[Japan Seires] Day 1: Marugame Seimen Shinjuku Gyoenmae, Tokyo

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Almost a year later… I’m finally getting to my Japan travel posts. Last September, S and I did a 3 week vacation in Japan. Our first stop was in Tokyo and we booked an Airbnb in the Shinjuku area. Accommodation in Japan is expensive, so I highly recommend using Airbnb if you want to save some money. Hotels are obviously covenient, but can cost almost twice as much each night.

Our Airbnb host, Yopey, had a nice flat nearby Shinjukugyoenmae station. The station is 2 stations away from Shinjuku station, and around a 10-15 minute walk from the busy Shinjuku area. It is a residential neighbourhood, so not noisy at all. However, because it is a bit further away, we found that it was not as convenient, as we always had to walk at least 10 minutes after a long day or take the extra stations back. However, you definitely can save some money by living a little further away. The flat was also much larger than I expected for Japan, and everything was clean and modern. From past experiences, I would recommend staying in the Shibuya area if you enjoy shopping and the young lifestyle. Shinjuku felt more like a business district and shops were more high end.

From the Narita airport, it takes roughly an hour to get to the city center. Therefore, I actually recommend flying into the Haneda airport, if possible, as it is only 30 minutes or so away. However, most airlines fly into Narita and it is also usually cheaper as it’s their main international airport.

 

DSCF by ukijojo on 500px.com

By the time we got to our Airbnb, it was already around 8pm. And by the time we settled in, it was getting late. We decided to walk around the neighbourhood to find some quick eats. We ended up finding Marugame Seimen, which I later learned is a chain restaurant, known for quick, value and decent quality udon.

 

DSCF by ukijojo on 500px.com

You get to choose cold or hot udon, and you just let the chef know. I think there are more options, but clearly I couldn’t read all of the menu. The chef was very accommodating even though we spoke English. He then gives you your udon and you move down the line to the tempura station, where you can choose already prepared tempura to add to your udon. Then, the cashier will add up what you’ve got on your tray and you pay.

 

DSCF by ukijojo on 500px.com

S got a hot udon. They also provide a station where you can add green onion and tempura batter on top.

 

DSCF by ukijojo on 500px.com

For myself, I got the cold udon, which comes with a light soy dipping sauce. We were both surprised with the quality of the udon for such a quick convenient shop and low price. The udon itself is below CAD$5 and was extremely chewy!

 

DSCF by ukijojo on 500px.com

The tempura though, is quite average. The batter is rather thick and the oil is old from reusing it. The tempura is also lukewarm as it has been sitting around. I would probably skip the tempura next time, but you sort of want something to go with your udon, hence people will still purchase it.

Overall, the spot is great if you need a quick cheap meal. We found lots of locals here, many of which were businessmen who had just gotten off work.

 

Address: 1-4-13 Shinjuku, Shinjuku 160-0022, Tokyo Prefecture

Kinome

K loves soba noodles, so for our family outing, we decided to check out Kinome which has been much talked about for their handmade buckwheat soba noodles. They are only open for dinner and are closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Be sure to make reservations as it is usually full.

The decor inside is simple but gives an authentic Japanese feel. They have a fresh sheet that changes up.

The inside is very small. They have around 5 tables of four and the rest is bar seating. Bar seating would be perfect if you order their popular omakase menu. The only downside is there is no air conditioner here so it can get super hot.

Dashi Egg Omelette

We started off with their famous Dashi Egg Omelette. The egg was layered with seaweed and flavoured just enough while remaining a hint of sweetness. So fluffy and moist.

Today’s Sashimi

One order of Today’s Sashimi features whatever the chef believes is most fresh. You can let the server know if you don’t like a specific type of fish. Our order came with 5 types of sashimi. Our selection included Red Tuna (sustainable bluefin tuna), Sockeye Salmon, Tobi-uo (flying fish), Mizu-tako (water octopus) and Shiro-ika (white squid). Flying fish was something new for us and wasn’t too bad! It has a slimier texture but wasn’t too fishy in taste. However, this dish is quite expensive at $30 for very small cuts. Very fresh though!

Grilled Marinated Squid Legs

Next up were Grilled Marinated Squid Legs which came with a side of mayo. I liked how they had a bit of char on the ends and were very tender.

Prawn Tempura

The Prawn Tempura was battered so lightly and the shrimp itself was very fresh because it wasn’t mushy like the ones you get at all you can eat. It had that bounce! It also came with some asparagus.

Braised Berkshire Pork Belly with Grilled Leak & Miso Sauce

The Braised Berkshire Pork Belly was a delicious fatty goodness with the fat melting your mouth.

Chopped Kale & Prawn Kakiage Tempura

A favourite of mine was the Chopped Kale & Prawn Kakiage Tempura. Never though you could tempura kale! It was filled with bits of shrimp and scallop too which was delicious!

Asakusa Soba

Next up was what we came here for – their handmade buckwheat soba! They have three choices. First was the Asakusa Soba which features hand made buckwheat noodle with green onion, tempura bits, radish, seaweed, and sesame. This dish is served cold and you pour a cold broth on top and mix it together. They advise you eat it as quickly as possible so the texture remains. This one was great with a very fresh take on the traditional soba.

Zaru Soba

The Zaru Soba was what I was used to. With this one, you can truly taste how fresh the noodles are. The texture has just the right amount of firmness. I can see why people go crazy over the soba here!

Kamo Seiro Soba

My favourite was the Kamo Seiro Soba though. This was the same handmade buckwheat noodle but served with a warm duck dipping sauce. The sauce was just so flavourful without being too salty. This soba is pricey at $16 but it does come with three tender pieces of duck and is irresistible!

Cold Udon

Kinome’s dishes tend to be smaller in portion size so of course we were still hungry. We decided to try their udon which is new on the menu. There are two choices so we got both. First was the Cold Udon which I absolutely loved. I think I might even like this more than the soba. The udon here is handmade as well and very thin. The cold broth really makes the dish refreshing and keeps that firm texture.

Warm Udon

The Warm Udon featured the same thin noodles, but I felt that because it sat in the broth, the texture of the noodles became slightly soft. Still, I really enjoyed both version of the udon.

Overall, I was very impressed with Kinome’s dishes, especially their soba and udon. Prices are slightly on the higher side for the size of their dishes, but I think it’s well worth it. Plus, they are extremely environmentally friendly which is always a plus. Service was also very friendly.

Pros:
– Handmade buckwheat noodle and udon is a must order!
– Ingredients are extremely fresh

Cons:
– No air conditioning may be a problem in the summer
– Prices are slightly higher for the portions

Price Range: $20-30/person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food:4.5 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 2.5 Parking: 3.5 Overall: 4

Kinome Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Akari Japanese Restaurant

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Akari Japanese Restaurant is located just off Lougheed Highway. It’s a fairly large restaurant, but I believe it’s owned by non-Japanese owners.

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The restaurant is full of wooden decor and green plants. Seating is abundant and we were seated right away. It’s interesting that they also have some Korean dishes on their menu, so don’t expect authentic Japanese food here.

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Chopped Scallop, Tobiko with Quail Egg, Tuna, and Salmon Nigiri

We chose to get some Nigiri to start. J chose the Salmon and Tuna to share, while I chose the Chopped Scallop and Tobiko with Quail Egg for myself. The Salmon and Tuna were both fresh and decent. I enjoyed the Chopped Scallop as it was loaded with scallops and topped with tobiko to add some crunch. The Tobiko with Quail Egg is a nigiri that I’ve seen in many people’s pictures but haven’t actually tried myself. I don’t know if I would order it again, since the raw egg on the top gives it a slimy texture and your mouth is just full of popping tobiko as you chew. Not exactly my favourite texture to bite into, but flavour-wise, it isn’t too bad.

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Nabeyaki Udon

For myself, I was craving some warm udon. I ended up choosing the Nabeyaki Udon after staring at the extensive menu and being so indecisive. This was decent and came with two ebi tempuras. It was loaded with vegetables and a poached egg. Not bad!

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Mul Naeng Myeon

J chose to get the Mul Naeng Myeon from the Korean menu. I took a bite from it and I thought it tasted better than the one at Kimbab Cheongkuk. It was a little spicy because of the mustard, but not bad!

Akari Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

Tsukiji

Assorted Sashimi (Salmon, Tuna, Hamachi, Tako, Hokki, Hotate) and Uni (Sea Urchin)

Chopped Scallop Roll and House Roll (Prawn Tempura Roll Topped with Unagi, Avocado and Masago)

Nabeyaki Udon – Thick Noodle in Soup with Prawn Tempura, chicken, and Vegetables (Forgot to take the one in the big bowl!)

Negitoro Maki (Chopped Tuna Belly  with Green Onion)

Unagi Don (Grilled BBQ Eel)

Karubi (Beef Short Ribs)

Went to Tsukiji for Christmas Eve Dinner since my family didn’t want to crowd at other restaurants, but Tsukiji was actually quite full too. They brought us to rooms where we actually had to  take off our shoes and sit on mats, so it gave us a little Japanese ambiance to it. Food was quite good with good quality, but I have to say the portions are quite small for the price. We had to keep ordering after our first orders of food came since we were all still hungry! Place is still great though, and I’ll probably come back again!

Tsukiji Japanese Restaurant 築地 on Urbanspoon

Pearl Castle

Fried Pork Chop with Noodle Soup

Chicken with Three Spices

Seafood Udon Soup with Sliced Pork

Pearl Castle is one of my favourite go to places for Taiwanese food or bubble tea. There is always a large variety of food and drinks to choose from and they all taste great! This Pearl Castle is the Richmond Centre location and I found that their food did not taste as great as the one on Capstan. Perhaps it is a franchise? Not too sure. Service also took a little longer. Overall, still decent food.

Pearl Castle 圓香茶坊 (Richmond Centre) on Urbanspoon

Kiriri

Ebi Sunomono

Salmon Sashimi

Portabello Mushroom Salad

Negitaro

Duck Breast

Uni Roll, Chopped Scallop Roll, Spider Roll

Tempura Udon

Dynamite Roll, Rainbow Roll

Unagi Don

Discovered this new Japanese restaurant the other day! It’s called Kiriri and is located in this tiny mall across the Garden City Mall. I think the owners are Japanese and the place is really small, but packed. Food was dainty, but very fresh. They also have excellent reviews on sites such as dinehere and urbanspoon. So check them out!

Kiriri Japanese Cuisine & Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

Todai Sushi and Seafood Buffet

Todai Sushi Seafood Buffet

Caesar’s Salad, Crab Legs, Variety of Sushi, Mixture of Shellfish

Mussels, Squid, Ribs, Mushroom, Prawn Tempura, Udon

Variety of Desserts including Cream Puff, Tiramisu, Cheesecake, Matcha White Chocolate, Creme Brulee

Green Tea Soft Ice Cream and Banana Whipped Cream Crepe

So I found that you guys really enjoyed my post from the Wicked Spoon buffet, so I decided to upload the rest of my pictures from buffets. I didn’t think they were as great as the Wicked Spoon, but they were still really good! Another buffet I went to in Las Vegas was Todai: The Sushi and Seafood Buffet located inside Planet Hollywood. They had a larger variety of sushi and seafood to choose from including crab legs! I also really liked how they had a section where a chef would make you udon instantly and you could choose what you would like as ingredients. They also had a dessert section where a chef would serve you soft ice cream and also instantly make you crepes with different fillings you could choose from. The variety of desserts were also great! A little pricey for the buffet, compared to the Wicked Spoon, but I guess seafood is expensive! The wait was also very long (at least an hour), but I had this on Christmas and Las Vegas is famous for those long lineups at buffets! If you want seafood and sushi in Vegas, this is the place to go!

I’m going to keep posting other pictures of food I had from a few places I traveled to this past year, so be sure to check back often!

Todai (Planet Hollywood) on Urbanspoon