When we woke up on day 4, both of us could feel a change coming… something dark and strange on the horizon. The Tokyo Fixer (gasp) was down for the count. For the first time in our days together, the Tokyo Fixer was too full, too tired, and too hungover to drag us around the city all day. We might have seen it coming when Chao and the Tokyo Fixer played last man standing until 4:00 AM the night before… either way, he took the day to recharge, sending us on our way with some detailed notes on where to go and a final vote of confidence: “You’re definitely going to get lost.”
First Stop – Meguro
We got the inside scoop on one of the best ramen and gyoza spots in Tokyo, which brought us to Meguro. Contrary to the Tokyo Fixer’s warnings, we found our way there without any problems. (If you forget about the part where we missed our train stop and had to backtrack; don’t blame us for having engaging conversation.)
So, back to this restaurant: our meal at Kaduya (shown above) was the cheapest of our trip so far, without making any sacrifices on taste. Being the only people in the place who didn’t speak Japanese made for some difficulties in ordering, but being the resourceful diners that we are, we got by pointing at pictures on the menu (thank god for this menu) and other people’s dishes. The place was packed, which made it easy to stand up and spot the dish you’d like a few tables over.
We had pork gyoza and original house special ramen with pork. Both dishes were simple, yet perfectly executed and (as with everything we’ve tried) incredibly fresh. We slurped down our ramen in record time, stopping only to savor how deliciously delicate the noodles were and how perfectly balanced the the broth’s flavors were, not overpowering or overly rich.
Next Stop – Shibuya
Still not convinced that we’d proven the Tokyo Fixer wrong, we got ourselves to Shibuya, the Times Square of Tokyo. As soon as we got off the train we were faced with another “food court,” put in quotes because the term “food court” doesn’t really fit teh quality of these places. This one was smaller than the one we hit yesterday, but rivaled it in the selection and presentation of food. Does anyone screw up around here? Once again, no mistakes. A series of perfectly executed, freshly prepared, mouthwatering selections.
Having already hit some salty/savory flavors for the day, Mike was after something sweet, landing on a custard, gelatin and fruit cup. Get this: the packaged up treat came with its own ice pack, just in case Mike held off long enough (fail) for the dessert to get warm.
Shibuya Farmers Market
Not surprisingly, we weren’t content with an afternoon in the food court, and made our way out to explore Shibuya. We stumbled upon the Shibuya Farmers Market, our first one of the trip. It was incredible to see some of the crazy ingredients you just can’t get in the U.S., combined with the ridiculously friendly, welcoming people at the market who offered us tastes and bites of everything.
We continued to walk around, making our way down as many random, off-the-beaten-path streets as possible. Chao had been trying to find some good takoyaki since the day we arrived, and was psyched when we stumbled upon a gem in our directionless rambling.
Takoyaki translates into fried or grilled octopus; it’s basically Japanese street food in the form of dumplings, usually made with batter and octopus; ours was topped with Japanese mayo and bonito, shown above on the right. Even their street food is perfect.
Final Stop – Daikanyama
Our final challenge: Daikanyama, the high-end fashion district that rarely sees tourists. Again, we got there in record time, no mistakes. Eat that, Tokyo Fixer. (Actually, we had to ask a dozen people for help and it took six different attempts to get there. Whatever.)
We got off at Daikanyama, grabbed a double espresso, and we were on our way. This was definitely Mike’s favorite neighborhood they’ve visited so far; once we’d arrived, everything went smoothly, leading up to dinner and drinks at an awesome little izakaya. We put our new sake skills to work (thank you, Professor Gaunter) and drank all night long, taking breaks to sample some Japanese/American pub food.
Overall, awesome experience, and really great to meet and hang out with the izakaya’s owner/chef (notice he’s representing MCC). We finally stumbled back to the train and somehow made our way back to our hotel, with only a few minor slip-ups.