Friday, January 19, 2018

Romy Roams Tokyo: Where to Eat

Happy 2018, dear readers! I know it's been a while since I last wrote a post, but I've been busy with the life of being a wife and finishing projects on the side too, so the blog took a back seat. 

Hopefully with the new year comes a new drive to write more regularly. Please don't get tired of dropping by!

So, let's get on with my first post for the year. :)

Now that you've read where to go in Tokyo, it's time to let you in on all the good food we ate! 

Japanese food is something I grew up eating. My brother and I inhale a plate of sashimi within seconds. 

My family and I frequented Kimpura, Sugi, and Saisaki when they were the only choices in Manila. When we grew older, we tried other restaurants to get our sashimi fix and other Japanese food staples. 

So to say I was excited to finally try Japanese food in Japan is a major understatement. 

Here's my Tokyo Eat List! Hope you enjoy these restos and dishes as much as I did. 

1. Ichiran Ramen 

Ramen is the one of the latest Japanese food crazes that hit our country in recent years, and it's a craze that's here to stay. Ichiran is a franchise that has yet to reach our shores, and it was really on my list of restaurants to try. 

This chain of ramen joints is unique as it has cubicles instead of tables for its patrons. Groups of people won't be guaranteed to sit together, and the ramen experience is enjoyed on your own. 

A plus for introverts, this place is not where you take a leisurely meal. But! With how good the ramen is, you really won't have time to talk anyway! 

Ichiran has a creamy, milky broth, and noodles that melt in your mouth. I have been trying to replicate their noodles with my orders in ramen places here, but to no avail. 

What you do is you fill out a form for your order, and when you still want extra noodles (called kaedama), you can press the buzzer and they will refill it for you for an extra charge. You can't order more soup though.

We loved Ichiran so much we ate there one more time during our trip. We also tried another ramen joint, Tonchin, where you order through a machine that dispenses a ticket that corresponds to your choice. It was good, but Ichiran is better. 

2. Sushi Zanmai

To eat sushi in Japan is any Japanese food lover's dream. I waited days into our trip before this dream came true, and I'm thankful Jay came with me on a breakfast sushi run! 

The rest of our companions weren't too keen on eating sushi so our trip to the Tsukiji Market was taken out of our itinerary. It was a good thing there was a Sushi Zanmai outlet near our apartment that was open for 24 hours! So off we go in freezing weather to eat raw fish.

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The experience will always be imprinted in my memory. The taste of fresh toro that melts in your mouth (there really is no other way to describe it) sent my eyes rolling in happiness

We ordered two plates, one nigiri+maki and one sashimi. Nigiri are the ones composed of Japanese sushi rice with a topping. Sashimi pertains to fish with no rice (my personal favorite). 

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We had the Kashimori (no. 66 on the menu), a special assortment of raw fish good for two persons. That's the platter in the photo above. It costs Y2,980. That's Php1365.89 in today's exchange rate. 

We also ordered the Uruoi Sushimori Special (no. 59 on the menu), a platter with 13 pieces of assorted nigiri and maki. 

I wish we could've eaten sushi more than once during this trip, but it's a good reason to come back to Japan!

3. The Gindaco Takoyaki

This isn't a meal but more of a filling snack. We chanced upon the Gindaco stall while strolling in Harajuku. A quick Google search told me it's one of the recommended shops for takoyaki so we grabbed the chance to sample their fare. 

My only previous takoyaki experience was from food stalls in the Philippines, and they always involved way too many flour and very little octopus (I don't even think it's real octopus but most probably just squid haha). 

So it was a revelation to find out what authentic takoyaki tastes like. The soft coating is thin but filling (also piping hot), the octopus stuffing generous, and the sauce tasty. 

Check out the geotag on my Instagram post (and follow me while you're at it! hehe) to see the exact location of the Gindaco stand in Harajuku.

We chose two variants. The first one is the Original with Gindaco sauce, green seaweed and bonito flakes for toppings. It's umami-filled and perfect for my salty-loving tastebuds! 

The other one we ordered is the Teritama, which is pictured above. It has teriyaki sauce and Japanese mayo, egg salad, dried green seaweed and bonito flakes, plus sprinkled with Japanese 7 spices. Equally good, but this one has a sweet touch because of the teriyaki sauce. 

I wish our takoyaki stalls here step up their game!

4. Ikinari Steak

We ate steak for our first meal in Japan. Ikinari Steak was recommended by a photographer friend, and I'm glad we decided to try it out. The concept is simple, choose your cut, choose the cook, and wait for your order!

They have small outlets and most of the customers eat their steak standing up, but when we came in the server showed us to an area with stools. There are also a couple of booths for groups dining together.

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Jay, Efra, and I were all satisfied with our orders. It made me wish I chose to have my steak medium rare, though. I always go for medium well whenever ordering steak, but when I tasted Jay's order it changed my mind. Next time!

The owners of Ikinari Steak in Japan also operates Pepper Lunch. The latter is already in the Philippines (the franchisees are blogger Chuvaness and her family), but I wish they bring this concept here too. There's a shortage of places that offer great steaks at mid-prices.

5. Luke's Lobster

This last place was an item I didn't get to cross off my list, but I'm still posting it because you might be able to drop by. Tell me if it really is worth it!

Well to be honest, you don't have to convince me. I mean, look at how gorgeous their lobster rolls are (photo not mine).

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Luke's Lobster has two locations in Tokyo, one in Shibuya and one in Harajuku.

Okay now that I know how close it was to the Gindaco stall, I'm disappointed we didn't go! I really need to plan out our food trips better. But like I said, it's an added reason to come back, so all good.

So there you have it, my Tokyo Eat List. There are A LOT of good food places in Tokyo and I'm sure I'll have more for you when we come back in the future, but a good rule of thumb is go where the locals eat. If you see a spot with a long line of locals, there's a great chance you won't be disappointed.

Have you been to these food spots? How was your experience? Let me know in the comments!

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