good so we skipped it.

 

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The food around here is qutie pricey since there is nothing else to eat here. So we grabbed one more snack. This was deep fried potato. Pretty good actually!

 

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After grabbing a bite and snapping some scenic pictures, we decided to continue along to the next stop. We headed back to Sounzan Station and jumped onto the ropeway again which took us to the last station, Togendai. There is not much to do in this area again other than some souvenir shops. From here, you can take a bus back, but there is a more interesting way!

 

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Pirate ship? Yes! Okay, well I’m not sure if they are called pirate ships, but they sure look like one. The Hakone Sightseeing Cruise links Togendai with Moto-Hakone-ko and Hakone-machi. Included on our Hakone Free Pass, we are able to take this ship for free which sails through Lake Ashinoko. The boat ride takes around 30 minutes and was very windy!

 

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Lake Ashinoko (芦ノ湖) was formed from the eruption of Mt. Hakone back in the day. Again, on a clear day, you will be able to see Mt. Fuji, but I really could not see it. Along the shore, there are a few small towns and some lakeside resort hotels, but really not much. The ship took us to Hakone-machi, where we quickly hopped onto a bus so we could go back to Odwara. This took under an hour, so luckily we got a seat. There are many buses that can take you back to Odawara but it can be overwhelming. I suggest asking the staff when you are buying your Hakone Free Pass so they can circle it on your map.

 

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The bus ride actually wasn’t that bad. Soon enough, we arrived back in Odawara. The city does not have much to do. The most famous would be the Odawara Castle. However, we wanted to make sure we caught our train back to Shinjuku, so hurried back to the train station after getting off the bus.

 

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The shinkansen were so much fun to watch as they passed by. They really go at crazy speeds!

 

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The shinkansen were also very clean and spacious. Way better than sitting on a plane! They even have bathrooms on it due to the long distances they travel. By the way, if you have a JR pass, you have the choice to reserve your seats. However, since we knew this train wouldn’t be too busy, we just went to the unreserved seating. Each train will have a few carts that are for non-reserved passengers, so it’s first come first serve. I would suggest reserving seats if you are taking the train during peak times, but otherwise, they seemed relatively empty. Off we went back to Shinjuku for dinner! Stay tuned! Highly recommend checking Hakone out for at least a day if you want a getaway from busy Tokyo!

 

Detailed information including the map of this whole route can be found here: http://www.odakyu.jp/english/destination/hakone/#link-01

[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

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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!

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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!

 

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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

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

 

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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…

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

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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.

 

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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!).

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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

 

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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

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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

 

[Japan Series] Day 3: Ippudo Ginza 一風堂 銀座店

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On Day 3, we trained to the Ginza district, which is home to one of Japan’s most expensive real estate. Here, you will find all your luxury retail stores, department stores, and fancy restaurants and cafes. Although I wasn’t expecting to purchase anything here, it is always fun to walk around and see the beautiful stores.

 

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There are your luxury stores here, but you can also find a huge Uniqlo store which has 12 floors! Uniqlo offers much more affordable prices and is perfect for every day wear.

 

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We didn’t spend too much time in department stores, but instead found Ginza Place, which actually opened in 2016, so was very new to us. Inside, it has a Nissan showroom, Sony showroom, and a few eateries.

 

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I am not a car person, but S is. However, I actually thought the Nissan showroom was really cool. They have some very futuristic cars including this one. I mean, how beautiful is this wooden interior? Other than cars, upstairs, we got to try the virtual reality headset, which was pretty cool. The Sony showroom also showcased many of their newest products. Worth stopping by if you’re interested in cars and to cool from the heat!

 

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For lunch, there weren’t too many options in the area since many are on the pricier end and we didn’t want to splurge too much. I suggested we try Ippudo Ramen. The restaurant is now a chain and has stores internationally (although none in Vancouver). Both of us haven’t tried it, so this was a great opportunity! The Ippudo Ginza location is located in an alleyway off the main street and can be a bit hidden. When we arrived, there was a short line up, but luckily there are a few chairs for us to wait outside.

 

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We waited around 15 minutes and got our seat at the bar right in front of the chefs. The interior is quite modern actually and the seating is rather comfortable. The table has some side dishes that go well with your ramen. My favourite was the spicy bean sprouts. So addicting!

 

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Gyoza

We ordered Gyozas to share and they came with a small dollop of spicy chili paste. The gyozas were small but packed with flavour and pan fried to a beautiful golden brown. Crispy on the outside and juicy inside.

 

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Shiromaru Classic – Special

I believe there are only 4 ramens to choose from. S and I ended up both having the Shiromaru Classic. This is their original tonkotsu ramen since their inception, so I had to see what it’s all about. The broth is cooked for over 18 hours and left to mature for 24 hours to extract the savoury taste of pork. It is served with homemade Hakata-style thin and straight noodles, cha-shu, black fungus and green onion. For 790 yen, you can get this basic bowl of ramen. However, we chose the Special which costs 1,020 yea and includes a soft boiled egg and a few sheets of seaweed. The ramen was good, but S and I both agreed we enjoyed Ichiran more. The broth is much lighter but still packed with a savoury pork flavour. My favourite was the egg though as it was cooked perfectly with the yolk spilling out. Not so sure if I would come back again in Japan again though since I thought it was quite comparable to some of the other ramen spots in Vancouver. Or maybe I’m just biased towards Ichiran!

After lunch, we walked around Ginza a bit more and began our long walk towards the Tsukiji Fish Market. To be continued…

Address: 4-10-3 Ginza | 1F Central Bldg., Chuo 104-0061, Tokyo Prefecture