In August I had the opportunity to go to Asia for the first time in my life and visit a place that I always dreamt about: Japan 🇯🇵.
If you follow my blog you already saw I’ve been posting about my food experience there, so now it’s time for an overview of my 6 days in this amazing city. Get here my Google maps with some of the places I visited there in this itinerary of 6 days in Tokyo.
This post will be huge, but I hope also very helpful for those planning a future trip to Japan. Shall we start? 🙂
Day 1: Taito and Akihabara
I suggest you to go there early in the morning; lines are huge all day long. In case you want to save some money, keep reading to find a better place to have an amazing view of the city of Tokyo and the best part: totally free!
Nakamise Street Small shops full of Japanese goodies and souvenirs.
If you like video games, anime, and mangas this is the place to be. Take half day (or more in case you have time) and explore the area and all its shops. Video games fans must visit a place called Super Potato store, there are so many old games, your inner teenager will go crazy!
Where to eat
Around the Sensoji Temple, you will find many restaurants with a vast variety of Japanese cuisine to pick from. This day we decided to have a traditional Japanese Okonomiyaki (savoury pancake, not gluten free), prepared by myself using the restaurant grill and the ingredients provided.
Every time I travel I make sure to include one thing in particular in my must-do list: have the traditional food experience of the place I’m visiting. I like to explore new flavours and eating experiences. It’s the time I put my everyday diet aside in order to try new things, which means, obviously they must be REALLY GOOD and REAL FOOD, of course.
I don’t know about you, but I get very disappointed when I eat something that I normally don’t eat as part of my regular diet, like grains for example, and the dish is a disaster, either in terms of flavour or experience. Hopefully that wasn’t the case here. 🙂
Anyways, I’m telling you that because I thought A LOT before deciding to have dinner at Ume no Hana. Once I started doing my travel research, it was clear I should try Japanese ramen (although I don’t do well with gluten) and a tofu restaurant.
Ume no Hana is a very well-recommended Tofu restaurant that brings to you all the most traditional Japanese dining experience possible. They serve a set menu (minimum of two people) that includes a great variety of Japanese dishes, where tofu is usually the main ingredient.
Once you get there, you are taken to a private room where you can enjoy your dining experience without been disturbed by other customers.
There are 2 set menus available, a vegetarian and a non-vegetarian one. Hubby and I decided to go with meat, so our decision was for the Kiwami set menu.
Yame matcha go-tofu: tofu with yame matcha miso paste.
Hawasabi to shirauo no ohitashi: boiled wasabi leaves and ice fish seasoned with soy sauce and fish soup stock.
Katuo no tataki: Bonito sashimi. (hubby was very pleased with this one)
Hikiage Yuba: Yuba cooked at your table, served with ginger and soy sauce.
Yaki-minazuki-tofu: cooked red beans tofu with soy sauce and wasabi.
Namafu Dengaku: deep-fried wheat gluten coated with miso paste. Yep, I had deep fried gluten, everything just sounds plain wrong here. LOL.
Aigamo to Nasu no Hakata-age to Hamo-shinjyo no Daizu-age: deep fried duck loin and eggplant + deep fried pike eel ball with flaked soybeans.
Ayu no shio-yaki: grilled sweetfish.
Kuroge Wagyu no Yogan-yaki: Japanese beef steak grilled on a hot plate.
Kisetsu no Hanmono: seasonal rice.
Ko-no-monoi: pickled vegetables.
Yuba Suimono: yuba soup.
Dessert 1: red bean jelly with green tea
Dessert 2: vanilla ice cream with brown sugar
Our dining experience was unforgettable. The waitress served us one dish at a time and always trying her best to explain what was it about, despite the limited English.
For me the most remarkable moment was the Hikiage Yuba cooked at our table. Yuba is known as tofu skin, but it actually is the skin that forms after boiling soy milk. As you can see on the third image above, you keep the milk cooking at low heat and a very thin layer will form. This is the Yuba! You pick it with your chopsticks (a bit of skill handling chopsticks helps heaps :)) then place it in a cup with soy sauce and ginger. I don’t know how to put in words, but the flavour and texture are simply amazeballs!
Other two things that really impressed me were the Chawan-mushi Tomatoan (steamed egg custard) and the Kani Shumai (crab shumai). Hubby’s favourites were the Katuo no tataki (Bonito sashimi), Aigamo to Nasu no Hakata-age to Hamo-shinjyo no Daizu-age (deep fried duck loin and eggplant + deep fried pike eel ball with flaked soybeans) and the vanilla ice cream.
In case you are a good-eater like us, I might need to say that although it seems a like a long menu, the portions are rather small and you might not feel completely full at the end of the experience. However, all dishes were truly delicious and every bite was worth. It’s that kind of thing you need to appreciate the food quality and not look only for quantity. 😛
About the English: There is an English menu and staff can communicate just a little in English.
Bill: $11,440 Yen (A$ 145) – dinner for two and no drinks.
Exact location:https://goo.gl/maps/H72xX5orAE32 (This restaurant is inside a building. Unfortunately, I don’t remember which floor it was, but it is very easy to spot the right location once you get to the address.)
Let’s say you are goofing around Odaiba and looking for a paleo-ish place for a quick lunch, if that’s you, you can give Odori Yakitori a try. As the name says, they serve yakitori – which is basically chicken grilled on a skewer seasoned with salt or soy sauce (not paleo). Yakitori serves as a good low carb meal option as well.
However, if you are not keen to have yakitori (it was my case) you can try other dishes available in the restaurant! There are many options of rice bowls and yummy salads at a good price.
This day I remember I was kinda hungry and needed something more substantial, so we decided to have:
Caesar salad: this is not gluten free (not surprising), but if you don’t have any serious intolerance or allergy (like me), you can just take the pieces of bread off of your plate or ask the waiter to not include them in your dish when you place your order.
Roast Oyako chicken and egg rice bowl: it includes miso soup and sliced cucumber. My very jealous husband got the same as me.
About the salad, it was just OK. Now, talking about to the rice bowl, we really liked this dish! I was expecting just rice with plain scrambled eggs, but I believe they added some sort of chicken broth to the rice, which adds a really good extra flavour and an interesting twist.
It’s also a paleo-friendly option in Tokyo. Of course, they don’t advertise themselves as a Paleo restaurant, but if you are not that strict with the idea, go for it!
This is a very cost effective restaurant in Odaiba. The portion sizes were enough for the size of our midday hunger, plus the rice bowl was yummy and very tasty.
Also, for those following a paleo-ish diet or just avoiding heavily wheat-backed foods, having a non-ramen option is a godsend.
About the English: There is an English menu available and staff could communicate well.
Total bill (two people): $2,650 Yen (A$ 34) – no drinks.
In August I had two weeks of holidays and the destination was a country that I always wanted to visit: Japan.
During this time there, I managed to visit Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka and I’ll try to show here on the blog a little bit of my experience there, especially in regard to the topic I know more about: food. Yum Yum Yum!
To start, I decided to put here our first lunch in Tokyo: Tsurujiro Okonomiyaki in Asakusa. This restaurant is very close to the Senso-ji temple and had good reviews online, what convinced us to give it a try. Also, I was very excited to try Okonomiyaki and, if possible, to cook it by myself (some restaurants don’t give you this opportunity).
Okonomiyaki is kind of a savory pancake cooked on a grill, very popular in Japan and delicious. Toppings can vary but basically, the ingredients are eggs, cabbage, seafood or pork, green onions and wheat flour (Yeah, unfortunately this is not gluten-free).
As the entrée, I ordered a portion of Kimchi. I simply love it! It was delicious, the only disappointing thing was the portion size. Very, very small.
After that, we ordered the mains. There was a good variety of Okonomiyaki flavours, including a two-flavour option, which was my husband choice: Pork and Pollack Roe Mochi Cheese. This one comes fully prepared out of the kitchen, so you just need to keep the pancake warm.
My choice was a simple Pork and Spring Onions Okonomiyaki. As I wanted to cook it, all the ingredients were brought to our table, together with some instructions.
The idea is to mix everything from the first bowl (egg, cabbage, cheese and wheat flour dough), next put them on the grill making (pork aside) a pancake shape. Then, once the bottom is golden brown and crunchy flip to the other side. Top the cooked side with the extra egg, spring onions and it’s done.
As I prefer my egg and pork well done, I decided to put them on the top before flipping the pancake, so they would cook a little bit more.
It’s still funny to remember … the waitress apparently didn’t like my style of cooking and tried to tell me that it was wrong hahaha! 😀
Well, to finish, top with some spring onions and some of the dressings available. I’ve decided to have a little bit of mayo. 🙂
This cooking process takes some time. I can say around 15 minutes for sure.
The final result was delicious and I was very proud of myself. Almost felt like an authentic Japanese cook. 🙂
Although both plates were good and the experience of cooking it by myself was very cool, I believe the portion sizes were too small for the price, especially comparing to other places we visited during the rest of our trip. However, the location is good, especially if you are visiting the Senso-ji temple, and it does not seem to be a very busy restaurant comparing to others in that area (huuuge lines!).
About English: It is an English-friendly restaurant, including English menu. In case you have any questions on how to cook your Okonomiyakiyaki, the staff had an average level English, but were friendly and helpful.
Total bill (two people): $2,745 Yen (A$ 35) – no drinks.