Posts Tagged ‘Tokyo’

Ramen Jiro, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Yes, there can be not great ramen in Japan. There’s a chain in Tokyo called Ramen Jiro, which apparently is a good way to start your ramen tour in Tokyo if you’re trying to find the best ramen. I’d like to point out we first heard about this on a NY Times article about ramen (thanks Asta!). This article highlights finding the best (or local favorite) places for ramen. There are apparently blogs and serious ramen scholars dedicated to finding that perfect noodle. This article took some of those finds.

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The ramen place is on the corner of a small alley, and is actually near some other fast food restaurants we like (Mos Burger, anyone?).

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Like most ramen places, you go to the machine, put in some money, and get a ticket. We randomly picked (again) and got our tickets. This place is famous for using lots of garlic, and we hoped we bought stuff with garlic. We then sat at the counter, which was tiny. They actually had a couple booths but they reserved those for large parties of business men. By the way, the guy who took our tickets was a complete jackass. Yes, you heard it from my mouth – JACKASS. He completely ignored us, and took at least five other people’s tickets first. I was so upset.

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The chef was much more mild, and sometimes smiled. Whereas the jackass didn’t.

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This was Kyung’s. I have no idea what it was, other than it was a large size. I think it was pretty much mine, except with more noodles, while mine was smaller but had more meat. weird.

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Here’s mine. The final consensus? The broth is thick and really savory, but after like three spoonfuls of it you’ve pretty much eaten your entire meal. The meat was tough and flavorless, the noodles thick and almost too heavy in your stomach, and everything was covered in inches of sprouts. And this is supposed to be good ramen?

I think if I were drunk, and wandering the streets of Shinjuku with no shoes, I’d eat here. But otherwise, not so much.

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Daiwa Sushi, Tsujiki Fish market, Tokyo

Can you imagine waking up at 5 am and stumbling into what just happens to be one of the two most famous sushi restaurants at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo? Yeah, I’d be speechless too.

The first time we were in Tokyo, we happened to stumble into the other famous one (purely by luck, we followed a well dressed couple that was walking purposefully within the fish market). This second time, our dumb luck led us to this one too. We had no idea where we were going, so we just sort of wandered til we found the alley that had the first sushi restaurant, and went into the one next door. No line! We went in, and the chef said omakase, so we just nodded and said ok.

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This is a very tiny restaurant. Small bar that probably housed 15 max, minimal walking room, minimal seating. You’re basically rubbing shoulders with the folks next to you. Which is, in fact, how we found out this restaurant was so famous; as luck would have it, we were sitting next to two girls from SoCal, who mentioned this was one of two famous restaurants, with the other one being the one next door that we had previously eaten at. Wow. How random is that!

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The food here wasn’t as stellar as the other famous one (have we gotten spoiled?). We had a lot of ‘filler’ pieces so to speak.

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The octopus was meh. Chewy, not flavorful, I don’t know why they considered this an appropriate starter. The toro was good. I don’t like eating rice with my sushi (I prefer sashimi) so I didn’t bother eating the rice. The six piece rolls are actually 3 different types of rolls (roe, and spicy tuna, and other things). I didn’t eat the one with roe, but I tried the others (decent). I didn’t eat the uni, I traded for Kyung’s tamago. hah! The tamago was good =) I’ve seen a lot of tamago shops around the fish market, must be a regional speciality.

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This is what I mean by filler pieces – ebi and unagi. They were delicious, don’t get me wrong, but not exactly high end.

Overall the place was solidly good, but the other place was a lot better I think. It probably also explains why the long was like 3 rows deep while we walked out of this one with only a handful of people in line.

Take the Oedo line (if you’re coming from Shinjuku) on the Tokyo Metro, and pop out at the Tsukiji exit *the name is slightly longer than Tsukiji, but if you ask anyone they can tell you. As soon as you pop out, go left, then turn left at the light into the warehouse area of the fish market. Walk until you see the small rows of shops, it’s about the third one from the warehouse area to the left.

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Donuts in Tokyo

I love donuts. It goes to figure we would look for donuts while in Tokyo. Before heading over, I was curious to see if there was any difference. In a nut shell, they are less sweet than their American counterparts, and have different presentation and flavors. Overall though, I think I prefer the super junky donuts of the US, but for variety I’d go to Japan.

First up is Doughnut Plant. This isn’t a Japanese chain, it actually started in New York, but it is prominently displayed in several subway stations, so I figured I’d give it a try.

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I tried the pumpkin cake doughnut, the apple cinnamon glazed donut, and the kinako glazed donut. The pumpkin and kinako ones were fails. No flavor, strange after tastes. The apple cinnamon one tasted the most like what I would expect a fatty donut back home to taste like – it was moist, cinnamony, and soft.

Next up is Mister Donut, which apparently wasn’t always an Asian company but became a predominantly one when an Asian company bought the franchise/chain. These donut shops are all over Tokyo. We went to the one in Akihabara.

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I ordered a chocolate dip crueller which was sliced in half and filled with light creme, and a strawberry cake donut. The strawberry cake donut was pretty flavorless as well, but the crueller was delicious – the chocolate was perfectly hardened and had the right crunch when biting into that and the soft donut filled with creme that wasn’t too sweet. A good afternoon treat!

Here’s a better shot of the entire counter:

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Okay, for something a little less donut looking but still a donut, we went to a bake shop called Kimuraya. This was in the Matsuya Ginza shopping mall on one of the bottom floors. We ordered a curry bun, and an azuki (red bean) bun.

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The curry bun was delicious, even when cold. Kyung and I each ordered one, and it came in a deep fried bun filled with fragrant and delicious curry with bits of meat.

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The azuki bun was even more delicious – chock full of red bean that was not overly sweet, in a deep fried soft bun covered in sugar. I love eating these azuki ‘donuts’ and I eat them at home all the time too!

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Mos Burger, Shinjuku

I’ve heard many good things about Mos Burger, so of course one of the things we had to look for in Tokyo was Mos Burger! Luckily, there’s one very close to the hotel we’re staying in.
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This is a chain like a McDonalds, but it’s very specific to Asia (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, etc). I wasn’t too keen on trying the regular burgers, but I was very keen to try the rice burgers, which is basically a special burger where cooked rice is shaped into hamburger buns (top and bottom) and filled inside with beef, or seafood, or vegetables. I ordered the yakiniku beef burger.
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So unique – thinly sliced hot pieces of beef that tasted a lot like Korean bbq, fresh leafy lettuce like the kind you wrap Korean BBQ in, and rice patty top and bottom that was perfectly shaped with a slighty brown crispy outside. Mmm. They should have this kind of stuff in kogi trucks back home.

Kyung ordered the pork cutlet burger, which comes with a regular bun, and a tonkatsu filling smothered in BBQ sauce. He wasn’t a big fan, and only ate half.
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Finally, we also ordered a side of fries with the ‘chili dipping sauce.’ We were expecting spicy chili, but it was almost similar in texture and taste to Wendy’s chili (which is not a bad thing).
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A different experience, I’m glad I came here. It definitely puts my McDonalds experience here to shame!

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Tokyo McDonalds

…and she’s back! Thanks to my acid reflux meds and my decrease in stress, I’m on a semi normal eating binge again. Except for the occasional waves of nausea.

So, this comeback post comes to you live from Shinjuku, Tokyo! Kyung and I are currently on day three of our Japan trip. It’s been amazing so far! Our first meal in Tokyo was – you guessed it – McDonalds! I have a thing about going to a MCD in each country to see what’s different, since I practically know the MCD menu at home by heart. We arrived at our hotel room tired and starved after a long flight, and the first thing we saw was MCD. Bingo!
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We ordered the ‘shaka shaka’ chicken, which is a fried, flattened piece of chicken that you can ‘shake’ with different powdered toppings – cheese, pepper, and garlic. I chose the pepper one – it’s great, actually, it comes with black and white pepper, and it covers the chicken so it tastes almost like Korean fried chicken, crispy and salty as hell – mmm.

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Next, we ordered some mystery sandwich, which later turned out to be a Croquette burger – it was not very tasty, the croquette was oozing and at first Kyung thought it was a squid paste burger. Gross.

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Finally, I ordered the famed ebi filet-o. Again, a fail in my opinion – just like a filet-o-fish, but with chunks of mini shrimp, which was covered and oozing in oil. Somehow filet-o-fish patties absorb the oil better, whereas the shrimp patty is very porous because there are whole shrimp smushed together into a patty. I couldn’t finish this one.

Crikey, I was expecting lots from the Tokyo MCD, but was not too pleased. Oh well, at least I can say I tried it!

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