So yay our third day in Japan and it was time to visit the famed Tsukiji Fish Markets! But woe is me, the alternation between walking outside in mega coldness to overheating in the department stores led to me coming down with a cold. Luckily my taste buds were still intact at this stage so first up, brunch!
The train to image imagesmall from Shinjuku (Toei Subway Oedo Line) took about 30mins and somehow we managed to immediately enter the restaurant area near the wholesale fruit and vegetable market, just inside the main gate off Shin-ohashi Street. I refused to wait hours for the famous Sushi Dai and chose to join the shorter queue (still a 45mins wait!) at Sushi Ichiba instead.
Slide your way into the teensy tiny restaurant and let the chef know what you want or in our case we pointed at the picture menu and said onegaishimasu. I was craving rice for some reason so we ordered the Set X donburi (3000 yen/$31.30) which is a bowl of sushi rice topped with assorted sashimi (tuna, fatty tuna, kingfish, squid, hamachi, prawn, eel, aji (horse mackerel) arc shell (red clam) and salmon) and also came with fluffy tamago (egg omelette) and a little tub on the side filled with ikura (salmon roe) and uni (sea urchin).
While we were eating the donburi, Set A (3800yen/$39.70) aka the 15 piece Omakase, was assembled on the banana leaf in front of us, one sushi at a time (yes this pic only shows 10pieces but he put the other 5 in front of Noods and I totally forgot about taking a pic). The proportion of fish to rice on each sushi was pretty awesome with only a teensy pat of rice to mega slice of fish. Each piece is perfect and I hear angels singing in the distance. The marbling on the fatty tuna is ridiculous so you know it’s going to be silky soft and fatty ermahgerd <3
Aaand because we are greedy guts we also ordered Set D (3750yen/$39.15) because hey, when would we next get the chance to eat such amazingly fresh sushi? The tuna in Japan kicks any tuna I’ve ever tried in my life to the kerb, the taste is just fricken unbelievable! We’re also given complimentary miso soup and green tea which helped bring feeling back into my frozen limbs. Unwilling to leave the warm comfort of the restaurant we slowly (and carefully!) make our way out to see the rest of the markets.
It was a pretty crummy day, freezing cold and drizzling rain and with me being sick and grumpy I took a pathetically small amount of photos which I totally regret now. Bah. We wandered the market gawking at all the fresh produce and street food for sale.
I wanted to buy this entire shop filled top to bottom with the prettiest cups, bowls and plates!
I’ve never seen fresh wasabi root before!
Aaaand soft creams (soft serve ice creams) galore! I tried the Hokkaido milk, cheesecake, biscuit and my fave, TOFU! It tasted like tofu-fa! Sweet, smooth and creamy.
We went back to the hotel for a nap since it was still early morning, then armed with multiple layers of clothing we walked back to Isetan to Miyagawa Honten Unagi Restaurant on the 7th floor. I chose the bento box (2855yen/$29.80) because it’s like ooh, variety! And ooh, food segregated in compartments! The eel is rich and buttery soft and I immediately regret not ordering a larger portion of eel. There was also teriyaki chicken, sashimi, tofu, salad, pickled veg, eel dashi soup and rice. But nothing as amazing as that eel!
Noods had ordered Unagi Don (2775yen/$29) and I was immediately jealous of the massive portion of eel and stole not so sneaky bites to supplement my bento.
Peered into the kitchen to watch the unagi being cooked over smoking hot coals.
IT’S A GIANT GUNDAM! We trained over to Yurikamome (Daiba) Station to DiverCity Tokyo Plaza (〒135-0064 Tokyo, Koto, Aomi, 1−1−10) to see the 18m high Gundam statue. It’s pretty epic! We didn’t stay for the show which I think is only at night.
I’d seen the Hello Kitty store at Harajuku but hadn’t wanted to queue but luckily there was one at DiverCity! Of course where there’s soft serve that’s where I’ll be so one matcha and vanilla soft cream with a Hello Kitty Kongariyaki pastry (280yen/$2.90) for me!
Noods was only a little bit hungry so ordered a kids size tonkotsu ramen which was pretty decent with a rich soup and springy noodles.
A bit of shopping and a quick gawk at the 7-11 stocking so many delicious and perfect looking foods. Like seriously! The foods at 7-11 in aus ain’t that spectacular you know? Squishy, mishappen lumps! But here? Everythiiiiing is aweeesooooomeee! Yes I must be the last person on earth to watch the lego movie.
Sushi! Onigiri! Musubi!
Sandwiches filled with random fillings! Custard cream buns!
The drinks in Japan are ridiculously cheap and lol Noods fangirled at all the cheap whiskeys.
Whereas I couldn’t tear myself away from the ice cream section. Look at those perfect swirls!
The texture of the ice cream did have a bit of a gummy texture to hold its shape I’m guessing but squee look at that packaging so my hands don’t get messy from any drips!
Headed back into the city after several more hours of shopping and somehow stumbled onto this brightly coloured ramen restaurant. It was only when we walked down the steps that we realised we had somehow found Ichiran, a famous tonkotsu ramen restaurant chain.
So make your selection and pay at the machine, sit down at your individual booth, circle your preferences (ramen hardness, amount of shallots etc), push a button and a waitress appears and your ticket is taken away. I included the toilet paper shot from their bathroom cos lol, can you ever have enough toilet paper?
Aaaand eating like a nigel! Haha well you can fold the dividers away so you’re not isolated from your friends. Love that each booth has it’s own tap to provide filtered water and that they drop the bamboo curtain down for privacy!
The egg was just a tad overcooked but other than that it was a pretty tasty bowl of ramen! I’d selected firm noodles which was perfect because I like a bit of a bite and the slices of pork had an awesome melty fat to tender meat ratio. The broth had a good balance of richness and thickness that satisfied but didn’t overwhelm and push me into oh god my heart is gonna kill me territory. So yeah based upon my meagre ramen eats I’d totally rate Ichiran as my fave! (Yes, yes, Muteppou holds a special place in my cholesterol laden heart).
Ok I really need to talk about vending machines. They are EVERYWHERE. It’s so freaking convenient how many there are. On the streets there will be groups of them sitting all in a row, selling different brands but similar types of drinks from soft drinks to water and all the randoms in between. Caffeinated beverages come in all colours, shapes and sizes, with coffee by far being the most popular.
At only $1 each, Noods wanted to try all the weird looking ones that I couldn’t decipher which resulted in some hit and misses. I was on the hunt for corn potage aka corn soup which miraculously is kept hot in the vending machine. It’s pretty amazing and even had corn kernels on the bottom! Onion soup was another warm can that tasted eerily like french onion soup. I liked it but kept burping onion later… the green tea was refreshing but the banana drink blew our mind even though we normally hate banana flavoured things cos it tasted exactly like a banana paddlepop ice cream! The vending machine in our hotel even had alcohol beverages!
And then there was this machine in our hotel that sold meals… Considering a lot of places are open till the wee hours of the night I’m not sure who would buy the meals in this machine. Except us because, curious. Heats up in 7mins the box proclaimed! Just pull the string! Well with instructions like that, how could we resist? Out of the 5 choices in the machine there were 4 different curry meals and 1 weird looking vegetable soup. So Noods of course picks the soup. The picture of the soup didn’t look too promising but hey maybe appearances are deceiving?
We pulled the string and immediately the sound of bubbling began and we cautiously backed away a couple of metres in case it exploded. Several mins later the bubbling ceased and we carefully tore open the packaging to be greeted with this. There was a giant tentacle submerged in there that freaked me the hell out, a fat slice of lotus root, some miscellaneous vegetables, seafood and tofu skin all bathing in a herbal tasting soup. Oh and an egg which looked a little too perfect that I had to question the amount of preservatives used…
The capsule toy machines were sneaky little buggers, we’d save all our change at the end of the day and pick random machines to get toys and ended up spending quite a bit in the search for the perfect keychain! Side note, I love how recycling is super important in Japan! Next to each vending machine there were specific bins for cans, bottles and even bottle lids! One more post for Japan and it’s gonna be a doozy about cat cafes, giant bowls of udon, yakiniku and mos burgers so stay tuned 😀