after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

adsz brunch rules apply … even in Tokyo

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t says: Those who know me know that I can be a little impatient at times. This leads me to be a bit more brusque than social convention dictates. It’s usually because I’m hungry. A long time ago, I decided I would never wait for brunch for more than 45 minutes. SF has broken me a few times (damn you Plow and your ricotta pancakes!), but for the most part, t doesn’t wait for brunch.

So now we’re in Tokyo. Food bloggers paradise. Just like everyone else who fancies themselves as enjoying the “finer” things in life, we made the trip out to Tsukiji market. Knowing that it’d be rainy, and reading that it wasn’t worth it, we skipped out on the tuna auction. Instead we wanted just to see some stalls hawking an assortment of items and eat some damn good sushi. Now of course, every “experienced traveler” who has the internet is going for the same two places: sushi dai and daiwa sushi … and it shows, with lines in excess of two hours. Well, g & t don’t play ‘dat. Using he power of the internet, we found the third string: Sushi Bun.

g and I must have spent a solid 60 seconds outside, not knowing if we were at the right place, why the door was closed, wondering if we should just barge in. I put on my best dumb American face and went for it. We were rewarded with two empty seats at the counter.

So it seems that we must have read the same blog posts and reviews that every other impatient American read, because while this place turned over four couples during our stay, we were all essentially the same: gore-tex shells (it was raining), waterproof hiking backpack (it was raining, and who knows what we’d want to buy!), terrible Japanese skills (except one guy from one couple who may have been Japanese), and general awkwardness interacting with staff.  That said, this place was legit.  You could order one of three sets of nigiri or sashimi, and that’s it. Piece of cake. They didn’t allow any photography, but let’s just say that the nigiri was spot-on, with large slabs of super-tasty fish.  We went for the pricier nigiri “set”, which included things like uni and shrimp, but it was still well less than $40 (4000 JPY) per person.  And we were full.  I had to help out g with her uni …  the service was prompt and pleasant (there was some miming involved – like where to put our coats/bags). And as we walked (Or maybe “rolled” given how full we were) around the market to aid our digestion afterwards, we couldn’t help but smirk at those in line at other places (all with shells and backpacks).  Was our sushi “as good” as theirs?  No idea.  We’ll never know.  But for quite possibly some of the best sushi we’ve ever had (certainly the best we’ve ever had at this price), we find it hard to believe there could be better.  (But reserve the right to retract that statement if we’re ever bored enough to wait in line).

We followed this up with some aggressive shopping in Ginza (it was too bleak to visit temples/gardens).  I’ll spare you the details except to say that g was very successful in her quests.

Oh – g helped me find some cookies at the mall. Isn’t she awesome? Had a double chocolate chip and a chocolate chip + ginger. Interesting how the dough isn’t as sweet as I’m used to, but the chocolate was super-delicious. It’s some British company (Ben’s?), so I’ll keep an eye out for other flavors.

So back to the real food:

We managed to lunch at Ginza Kigari.

Don’t be fooled by the “soba” sign – there’s some history/technicality about why this sign exists that I can’t recall – but it’s the place!  This joint is probably one of the five most-commonly blogged ramen shops in Tokyo.  After David Chang mentions it and they get a Bib Gourmand, you know they’ve gone Hollywood.  While a second shop was around the corner and supposedly has no wait, we decided that the half-hour wait for tori paitan ramen at the original location was worth it. They had their system down. Menus were distributed to you while you were in line, and a super cheery lady would come around and take orders. By the time you got in there, they were ready to start working on your bowl – no hesitation, no modification, just put on your bib and buckle up.

As expected, it was teeny tiny in there. We were surrounded by 6 other tourists and 2 presumably native Japanese men (so the ratio is getting better!). This, my first tori paitan in Japan, featured a super-rich chicken broth.  Imagine tonkotsu, but with chicken.  It had some slabs of chicken breast and a few garnishes, but I added some egg and nori to round things out.  I think the soup had an excellent base, and the noodles had a wonderful bite and that superb alkaline flavor (that often is missing from ramens I’ve had in Philly/SF), but  I do wish they would have stepped up their game with their included vegetables (squashes/potato) to lighten up the dish with some brightness. Overall, I can say it was quite delicious and worth the wait, while being happily different from the norm making the rounds in SF.

We did go to one food-related “store” in Ginza – the Kit Kat Chocolatory.  Tokyo being known for its interesting Kit Kat flavors, we found some interesting ones (butter, green tea, etc).  We also found this Gateau Mignon flavor, one which was exclusively released at the Ginza store.  This is the Bentley of kit-kats, hiding a layer of chocolate cake inside.

It was absolutely delicious …. maybe not $4 a piece delicious, but something I’ll only see here. g was perhaps less than impressed …

Finally, we finished off the day with a dirt-cheap meal of dumplings at Tenryu Gyoza.

After indulging in these hand-sized gyoza and some much-needed vegetables (we hadn’t encountered many yet!), we were satisfied enough to feel the strong, stiff kick of our circadian rhythms telling us to go to sleep. We retired to our swank-as-hell-thank-goodness-for-CC-points hotel and fell asleep with the Tokyo skyline in the distance. What will tomorrow bring?

Written by afterdinnersneeze

13 October 2017 at 10:38pm

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