Tokyo Food-Otaku: Of Ramen, Burgers And everything in between

In a place where good eats can be found pretty much anywhere, 4-days in Tokyo for a foodie is really nowhere near enough. Which is why we found ourselves narrowing down a small list of places we would like to visit once we set foot into this Metropolis. A word of advise? Google maps is your friend! With multiple possible meal locations saved, it was time to hit the ground running before our tummies start grumbling.

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First stop straight off the Narita Express was to hit Ramen Street in the basement of Tokyo Station. We reached the station just after 11am and managed to get in line at Rokurinsha just before they opened for lunch.

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For those who love Tsuke-men style Ramen (or Ramen in general), this is one of the best out there. Unlike the watery and soul-less dips you find in local joints, the broth at Rokurinsha is thick, creamy and chock full of flavour. If you manage to finish your noodles without finishing the original serving of soup, they will add in some extra soup into your broth for you to slurp up. Our soup that morning came with a hint of yuzu, which gave a nice subtle tang to balance everything off. So good. Much tasty. The best Ramen for me so far.

I’ve read of another Tsuke-men joint (Fu-unji) over in Shinjuku that is just as good if not better, but because its location is slightly out of the way for us, we gave it a miss.

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For dinner on our first night, we headed over to Blacows (which i highly recommended in a previous post).

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My significant other chose the Cheese Burger and i went for the Avacado Cheese before downing everything with a happy glass of Biru (I think it was an Yebisu draft).

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Unsurprisingly, the beer was great and the burgers were superb. Blacows has also made it to our list of places to revisit the next time we hit Tokyo.

Breakfast (and lunch) for the next two mornings were had at Tsukiji, which you can read about in a previous post.

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A number of cafes were also planned ahead of our visit and top of that list was a visit to the Bear Pond. An unassuming cafe in Shimokitazawa i last visited earlier this year. The shop might be simple, but Tanaka-san is a master of his craft.

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Tananka-san seemed to be in a pretty good mood when we arrived and i downed 2 orders of his signature Dirty before we said our goodbyes with a bag of Flower Child coffee beans in tow. Maybe i should have picked up a T-shirt. There really is no question about it, we will return. Shimokitazawa also has a lovely relaxed vibe, so walking around is rather pleasant. Free from the maddening crowds that characterise Shinjuku and Shibuya, it is worth a visit if only just to have that cuppa.

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In the evening, just before dinner, we managed to located Omotesando Coffee just before their closing time (7pm). Situated in an authentic old-world Machiya, Omotesando Coffee doesn’t really have much sitting space but since there were only 2 of us when we arrived, we go the best seats in the house in the garden space.

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After a long day of trekking up and down, we both had some iced drinks to cool off. The coffee here was slightly on the more acidic side and also good, we both still preferred the coffee from Bear Pond.

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We headed to a nearby Yakiniku joint, Seiko-en, for an all-you-can-eat dinner. Needless to say, i was too stuffed to take any more additional pictures once we begun. It was pretty good, but because our original plan was to visit a more upmarket establishment elsewhere, it was a little disappointing. Though our legs and feet thanked us for it afterwards.

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Over in Kagurazaka the next day, we popped into Ueshima Coffee to escape the afternoon sun. This is a chain cafe but they still serve rather tasty drinks for those not too particular about their brews. Ueshima also has some interesting seasonal drinks on the menu so i think that’s worth checking out.

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Up the street, we visited the very modern looking Akagi Shrine, designed by architect Kengo Kuma. It was also where we stopped for a break at Akagi Cafe.

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I’ve never actually ordered desserts in Japan before (maybe because i usually visit in Winter), but since it was a rather hot day, i figured it would be nice. Pretty.

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On our last night in Tokyo (told you it was a short trip), we were actually both pretty knackered from shopping and headed back to our AirBNB to drop off our spoils before heading out once again for grub. Unfortunately, we bummed around in the room a bit and as a result, most food places near our temporary home were closed or have already taken their last order. But since we were located near Ebisu, we figured that there MUST be SOMETHING out there for us to eat! So we did what other intrepid and hungry travellers do in situations like this, follow our noses!

Eventually, we ended up at Ebisu Monja, a erm… Monjayaki restaurant.

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Basically it’s kind of like Okonomiyaki (+Chai tao kuay) meets hot plate. The staff must have realised we were a couple of clueless tourist with our less than exemplary Japanese and our confused faces and kindly helped us with the cooking bit.

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After all the ingredients got mixed up professionally, you just sit back and let it sizzle and cook. We were still somewhat unsure of how to eat it but i was hungry so i just went for it. We tried looking around at other tables to see how they did it but there didn’t seem to be any “correct” way of eating. Some scooped up the batter while it was still in liquid form, others waiting for it to cook entirely. We kind of just toed the line in between liquid and baked. It was fun though.

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Ebisu Monja also does a mean Yaki Soba. Delish! Can’t say the same for the Biru here though. Definitely not an Yebisu.

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Like all good things, our short holiday had come to its last day and we were due to fly back home in the afternoon on day 4. So we took things slow, stayed in our lovely neighbourhood of Daikanyama and went over to Ivy’s Place in T-site for breakfast. The coffee here was provided by Nozy but once again, we both agreed the Bear does it best.

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Can’t go wrong with pancakes! Especially those from Ivy’s Place.

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Our initial plan for lunch was to revisit Blacows, but that would have made quite a bit of a mad rush to the airport later. So to avoid getting all frazzled, we decided to visit nearby SASA’s instead.

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No regrets though as the burgers were good, again i went for the Avacado Cheese. My girlfriend had the Mushroom Cheese. I’d rate them on-par with my experience at The Great Burger. Burgers and drinks downed, our short getaway in Tokyo has come to an end and it was time to hit the airport for our plane ride home. (Just in the nick of time too might i add!)

Of course, like every other holiday, not everything goes to plan and we missed out on a couple of places we wanted to visit but at the same time, we also managed to discover places so it was all good. There’s always next time too!

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