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#1

Posted 31 May 2018 - 02:14 PM

Mockngbrd
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Have i ever told you how much i love going to Tokyo? I LOVE GOING TOKYO! Besides the obvious reasons (cars, cars, cars…), another aspect of travelling to Tokyo is the absolutely crazy amount of food available.

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When even just hitting up a local Matsuya for a quick bowl of Gyudon (i go for one with copious amounts of Negi) can be thoroughly enjoyable, Tokyo can be a true gastro-something-something’s delight. Which is why i implore you to please take whatever non-Japanese “foodie’s” blog recommendation with a big pinch of salt. Or shoyu if you prefer. If i ever hear someone mention Ichiran having the “best ramen ever”, imma gonna go all stabby stabby. Seriously, ichiran?

All jokes aside, there are just so many great places to dine in this city that most foreign writers (me included) would really only have just scratched the surface on dining options. So, my friend, don’t take our word as Gospel, get out there, be brave, and explore. If all else fails, if there’s a line of locals out front, you’re in luch! Bonus points if the menu does not come in English! That’s half the fun no? There’s also Tabelog if you’re into researching beforehand, with most reviews written by Japanese, we think it shows up more interesting food options than tripadvisor or google.

This brings me to my most recent trip just a couple of weeks back, we hit quite a number of new eateries and revisited some delightful familiar haunts and overall even though there were a few misses here and there (not my choices!), we had some pretty enjoyable meals during our week in Japan.

While our trip this time took us over to Kanazawa, i figured i’ll do up a separate post for that leg. For now, here are some of the more memorable meals we had whilst in Tokyo. Our first night in Tokyo brought us over to a Horumon Yakimiku joint situated right next to our Airbnb.

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It was somewhat of a hit & miss, we actually visited this establishment twice and while our first visit was thoroughly enjoyable with a great service staff recommending some extremely choice cuts and delicious meats, our second visit (not my idea!) was a little disappointing as most of the tastier meats were sold out. Although they did have a super tasty TKG, JDM speak for rice with a raw egg on top. Theirs came with a special savoury and spicy sprinkle on top for some extra flavour. It was really good. But perhaps, not quite enough to make me want to go back.

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One place i will definitely return on a future trip though is Yakitori Tsukada. One word, Sublime. It’s a relatively new place that just opened a few months ago but boy was it memorable. This was one of the most memorable meals i’ve had for this vacation. I’ve never had chicken yakitori so good in my life ever. Just writing about it now makes me go all giddy with excitement.

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Best part about this restaurant besides the food? It was one of those accidental and unexpected finds. We somewhat walked by it the night before and were pretty impressed with the facade and made a mental note to return. Boy, was i grateful we did!

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Tsukada uses a special singular breed of chicken for their skewers and if you are the sort that loves meat and isn’t afraid to be a little adventurous with the doneness of your chicken, this place is perfection.

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And if you are really adventurous, try this one. Lightly seared with a dash of wasabi, shoyu and wrapped with a small piece of seaweed. JDM chicken goodness. I need one right now. So so very good.

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Having accommodations in Nakameguro was a real treat with numerous dining establishments to choose from in the evenings and in the morning, there’s a lovely cafe that opens rather early, Onibus.

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Having previously stayed in Shinjuku, Omotesando, Daikanyama and Ebisu, i think Nakameguro might have dethroned Daikanyama as my location of choice from now on. It really is a lovely neighbourhood to be in.

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If you prefer to have some pastries whilst sipping your cuppa, there’s a rather pleasant cafe just below Nakameguro station where you can people watch. Them Nakameguro locals sure dress well.

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Did we also mention Nakameguro station has a direct line to Tsukiji market? Nakameguro station has a direct line to Tsukiji market. It’s about a half hour ride but sure beats having to make a transfer.

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As you can possibly surmise, we returned to Tsukiji once again but have wisely decided to just grab some morning grub in the outer market and not entertain any thoughts of hitting Sushi Dai. The Uni was faboulous.

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As were these pieces of Chutoro and Ootoro on sale from a makeshift table hastily set up outside a store. It was super good and all the packs were sold out super quick. I wanted to get another pack but it was all gone. I mean, just look at it! Wouldn’t you?

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Speaking of revisits, we hit Rokurinsha once again for their fantastic Tsukemen. We sort of arrived really early for dinner and only had to wait 30 minutes, so it was all good. So so tasty. Personally i would have liked to try Afuri but with time not on our side during this vacation, that will have to be kept for a future trip.

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On our final leg of the trip, after we returned from Kanazawa, our accommodations shifted slightly towards Shibuya and on our first night back in the capital, we hit up a local Pork steak joint, Tokyo Tonteki. They only do pork, so… if you don’t like pork, better luck elsewhere.

But if you do enjoy your pork, then you’re in luck! The servings are generous and yes, it’s good (Interestingly, my travel mates much preferred the Hamburg Steak variant, so perhaps you can go for that one if you are adverse to thick porky slabs).

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After navigating around in a rain soaked city, a delicious thick cut of pork loin and a cold glass of beer really lifts one’s spirits don’t you think? There’s just something about the beer here in Tokyo. Am i gushing already?

42349799352_e716ce18df_b.jpg

Speaking of meats, we once again returned to Blacows for their World-class burgs. I was once again in my happy place. Unfortunately even though my Bacon Avacado Cheese Burger was sandwich perfection, my partner’s burger patty was slightly overdone and less enjoyable. Hopefully that was a one-off since we did have a rather large group of diners.

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We found ourselves back in Tsukiji on one of our last mornings in Tokyo because we were hungry for some Katsu from Yachiyo. (Or maybe that was just me). As expected, there was a line but nothing as crazy as Sushi Dai’s. We waiting roughly 40-45 minutes and considering it was a Saturday, i think we did good. Interestingly most of the people in the queue were local tourist, looks like we’re doing something right!

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Once inside, i went for my usual seafood katsu combo but my partner glanced a picture on the wall and enquired what it was. What THAT is, is a fried egg and char siew with rice meal that used to be prepared in rather limited quantities and only for breakfast. It was an interesting dish and somehow became a rather popular item, even making it to the local tabloids. No prizes for guessing what my partner ordered. (Psst, she LOVED it.)

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As for me? I was in Katsu heaven! Bring on Kanazawa!

 
 

 


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#2

Posted 31 May 2018 - 02:22 PM

Mockngbrd
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Part II




 

Having covered our Tokyo culinary capers in my last post, here are some of my gastronomical highlights from our short jaunt up to Kanazawa and Takayama. For those not yet in the know, Kanazawa is best known for seafood (and rice… but seafood’s definitely more exciting than rice), with neighbouring Takayama offering up some choice Hida Wagyu. I’m guessing you can see where this is going.

We didn’t really discover anything really memorable on our first afternoon and evening in Kanazawa and to be honest, we were slightly disappointed with Omicho market. Having been to Tokyo’s crazy busy Tsukiji, Osaka’s bustling Kuromon Ichiba and Kyoto’s beautifully quaint Nishiki, Kanazawa’s Omicho felt pretty much the same and just didn’t feel as interesting. Though, you can grab a bite out of some freshly caught crabs, but it will cost you quite a bit of Yens. Oysters though were a lot more economically friendly and you do get a bit more oyster for your Yens than over in Tsukiji, we happily partook.

42444474721_2fabe1e6b2_b.jpg

We did wonder if it was because we visted Omicho too late in the afternoon when most of the shops were closing up for the day, sow ith a mental note made to return on another day, we retreated back to our hotel. The Share Hotel Kumu Kanazawa, it was fab. Trust me on that.

That evening, we managed to hit up Akadama Honten, a rather well known Kanazawa oden joint. It was good but nothing to write home about and service was unfortunately, rather curt. We did get our first taste of the Nodoguro fish here though.

What in the World is a Nodoguro you ask? Well, we had no idea at the time, but with the magic of Google i can now tell you that it is a Blackthroat Seaperch that is formally referred to as a rosy seabass. It is apparently, a high grade fish that can be caught along the coast of the Sea of Japan and in addition to being a popular choice for sashimi and sushi, they are also delicious grilled. Which was what we had. It was as good as it was expensive, but having taken a 3 hour Shinkansen all the way here, why not? Unfortunately, i was too tired to take any pictures so you’ll just have to bear with me on this one. Would i return to Akadama Honten? Probably not.

Day two was when things started getting more interesting as we loaded up onto a Nissan Serena for a road trip down to Shirakawa-Go to look at some scenic old houses and then to Takayama for more scenic old houses, and some tasty Hida beef of course.

42444479961_576bbf2003_b.jpg

Navigating the roads of Japan was rather easy with Google maps on our side but the Nissan Serena was a true dullsville of a car, not helped by its snooze-inducing CVT transmission. I swear CVTs were sent from the depths of automotive heck to suck the life out of every car they are attached to. The drone! The drone! But i digress…

28571137908_0f8f4a1585_b.jpg

42444479731_964133f71c_b.jpg

After two hours on the JDM motorway (it seems most locals treat speed limits as “suggestions”), we arrived in the UNESCO world heritage site that is Shirakawa-Go. Old house jokes aside, it was really picturesque. Since this is a food post, let’s move on.

From Shirakawa-Go we got back onboard the Serena for another hour of JDM motorway driving towards Takayama. Our plan was to hit Ajikura Tengoku, a highly rated yakiniku restaurant serving up one of the best cow Japan has to offer.

Sadly though, it was not meant to be as we arrived to closed doors and a sign stating they were closed. This was meant to be one of my highlights of this road trip but life had other plans. I could have cried right there and then. But, that’s how some things go and we pottered on it was time to head towards Takayama’s historical district instead.

42444479601_34c117bd5f_b.jpg

If anyone told you Takayama feels a little like Kyoto without the maddening crowds and super commercialised tourist zones. They’d be right. It really did feel like Kyoto without the maddening crowds and super commercialised tourist zones. There were foreigners like us yes, but you could still freely walk around and take in the sights, sounds and smells at your own pace. Or until the shops close.

42444479461_6728343156_b.jpg

It was in this historical area where i discovered Hida Kotte Ushi. I’ve had some pretty memorable cow in my life but this, this was on another level of beefy goodness. This was Wagyu epiphany worthy right there. I’ve had some really memorable beef moments in Japan, but these little slices of Heaven complete me. Damn i wish i can have some right now.

41542116415_7c738a6f77_b.jpg

And I’ll remember, the strength that you gave me,
Now that I’m standing on my own. I’ll remember, the way that you saved me… I’ll remember…

42444479741_3e0dd0a5d8_b.jpg

Of course i had to go back before leaving Takayama. (After a somewhat lacklustre steak meal at Yakiniku Kaeda. It was actually pretty good, but not great and certainly not life changing. So far with my very limited beef experience in Japan, I personally think Steak Otsuka in Arashiyama Kyoto serves up a better JDM cow with Steak House Satoucoming in a very very very close second. Kaeda does rank higher than Hakushu in Shibuya, i find that one a little touristy. Anyway, it was time to head back into Serena for our drive back to Kanazawa. A little tip for anybody planning on doing this drive, the roads are extremely monotonous and a big chunk of it takes place in straight and extremely monotonous dual lane tunnel roads, so do plot in some rest points. This journey was one of very very few drives where i actually felt tired and had to make a rest stop. The tunnel drives can really drain you and all your passengers out. Maybe it was the CVT.

42444476671_1e0bec6601_b.jpg

Fast forward to our last night in Kanazawa, we found ourselves at Machiya Dining Aguri. A really lovely (and quaint) restaurant housed in a traditional Machiya.

No point boring you with details, here are some pictures of what we had instead. Yes it was a highlight. Yes it was good. Yes there was amazing Sake. Yes it is a place worth returning and worth mentioning to you.

41542114995_2b7242a019_b.jpg

42444476421_7785667809_b.jpg

28571133828_ee105e6ffc_b.jpg

28571133458_4922501421_b.jpg

We had another grilled Nodoguro here. Yes it was still good and it was still pricey.

28571132958_451daf21be_b.jpg

With one last morning to explore the area before our Shinkansen back into Tokyo, we returned to Omicho market once again but i guess we were too early as the most of the stores were still setting up for the day. We had initially planned to have a sushi/sashimi breakfast at Yamasan Sushi Honten but they were still in the middle of setting up and were still not opened. Which incidentally led us to finding another eatery with a bunch of locals waiting to get in, this one was open. It was called Ikiikitei. They had an interesting queue system where you had to write down what you wanted on an order chit and stick it up outside the shop, along with a local number to reach you. When your turn comes, their friendly staff will take your order in and show you your seats. Boy, was i glad we saw all the locals hanging around outside. This place is gold!

28571132708_5245b5787d_b.jpg

Seasonal special, Nodoguro once again. This time lightly seared. Lovely.

28571132368_b702db15c5_b.jpg

And then, the main event. A simply devine Chirashi don. I think, i think this was the best Chirashi don i’ve ever had. They even sprinkled on some gold flakes just to make it look prettier, but Honey, ain’t no need for that.

27574058967_2fd02f11f4_b.jpg

Yes, this Chirashi don was one of the trip’s foodie highlights (along with Hida Kotte’s beef sushi). It was once again, sublime. We hear Ikiikitei sells out pretty quick, so if you are ever in the area, do drop by early!

42444474321_9bbcd8668f_b.jpg

With our stomachs filled up with amazing fish, it was time to grab our luggage and head back into Tokyo. Kanazawa is a lovely and beautiful place, but i’m not sure if i’ll ever return and this makes me sad. Sad because, i’m not sure if i’ll ever get to taste that beef sushi or Chirashi don once again.


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#3

Posted 01 June 2018 - 12:13 PM

K3nny77
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Part II




 

Having covered our Tokyo culinary capers in my last post, here are some of my gastronomical highlights from our short jaunt up to Kanazawa and Takayama. For those not yet in the know, Kanazawa is best known for seafood (and rice… but seafood’s definitely more exciting than rice), with neighbouring Takayama offering up some choice Hida Wagyu. I’m guessing you can see where this is going.

We didn’t really discover anything really memorable on our first afternoon and evening in Kanazawa and to be honest, we were slightly disappointed with Omicho market. Having been to Tokyo’s crazy busy Tsukiji, Osaka’s bustling Kuromon Ichiba and Kyoto’s beautifully quaint Nishiki, Kanazawa’s Omicho felt pretty much the same and just didn’t feel as interesting. Though, you can grab a bite out of some freshly caught crabs, but it will cost you quite a bit of Yens. Oysters though were a lot more economically friendly and you do get a bit more oyster for your Yens than over in Tsukiji, we happily partook.

42444474721_2fabe1e6b2_b.jpg

We did wonder if it was because we visted Omicho too late in the afternoon when most of the shops were closing up for the day, sow ith a mental note made to return on another day, we retreated back to our hotel. The Share Hotel Kumu Kanazawa, it was fab. Trust me on that.

That evening, we managed to hit up Akadama Honten, a rather well known Kanazawa oden joint. It was good but nothing to write home about and service was unfortunately, rather curt. We did get our first taste of the Nodoguro fish here though.

What in the World is a Nodoguro you ask? Well, we had no idea at the time, but with the magic of Google i can now tell you that it is a Blackthroat Seaperch that is formally referred to as a rosy seabass. It is apparently, a high grade fish that can be caught along the coast of the Sea of Japan and in addition to being a popular choice for sashimi and sushi, they are also delicious grilled. Which was what we had. It was as good as it was expensive, but having taken a 3 hour Shinkansen all the way here, why not? Unfortunately, i was too tired to take any pictures so you’ll just have to bear with me on this one. Would i return to Akadama Honten? Probably not.

Day two was when things started getting more interesting as we loaded up onto a Nissan Serena for a road trip down to Shirakawa-Go to look at some scenic old houses and then to Takayama for more scenic old houses, and some tasty Hida beef of course.

42444479961_576bbf2003_b.jpg

Navigating the roads of Japan was rather easy with Google maps on our side but the Nissan Serena was a true dullsville of a car, not helped by its snooze-inducing CVT transmission. I swear CVTs were sent from the depths of automotive heck to suck the life out of every car they are attached to. The drone! The drone! But i digress…

28571137908_0f8f4a1585_b.jpg

42444479731_964133f71c_b.jpg

After two hours on the JDM motorway (it seems most locals treat speed limits as “suggestions”), we arrived in the UNESCO world heritage site that is Shirakawa-Go. Old house jokes aside, it was really picturesque. Since this is a food post, let’s move on.

From Shirakawa-Go we got back onboard the Serena for another hour of JDM motorway driving towards Takayama. Our plan was to hit Ajikura Tengoku, a highly rated yakiniku restaurant serving up one of the best cow Japan has to offer.

Sadly though, it was not meant to be as we arrived to closed doors and a sign stating they were closed. This was meant to be one of my highlights of this road trip but life had other plans. I could have cried right there and then. But, that’s how some things go and we pottered on it was time to head towards Takayama’s historical district instead.

42444479601_34c117bd5f_b.jpg

If anyone told you Takayama feels a little like Kyoto without the maddening crowds and super commercialised tourist zones. They’d be right. It really did feel like Kyoto without the maddening crowds and super commercialised tourist zones. There were foreigners like us yes, but you could still freely walk around and take in the sights, sounds and smells at your own pace. Or until the shops close.

42444479461_6728343156_b.jpg

It was in this historical area where i discovered Hida Kotte Ushi. I’ve had some pretty memorable cow in my life but this, this was on another level of beefy goodness. This was Wagyu epiphany worthy right there. I’ve had some really memorable beef moments in Japan, but these little slices of Heaven complete me. Damn i wish i can have some right now.

41542116415_7c738a6f77_b.jpg

And I’ll remember, the strength that you gave me,
Now that I’m standing on my own. I’ll remember, the way that you saved me… I’ll remember…

42444479741_3e0dd0a5d8_b.jpg

Of course i had to go back before leaving Takayama. (After a somewhat lacklustre steak meal at Yakiniku Kaeda. It was actually pretty good, but not great and certainly not life changing. So far with my very limited beef experience in Japan, I personally think Steak Otsuka in Arashiyama Kyoto serves up a better JDM cow with Steak House Satoucoming in a very very very close second. Kaeda does rank higher than Hakushu in Shibuya, i find that one a little touristy. Anyway, it was time to head back into Serena for our drive back to Kanazawa. A little tip for anybody planning on doing this drive, the roads are extremely monotonous and a big chunk of it takes place in straight and extremely monotonous dual lane tunnel roads, so do plot in some rest points. This journey was one of very very few drives where i actually felt tired and had to make a rest stop. The tunnel drives can really drain you and all your passengers out. Maybe it was the CVT.

42444476671_1e0bec6601_b.jpg

Fast forward to our last night in Kanazawa, we found ourselves at Machiya Dining Aguri. A really lovely (and quaint) restaurant housed in a traditional Machiya.

No point boring you with details, here are some pictures of what we had instead. Yes it was a highlight. Yes it was good. Yes there was amazing Sake. Yes it is a place worth returning and worth mentioning to you.

41542114995_2b7242a019_b.jpg

42444476421_7785667809_b.jpg

28571133828_ee105e6ffc_b.jpg

28571133458_4922501421_b.jpg

We had another grilled Nodoguro here. Yes it was still good and it was still pricey.

28571132958_451daf21be_b.jpg

With one last morning to explore the area before our Shinkansen back into Tokyo, we returned to Omicho market once again but i guess we were too early as the most of the stores were still setting up for the day. We had initially planned to have a sushi/sashimi breakfast at Yamasan Sushi Honten but they were still in the middle of setting up and were still not opened. Which incidentally led us to finding another eatery with a bunch of locals waiting to get in, this one was open. It was called Ikiikitei. They had an interesting queue system where you had to write down what you wanted on an order chit and stick it up outside the shop, along with a local number to reach you. When your turn comes, their friendly staff will take your order in and show you your seats. Boy, was i glad we saw all the locals hanging around outside. This place is gold!

28571132708_5245b5787d_b.jpg

Seasonal special, Nodoguro once again. This time lightly seared. Lovely.

28571132368_b702db15c5_b.jpg

And then, the main event. A simply devine Chirashi don. I think, i think this was the best Chirashi don i’ve ever had. They even sprinkled on some gold flakes just to make it look prettier, but Honey, ain’t no need for that.

27574058967_2fd02f11f4_b.jpg

Yes, this Chirashi don was one of the trip’s foodie highlights (along with Hida Kotte’s beef sushi). It was once again, sublime. We hear Ikiikitei sells out pretty quick, so if you are ever in the area, do drop by early!

42444474321_9bbcd8668f_b.jpg

With our stomachs filled up with amazing fish, it was time to grab our luggage and head back into Tokyo. Kanazawa is a lovely and beautiful place, but i’m not sure if i’ll ever return and this makes me sad. Sad because, i’m not sure if i’ll ever get to taste that beef sushi or Chirashi don once again.

 

I hate you so very much now.

 

I miss Tokyo.



#4

Posted 01 June 2018 - 12:28 PM

Jamesc
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Wah now we have a Miss Tokyo join our forum.  [thumbsup]

 

:D

 

Wonder if she look like this?

 

Girls%20-%20Show%20Up-2.jpg


Say no to harsh artificial chemicals

that pollute the earth

and go natural. [thumbsup]

#5

Posted 01 June 2018 - 02:31 PM

Mockngbrd
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dun tikopek


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#6

Posted 01 June 2018 - 02:40 PM

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dun tikopek

wah, your post brings back good memories for me. i am salivating from the thought of hida beef again.

 

kanazawa is nice. too bad i did not have enough time there. i enjoyed Kenroku-en, one of the top 3 gardens in Japan. 




#7

Posted 19 June 2018 - 12:50 PM

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OK ok later I share my earlier post. More details in those stories.
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#8

Posted 20 June 2018 - 10:31 AM

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From back in 2015. Also my first post about food. If you like Burgs and are ever near any of these places, hope you'll like it.  It was my first foray to Blacows and i've been a fan ever since. Dropping by almost everytime i'm there. Once again i stress that you do NOT that this as gospel and keep exploring by yourselves. Tokyo has great food almost everywhere and food blogs are full of THE SAME  touristy joints. (Ichiran ramen... yux). Just take blogs as general guides and somewhere to start your food journey, but don't pigeonhole yourself when you are there.


OH, i paid for all my meals, i not influenzer. 

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Singapore has NOTHING on Tokyo's Burgers for price/quality.
 
Granted, I’m no food critic, nor a bonafide epicurean specialist. But i do enjoy some good eats every now and then. Good eats, good meats and of course, a good burger. Having some of the best places to eat, i reckon it’s pretty hard to find a chow-down place in Tokyo that will disappoint, but when feeds of a certain Burger joint kept creeping up on my Facebook feed and subsequent Googling brought up some mad reviews. (Herehere and here) And with a some people championing it as the “Best in the World“, i knew i had to make a trip down.

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Truth be told, i didn’t exactly plan to hit 3 separate Burger joints during my short stay in Tokyo. Blacows was the pretty much the only one on my itinerary’s hit list. The 3rd Burger happened to just be there when i was hungry (haven’t had anything to eat the entire day prior) and i chomped down at The Great Burger because it was near the awesome Airbnb apartment i was staying at. But of course, I’m not complaining. All 3 Burger restaurants were fantastic in their own way they all added some wonderful flavor to my holiday.

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Getting things started, here’s The 3rd burger. It was on my first night in Tokyo when i stumbled upon this place in Roppongi. Like every bumbling tourist, i headed out the wrong exit in the train station but faced with a very inviting Burger cafe, i think i made a right mistake. They also have a main shop in Omotesando for those interested.

Catering to the more health-conscientious-ish set, The 3rd Burger presents itself as a more “healthy alternative” to the regular sandwiches we are more accustomed to. According to Timeout, “The patties are minced from fresh meat (no freezing allowed), the buns are free from additives and preservatives, and each burger comes laden with organic veg.” It all sounds pretty good, they even serve smoothies with meals. But of course at that point in time, i had no idea what this place was about, it just looked like they served some pretty good burgers and there was a screen broadcasting how they made those yummy patties. I was not disappointed.

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I had the Marinated Burdock Burger and coupled it with fries and a beer. All in, it was about ¥1,400. Pretty good value if you hail from Singapore, the land of expensive. The burger was good and the sauce had a nice tangy bite. With lots of those organic veggies stuffed between two buns and a patty, it made for a very tasty meal. Especially when i swapped out my smoothie for a biru. In a nutshell, it’s like Freshness Burger, only fresher, and more tasty with a fantastic variation of Burgers in the menu. The fries were nothing to shout (especially without some hot sauce) about but they usually play supporting roles when it comes to burgers anyway, no biggie there.

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Now onto the main event, Blacows! I’ve heard some pretty good things about this place so expectations were of course, on the slightly high side. With memories of the previous night’s healthy burger still fresh in my mind i made the trek up to Ebisu straight from Makuhari Messe. My feet were busted from the day’s activities but with images of freshly ground up Japanese black cow wagyu beef floating in front of me, there was no stopping me! (Be damned you little upslope towards the restaurant!)

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I stepped into the discreet looking joint, was very politely made aware of their last order and closing times (i did reach a bit late) and was presented with their menu. Off the top of my head, i pointed to the Cheeseburger as i wanted to discover what Mr Food Critic had been raving about. (Reference to prices above, still totally reasonable for some top quality chow)


Minutes (or maybe 10-15 minutes) later, this hit my table. It looked honest, no fancy accessories to the burger, only some melted cheese, a nice brown caramelized sauce on top and some tar tar sauce sitting beneath the beef patty of destiny.

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The moment of truth.

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You know the saying, “never meet your heroes”. Well, that does not apply here. I can’t tell you if it’s the Best in the World or the Best in Tokyo since i’m no “expert” food blogger, but it was pretty good indeed. Not it wasn’t good, it was great, i didn’t really care about the cheese, i didn’t really care about the tasty sauce, what i cared about, was that black cow beef patty. For meat lovers that patty takes total center stage in the midst of 2 buns tasty enough to eat on their own, it was thick, juicy and oozing with some fatty cow flavor. On hindsight, i should have ordered a biru.

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The last bite before i call it a day and head back to my hotel near Tokyo Station. Blacows was so very worth the trip up and i’ll make it a point to return once again. Maybe next time i’ll try the Big. (Or maybe not)

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The Great Burger happened to be nearby as i was heading out for lunch on my last day in Tokyo, located smack in Omotesando and just a short walk away from my apartment, it was time for Burger number 3. While The 3rd Burger prides itself on providing a fresh and healthy new-age take on a traditional favorite and Blacows going on the full-on high-quality gourmet route, The Great Burger sticks with the tried and tested formula of an American Diner style, fat juicy sandwich. Bacon, cheese, pineapple, whatever works, just stack it in and serve it up.

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The decor in this place is definitely casual and friendly. I had a counter seat and got to see my Bacon Cheeseburger being prepared on the griddle. I opted for smaller thin cut fries as a matter of preference, you can choose thicker cuts if you so choose. All in, it was just slightly above ¥1,000 for my set lunch that came with salad, fries and a “home-made” ginger ale. Great value once again and for the quality of food you get, i’d even call it cheap.

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With nice big thick cuts on bacon slathered on top of the cheesed patty and topped off with a toast bun, it was chow time! On a nice winter afternoon, this sure hits the right spot, with those thick cuts of bacon slices really bringing it home. After washing it all down with a nice glass of Ginger Ale, it was time to hit the shopping trail for a full day before saying to Tokyo once again.

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So of all 3, which is the best? It really does boil down to how you like your burger. For those who crave the taste of meat and only want the very best cow in their sandwiches, a trip to Blacows is the only place to be, for those who insist the best burgers are American styled burgers, cheese, bacon and all things FREEDOM!, The Great Burger has got your back. And for those who much prefer a more healthy Japanese take on an American favorite, The 3rd Burger might be something you should try.
Many people come to Tokyo expecting to eat some top-notch JDM food, which of course can be easily found, but isn’t it a waste if they go all JDM food only and miss out on Japan’s amazing western style eateries.

Personally, i think you cannot go wrong with any of these 3 places, they all served up some of the best Burgers i’ve ever had, but if you really want me to pick one, I’ll be tapping my Suica (or Pasmo) once again for the Yamanote line to Ebisu. (Sorry Fergburger, but you will have to share space in my “Best-burger-in-the-World” spot from now on)
 


 


Edited by Mockngbrd, 20 June 2018 - 10:34 AM.

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#9

Posted 20 June 2018 - 11:51 AM

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If you like Sushi, definitely go try Sushi Jiro or Sukiyabashi Jiro Roppongi Hills



#10

Posted 20 June 2018 - 01:36 PM

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Have you tried?

My friends that went didn't rave about it that much considering the ¥¥¥¥¥ spent.

Edited by Mockngbrd, 20 June 2018 - 01:37 PM.

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#11

Posted 21 June 2018 - 03:43 PM

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Coffee break. I'd love to go back to Bear Pond more often, but Shimokitazawa's just not a place that's on my to-go list when i'm in Tokyo. So a trip specially just for coffee isn't on my itinerary most of the time. But if you are in the area, i'd recommend dropping by and ordering a "dirty". It's de best.

 
Much has been said and written about Tanaka-san that it would really be pointless to repeat them once again here, for those still curious, a click out to Vimeo might offer some insight.

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Again, so much has been said, and so much has been written that i found myself, a non-coffee drinker, arriving way too early in the trendy (maybe hipster) district of Shimokitazawa where Bear Pond resides, eager to discover what many claim to be the best coffee ever.

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Unfortunately, having a habit of not wasting time sleeping in when overseas, i found myself staring at a closed cafe. No matter, a quick but fantastic breakfast down the street solved everything. As they always do.

I have read about some foreign visitors’ experiences at Tanaka-san’s cafe being less than desirable, with his strict no photography signs and no-nonsense perfectionist approach to the espresso making process. And with some slightly trepidation and hesitation when making my first order, scenes of Seinfeld’s soup nazi did flash before my eyes. I settled for the Dirty, a strange choice i’d agree considering it was a somewhat cold winter morning.

My coffee came and as i took a sip the wonderfully concocted blend with hints of chocolate and very little bitter aftertaste, a couple came in with their so very friendly Golden Retriever. Tanaka-san and his wife’s faces lit up and engaged in much friendly banter with them and those initial ideas of Mr Bear Pond being an unfriendly or authoritarian figure went straight out the door as quickly as the Goldie came in.

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I sat back and continued nursing my little glass of magic and ordered a second drink, a winter special, to just continue the experience. As i finished off my second cup of coffee and prepared to make my exit, i politely asked if i could take a picture. Surprisingly, he was okay with it. But only pictures of the coffee, not of the cafe, not of him. His reasons? He doesn’t’ think of himself as a celebrity and to him, it doesn’t make much sense to take a picture with someone who doesn’t know him.

Interestingly, our conversation extended further from this point on, his history, his journey and his path to what led him on to the birth of Bear Pond. His thoughts on the current cafe situation in Tokyo as well as his philosophies, ideologies and thoughts behind his life, his cafe, his methods and his craft. Elements of which most of us likely keep apart, but to Tanaka-san, they are one and not to be set apart.

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His cafe and his espresso is (his) life, it is his craft and his art. His canvas is the cup, his paintbrush is his La Marzocca machine and his medium is coffee. When you talk to him and try to understand the man behind the machine, you are his captive audience and like many art forms, there is no standard interpretation, everyone is to have their own unique experience and I’d like to think that is what Bear Pond Espresso is.

On a personal note, i don’t know why he was able to open up to a tourist like me, perhaps our similar background in design and advertising allowed us to have a unique understanding. Or maybe, he was just in a really really good mood. As i made my goodbyes, he smiled and mentioned that now, we can take a picture together. I questioned his earlier rule of not taking pictures with people, with him informing me that he does not take pictures with people he doesn’t know, but now that we’ve had a conversation, we are no longer strangers at this point.


Edited by Mockngbrd, 21 June 2018 - 03:45 PM.

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#12

Posted 21 June 2018 - 04:29 PM

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thanks for sharing!
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Posted 21 June 2018 - 11:05 PM

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Great thread. I go to Tokyo mainly for the shopping. Will note down the places to go for good food.



#14

Posted 21 June 2018 - 11:13 PM

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Nice pictures and description of your trip.


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#15

Posted 21 June 2018 - 11:48 PM

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[thumbsup]  food's really outstanding in Japan.  



#16

Posted 25 June 2018 - 04:18 PM

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Since Tsukiji is still going to be around for a short while longer...  
This visit back in 2015 was prob. the last time i'd ever go to Sushi Dai. The line is now just wayyy too long and i can thinking of many more things to do than standing around waiting. It's a really really great place with superb sushi and i've had first hand experience that even the sushi shops next door are not quite as good as Dai. But at least i've had some good times there, been going Dai since back in i think 2003. You didn't need to Q that long back then if you arrived early, around 530-6am. Maybe at most 30-45mins, 

If you have never been to Sushi dai and you don't mind waiting, sure please go ahead.

In 2010, i arrived at 545 and only need to wait 10-15mins. Now it's 3-4-5 hours. Anyway, here's my writeup back for my 2015 Tsukiji visit. 

 
Admittedly, i had actually wanted to do a couple more write-ups on the more tasty bits of Tokyo back when i last visited in January, but somehow i have never got around to doing it. One of the reasons was probably because i was just too busy stuffing my face and didn’t get much photos in. So this time around, i made it a point to capture the local delicacies we sampled on our short weekend getaway.
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Our first real highlight was actually some extraordinary Ramen from Rokurinsha over at the Tokyo Station but i shall keep that for another post. For now, let’s head over to a place i have always made a point to visit whenever i am in Tokyo, the Tsukiji Fish Market.
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A visit that this time was especially poignant given its probably one of the last few times we will see this place as it is set be torn down towards the tail end of 2016 (2018 edit: bluff one), making way for buildings that will be much less of an “eye-sore” (oh so the politicians say) for the up and coming Olympics. Much sadness ensues…
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Anyway, back to Tsukiji, first stop, .6650037,139.7706932,16z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0000000000000000:0xae3f867e575c2004'>Sushi Dai! One of the few places that i always make a point to visit whenever i hit Tokyo. Now, there are plenty of people who might tell you that the other joints surrounding Sushi Dai are just as good. Let me assure you that they are not exactly right! Other shops might be good, but the stuff you get at Dai is just that much better. Which might explain the insane waiting times. (Don’t even mention Sushi Zanmai, which really is more akin to Itacho on a really good day.)
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Speaking of lines, we unfortunately got to .6650037,139.7706932,16z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0000000000000000:0xae3f867e575c2004'>Sushi Dai slightly late (about 6:30am) and found ourselves at the back of a 5-hour line.
Though there were numerous times when we wondered if we should just give up and head to the Tonkatsu shop just next to Dai (Which serves really excellent seafood Tonkatsu by the way). But through it all, we endured, with the occasional snack run to and fro the outer market, and after 4 1/2 hours, finally made it inside.
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I never really made it a point to document my entire お任せ(Omakase) course previously so this is as good a time as any other. I shall let the pictures tell the story, and yes, they taste as good as they look. Or rather, they taste better than how they look.
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Towards the end of the meal, you get to choose your last piece. Whatever’s on the menu is up fpr grabs. I wasn’t really feeling inspired and since i already slurped down a fresh oyster (or two) while waiting, i went for the default but oh-so-good Ootoro.
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Knowing that Tsukiji’s time in its current locale was running up, we decided to pay a second visit to the .6651633,139.7697898,17.48z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x60188bdf26ff22df:0xf683b897011615a5'>market the very next morning, but this time, we were taking a more relaxed approach and headed over to the outer market to sample some of the street food in the area. By street food, we actually mean Oysters and scallops!
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It doesn’t take long before we found ourselves greeted with some really fresh and plump looking Oysters from Hokkaido! Check out the size of those on the top row! (Use the hand as size reference) We opted to go for the mid range ones as the giant ones looked really way too big. Taste-wise, those were pretty much the best fresh oysters we have ever had. So so very creamy, so so very rich, with non of the metallic notes you get from most oysters sold locally.
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If you prefer your oysters cooked, there was also a store barbequing them up on the spot! Also immensely tasty but if i had to pick, the fresh ones are the ones to go for. No contest.
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Further down, we found more grilled shellfish, this time some generously sized scallops drizzled with soy sauce and grilled with a handheld torch. Gotta try doing it at home one day.
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If a simple barbequed scallop doesn’t cut if for you, how about one with some Uni laid out on top? A-mazingly yummy!
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Finishing off our Tsukiji morning escapade we grabbed what i would describe as a most decadent bun. With a very generous amount of Uni encased with a black sesame bun, it was rich, creamy, savory and sweet all at the same time. Oh how i miss Tsukiji now…
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Edited by Mockngbrd, 25 June 2018 - 04:18 PM.

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#17

Posted 25 June 2018 - 11:30 PM

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4.5 hours?

Nothing is that good.... but seriously why treat your customer that way.... sell faster lah

#18

Posted 25 June 2018 - 11:40 PM

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4.5 hours?

Nothing is that good.... but seriously why treat your customer that way.... sell faster lah

Because its a very small place. At most maybe seats for 10? Then each piece is served one by one. Quality over quantity. The other shops will serve one shot.
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Posted 02 July 2018 - 01:36 PM

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For the Katsu fans



 
It was a day of Katsu as we headed to Tonkatsu Yachiyo in Tsukiji for breakfast and Tonkatsu Maisen over in Omotesando for dinner. Two rather different places, both serving Katsu.
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Of course, part of this Katsu dining experience wasn’t exactly planned as we were really heading into Tsukiji early in the morning for the sole purpose of a Sushi breakfast at Sushi Dai. But it was not meant to be, even though we trotted out into cold early morning and reached Dai at 5:45 in the morning, an enormous queue had already formed and it looked like another 3-4 hour wait before we could even get close to the entrance. I sure remember it wasn’t like this just a couple of years ago, perhaps Dai just got even more popular (as we noticed many in the queue had tourist guide books with Dai featured), or maybe the impending closure of Tsukiji just made people more motivated to hit Dai one last time.
Not wanting to endure another (rather painful) 3 hour standing line, Jamie suggested we try out the Tonkatsu joint i had previously raved about and visited on my last solo trip. Good idea.
Tonkatsu Yachiyo (八千代) is located smack bang in the middle of Sushi Daiwa and Sushi Dai, so it really is not too difficult to find. There are actually two katsu joints sitting side by side, the one on the right is Yachiyo. On most days, you will usually find locals dining inside, which is of course a big plus sign for authenticity, or maybe they also just don’t want to join a 3-4 hour line for sushi.
Inside, it’s all very utilitarian, nothing fancy. Some old flooring, rickety stools and a table that has seen better days. You go in, order your food, eat, and leave.
But the food, oh such delicious yummy food. Usually in a Tonkatsu joint, they serve mostly Pork, but over here, the specialty is deep fried seafood. Very fresh deep fried seafood. The menu is on the walls but because everything is in Japanese, it can be a little daunting for the casual visitor. But to make things easier, there are sets you can choose from. All dishes come with a serving of JDM rice, vegetables and miso. Perfect for those cold wintery mornings.
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The A-set i ordered (and easiest to order since it was featured in an article stuck to the wall) consist of a big sized prawn, fish and a nice plump scallop, all fried to crispy perfection and served with a dollop of very-tasty-i-am-still-thinking-about-it tartar sauce.
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Jamie had the oysters, 5 fat and big oysters fried just right to retain the oyster’s creamy texture. It was fookin good.
Breakfast at Yachiyo was so delightful it turned out to be one of this trip’s foodie highlights. Though we might have missed out on Sushi Dai, having some tasty seafood katsu in the morning with time to spare for a nap back in our Airbnb apartment sure made up for most of the initial disappointment. Yachiyo also serves up a very limited char siew tamago dish but i’ve yet to try it. I hear it’s good.
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As we headed back to our apartment after grabbing a quick beef bowl (yes we were just being greedy), i grabbed one last parting shot of Tsukiji. This time next year, it will sadly be no more.
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Over in .6681048,139.7094052,17z/data=!4m6!1m3!3m2!1s0x60188b5ede87faf1:0xe856ec001030252e!2sTonkatsu+Maisen+Tokyu+Toyoko!3m1!1s0x0000000000000000:0x7c05f742c3dfc6cc'>Omotesando in the evening, we managed to get in through the doors of .6681048,139.7094052,17z/data=!4m6!1m3!3m2!1s0x60188b5ede87faf1:0xe856ec001030252e!2sTonkatsu+Maisen+Tokyu+Toyoko!3m1!1s0x0000000000000000:0x7c05f742c3dfc6cc'>Maisen just before it was time for their last orders. We had both read about this place online and given the rave reviews from other visitors, we had pretty high expectations. With prices averaging about ¥3,000-¥4,000 per person, this would also be one of the more pricier Katsu places we’ve visited. Definitely higher end than our breakfast hole in the wall.
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It was, not as great as i wanted it to be. To be fair, we reached rather late and as it turns out, Maisen serves up a limited number of their “Special Pork” each day and unless one was to reach there early, chances are, you’d be stuck with the more ordinary but still very good cuts of pork. Don’t get me wrong, the food was fantastic, and the crispy bits of the Katsu was very light and fluffy. It was also probably the best Tonkatsu i’ve had, but i’m not sure it was really worth the price premium. Would i return? Only if i get to try out one of their “specials”. For now, my Tonkatsu dreams are made of Seafood and Tartar sauce.
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#20

Posted 02 July 2018 - 02:26 PM

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i had katsukura at shinjuku taka when i went. It's good, yes also best tonkatsu i had before, but nothing mind blowing. But the miso soup was super good haha  [laugh] i still remember the miso soup better than the pork 

 

For the Katsu fans
It was, not as great as i wanted it to be. To be fair, we reached rather late and as it turns out, Maisen serves up a limited number of their “Special Pork” each day and unless one was to reach there early, chances are, you’d be stuck with the more ordinary but still very good cuts of pork. Don’t get me wrong, the food was fantastic, and the crispy bits of the Katsu was very light and fluffy. It was also probably the best Tonkatsu i’ve had, but i’m not sure it was really worth the price premium. Would i return? Only if i get to try out one of their “specials”. For now, my Tonkatsu dreams are made of Seafood and Tartar sauce.

 


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