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Japan Travel

Musashi Sushi – Kyoto

Musashi Sushi is a no frills sushi train located in the gigantic Kyoto Station complex. Every plate costs a measly ¥140! (¥130 + tax) but not let the cheap price put you off because you’ll find some decent sushi. Once you enter, ask for the English menu and start your eating spree!

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Japan Travel

Menya Shirakawa 麺屋しらかわ – Takayama, Japan

One of the best things about travelling is serendipitously finding an undiscovered local restaurant. While, T and I were wandering around the alleys of Takayama in the Gifu prefecture we stumbled across an unassuming chuka soba shop. After an hour of Googling, I finally found out the shop’s name – Menya Shirakawa (麺屋しらかわ).

Slide the wooden door and you’ll be greeted with a narrow walls adorned with signatures from what I presume are Japanese celebrities. As this place is aimed at locals, there are no english menus and the owner/staff have limited English. But don’t fret because there’s only one item on the menu. Yeap, just one. 
At Menya Shirakawa, that one item is their trademark Chuka Soba. The only variation you can pick is the size, a regular costs ¥700 while the large is ¥900. The only additional topping on offer is a soft boiled egg (味付け玉子) which comes at a bargain price of ¥100.

T and I were giving seats at the counter and were able to witness the owner at work as he furiously drained the noodles while the other chef grilled thin slices of pork over hot coals.

The final product is a work of culinary art. The noodles are chewy and thin, the soup is rich and the flame licked pork slices melt in your mouth. If you ever visit Takayama, do yourself a favour and find this secret local joint and order a large bowl of chuka soba.
Good: Flame grilled pork slices, chewy noodles, hearty stock  
Bad: None
Perfect for: Lunch, dinner, supper
Price: ¥

This post was based on an independently paid visit. 

TripAdvisor page (English)
Menya Shirakawa (Japanese)

Japan Travel

Kobayashi Soba – Matsumoto

Best soba in the world?

Kobayashi Soba has been around for over 100 years and is currently ranked as the number one restaurant in Matsumoto on TripAdvisor. Its soba is so famous that even the imperial family have tried it. You could say Kobayashi Soba sells the best soba in Japan.

T & I were the first customers as we arrived a tad too early. Before we ordered, the owner brought some complimentary buckwheat tea to our table. The tea had a delicate flavour with a sweet aroma.

Once you’ve ordered, you’ll be given a small plate with fresh wasabi, spring onion, radish and a grater. Grate the fresh wasabi and add it to your dipping sauce.

The real star of my meal was the wasabi. Most of the wasabi we eat in Australia is actually a mix of horseradish and green food colouring, which is why it tastes so strong and often ends with people in tears if they are not careful.

REAL wasabi is sweet and fragrant. Did I mention Matsumoto has the world’s largest wasabi farm? That’s right I was about to have the best soba and the best wasabi in the world.

My tempura soba set was priced at ¥1,728 and it was worth every cent! The noodles, which are traditionally made by the owner, have an incredible texture to them. The crispy tempura provides a nice contrast to the soba.

To finish the meal, the owner will bring a red pot to your table. The pot is filled with soba-yu, which is the hot water that the soba was cooked in. Add the soba-yu to the remaining dipping sauce and you have a flavourful soup to wash down your meal!

For more information about Kobayashi Soba head to the TripAdvisor listing.

Japan Travel

Genki Sushi – Tokyo

If you’ve been following my Japan trip blog posts, you would know that I had an incredible sushi experience at Tsukiji Fish Markets on my first day. For my last dinner in Tokyo, I decided to go in the opposite direction. We’re talking about cheap, fast sushi trains.

There’s several different sushi train franchises but I chose Genki Sushi because of their unique train system.

There are 3 separate train tracks at Genki Sushi, which means your sushi arrives right in front of you. The system uses a touch screen, once you’ve ordered the sushi is placed on a train which hurtles towards your seat and stops right in front of it. You then take your plate and hit a button (with an angry face) to send the train back to the kitchen!
The cheapest yellow plate starts at ¥129, with more expensive dishes priced at ¥205 and ¥259. 
After I filled my free green tea and had a quick swipe through the menu, it was game time. 
My first order of the night was tuna. I didn’t expect good quality to be honest. For the low price point of ¥129, it was actually decent! 

The squid nigiri was fresh and the shio leaf was a nice touch.

Mentaiko sushi was overflowing with mentaiko! If you’ve never heard of mentaiko, it’s spicy cod roe. You’ll find it a number Japanese food such as rice balls and pasta.

The Bonito Sushi was interesting as it was the first time I had tried bonito. It’s an oily fish that is similar to tuna.

I ended up eating 12 plates which meant by total bill was only ¥1548! What a bargain, when most sushi train restaurants in Australia charge around $3.
If you plan on visiting a cheap, no frills sushi train restaurant in Tokyo, I’d recommend Genki Sushi. 
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