You really find great food everywhere in Tokyo. Katsukura specialise in, you guessed it, katsu, and were surprisingly located on level 12 of the Takashimaya department store next to Shinjuku station. And they were full! How do the locals even know it’s here?
Katsukura feels very upmarket, with beautiful use of wood through the interiors, and very proper service (although I guess that’s kind of everywhere in Japan), but it’s surprisingly affordable for the experience you’re getting.
You simply choose which katsu set you’re getting (there are a couple of other options too), Brad and I both opted for the pork katsu, which comes with unlimited salad, miso soup and rice. Score!
Before you get your main course though, you’re given a bowl with ridges through it, filled with sesame seeds. Here you’re expected to grind the sesame seeds fresh, then top it off with either the standard katsu sauce, or a spicy one; which creates the dipping sauce for your katsu! So aromatic with the freshly ground sesame.
The katsu itself is also simply incredible; I’ve never had such a good piece of katsu in my life. So crisp and light, yet crunchy, and the meat stayed so tender and juicy. Not oily either; wished we had unlimited katsu over unlimited salad!
SO MANY VIDEO GAME ARCADES
Why aren’t video game arcades as big back here in Australia? I loved rocking up to the five floor arcade, 5 minutes from our AirBnB apartment, to find all of the guys on the new Pokemon fighting game. And watch madly talented DDR players rip into the machines.
Also there is a kids pokemon game where I have to throw balls at the screen to ‘catch’ the pokemon. So amazing.
And speaking of pokemon, the new mega centre in Sunshine City is EPIC.
I’ve always said that one of my favourite foods is anago. And I mean anago specifically, not it’s very similar sibling unagi. So of course, I had to hunt down somewhere good to have it, and came across the great reviews of Tamai Anago near Ginza.
I had heard it was very popular, but figured on a Saturday morning, we’d probably be pretty decent if we got there at opening time. We got there 10 minutes after opening (which is at 11:30am) and found out the restaurant was already full. Those Tokyonites are eager huh?
What’s great though, is to expedite the process, they take your order while you’re outside waiting for your seat, so once you get in, it’s just a couple of minutes before your deliciously shiny anago set (small, medium, big etc.) is presented in front of you.
Juicy, savoury, yet sweet. I adored the yuzu that comes on a mini grater, which you use a little stiff bamboo brush to flick it over the anago; just a lovely punch of citrus and acidity.
You can also opt for 200 yen to add an anago broth made out of the bones at the end of the meal. They’ll ask you to leave a bit of rice behind, pour you the broth, then you throw your rice in and make a comforting little meal. It’s not as tasty as I would hope it would be, considering how flavoursome the anago itself is, but worth trying for just a couple of dollars!
It’s amazing how Tokyo has truly created oasis’s in the middle of a densely packed out city. I’m in awe of Ueno Park’s wide boulevards (can I call them that?) and gorgeous greenery (although it was looking a little more sparse in the cooler autumn weather).
The zoo is also great value for a change of pace, at only 600 yen a person; even on a Sunday when it was packed out with kids it was surprisingly pleasant. The zoo is also absolutely ginormous!
Ah, Andy’s. I have great memories of coming here with my family previously, so couldn’t wait to return with Brad. It’s definitely an institution, and a very comfortable and easy place for expats and foreigners to visit. Andy himself is from the UK originally, and married the daughter of the family who owned the Izakaya, hence him now being the owner!
We had some beautiful sashimi and lip smacking good fried chicken. I wasn’t crazy about the pumpkin tempura (let the tempura restaurants do their thing), and the scallops we ha this particular night were terribly overcooked; but the vibe is relaxed, the food is cheap and the rumbling of trains passing overhead is oddly soothing.
So I thought I had had good tempura before in Japan, but nothing prepared me for the sheer epicene of Tempura Tsunahachi in Shinjuku. As like everywhere else, get there early, even at 6pm we were in line for 20 minutes or so before getting a seat!
We were seated right at the counter, where we watched (and took no photos; restaurant policy) as the chef quietly prepared all our tempura. Using long chopsticks to first lightly coat our seafood, or veggies, then fry and serve.
Oh my goodness. I wish I had words (as always). The batter was so light, so crunchy, the freshness of the seafood not lost in the process of frying. Just go with one of the sets, or if you’re feeling a little more daring (and are very hungry) perhaps the 12 course tempura degustation; and know that you’re safe in the hands of the chef.
Numazukou Sushi Train
Man. There’s sushi trains that we get in Melbourne; but then there are sushi trains in Japan. Like seriously good ones. Numazukou is possibly one of the best sushi trains I have ever been to. It was a little more expensive than your average sushi train restaurant; but with excellent reason. The quality of the fish was exemplary, and the selection surprisingly vast.
I tried red snapper sashimi for the first time, which was far fattier, sweeter and silkier than I could have ever imagined. I melted in my chair was I smelt my anago getting the blow torch treatment, the skin just getting a lovely light char to it. Uni was so fresh and so sweet.
I loved that the cuts of fish were always generous, quite thick and always generously covering the rice bed it sat on. We ate like kings, and only ended up paying $25 a person. Absolutely amazing value. Would go back. Multiple times next trip!
Blue Bottle Coffee
Japan does a lot of things well; but one thing that isn’t done so well is breakfast. I never know what to do, or where to go, other than to pop into 7/11 and grab some ongiri (which is still pretty much the best). Fortunately, now that I have visited Blue Bottle Coffee, I know I can go here too!
Shiny and pretty, with pops of blue, coffee nerds will love this place. Non-coffee drinkers will love the smooth and velvety hot chocolate, that’s more cocoa than sugar (amen).
Pop in for a coffee, or stay a bit longer and have a museli and/or breakfast bun.
Or stay even longer and have some the best damn beignets you’ll ever come across. So fluffy, and so light, they’re like donut marshmallows made of air. Lightly dusted in sugar, dunk that goodness in caramel sauce and send yourself to heaven.
The best soba of my life (which I’ll elaborate on in another post)
As it says. This experience is too good not to go through in detail. Trust.