TRAVEL: Japan Travel Guide – Part III

Part III starts now! Kyoto comes next week with a special post on the Haru Cooking Class.

Right now as I lay here typing, sick in bed, I am wishing I was back in Tokyo slurping up a bowl of amazing vegan ramen from T’s Tan Tan.

x JW

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Soba Slurping

Soba Ticket Vender

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Soba in Shibuya

Our first meal in Japan was soba. Strange right?! I totally thought we would be eating sushi first! After dropping our bags at the hotel in Shinjuku, we hopped on the Yamanote line and met a friend in Shibuya. He took us to his favorite little soba joint two doors down from the Don Quijote. We would have never found it on our own. It was ridiculously cheap and amazingly delicious. When you walk in, there are two ticket vender machines where you place your order by pressing buttons and inserting your money. A little ticket comes out and you hand it to the chef. All of the options were in Japanese so we were lucky to have my friend with us. I ordered hot soba with a soft egg on top, while E ordered the cold soba. We each ordered a beer with our meal. Breaking the yolk into the broth was so much fun! It looked pretty and was delicious, and the noodles were so good, which you could tell were handmade. E loved his cold soba as well. Both our meals cost a total of $9 US Dollars. They also have free hot green tea; it was a bit chilly out that night so it was a nice treat! We loved it so much we went back a second time!

Don Quijote Address: Japan, 〒150-0043 Tokyo, Shibuya, 道玄坂2-25-8

Ts Tan Tan

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Vegan Ramen (x2) at T’s Tan Tan

When researching Japan, I kept hearing about ramen, which I never had before! Everything I read led me to believe that all ramen was made exclusively with pork. While E eats just about anything, I don’t eat pork so I was extremely disappointed. After some additional research I stumbled upon T’s Tan Tan, a vegan restaurant in Tokyo Station. They serve a variety of vegan ramen, currys, salads and rice. Everything on the menu is meat, fish, egg and milk free. This sounded perfect for me! We decided to have lunch there before heading to the Tokyo Imperial Palace (we had made reservations in advance for a tour). We had to ask for directions at one of the information desks in the station, as it’s not the easiest restaurant to find. When we arrived we were seated in the bar area. The restaurant was PACKED with locals! It was so nice to see!

E and I ordered the lunch special that included either a ramen or curry and a side. E ordered the Midori Tantan with vegetables and I ordered T’s Shoyu Ramen. I ordered the Jyajya bowl as my side that had rice, eggplant and green onion. E ordered the Fried Soybean Meat Bowl with Sweet and Sour Sauce that came atop white rice. Everything we ordered was delicious. Even E loved it. We slurped until we couldn’t anymore and then headed off on our way.

One time wasn’t enough, though…I needed to go back. So, of course, we went for lunch again the next day! Our ramen addiction started here. T’s Tan Tan is to blame for our NYC and NJ ramen adventures and I don’t regret it one bit. SO GOOD.

T’s Tan Tan in Tokyo Station on Keiyo Street

Address: 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-0005, Japan

**ASK SOMEONE IN THE STATION FOR DIRECTIONS

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Tonkatsu Ramen at Ichiran

The most famous kind of ramen in Japan is Tonkatsu Ramen. From what I understand, it is a luscious, thick, pork based broth with juicy slices of pork, sliced green onions, and noodles. It looks and smells delicious. Unfortunately, I have never, and will never, try it. I didn’t want to deprive E of the experience, though, so I made sure to research where to get the best Tonkatsu Ramen. After hours of research I found that while Ichiran is a chain, they seem to have the most popular Tonkatsu Ramen.

Ichiran has locations all over Tokyo. We stopped into the Shibuya location, which was quite the experience. When you walk in you order at the vending machine, insert your money, and then select the button corresponding to your desired food item. Once you pay and get your ticket, you are seated at a bar. The bar has partitions between each seat, so you can enjoy your slurping in private. They are almost like mini cubicles. You don’t ever see ramen chefs, but there is a little opening for the servers to slip the ramen into your cubicle. If you want more noodles, or kaedama, you just fill out the form and a server will add another helping to your bowl. The service is quick and, according to E, the food is delicious. I am happy he was able to try Tonkatsu Ramen in all of its glory!

Ichiran (Multiple Locations)

Shibuya Address: 1 Chome-22-7 Jinnan, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

Craft Beer in Shibuya

E is obsessed with beer. When planning this trip I was a little nervous that we wouldn’t be able to find any beer related activities for him. Whenever we go anywhere E is always looking for a new beer to try. So I was excited to hear that the craft beer craze is just starting to take off in Japan. There are two craft beer bars in Shibuya that we went to and both had a nice variety of local beers to try.

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GoodBeer Faucets

On our first night in Japan, we met up with a friend of mine for some dinner. Post soba, he suggested we get some drinks, and he knew E loved beer. He remembered a craft beer bar not far from Shibuya Crossing. We wandered inside GoodBeer Faucets and found ourselves a high-top table. They had several interesting Japanese beers on tap. My personal favorite was the Yuzu Dream by Nide Beer. So tart and tangy.

Address: Japan, Tokyo, Shibuya, Shoto, 1 Chome−291, クロスロードビル2F

Subway Directions: Shibuya Station (Yamanote, Shonan-Shinjuku, Ginza, Hanzomon, Fukutoshin, Denentoshi, Tokyu Toyoko, Keio Inokashira lines), Hachiko exit

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Craftheads

This bar was a little harder to find. It is in the basement of what looks like an apartment building. It was PACKED with salarymen and locals. Their menu has many smoked meat and cheese options. We ordered a cheese plate with some fruit to compliment our beer and whisky selections. They had a wide variety of domestic and imported beer and whiskey.

Address: 1-13-10 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Subway Directions: Shibuya Station (Yamanote, Shonan-Shinjuku, Ginza, Hanzomon, Fukutoshin, Denentoshi, Tokyu Toyoko, Keio Inokashira lines), Hachiko exit

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Udon in Shinjuku

As you can tell, we were on a mission to try every kind of noodle that Japan had to offer. Udon was next on the list. My research led us to Tokyo Mentsu-Dan in Shinjuku for some handmade udon. It is a short walk from Shinjuku Station. When you walk into the restaurant the first thing you see is one of the chefs making the udon from scratch. It is quite impressive. No ticket vending machine here. You just order at the counter. I chose the regular udon with a side of vegetable tempura. E ordered regular udon with a side of fried chicken. Before sitting down we each added some condiments and additional vegetables. I added some soy sauce and sliced green onions. We sat at a communal table and dug into our selections. The tempura wasn’t good. In fact it was a little soggy. But the udon was delicious! E and I slurped up all of the udon and drank all of the broth.

Tokyo Mentsu-Dan 東京麵通団

Address: 7-9-15 Nishishinjuku | 1F Daikan Plaza Business Kiyoda Bldg., Shinjuku, Tokyo Prefecture 160-0023, Japan

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Yakitori

Chicken and Veggies on a Stick = Tasty Goodness

After a night of debauchery in Shibuya, E wanted some easy late night food. I had heard about Memory Lane, aka Piss Alley, from friends and from my research and E was DYING to go, so we hopped on the Yamanote line. We wandered up and down the alley, peeking into each and every establishment. All of them were PACKED. Not a seat available anywhere. Finally, after about 20 minutes of wandering, two seats opened up at one of the restaurants and we plopped ourselves down into them. There were so many meat and vegetable yakitori options. Yakitori is essentially grilled meat or vegetables on a stick. They had wet, aka saucy, and dry yakitori options. We settled on some edamame to start and some wet chicken and shishito pepper yakitori. Of course we had to order a beer to wash everything down with. The sauce was so finger licking good. Everything was grilled to perfection. Tasty street food perfection.

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But I Don’t Want It To End…

Hat: J.Crew, Glasses: Warby Parker Walker

Breakfast Sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market

We have died and gone to Daiwa Sushi HEAVEN. One of the top tourist attractions in Tokyo is the tuna auction at the Tsukiji Fish Market. We had a layover in Narita on the way to Thailand for our honeymoon. I arranged a morning tour of Narita and one of the things we did was the tuna auction. It was such a sight to see. When we were planning this trip we wanted to do the auction at Tsukiji. Unfortunately, the auction was closed to tourists the entire time we were in the country. THANK GOD the market and restaurants inside the market weren’t closed to the public. We were dying to have some sushi for breakfast, and my research led me to two places, Sushi Dai and Daiwa Sushi. After reading up on both places, I learned that Daiwa is twice the size of Sushi Dai. They have two sushi bars to Sushi Dai’s one. That is why the line at Sushi Dai is always so much longer then the one at Daiwa…Everything makes sense now!

We arrived at the market at 7:30AM and walked straight for Daiwa Sushi. The line was already pretty long, but miles shorter then the line for Sushi Dai, which is a couple doors down. They had a set menu posted outside. For about 30 US Dollars, they offered about 12 different pieces of sushi in addition to miso soup. We decided against the set menu. We wanted a la carte! I wanted ALL OF THE TUNA. We waited on line for 30-40 minutes. Once inside, they sat us at the bar and brought us hand towels, green tea and miso soup. One of the sushi chefs handed us the English sushi menu – so helpful! We each ordered four different kinds of tuna, ranging from fatty aka Toro, to medium fatty. E also ordered some yellowtail, red snapper and eel. Everything was SO FRESH. The tuna MELTED in our mouths. I didn’t want to swallow it. We just couldn’t get enough. I think we could have stayed for hours, eating all of the tuna, but we recognized that there still was a huge line outside. We didn’t want to deprive others of the amazingness that is Daiwa. Once we were finished, we settled the bill and were led through the back of the kitchen to exit. This was definitely one of our favorite meals in Japan.

Daiwa Sushi – 大和

Address: 5-2-1 Tsukiji Bldg 6, Tsukiji Fish Market

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3 Comments

  1. May 5, 2015 / 8:05 am

    This makes me miss Japan so much! Loving all these posts. I suggest you try Sushi Dai at the Tsukiji market next time, it was amazingggg. Though the line up is quite ridiculous if you don’t get there by 5am…