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Japan Day 2 – Tokyo

Day 2 started with a can of hot coffee and a salmon onigiri from Family Mart! After our quick breakfast, T and I headed to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Why you might be wondering? Because it has some spectacular views that are free to visitors! The 243 meter tall building has 2 observatories that offer a panoramic view of Tokyo.

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Japan Travel

Rokurinsha – Tokyo


Out of all the restaurants I visited in Japan, Rokurinsha had the longest line. Why? Because it was the most famous tsukemen store. Tsukemen is a type of ramen that serves the noodles separately from the broth. The ramen is dipped into the soup and then eaten. 

The hour long wait was making me starving, so I decided to order the the large serving for ¥100 more. Rokurinsha uses the typical ticket vending machine, so pop in your Yen and click the button with the ramen you want. 


Large Tsukemen ¥1,050



From my counter seat, I can see the chef masterfully heating the stock and draining the ramen noodles. While I watched the waitress deliver the ramen to other customers, I realised just how big the normal size serving was. When my large was placed in front of me, I was in shock.  



The soup was served in an average sized bowl but the noodles was contained in a massive white bowl the size of my head. I knew finishing this ramen would be a challenge. 


The soup was full of umami, perfect for dipping the chewy and fresh ramen noodles into.



About devouring half of the noodles, I hit the food wall. For those of you unfamiliar with the food wall, you should watch an episode of Man vs Food. 


After a quick breather, I ploughed through the remaining noodles by using a continuous dipping and sipping routine. 

Will I Return?
Yes. I’m now a convert to tsukemen, there’s such a satisfying feeling from dipping and sipping noodles!

QOTD
What is your favourite type of ramen? Let me know in the comments below!
Japan Travel

Marion Crepes – Tokyo

Although crepes originated in France, it’s a popular dessert in Japan, especially in Harajuku. In fact there’s 2 famous crepe stores that face each other in the middle of busy Takeshita Street. One is Angels Heart and the other is Marion Crepes, T & I lined up at the later.

Marion Crepes has a big shelf filled with plastic models of the most popular crepes, perfect for tourists with like myself! During our wait in the line, my eyes darted around the display until I decided to stick to the OG No.1 Crepe. What’s in the No.1 Crepe? Custard, whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. That’s right basically cream in 3 different forms! 
Ordering is very simple and easy: say the number of your crepe, pay, take your receipt and wait for your order to be called.
No. 1 Crepe ¥470

The first thing I noticed when I received my crepe was the size. This thing is massive! Luckily you are provided with a spoon to help you tackle the toppings that are balanced precariously. The actual crepe is cooked just right. Toppings somehow work harmoniously and is surprisingly not too sweet.

Will I Return?

Yes! If I visit Harajuku again, I’ll wait in line and get myself a crepe.
QOTD 
Have you tried Japanese crepes? Let me know in the comments below!
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Funabashiya Honten – Tokyo

Funabashiya Honten is a famous tempura restaurant in Tokyo that has been around for over 100 years. That’s right 100 years. T had come across the restaurant while researching for things to eat. Getting to Funabashiya Honten is not easy but luckily we had directions from a food blog called Picrumb! As with any popular restaurant a line of customers had formed before the restaurant was even open. 

After a 15 minute wait, we were seated at the counter with a clear view of the tempura master who was preparing to cook our meal. T and I opted for a set menu (¥1,875) that came with rice, miso, two kinds of fish, sweet potato, capsicum, eggplant, a prawn and a ball of shrimps. There’s also complimentary unlimited green tea.

The chefs masterfully prepare each item individually with great care – serving each item one at a time. 

Each item in the set menu is coated in golden, crisp batter. The skilful cooking of the chefs has allowed the inside to remain soft. There’s not a single trace of oiliness.

One of the more unique items is this ball of shrimps and vegetables coated in batter. 

We finish our meals, full and satisfied. The service is impeccable, the food carefully executed and the price reasonable. 
Will I Return?
No. Once is enough for me.
QOTD: What’s your favourite type of tempura? Let me know in the comments below!
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Ichiran Ramen – Tokyo

Ichiran Ramen is a chain of restaurants famous for its tonkatsu ramen and secret red sauce. For me, it’s one of the best ramen I’ve had. There are several branches in Japan as well as in one in Hong Kong.

Once it’s your turn to enter the restaurant, you’ll be greeted by the sight of a ticket machine. Put your Yen into the machine and select which ramen you want. The machine will spit out your tickets, which you will exchange later at your seats.



At Ichiran Ramen, you won’t find your typical restaurant seats. Instead, everyone has their own little partitioned cubicle. There’s even a chart that shows you which seats are being occupied and which are available.



While you’re waiting, make sure you fill out the preference form for your ramen. You can customise the strength of the soup, amount of ingredients you want and the texture of your noodles.



Now that you’ve sat down at your allocated seat. Press the red button in front of you and place your tickets on top of it. A waiter will take your tickets from the other side and pull down the blinds. There’s a tap for free water if you’re thirsty.


Ichiran Tonkatsu Ramen ¥790 & Boiled Egg ¥100

After a short wait, the blinds will rise, the waiter or waitress bows and your ramen is placed on your table.


The tonkatsu broth is rich but not heavy. The red sauce adds a slight kick to the dish. The home made ramen noodles were shiko, shiko and tsuru, tsuru! Which roughly translated into English mean chewy and smooth. The slices of pork were tender and cooked just right.


Chow Tips: Make sure you slurp your ramen! In other societies, slurping your food is frowned upon. But in Japan, it’s not only polite. It’s the proper way to enjoy ramen.



Finding the Shibuya branch of Ichiran isn’t hard but still will require some navigation. From the station, head to the Zara store and continuing walking past OIOIJAM department store. And then you will see the bright red light – a shining beacon calling out to you. Go down the stairs and you have arrived at ramen heaven. Before you know it, you’ll be slurping some of the best ramen you will eat.  


Will I Return?
Yes. No brainer. I hope they open Ichiran Ramen in Sydney someday. 

QOTD: What’s your favourite ramen restaurant? Let me know in the comments below!

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Sushi Zanmai – Tokyo

My first meal in Japan was one of my best. After hours of research in Australia, I finally settled on Sushi Zanmai in the Tsukiji Fish Market as the place to try Otoro. Although there are more famous restaurants like Daiwa and Sushi Dai, the ridiculous waiting times of 2+ hours were too long for me.  
Sushi Zanmai still had a line but the wait was around 20 minutes. They carry an extensive menu of all kinds of Sushi and Sashimi for a very reasonable price. 

If you can opt for a seat at the counter, which T and I did. From the counter, you’re able to watch the sushi chef work his magic, his quick hands forming little works of edible art.

After a quick look over the menu I settled on the Tuna Special (¥1,180), which had 5 pieces of sushi with varying types of tuna, and a Kaisen Don (¥1,480), which is rice topped with a variety of fresh fish and seafood. Like in most Japanese restaurants, there’s free delicious green tea!

After a brief wait, the sushi presented to me an incredible plate of sushi. Starting from the left we have the Tuna Gunkan-maki, which is chopped tuna wrapped around by seaweed. Next we have a seared akami sushi followed by the chūtoro and finally the luxurious ōtoro. I started with the ōtoro because I couldn’t wait to try this renowned cut of tuna. Now, I’ve eaten a lot of different types of food but nothing, absolutely nothing compares to ōtoro. It was MIND BLOWING. When people say the fat melts, it seriously melts like butter. You will never forget the first time you have ōtoro because all other sushi you have from then on pales in comparison. My tongue was dancing from the incredible texture and flavour. After my food-gasm, I moved on to the chūtoro, which was less fatty but still incredibly rich. The next three pieces were all fresh and delicious. 

While I was busy having an out of the world tuna experience, the sushi chef was diligently making my Kaisen Don. A huge bowl of sushi rice was topped with a dozen different ingredients including tuna, salmon, prawns, eel, kingfish, egg, squid, salmon roe topped by some chopped okra. Every piece of seafood was exceptionally fresh, which meant the dish required no seasoning at all. The Kaisen Don also comes with a huge bowl of miso soup!

Have you had ōtoro before?
Let me know in the comments below!

Will I Return?
YES! Without a doubt.

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Japan Travel

Drinks of Japan

Japan’s ubiquitous vending machines have been known to carry a wide variety of hot and cold drinks. On my recent 2 week trip to the land of the rising sun, I was lucky enough to try a few! 
Asahi Green Tea
Coca-Cola orange tastes like normal Coke with the faintest flavour of orange.

Boss coffee is Suntory’s very popular brand of coffee. The company is known for its unique slogan “Suntory Boss is the boss of them all since 1992” and TV endorsements from a Japanese speaking Tommy Lee Jones.
Ramune is a lemon-lime flavoured fizzy drink. It’s original form is that of a glass bottle with a little marble in the neck of the drink. I picked this can from Daiso for a bargain price of 100 Yen!

Real Gold is a carbonated Japanese energy drink. Having seen this red, yellow and gold can in many vending machines, I decided to give it a go. It tasted like a very sweet version of Red Bull.

There’s nothing like a bottle of warm milk tea to keep warm during the cold!

While hot coffee in a can is incredibly convenient, there’s a huge drawback. The cans are burning hot! So be careful when you are opening and handling them. 

Calpis can be found in most Asian restaurants and supermarkets in Australia. The only difference is the price, most vending machines in Japan will have it for around 130 Yen, while back in Australia you will probably have to fork out $3.

Cherry Fanta is definitely not my kind of drink. Super sweet and syrupy.

Quite often Japanese drink companies will give away little gifts with their drinks. This brand of tea was giving away cute little rubber Rilakkuma cap topper!

Another wonderful way to warm oneself during winter: hot lemon!

Apparently this bottle of C.C Lemon has 50 lemons worth of Vitamin C, I’m not sure how true that is but it definitely tasted very, very lemony.

Last but not least we have milk! Specifically, Hida milk in a glass bottle from a vending machine at a hot spring resort. The milk was very creamy and rich, the perfect drink after a night of soaking in the onsen.

So have you tried any drinks from the vending machines in Japan? What’s your favourite drink?