[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

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

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


Ichiran 一蘭 (Harajuku) – Tokyo


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!


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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