After spending a major public holiday in Osaka and Kyoto, the hustle and bustle of Tokyo doesn’t seem foreign at all when we arrive at the busy Tokyo station. We had caught an early train from Kyoto to Tokyo, and although zipping past small rural towns, paddocks and Mt Fuji at lightnight speed, we arrive in Tokyo ready to continue our journey.
The problem with this being our later half of the trip was that we had gathered a considerable amount of luggage with us, and although we wasted a good hour or so travelling across Tokyo to Shinjuku, trying to check in to our Airbnb, realising that we were too early, trying to scour a luggage locker at the station before realising that it was going to impossible to leave our luggage anywhere. So we took it with us to lunch.
Our lunch plans were to visit the Michelin starred restaurant in XX, however we were once again disappointed to rock up an empty, and closed restaurant due to public holiday closures. Dismayed, we walked down the busy touristy strip, trying to find a restaurant that was large enough to fit not only the two of us, but also our bulky luggage (it was not easy). Which is how we ended up at Asakusa Tokyo.
Asakusa Tokyo is a chain of restaurants all over Tokyo serving predominantly tempura and soba/udon. It’s a cheap, no frills, and food comes at a speed that is almost faster than a fast-food style. There’s tempura just about anything on the menu, and you can order the pieces individuall with beer for a satisfying snack, or if you’re after something a little more substantial, you can order the set meals. We go for the latter option, which come with a selection of tempura, rice/noodles, soup and a side- all for under 1000 yen ($12)!
Tempura Selection with Soba Noodles (980 yen)
Our dinner at Fukusuke Horikawa was one of our first sushi meals in Tokyo and probably the only unplanned one as we had actually a last minute change of plans for the day and ended up in Ikebukuro. We were looking for a nicer place for a special dinner when we came across the lifts to the Sky restaurants located on the 58th and 59th floor and had a peek to see what was up there.
We were pretty much sold once we stepped foot in the lift, a sky themed ride up from ground floor straight up to the restaurant levels, I was so mesmerised that by the time I took my camera out, the ride was already over!
There’s a handful of restaurants on the 59th floor, each with views but we chose Fukusuke Horikawa as it was one of the few Japanese options available. We made a quick reservation and returned for an early dinner- an excellent decision as it not only meant that we got to choose a nice window seat (with incredible views!) but we also got to watch the sun set and the city turn into a beautiful fluorescent lit environment.
We had expected to pay an arm and leg for the nice views, but we were surprised to find that the menu was very reasonably priced, with sushi sets starting from 1620 yen (~$20AUD) for dinner (less for lunch) and drinks on par with most other restaurants we’d been to in Tokyo. We thought we’d go a little fancy an opted for one of the fancier looking multi course sets (Yuraku set, 5400 yen ~$60AUD) and chirashi sushi to share.
Our Japan trip was really planned around food, and for the Tokyo part of the trip, we were spoilt for choice when it came to ramen.
On my first trip to Japan, Rokurinsha was on our list of ramen restaurants to try, however we were not successful in visiting as the queues were just too long to fit into our itinerary. This time I allowed plenty of time to make sure we got our bowls of noodles before we left the country!
Even so, it took two attempts before we finally made it (I forgot to factor in the fact that they close shortly after breakfast service!). And even though we had timed it so that we visited just as they were opening, we still found ourselves queuing for over an hour, with plenty of hungry tourists keen for a taste of the famous ramen.
There is no shortage of good food anywhere in Japan, but when it comes to Tokyo- there is definitely way too many restaurants I want to try and not enough stomach space!
Following on from out adventure in Kyoto, we had caught the Shinkansen to Tokyo (and adventure in itself!) where we spent the remaining days of our Japan trip. We had done our fair share of sight seeing and other touristy things in Osaka and Kyoto, so we planned the Tokyo part of the trip around food. And shopping…only because we didn’t have enough stomach space to eat 24/7!
Ikkakuya ramen 壱角家 秋葉原店
We stayed in Akihabara, and although we did arrive late afternoon, our first dinner in Tokyo was a really disappointing sushi train experience so let’s skip straight to the morning!
When we first explored Akihabara at night, there were too many restaurants to choose from- not only were the streets filled with every type of restaurant you could think of, but the bright signs on the buildings indicated many times that number of restaurants in the buildings towering above.
Despite this, we found ourselves in the opposite situation when looking for breakfast in the morning as we struggled to find something that was open that was not KFC. We waited around until 11am for some ramen shops to open and after being shooed out of one despite us walking in some half an hour after their advertised opening times, we ended up at Ikkakuya ramen.
There was an overload of signs at the front, making it clear that they were published in magazines (as is every other ramen shop there ever was) and that they had English menus….so why not?