May 20, 2009

A Food Travelogue: Tokyo and Yokohama, Part I

Pinnerton and I, along with our folks, traveled to Japan recently. Upon arriving to Narita, where we would be spending our first night in Japan, we were in need of a light lunch. We took a quick cab ride to the Aeon shopping center.

After walking around for a while, we settled on a casual Japanese restaurant--we were lured in by the nifty faux food.

The first dish we shared was some sort of rice bowl topped with chopped sashimi of salmon, tuna, and shrimp, as well as tamago, cucumber, and scallions. It was served with a warm broth that tasted like some mirin or rice vinegar. Light and refreshing.

The second dish was like a fish katsu in a hot broth. This one was very tasty. None of us had any idea of what either of the two dishes were called because we basically pointed to a picture on their menu and nodded. At least things worked out well so far with that strategy.

My first encounter with the amazing Japanese toilets. Among the nifty toilet technology, there were washing or spraying options to clean your tush and water sounds to facilitate your toilet experience.


The Japanese are definitely known for their efficiency and clever product design. They are also known for their emphasis on convenience. Case in point: ice in a cup. Genius, right? Why have I not seen this in American supermarkets? They also had sake in a cup among other equally intriguing supermarket or convenience store items.

After spending the night in Narita, we made our way to Yokohama to do some sightseeing, including the San Diego Friendship Fountain.

The highlight in Yokohama was probably the Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum. It was a bit of a tourist trap with exhibitions about the history of ramen, but it was also a good place to sample various, unique types and recipes of ramen. Above is a nifty ramen vending machine in front of each vendor: insert money, choose your ramen, and grab your ticket and change. Again, efficiency and convenience are key.

The ramen man at Yamagata Ryuhanhai skillfully cooking the ramen noodles.

Yamagata Ryushanhai: miso-type ramen--chicken, pork, and seafood-based soup with medium-shaped noodles, topped with slice pork, and chili, miso, and garlic paste. This was the most amazing bowl of ramen I have ever had--the broth was extremely flavorful; the noodles were fresh and perfectly cooked; and the chili/miso/garlic paste added the last punch.

Kumamoto Komurasaki: tonkatsu-style ramen--chicken, ginger, and pork-based soup-- with thinner-shaped noodles, topped with sliced pork, seaweed, and a boiled egg. The broth was visibly cloudier and richer than the miso ramen. The bowl was also huge! Pinnerton and I shared so we were able to enjoy both types of ramen. I don't think I can have ramen state-side ever again ... It's just not the same!

I wish we could have gone to all the 9 vendors at the ramen museum, but unfortunately the tour must go on. We went on a boat ride then on the Hakone Ropeway (an aerial tram) to the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, where you could still see the remants of Mount Fuji's volcanic activity. Above is the Owakudani Boiling Valley--known for the "black eggs" (the eggs turn black when boiled in the hot springs due to the sulphur level), which is supposed to add 7 years to your life. We didn't make it there in time to consume freshly boiled black eggs, but we did purchase some pre-boiled eggs in a vacuum-sealed pack. My sister and I tried the black egg soft serve ice cream. It tasted just like any other ice cream, but hopefully its longevity benefits will still translate in the ice cream application.

A view of Mount Fuji.

After a wonderful stay at the Hotel Fujihana and a relaxing onsen (traditional Japanese hot spring) experience, my family and I traveled to Oshino Hakkai, where there were spring pools flowing from Mount Fuji. My camera ran out of battery so no picture from there--bummer! After checking into our new hotel, we went exploring around Tokyo and visited the Imperial Palace (above). Unfortunately, it is only opened to the public for a few days a year, and we were not so lucky.

While we were exploring Tokyo and its many famous districts, we made a stop at the iconic Herzog and de Meuron's Prada structure located in the Omotesando district. We also stopped by the Commes des Garcons flagship, but it wasn't opened yet. I tried finding the BAPE store, but we gave up after wandering the streets to no avail. Apparently, the store is purposely hard to find--well, they succeeded.

That's it for the first part of LMC's culinary adventures in Japan--way more food to come in the next travelogue including the BEST tonkatsu in Tokyo and amazing food vendors at the Asakusa Nakamise.

Enjoy,

Little Miss Contrary

9 comments:

angelle said...

yum... i love japanese food!!

KirkK said...

Hey LMCC - Great post! Actually you can get, "sake in a cup" at Nijiya and Mitsuwa...if you really want it. With this kinda strange May weather, a nice bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen sounds real good....I guess I'm off to Santouka!

Little Miss Contrary said...

Hi, Angelle--thanks for stopping by! Wait until my next post, it's going to have you drooling--especially if you like tonkatsu!

Hey, Kirk! Thanks for the tip; note to self if I ever want sake in a cup :] A bowl of piping hot ramen would be perfect for this May gray/June gloom weather. Hope you're have a good weekend!

Roger. said...

*sniffle. I'm so jealous... Been dying for a chance to eat around in Japan. Your post only makes me all the more anxious to go.

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