We were already a week into our trip, and weren’t in a rush to try and see anything in particular. Plus our feet were refusing to work. We decided to just check out a couple neighborhoods to see what was going on there, but first we had to get lunch.
Bomb dot com.
The shit dot net.
Asakusa is known for the Senso-Ji, an old Buddhist temple. What’s going on around the temple is anything but a religious experience. Vendors sell snacks and souvenirs on the blocks surrounding the temple. It’s like a flea market.
This woman was making a killing in front of the temple, grilling up meats and seafood.
We opted for the octopus.
Afterward we headed to Ueno. Next to the railway there is a maze of streets for shopping. Clothes, shoes, luggage…just about anything you could want is available for sale.
Ueno Park had its cherry blossoms coming into bloom like the rest of Tokyo.
“The cherry blossoms are but a fraction of your beauty.” BONUS POINTS!
Michelle and I went wandering Ebisu, looking for a restaurant we had on our intinerary. We walked back and forth along the block, where the restaurant was supposed to be located, but it looked like there was only one restaurant on the block. Looking through the window we could see it was serving noodles , not what we were looking for after two noodle museums. We decided to poke our heads in and ask where our restaurant was located.
We found this. It was a narrow corridor of restaurants, an indoor alley of street vendors. The air smelled of so many flavors, grilled meats and seafood, potent broths, and even some cigarette smoke. We charged forward finally finding our restaurant, Nikuzushi.
This place specializes in meat sushi. While their raising and handling of the animals used is much cleaner than America’s animal factories, there are still inherent risks. A year ago some children died after eating raw meat, so pork and beef are no longer allowed completely raw.
This is pork. It’s not raw, but this amount of pink in the meat would probably scare a lot of people back home. Very tender. I’d like some of this meat in a sandwich back home. Come on, Subway!
The meat on the right is beef, which looks more like roast beef. What’s on the left, however, is something you probably won’t find on a menu in the states. That is horse. A bit chewy, like any raw piece of meat. It’s lighter than beef, but beef is probably what I’d compare it most closely with, although some people say it’s also a bit like venison.
Ground horse, topped with a raw egg.
I liked the horse as a thin slice of meat. Tenderize it by grinding it up and stir in a raw egg, and you have a creamy, delicious dish. The texture on this is out of this world too. It’s soft and delicate, almost melting in your mouth.
The owner is super cool, and although his English is very limited, he helped us out and treated us like any of his other customers. If you get to Tokyo, please check this place out. Expand your mind and try not to think of food as normal or weird. It’s just different.
PS. It helps not to think of Sea Biscuit or Mr. Ed while you’re here.
During our trip Michelle asked me if I missed home. I told her, “Not at all.” Then after thinking about it for a moment I said, “Beer. I miss beer.” There is plenty of lager available, but I was craving an ale. Japan’s laws have recently changed to allow craft breweries to become a reality, so they’re not well distributed. Fortunately I put a spot on our map just in case I started to miss beer.
This is Craftheads, a place to get good beer and bourbon as well.
If you look at the list of beers they carry on tap and bottle, you’ll find some familiar brewery names like Stone, Lost Abbey, and Bear Republic. I decided to stay local and went with the Sakura Bock. So good when it hits your lips!
After a beer we headed down to Shibuya to watch a horde of Japanese people walk across an intersection. As one of the busier subway/train stations, Shibuya Crossing gets packed with people. Although they don’t like it, Starbucks is a great spot to take photos.
This is fugu, also known as puffer fish. It’s known to be poisonous but also a delicacy in Japan. We decided to try this rare food.
Skin, which seemed to be blanched. This was super chewy with little flavor, like a cross between tendon and jellyfish. I guess that’s kind of what we should’ve expected for a fish that can inflate its body to double the normal size.
We also ate fugu sashimi. This was also a bit chewy, though not quite as much as the skin. Flavor here was also very light, almost non existent.
Some pieces of fugu were set out for us to cook in a soup. When you cook the fish it actually becomes very tender, but before it’s cooked it’s tough. It also continues to move on the plate.
Did I forget to mention that our friends Jen and Charlie were also in Tokyo the same time we were? Actually they’d been with us since Yoyogi Park but I had no pictures to prove it. The good news is none of us died from eating fugu.
After fugu Michelle and I went to Albatross, a two-story bar that holds about five people on each floor. What you’re seeing here is about half the bar.
I can barely fit the bar in the photo, because there’s no room to back up.
One of the guys at the bar with us was an origami master. He was sitting there folding squares of paper in the dim light. He made us a cat!
He then proceeded to whip out a pair of scissors from his coat pocket and made this piece of art. He also made us Minnie too, which is even more intricate with a bow on the head and eyelashes.
I’m going to say it again. Japanese people are awesome.
After wandering around the fish market for a little while we got hungry. We decided to get some ramen at a little stand we passed by earlier in the outer market. We didn’t even realize this was the ramen shop my friend recommended to me, Chuka Soba Inoue.
It opens at 4:30 AM, but prep starts well before that.
Different websites say they only serve shoyu ramen in chicken broth, but these bones used in the broth say otherwise, unless they have gigantic chickens in Japan. Regardless of whether other meat stock is also thrown into the mix, there is still only one item to order.
Early in the morning customers line up to get a warm bowl of ramen.
The master at work.
Chashu, bamboo shoots, and onions in a warm, savory broth. So delicious.
Seating does not exist here. Tables are set up for customers to stand street side. Here is Michelle is slurping down the rest of her broth as the sun begins to make its appearance.
Not being satisfied with only noodles, we decided to take in some fresh fish since we were in Tsukiji and had plenty of it available to us. We opted for chirashizushi.
Fresh fish, hours from the ocean and right into our mouths. You can’t beat that.
Still killing time before our hotel was ready, we decided to eat again. We sat down at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant that seemed to be packed with both locals and tourists. If you’ve ever been to one of these in the states, you’ll know the quality isn’t great at these types of places. You’ll usually end up with at least one piece of fish that is far too chewy and the rice will be too dry. One of the travel agents that helped me book some tickets told me that even the cheap sushi was good, so we set out to test that theory.
I have to say that I was not disappointed. The fish was so good, probably better than most sushi places I’ve had in the states. It’s easy for restaurants to get ahold of good quality seafood in Tokyo, but the whole package is done so much better. Excellent balance between fish, rice and wasabi, and the price tag didn’t make me cringe either. Complete this meal with a couple of beers, and I am a happy man.
A lot happened this weekend. A LOT! I’ll have to break it down into a couple smaller posts as not to overwhelm the Internet with drunken, tasty activity.
Friday night Michelle got free access to the preview of Outdoor Cinema Food Fest. Every Saturday night in July and August they will be showing films outdoors in different parks in LA. They’re playing some great films, but the draw for us as well as other people I’m sure is the food trucks. Different food trucks are going to make appearances at the shows.
India Jones was there, and of course Michelle had to ask them to add some heat to our Butter Chicken Curry.
Buttery and spicy. An artery-clogging, butthole-burning meal. It’s so good.
Fishlips Sushi. This goes against everything I know about sushi. Don’t order it out of the trunk of some guys car, but I guess this is okay since it’s a truck? It was fresh, and Temari style is a great way to serve it. It looks great.
Of course the Grilled Cheese Truck was there. Gruyere is an awesome cheese. It’s like swiss, except they don’t cheat you out of cheese because there are no holes in this one.
Grilled cheese isn’t the same without tomato soup. However, I will tell everyone to pass on the tomato soup (if you can even call it that) from the truck. Have you ever eaten diet frozen dinners with marinara sauce? That is what this tastes like. There is no depth to this watery tomato-flavored bowl of wetness.
People gathered on the lawn. We couldn’t stick around, because we had places to be but it was a nice, quick stop for us since we didn’t know what we wanted for dinner.
This is where we were heading. Crazy 4 Cult. Unfortunately the line was ridiculously long and people were getting more upset than usual for people taking cuts because there were limited prints for sale. I’ll have to check out this week perhaps.
We decided we still needed our fill of culture, so we went to Thinkspace Art Gallery to check out an artist Michelle likes.
Dan-ah Kim does some incredible mixed media pieces. If I had some more money I’d consider buying this piece.
These next sets of pictures are actually from another artist that is exhibiting in the same gallery. I like his stuff. This is part of Yosuke Ueno’s “Negative Never Again” collection.
I love the colors she uses just in the background on her paintings. They make the canvas look like they’re glowing.
This one reminds me of my past.
Guess who was at Thinkspace? No, we didn’t. We’re on wedding diets. Three food trucks is enough for one night, especially since it was only Friday night and more weekend had to be survived.
Last night was Valentine’s Day dinner for Michelle and me. Michelle was so busy with work that we didn’t have time to do anything last Sunday. Also, I forgot that I was supposed to do something. I took Michelle to Sushiya, which I’ve been to once before.
Live scallop. So incredibly fresh.
Live sweet shrimp. Well it was alive until they pulled the head off and fried it.
More Spanish Mackerel.
They really give you all of the fish.
Diamond Roll. Wouldn’t be a special meal for us without something to burn the palette.
If you’re in San Pedro, go eat here. It’s truly a gem in a city where food is normally a much heartier affair. The fish is always fresh and the staff is super friendly. The sushi chef knows people are finding him on Yelp.
I normally don’t make resolutions for myself for the new year, because I’m pretty much perfect. Ask Michelle. Well maybe not. I don’t see the new year is any different than any other time to make changes to my life. This year, however, I am resolving to make a change. I’m going to lose weight.
I’m by no means what you would call heavy. I just show weight in my face. More chins than a Chinese phone book. My coworker decided he wanted to lose weight and I decided to jump on the band wagon. We had some other coworkers join us in our venture and we made a wager. Whoever loses the most percentage of weight by the end of March wins a pool of money, twenty bucks each. The weigh in is January 4.
In the mean time I’m bulking up before I have to weigh myself. I had dinner with my brother and sister-in-law at Kumano Sushiya. I had no idea this place existed.
Fish Tacos #1.
It’s quite refreshing. Reminds me of a torta.
Tuna steak. Very flavorful.
Salmon Nigiri. For where this restaurant is located, I’d honestly expect to be chewing on rubbery pieces of fish, but it was fresh.
I didn’t actually get to eat this one, but the display was well executed.
Baked scallop roll. This is one of my favorites to order, but I’ve had better in other places.
You know what they say about oysters, right? They’re delicious!
Uni and salmon roe.
Some of the dishes offered almost put it into the category of a fusion restaurant, but they have some very traditional dishes too. All of them are delicious, even more so when someone else picks up the bill.
I went three for three on going out for this past weekend. That is pretty good for me. Normally one of my days is reserved for nothing. Nothing is important after getting my ass kicked all week.
Friday I got to have dinner with Michelle and my Cousin Trevor. He picked Sake House Miro on Miracle Mile for us to meet up. The sushi was pretty good. Also the Butter Fish isn’t shown here, but it is awesome. They must get fish to adapt to swim and live in vats of butter.
This is no optical illusion. The beer is the size of Michelle’s head.
There are lots of other things on the menu, which don’t seem to fit. I ordered the Garlic and Naan Pizza because it seemed so out of place on the menu. It was actually pretty good.
Saturday was a Christmas party for Michelle and her dorm friends. It’s hard to tell from this picture, but it was a pajama party.
This is one of my weaknesses. I always forget what these are called, but they are awesome.
Some of the people had too much fun and took the theme a little too seriously.
Sunday I had the pleasure of joining a bunch of food loving Internet nerds (and I mean that in the best way possible) for a meal at Shu Feng Yuan in San Gabriel. I am by no means a foodie, but I do love food, just not in the same way that these people do. I have a much simpler understanding of food, but I’d like to think my enjoyment of the food is as great even if my ability to describe it is not up to par.
I have no idea which dish is which, but you have lamb, brazed pork, various noodles, sea cucumber, chicken soup, kidney, intestines, pork blood, pig ears, frog legs, and diced rabbit. Can you guess which dish is the least spicy? It’s the least red one. I enjoyed this meal thoroughly and enjoyed the company just as much.
This Friday was Spencer’s birthday. He thought he was going to a show. Little did he know that when he came upstairs to get the tickets that Vivian forgot, we jumped out and surprised him. We had a sushi party with all the fixings.
The chefs, preparing Japanese delicacies.
Harrison, looking especially creepy. Everyone dressed up in Hello Kitty attire.
Japanese people to judge our pathetic attempts at sushi.
Lo, looking very short bus.
The Hello Kitty cake.
Spencer with all his Hello Kitty gear.
Annie rocks out on Guitar Hero.
The next day Michelle and I were beat, so we took it easy. We went to watch Juno. This was an excellent movie, filled with dark humor. I recommend everyone go see it.
Hello, there. My name is Matt, but on this website I just refer to myself as m@. I love all things Star Wars, food, beer, and music, especially The Beatles. I'm one who likes to be noticed and will sometimes say or do inappropriate things to get your attention. I'm perfectly complimented by my online and real life partner Michelle.