It’s been a while, so here is another update on Wong Eats Tokyo (click here to see part one of my recap). I still am eating extremely well in the greatest food city in the world, and have tried many new things that I cannot wait to share with you all about. As per usual, this will only be a brief recap, as I simply don’t have the time to write about everything in great detail, but fear not – it will come sooner or later.
Lunch – Tokyo Disneysea
The happiest place in the world actually served me a very good meal. Usually food in theme parks conjure up memories of stale burgers, undercooked chips and yawn-inducing ice creams; yet the food in Tokyo Disneysea was lovely to look at and tasted rather good. Standouts included a Cajun smoked chicken drumstick, Sea Salt Ice Cream with a lovely berry filling and a strawberry pink waffle shell, as well as the little green men manju, filled with two types of cream and chocolate ganache. Best of all, prices are not cut throat like the one in Hong Kong, as each of the items range from JPY250 to JPY500 (HK$17 – 35).
Dinner – Thai Restaurant @ Takashimaya
After a long day at Tokyo Disneyland, we settled for some Thai food at the Takashimaya department store near our hotel. While the food was generally quite good, with a decent level of spice and oomph, I forgot the name of the restaurant, and Google was not extremely helpful. But do get the braised pork belly – picture tender, yielding meat, and fat that melts in the mouth. Prices are relatively steep, as is everything else in Takashimaya, with the total bill coming to nearly JPY7000 (HK$484) for two.
Breakfast – Tsukiji Fish Market (Ichiba Sushi Restaurant)
No visit to Japan is complete without visiting the renowned Tsukiji market and grabbing a sushi breakfast there, as the restaurants nearby supposedly have the freshest fish of the day (even though real gourmets know that it is important to age your fish for a few days to draw out its maximum flavour). In fact, restaurants like Sushi Dai and Sushi Daiwa have become so popular that it is impossible to eat there without waiting in line at 3am for around 3 hours. But here’s the thing, the sushi you get in Sushi Dai or Sushi Daiwa will be mediocre compared to the Michelin starred eateries you find in Ginza, so what’s the point of braving wind and rain for a plate of shoddy sushi? Instead, we queued for a less popular shop called Sushi Ichiba – which, mind you, still was nearly an hour’s wait before we were seated. We ordered the Omakase (Chef’s Choice), as well as a plate of toro sashimi. While the quality of fish was fantastic, especially the otoro that practically disintegrated in the mouth, it was ruined by shoddy craftsmanship. The rice lacked texture and cohesion, falling apart when I tried to dip it in my soy sauce; and also the temperature of the sushi was less than ideal. Ichiba may be much cheaper than sushi Kanesaka, but you might as well pay more for a better meal.
Dinner – Sakura-tei
Sakura-tei is a restaurant that serves okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake), Monjayaki (the runnier, Tokyo version of the Okonomiyaki), and yakisoba (stir fried wheat noodles) in an artistic environment. Have a go at cooking your own meal on the individual teppanyaki grills on the table, and wash the intensely flavourful food down with an ice cold beer. Prices are cheap as no menu item is over JPY1500 (HK$104), and portions are big. Be warned, you will smell like smoke and funk afterwards, but it is all worth it.
Lunch – Tsuta
Tsuta is the first ramen restaurant in Tokyo to be awarded with a Michelin star. Unlike traditional ramen joints, the restaurant serves up a more modern version of ramen that is evidently influenced by Western ingredients and techniques. You queue up early in the morning for a ticket that has a time slot for when you should return for your meal, and when it’s time, you queue again outside the restaurant until it is your turn. But trust me, it is all worth the time and effort, for the ramen is absolutely beautiful. The Shio (salt) based ramen is light and elegant, and the addition of fresh mint in the bowl adds a nice, aromatic touch; while the Shoyu (soy sauce) based ramen is powerful yet harmonious. But what makes Tsuta really special is the broth (it is a paitan chicken broth that is clean and pure) and the toppings. Each bowl of ramen is garnished with a dollop of truffle paste, as well as tender, succulent char siew. In addition, this is one of cheapest Michelin starred restaurants in the world, as the largest bowl of ramen would only set you back for JPY1500 (HK$104). The store manager laughingly told me that Tsuta is coming to Hong Kong soon, so get ready ramen lovers!
Dinner – J.S Curry
We settled for a simple dinner at a small curry shop in Shibuya, as both my partner and I were drawn in by the lovely aromas that came from the store. As we planned on eating something else afterwards, we shared a medium sized plate of Curry Tonkatsu Rice (HPY950). It was cheap, tasty and efficient, as we were done in less than 20 minutes.
Supper – Katsukura
With a stomach full of drinks from the Anthony Bourdain recommended Bar Ishinohana (I strongly recommend it, both bartenders are absolute masters of their craft), I stumbled into Katsukura – a renowned Tonkatsu restaurant that I have wanted to visit since day one. As I was a bit knackered, we decided to take out our supper and eat it in the comfort of our hotel room, so the lovely staff packed our meal in the prettiest bento box I have seen in my life. The rosu (pork loin), the fattier, juicier cut of the meat, was succulent and tender; and the panko coating was greaseless and absolutely perfect. The store’s special homemade katsu sauce was acidic and bright, and perfectly cut the richness of the beautiful pork. Everything else, from the dressing of the salad to the small side dish of pickles, was also of fantastic quality. It is restaurants like this that affirm my believe that Tokyo is the greatest city in the world – places that do one thing only and one thing fantastically well.
Breakfast – Dominique Ansel Tokyo
Dominique Ansel may be the most famous pastry chef in the world right now, as the newly minted world’s best pastry chef is busy spreading his cronuts around the world. And like any self-respecting pastry chef, the guy has an outlet in Tokyo. While I loathe food trends and ‘instagrammable’ foods, I must say that Dominique Ansel fed me fantastically well, and that his cronut, with an apricot glaze and lemon cream filling, was truly life changing. So regardless of my views, Dominique Ansel’s outlet in Tokyo is truly a butter and sugar heaven.
Dinner – Chikuyoutei (竹葉亭)
There is nothing in life more satisfying than stumbling into a random restaurant and discovering that it is actually damn good, let alone being Michelin starred. After a long day in Yokohama, my partner and I stumbled into Chukuyoutei, a restaurant that specialises in unagi – grilled river eel. River eels are at their best in the late spring/early summer period, and our grilled unagi was so tender and soft it melted in the mouth. Other side dishes are also centred around the slippery fish, such as sweet tamago (egg) rolls with a grilled unagi centre, and more unique dishes such as braised eel livers. It was only after our meal did we realise that the Ginza branch of Chukuyoutei held a single Michelin star for multiple years. While prices are indeed quite steep, the quality of the restaurant more than makes up for it.
This marks the end of the second Wong Eats Tokyo recap. Stay tuned for the final piece on everything I had the next four days, including a rather disappointing meal in one of Tokyo’s most storied sushi restaurants. Until next time, ciao.