[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

Zakkushi (Main St.)

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Zakkushi is a fun place to go if you love Japanese grilled skewers (yakitori) and drinks. They get very busy after dinner time, because people come here for snacks and drinks. We came for dinner, so it wasn’t as packed, but still quite full. Be sure to make reservations beforehand to guarantee yourself a spot since it’s quite small. There are two locations (previously three). What’s left is the one on Denman and the one we visited, on Main St. Both locations are very small, but the one on Main can fit slightly larger groups.

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Sockeye Salmon and Toro Tuna Sashimi

Zakkushi is known for their grilled items, but they do have a section of their menu dedicated to a few types of sashimi. We decided to give the Sockeye Salmon and Toro Tuna Sashimi a try. The salmon had a vibrant orange-red colour, but I found it slightly mushy even though it was Sockeye. Usually Sockeye has more bite to it. The toro wasn’t the melt-in-your-mouth type either. The pieces were rather small for the price at roughly $10 for each fish. We didn’t find it too be too good overall. Stick with their cooked food!

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Norimayo Tsukune and Teriyaki Tsukune

We then ordered a variety of yakitori. We got some Tsukune, which are chicken meat balls. They come in a variety of flavours at different prices. You order by skewer, and usually meat skewers will start at around $2 or so. The Norimayo Tsukune was my favourite as it had seaweed and mayonnaise on top. Some of us also tried the Teriyaki Tsukune. These are very flavourful, although we found it to be slightly on the salty side.

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Teba (Chicken Wing) and Sea Salt Momo (Chicken Thigh)

More chicken! The Teba or Chicken Wings were stretched out on the skewers and grilled. We were all surprised that these were quite flavourless. Seems like they missed the seasoning on these. The Sea Salt Momo were pretty good. The Momo is the chicken thigh. These were salted with the right amount.

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Uzura Maki (Quail Egg)

Another favourite was the Uzura Maki. These were quail eggs wrapped with bacon! They were then drizzled with mayonnaise and topped with seaweed. These were a favourite at the table!

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P-Toro (Pork)

Another must order is the P-Toro. This is a delicious cut of pork since it’s extremely tender and juicy. However, K was unlucky, and near the end of her pork skewer, she realized it was raw! She told the server and she took the skewer back. She came back with the same skewer that was half eaten but had gotten it grilled for longer. You would’ve thought they would give you a new skewer though… Seemed kind of unsanitary since they placed a half eaten skewer back on the grill…

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G Beef

The G Beef was extremely flavourful since it was marinated in teriyaki sauce and topped with garlic chips. The beef was very tender and cooked to medium.

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Duck Breast

The Duck Breast was marinated in yuzu citrus chili and had the right amount of fat to meat proportion. The meat was very tender.

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Ebi Mayo

We were surprised that the Ebi Mayo came on skewers as well, but these were jumbo and delicious. It came drenched in their house chili mayo sauce.

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Ikayaki (Grilled Squid)

One of my favourite grilled dishes is the Ikayaki, or Grilled Squid. The squid was slightly too charred at parts on the top, but nevertheless, it was tender and flavoured well with the teriyaki sauce. It came with a side of spicy mayo.

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Mentai Kimchi Yakiudon

We then ordered some rice and noodle dishes to fill up. The Mentai Kimchi Yakiudon features pan fried udon with spicy roe and kimchi. Very flavourful with that hint of sourness from the kimchi. It’s not very spicy though. Perfect for those who like kimchi.

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Negi P-Toro Don

The last rice dish was the Negi P-Toro Don. It featured the same P-toro pork, which we loved, along with a half boiled egg, green onion, onion sauce, and nori seaweed on top of steamed rice. You mix it all together, and it is very tasty and flavourful!

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Dorayaki Matcha Ice Cream

Onto some desserts to finish our meal off! The Dorayaki Matcha Ice Cream reminded me of Doraemon’s favourite snack. The Japanese pancake is fluffy and filled with matcha ice cream and red bean paste. They are quite big, so great for sharing!

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Kinako Mochi Ice Cream

An interesting dish was the Kinako Mochi Ice Cream. This had vanilla ice cream and sticky rice with soy powder sprinkled on top and drizzled with maple syrup. The sticky rice is quite flavourless, but along with the condiments, it makes a very tasty dessert.

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Hojicha Pudding

Lastly, we had their featured dessert, which switches up daily. This was the Hojicha Pudding, which is roasted green tea. The flavour isn’t very strong, but you can definitely taste the tea flavour. It was topped with whipped cream and red bean paste. The pudding itself was very smooth.

Overall, Zakkushi was pretty good. Definitely stick to their grilled items, but their desserts are also very good for the price. Great place to have drinks and snacks if you come later at night as they open til late. Ambiance is similar to izakaya style shops, so it is rather loud, but lots of fun.

Pros:
– Yakitori is excellent and large variety to choose
– Desserts are surprisingly very well executed

Cons:
– Can be very busy later at night
– Your bill can add up quickly

Price Range: $25-35

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

Food: 4 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: 2 Overall: 4

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Fukumame ふくまめ (Ueno) – Tokyo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zakkushi Charcoal Grill – Denman (Revisit 2)

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Zakkushi Set – Umeshiso Yaki, Momo,  Me Maki, P-toro & Oropon Beef

For M’s birthday, he wanted a cool, chill atmosphere with great snacks and lots of drinks. Off we went to one of his favourites – Zakkushi! There are two Zakkushis – one on Main St and one on Denman. We went to the one on Denman just because it’s usually more lively. They also used to have a third location, but it recently closed down. Since we made reservations, we were quickly seated. The restaurant is very small at this location, so we probably took up a quarter of the space. A lot of my friends shared a large variety of different skewers. Zakkushi is known for their yakitori and izakaya type of food. Yakitori are essentiall grilled chicken skewers. For myself, I chose the Zakkushi Set. Starting from the left was the Umeshiso Yaki, which was a chicken thigh with a sour plum sauce and Japanese basil. Next was the Momo, which was a chicken thigh with a nice barbecue sauce. In the middle, was the Me Maki, which were garlic stubs wrapped with pork. I actually didn’t even realize they were garlic stubs. They didn’t give me that garlic breath at all, and I thought it was just asparagus or some type of veggie. Next, was the P-Toro, which was a crunchy and juicy pork. It reminded me of porchetta. My friends and I agreed that it was more fat than meat though. Last but not least, on the very right was the Oropon Beef which came with grated daikon and Ponzu sauce. Oropon beef is essentially their ‘AAA’ beef, so it was very tender and the daikon and Ponzu sauce was very light and refreshing. Overall, a good deal for 5 skewers priced at $9.20.

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Matcha Mochi Ice Cream

Other than food, we also had tons of Sapporo and their plum wine. The plum wine was really good! For dessert, MC and I shared the Matcha Mochi Ice Cream. This was the perfect way to end the night! The mochi balls were still slightly frozen and filled with matcha ice cream. It came with some whip cream, red bean paste and topped with matcha powder on the top. After ordering, everyone at our table ended up getting it too. Unfortunately, some weren’t able to get their orders as they were eventually sold out. Definitely a best seller!

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Matcha Chiffon Parfait

We realized that another table was also celebrating a birthday, and the restaurant would turn off their lights and bring out a dessert for the birthday customer. They also sang the birthday song! We immediately sneaked over to the waitress and asked for a Matcha Chiffon Parfait for M as well. Again, they shut off the lights and sang the birthday song carrying the cake over. Pretty nice place to celebrate your birthday. The dessert came with a chunk of matcha chiffon cake, topped with whipped cream, mochi and red bean. Not bad.

Overall, we had a good night at Zakkushi on Denman. They gave us great service even though we were pretty loud and probably sat their for quite a while. The bill came to be quite expensive due to the drinks, but everyone enjoyed their night. It’s a great place to grab a small snack, but it is definitely expensive if you want to be fully filled up.

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