Posts for Tag: japan

First bite in Tokyo - Ramen @ Ippudo Roppongi

After an 11+ hour flight and a 1+ hour train ride from Narita, we were exhausted when we got to our hotel in Roppongi. We didn't want to think too much about what to eat so headed to nearby Ippudo Roppongi for a quick bowl of ramen before crashing. Our first bowl of ramen in Japan nearly three years ago was at Ippudo Ginza. Since then, Ippudo has setup shop in Berkeley and San Francisco so we are well acquainted with what they have to offer. 

I will say that there is a vast difference in the quality of Ippudo here versus the US. One major point is that the shops in Berkeley and San Francisco no longer offer soft boiled eggs (only hard boiled eggs or poached eggs). When I asked one of the waitresses in San Francisco, she told me it was due to the amount of time it took to get perfectly peeled soft boiled eggs for every bowl. Doesn't seem to be an issue for the shops in Japan! The other thing I noticed is that it's less expensive for a bowl of ramen in Japan versus the US. I got the Akamaru Special meal set which came with a good helping of gyozas for 1,500 Yen (about $13.50 USD). In the US, the Akamaru Special by itself is about $19 USD!

Delicious ramen with zero problems and for an affordable price. A great start to our trip.

Japan trip 2019 begins with a very good airline meal

We're off again to Japan for President's Week. Snagged a great deal on ANA leaving from Los Angeles and was eager to see how the flight would compare to our JAL flight last year. Both offer great service but I'll give the slight nod to ANA because of the better quality food. We had a great miso grilled mackerel to go along with perfectly cooked rice. Noodles in dashi broth was also a nice touch and quite tasty. More to come once we land!

Farewell to Japan

A new tradition is emerging for me on the last night before we leave Japan. We usually try to get our gift buying done the last days we are on a trip so we don’t have to lug them around. There were a few sweets that we wanted to get and the only place open late (besides convenience stores) was Donki (Don Quijote). For those who have never been, Donki is somewhere in between a dollar store and Target - taking the best of both worlds. Last year, I bought an extra piece of luggage to carry back my whiskey and this time I got some mochi and Kit Kats. If you ever find yourself needing some random item, check out Donki. There's usually one in every major city.

Our hotel was about a kilometer away from the store and it afforded me the opportunity to see Ginza at night. It was a beautiful, crisp, Friday night and many office workers were stumbling out of restaurants and bars, slightly tipsy. The streets were lit with the neon of Ginza and a lone saxophone player was performing. We’ll leave Japan with many happy memories, eager for the next trip back.

Ramen Street @ Tokyo Station

As our trip was coming to an end, we spent the last day doing a bunch of shopping in and around Tokyo Station. The station itself is massive with shops and restaurants inside. You could spend a full day here and still not see everything. Once we completed our gift buying, it was time to eat and of course, we couldn't leave Japan without having some ramen. Luckily, there is Ramen Street inside Tokyo Station where 8 ramen shops are located. A sign at the entrance to Ramen Street shows you where each shop is and what style of ramen they serve. We wanted to get some good tonkotsu style ramen so decided on Oreshiki Jun.

These shops are designed for fast service so you order outside at a vending machine, then hand your ticket over to the host who finds you a seat when one becomes available. Your food is then brought over and you're expected to eat very quickly and make room for the next person. Quite honestly, the whole process was fairly confusing and unless you can read Japanese it's hard to tell which ramen shop you're ordering from. Unfortunately for us, we ended up going into the wrong line and ordering from another ramen shop that wasn't quite up to par. We quickly ate but left feeling pretty unsatisfied.

Undeterred, I eventually was able to find Oreshiki Jun and we were not disappointed. Great broth, amazing soft boiled eggs (Japan really does this well), melt in your mouth char siu, and noodles that were perfectly made/cooked. All was forgotten after I finished that bowl!

Tsukiji Fish Market and Nigiri Sushi @ Shou

The iconic Tsukiji Fish Market, in its current from, will be closing. Though they keep pushing the date back, we wanted to make sure we got to see it one more time, just in case it changes the next time we return. We didn't tour the inner market this time but instead spent our time in the outer market checking out food stalls and buying some kitchen implements. A must visit is Onigiri-ya Murotoyo. Get the one with a perfectly soft-boiled egg inside which was a favorite of the wife's.

My daughter also wanted some nigiri sushi so we decided to go to a different restaurant than the one we visited the first time. There are two very popular sushi bars in the outer market, Daiwa Zushi and Sushi Dai. I’m sure both are good but given the long waits and hurried nature of dining, we opted to go with an equally well reviewed sushi bar next door, Shou. We still had to wait about 15 minutes but better than an hour or more at the other two. We ended up ordering omakase (12 course for wife and I, 8 course for my daughter). Below are the photos of mine (the difference is the wife received mantis prawn instead of squid). The line up was:

Snapper, Maguro, Hamachi, Spanish Mackerel, Otoro, Aji, Octopus, Scallop, Uni, Baby Scallop, Squid, Anago, Tamago, and lastly a Vegetable Roll

Each piece was expertly made and the quality of the fish was top notch. It's no surprise given their proximity to probably the best fish market in the world. The chef was extremely friendly and gave us background on every piece of fish. It was a great experience in a very casual setting. I'd put their nigiri up against any of the high end omakase restaurants back in San Francisco.