21 November 2011

Tokyo Day 5 - And The Case of the Exploding Gaijin

Three breakfasts, two lunches but only room for one dinner, less our stomachs explode...

We head to Tsukiji fish market for breakfast, along with the rest of Japan. We didn't make it early enough for the tuna auctions, but there's still plenty to see, buy and taste.

We check out the sashimi-don (raw fish on rice) stands and pick this one because it has the smiliest lady behind the counter.

Now this is breakfast! 3 kinds of tuna, egg omlette and a crab claw for 1600 yen.

The rice is slightly warm with a touch of sweetness. Combined with super fresh sashimi it is divine. Salmon bowl, 800 yen.

Our sashimi don lady was the most gorgeous lady. She never stopped smiling and got a huge kick when we loved our meal. She even restyled our sashimi when she saw Shawn pull out the camera, what a tops lady.

We head into the centre lane of the open market area and fight it out with an army of pensioners.

Is this is a cheese shop?

The open market area has all kinds of produce, it's great for a look even if you're not into seafood.

The smiliest market stall lady in the whole world. It's almost a Wallace and Grommit smile.

Iced mystery delicacies wrapped in baloons, ready to swallow so you can smuggle them home on the plane.

Up at the back of the markets, near the Miyabi cafe, we saw a bloke and his missus in here having oysters and beer for breakfast. We're sold.

Huge oysters, around the size of two or three standard Sydney Rock oysters, 1000 yen each. Alison managed to find out with her basic Japanese they are from Toyoma on the north of Honshu. Raw and delicious.

We saw a bloke eating one of these and moaning with pleasure. "We'll have what he's having!" It is cooked in the shell over flames, the bottom is charred and black. The flesh is perfectly cooked and cut into bit size pieces for sharing. It has a light chew and a wonderful mix of sea and subtle smoky bbq flavours. We dab a little lime and salt on it and start moaning like the bloke at the next table.

The curly bit at the bottom. The juice is sweet, salty and worth fighting over. All up our second breakfast was around 4900 yen but worth every slurpy, salty bit.

There's a scrum of old ladies at this store fighting for free samples, better check it out.

The place does all different kinds sweet egg omelete which Google tells us is called tamagoyaki.

We grab a free sample then have to buy a hunk for only 100yen, it is sensational, warm and fresh, sweet and savoury.

We go back for the fresh egg custard (250 yen), hoochiemama. Could this have been counted as a third breakfast?

Fried stuff on sticks.

There was a huge queue for the stall selling some kind of beef stew, sadly we had no stomach room. Next time...

Doesn't this look appetising?

We choof off to Akihabara, the place for electronic bargains and all things otaku (nerdy). We had a vague plan to visit a maid cafe where you are served by a lovely lass like this but we chickened out.

Is this Colonel  Sanders on his bucks night? Or is he promoting apple pies?

More Akihabara geekery. We tried to find Train Man amongst the nerds.

The backstreets of Akihabara  are a surprisingly calm and pleasant place to wander around.

Bread cakes, priceless...

A small sweetie from a lovely old lady in a tiny kiosk. Fresh warm crispy cake stuffed with red bean paste.

We have a breather in a Veloce caffe, can't resist a piece of lemon yogurt cake. The smoking area down the back is like an airport smoking lounge, yech. It's fine up the front though, god bless modern air-conditioning.

Another resto - dig the contrast in fashion.

You can hire a small booth for you and a friend to to sit down, take some time out and watch a video or play on the net. Apparently you can sleep in some of these joints if you're on a tight budget.

Upmarket pickle shop. Pickles are revered as a craft and a tasty art.

From Akihabara we walk to Ueno Park for some green time.

 Beware the roving packs of pensioners, they will mug you and fix your bicycle.

The change from green park to cement park is striking as you exit the gallery district and arrive at Ueno station.

The area around Ueno is so much fun. Lots of little alleys full of little shops, bars and restaurants. It shuts early so afternoon is a great time to be here.

It's beer time. We pick this joint in Ueno called Daitoryo on Sakura Street. That baldy fellow in the black shirt is amazing. He runs the floor and chats up every person who walks in, leaps around ensuring everybody is happy. He can charm anybody from pasty gaijin like us to young hipsters to dapper old gents.

Inside it's all happening.

English menu - yay!

Alison goes non-alcoholic with Hoppy, a beer-flavoured soft-drink. The Kage Tsu is a delicious lemon soda, light on the sugar and delicate bubbles, perfect when mixed with shochu to make a chuhai, short for shochu highball. Chuhai quickly becomes Shawn's favourite drink. If anybody knows where to get the the lemon soda, cheap shochu or premix chuhai cans in Sydney we'd love to know!

Nikomi (guts) stew - 420 yen - a homely stew of mystery bits and tofu.

Motuyaki - a selection of spit roasted yakitori salty style - 450 yen - kidney, cartlidge, tongue and piggy.

More happy times in Ueno.

We try this izakaya bar, Bunraku, under the railway line. We came here last in late November and it was really cold. A beer and a hot sake shot was perfect then.

Inside it's all happening...

Another English menu - happy happy joy joy!

Overnight pickled eggplant - 300 yen.

Tofu stew - with extra bits of offal to mess with vegetarians' minds - 360 yen.

We ordered Japanese kimchi but instead received a spicy raw squid stew, mysterious but delicious.

Happy times in Ueno. The bloke looking at the camera seemed busting to get his photo taken.

Ueno - a non-pc artist's impression.

Off home...

It felt like we spent half our holiday on the Yamanote train line...

Into the Shinjuku night! There are large pedestrian walkways in the Kabukicho to help you get to your choice of sleaze/food/bar quickly.

So many places have several stories of restaurants, you could spend a lifetime eating just in one block.

Being into street food we stick to the ground floor and try this chain beef bowl joint near Piss Alley, it's called Matsuya.

Even in a lowly chain store like this utmost care was put into the food and service.

Gyudon fixins.

Gyudon set with bowl of beef on rice, side salad, soup and googie. We also ordered a huge longneck bottle of Asahi each, a bargain at 440yen.

Alison goes this fancy looking number with a poached egg and loads of negi (chopped leek).

More treasures from the beer vending machine in the hotel. Shawn is determined to try every type of chu-hi he can find. The 9% one is a quick favourite!

We love Japan. Even with a chuhai hangover.


  1. Man, what a day. I wonder how I'd cope in Japan - being offal adverse and all? Beer flavoured soft drink - now there's something you don't see everyday!

  2. The offal is easy to avoid - unless you are travelling with Alison...

  3. On my very first visit to Japan, I was taken to diner by the company I work with over there. The first dish up was a sea snail like the one you had. Slightly smaller but in my case steamed, with only it's natural flavours, and served whole in the shell. It was released from it's shell with one big slurpy noise and it goes all in to the mouth at once to eat. That was a hard first experience. Since then I have had them beautifully cooked, my favourite is actually chopped and served with garlic and butter.

    Loving your Japan posts!

  4. loved the train man reference!

    im so hungry for an izakaya/ yakitori joint right now. a real one.

  5. Toyama's Iwagaki, literally rock-oyster, is the best I have ever had.
    Thus, the best stuff of all kinds of food is gathered in Tsukiji but if you want to enjoy any one of it at reasonable price, you should go to the origin place like Toyama for the oyster.
    Well, you ought to have tried Jangara ramen if you went to Akihabara because it is the best of bests.
    The branches are located in Harajuku and Nihonbashi.
    Btw, I think Chuuhai cans are exported to some countries.

  6. One more thing, Japanese people do not add salt to the baked sea-shell above usually.


Thanks for your comment joy - please keep your musings happy - if you want to complain about a restaurant please do it on a restaurant review site (or your own blog) - we're all about celebrating cultural diversity and the great eats that come along with it :-)

Our ethics: We pay for all our own meals and travel (though sometimes Mum shouts us).