Tokyo Food-Otaku: Of old acquaintances and new found friends

Have i ever told you how much i love going to Tokyo? I LOVE GOING TOKYO! Besides the obvious reasons (cars, cars, cars…), another aspect of travelling to Tokyo is the absolutely crazy amount of food available.

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When even just hitting up a local Matsuya for a quick bowl of Gyudon (i go for one with copious amounts of Negi) can be thoroughly enjoyable, Tokyo can be a true gastro-something-something’s delight. Which is why i implore you to please take whatever non-Japanese “foodie’s” blog recommendation with a big pinch of salt. Or shoyu if you prefer. If i ever hear someone mention Ichiran having the “best ramen ever”, imma gonna go all stabby stabby. Seriously, ichiran?

All jokes aside, there are just so many great places to dine in this city that most foreign writers (me included) would really only have just scratched the surface on dining options. So, my friend, don’t take our word as Gospel, get out there, be brave, and explore. If all else fails, if there’s a line of locals out front, you’re in luch! Bonus points if the menu does not come in English! That’s half the fun no? There’s also Tabelog if you’re into researching beforehand, with most reviews written by Japanese, we think it shows up more interesting food options than tripadvisor or google.

This brings me to my most recent trip just a couple of weeks back, we hit quite a number of new eateries and revisited some delightful familiar haunts and overall even though there were a few misses here and there (not my choices!), we had some pretty enjoyable meals during our week in Japan.

While our trip this time took us over to Kanazawa, i figured i’ll do up a separate post for that leg. For now, here are some of the more memorable meals we had whilst in Tokyo. Our first night in Tokyo brought us over to a Horumon Yakimiku joint situated right next to our Airbnb.

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It was somewhat of a hit & miss, we actually visited this establishment twice and while our first visit was thoroughly enjoyable with a great service staff recommending some extremely choice cuts and delicious meats, our second visit (not my idea!) was a little disappointing as most of the tastier meats were sold out. Although they did have a super tasty TKG, JDM speak for rice with a raw egg on top. Theirs came with a special savoury and spicy sprinkle on top for some extra flavour. It was really good. But perhaps, not quite enough to make me want to go back.

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One place i will definitely return on a future trip though is Yakitori Tsukada. One word, Sublime. It’s a relatively new place that just opened a few months ago but boy was it memorable. This was one of the most memorable meals i’ve had for this vacation. I’ve never had chicken yakitori so good in my life ever. Just writing about it now makes me go all giddy with excitement.

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Best part about this restaurant besides the food? It was one of those accidental and unexpected finds. We somewhat walked by it the night before and were pretty impressed with the facade and made a mental note to return. Boy, was i grateful we did!

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Tsukada uses a special singular breed of chicken for their skewers and if you are the sort that loves meat and isn’t afraid to be a little adventurous with the doneness of your chicken, this place is perfection.

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And if you are really adventurous, try this one. Lightly seared with a dash of wasabi, shoyu and wrapped with a small piece of seaweed. JDM chicken goodness. I need one right now. So so very good.

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Having accommodations in Nakameguro was a real treat with numerous dining establishments to choose from in the evenings and in the morning, there’s a lovely cafe that opens rather early, Onibus.

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Having previously stayed in Shinjuku, Omotesando, Daikanyama and Ebisu, i think Nakameguro might have dethroned Daikanyama as my location of choice from now on. It really is a lovely neighbourhood to be in.

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If you prefer to have some pastries whilst sipping your cuppa, there’s a rather pleasant cafe just below Nakameguro station where you can people watch. Them Nakameguro locals sure dress well.

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Did we also mention Nakameguro station has a direct line to Tsukiji market? Nakameguro station has a direct line to Tsukiji market. It’s about a half hour ride but sure beats having to make a transfer.

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As you can possibly surmise, we returned to Tsukiji once again but have wisely decided to just grab some morning grub in the outer market and not entertain any thoughts of hitting Sushi Dai. The Uni was faboulous.

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As were these pieces of Chutoro and Ootoro on sale from a makeshift table hastily set up outside a store. It was super good and all the packs were sold out super quick. I wanted to get another pack but it was all gone. I mean, just look at it! Wouldn’t you?

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Speaking of revisits, we hit Rokurinsha once again for their fantastic Tsukemen. We sort of arrived really early for dinner and only had to wait 30 minutes, so it was all good. So so tasty. Personally i would have liked to try Afuri but with time not on our side during this vacation, that will have to be kept for a future trip.

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On our final leg of the trip, after we returned from Kanazawa, our accommodations shifted slightly towards Shibuya and on our first night back in the capital, we hit up a local Pork steak joint, Tokyo Tonteki. They only do pork, so… if you don’t like pork, better luck elsewhere.

But if you do enjoy your pork, then you’re in luck! The servings are generous and yes, it’s good (Interestingly, my travel mates much preferred the Hamburg Steak variant, so perhaps you can go for that one if you are adverse to thick porky slabs).

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After navigating around in a rain soaked city, a delicious thick cut of pork loin and a cold glass of beer really lifts one’s spirits don’t you think? There’s just something about the beer here in Tokyo. Am i gushing already?

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Speaking of meats, we once again returned to Blacows for their World-class burgs. I was once again in my happy place. Unfortunately even though my Bacon Avacado Cheese Burger was sandwich perfection, my partner’s burger patty was slightly overdone and less enjoyable. Hopefully that was a one-off since we did have a rather large group of diners.

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We found ourselves back in Tsukiji on one of our last mornings in Tokyo because we were hungry for some Katsu from Yachiyo. (Or maybe that was just me). As expected, there was a line but nothing as crazy as Sushi Dai’s. We waiting roughly 40-45 minutes and considering it was a Saturday, i think we did good. Interestingly most of the people in the queue were local tourist, looks like we’re doing something right!

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Once inside, i went for my usual seafood katsu combo but my partner glanced a picture on the wall and enquired what it was. What THAT is, is a fried egg and char siew with rice meal that used to be prepared in rather limited quantities and only for breakfast. It was an interesting dish and somehow became a rather popular item, even making it to the local tabloids. No prizes for guessing what my partner ordered. (Psst, she LOVED it.)

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As for me? I was in Katsu heaven! Bring on Kanazawa!

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