Having been to Tokyo several times, there really only a few goals in mind for this stay: people watch, enjoy the Conrad and feed. Here are some highlights of this Saturday’s feeding frenzy:Tsukiji Fish Market – Haven eaten at Sushi Dai and Sushi Daiwa already (must-go if you haven’t, really worth the wait!), we decided to skip the hour long line for Sushi Dai for the only 20 minute queue for some donburi (rice bowl dish). My toro and uni combo did not disappoint. It was served with a miso soup and what I thought were potatoes but were sacs of fish eggs (I think). Surprising but yummy. I have a picture of the name of the donburi restaurant on my slr and will upload shortly.
Breakfast at the Conrad Executive Lounge – After the windy walk back to the hotel, we hit the executive lounge for “coffee”, which turned into a full breakfast. The scones had a refreshing zip of yuzu, the doughnut (and I’m not usually a fan) was light and fluffy, and the baguette was perfectly crusty. All textures and flavors missing from my early morning breakfast. With the carb overload, it’s not surprising that I took a 2 hour nap after. No regrets though. In fact, I’m really hoping they serve the scones again tomorrow.
Ramen Street – Tokyo Station – The grand plan was to go on a ramen tasting spree at Ramen Street in Tokyo Station. That was the plan. Our first stop was Rokurinsha, the grand daddy of tsukemen or dipping ramen. (You can read more about it here: http://www.ramenadventures.com/2010/03/rokurinsha-at-tokyo-ramen-street.html ) We were going to order one bowl of ramen to share and then move next door, and so on and so on. Then we encountered this:
If you can’t read Japanese, that sign says that it’s an hour wait from that point. Making my grand plan even more unachievable was my little excursion to once again get some “coffee”, which I did find in a shop that sold fish shaped, custard-filled snacks, just around the corner from Ramen Street. Of course I bought one. The crispy and piping hot fish shaped cake was filled with glorious melted chocolate. Ugh. So good. It kept our hunger under control while we were in line but it really ended all our plans for a ramen “tour”.
As for the ramen, I loved it. It was opposite of everything that I can’t stand about ramen: thin and mushy noodles, a one-dimensional watery base and chewy pieces of pork that are used as filling rather than accents. The noodles were al dente. The soup was flavorful and rich, with tender cuts of pork – it’s really no surprise that this city has a love affair with tetsumen ramen. Found this great primer on how to enjoy tetsumen ramen: http://www.ramenadventures.com/2009/10/tetsu-in-bunkyo.html Don’t make the mistake that my dining companion did of gulping down the soup -it’s thick and the flavor (and salt) can be overwhelming in large doses. Unlike other ramen, the soup is a dipping sauce highlighting the noodles, which are the star of the show. After the noodles have all been slurped up, then you can add broth to thin out the dipping sauce and enjoy the flavorful soup.
It was worth the hour long wait. And I’m not embarassed to say, we went back for another round of “fish cakes” for dessert.Will have another post on our post-ramen walk in Harujuku and our dinner tonight at the Molecular Laboratory at the Mandarin Oriental. Stay tuned.