Had a really good coffee at Unlimited Coffee Bar and sat down to do some writing before starting my work away. Contrary to the name of the place it’s not unlimited re-fill so I was a bit disappointed. But had a nice atmosphere and awards hung on the walls for the quality of the coffee and service. Had the Ethiopian single origin with blueberry goodness coming through. I don’t actually know anything about coffee but reading the tasting notes and pretending I know what I’m talking about will do 😛 Ordered a sweet ginger soy chicken with rice and salad to go with it. (See Next Post)
First Sushi experience in Asakusa. Open 24/7. This would be considered definitely on the lower end of Sushi in Japan but it still smashes anything you get back in the UK, certainly from Yo-Sushi or any other sushi chain.
So from top left there is fatty tuna, salmon, prawn, tuna again and finally eel with sweet sticky sauce on it.
It’s fun watching the guys preparing the food. I had a pretty old dude who was just chilling making his food at his own pace whilst the younger chefs around him were flitting between orders really quickly.
The white stuff at the bottom left is Sushi-gari, pickeld ginger. It’s meant as a palate cleanser between each piece of sushi, buuuut sometimes it tastes great when you just stick it on top of a piece and eat it all together. That would be considered pretty taboo in Japan but hey rules are meant to be broken.
Then there is the small dish for soy sauce for dipping the sushi into. MMMM the sensation of a nice bit of tuna, seasoned rice, wasabi and soy sauce all coming together is amazing. Best washed down with a glass of beer or cup of sake.
I spend the next couple of days wandering around Tokyo, buying a few things for my laptop and boring stuff for getting settled at the workaway. I change Hostel to a more central place. Mostly because I booked everything so late, after only getting my Visa 1 week before flying out. But I’m a short walk from Kaminarimon – Thunder Gate, above. It’s the entrance to Senso-ji temple. It is Tokyo’s oldest temple, and one of its most significant . Statues of Fujin and Raijin, the Gods of Wind and Thunder are on the right and left of the giant lantern. It’s usually rammed down the street towards the temple so it’s hard to get a sense of the spirit of the place. But the sheer scale of the temple, gate and statues does leave an impression. Having seen so many of the site in Tokyo before I mainly go looking for places to eat. And actually was hungry to get set up into my routine, using my laptop to do 3D modelling, getting enrolled on the street dance classes and learning more Japanese etc. My workaway host contacts me early and asks me to start 2 days early so I can help move furniture out of one of the several apartments she owns. I say I’ll do it eager to get cracking and have some more roots to do my own thing. I cancel my next 2 nights stay in the hostel and make my way to Shinjuku the next day. Not before going to a 24 hour sushi joint down the road from Kaminarimon.
I go with the hostel staff’s recommendation. A 10 minute walk away down the neon lit streets in Tokyo. The area is a bit out the centre and so more quiet and less frantic than a lot of other places in Tokyo. I go in the restaurant and am welcomed by a loud “Irasshaimase” Meaning ‘Welcome’ or ‘Come on in’.
I say ‘Ichi-mei desu’. I am 1 person. I can not be anything else.
The waitress replies Douzo – please come in.
I go to sit down but then the waitress says something in Japanese that I don’t understand but is gesturing towards a vending machine in the corner of the restaurant. I had actually forgotten you order by putting your money into the machine and selecting what you want from the menu via buttons describing; big/small bowl of ramen, Miso based, Soya sauce based, Tonkotsu (Pork Base). Then were are loads of other buttons I’m never sure what they are but for extra toppings like, scallions, extra slices of chashu (pork cutlet), pickled egg etc.
I get the large bowl of miso ramen and a side of gyoza. The machine spews out 2 tickets and I go and take a seat. Typical of most ramen places its a long bar where you can see the ‘Masutaa’ preparing the food. A couple is sat next to me, they are half way through their ramen then exchange bowls, wanting to experience each other’s. The girl who was fine with her’s, is laughing at her boyfriend who is sweating profusely because the ramen he just started eating is so spicy. I am chuckling away on the inside but wait quietly watching the Masutaa at work.
A few minutes later and my ramen arrives. ‘Itadakimasu’ – Thanks for the food.
The soup base looks thick and flavourful. There is a chunky slice of chashu on top with the seaweed and a delicious looking egg (shame he won’t be getting eaten). Then something I don’t quite recognise at the far end of the bowl (top in the picture). This is the first thing I taste. Small cubes of pork melt in my mouth and then I can feel the marrow hit my tongue. This would normally freak me out and be really off-putting, but before I can react, it is melting away giving off an intense but delicious and rich porky flavour.
I try the soup whilst fishing out some noodles with my chopsticks. As is becoming more popular in Japan the noodles are flat and thicker than what I can remember eating. The soup base has so much body and character. It’s thick, verging on a little too thick. But its so insanely tasty that I carry on guzzling down the soup and noodles. I take a short break to appreciate the taste sensation.
The gyoza comes in a light broth, which means they don’t have their usual crispy texture I love but the taste is great. I Finish the ramen enjoying the chashu and seaweed between slurping down the noodles ( a sign of respect and enjoyment in Japan).
I finish my ramen and with a ‘Gochisousama-deshita’ – Thank you for the meal, I begin to make my way home. I step outside and take a deep breathe. A familiar yet exciting feeling comes over me thanks mostly to my first bowl of ramen.
This is it, I am in Japan!
So I arrive in Tokyo after saying goodbye to everyone back home. A weird mix of feelings, excitement, anxiousness, purpose, uncertainty, joy, anticipation, determination, loss and love. I get the underground to the hostel I’ve booked in Adachi-ku. The hostel is simple, Japanese style with a small communal space and sleeping bunks not too far from being capsules in the next room. The only toilet is situated right next to the common area. More on that later. The first and only thing on my mind – to go find a good bowl of ramen.
I can’t believe it’s been 3 weeks already. Got so much to catch up in and put on the blog. I’ll start from the beginning and post anything significant that happened from when I arrived up until now. Then I’ll try keep on top of it on a weekly basis.
Hey this blog is basically going to be a bit of a diary for everything that I get up to in Japan for my 1 year working holiday Visa.
It’s going to cover daily life in Japan, interesting cultural differences, loads on Japanese food, all the creative things I’ll be doing: Dance, Drawing, 3D, Modelling, Tai Chi.
If anyone’s interested in what I’m up to then it’ll be the best way to keep in touch and see what I’ve been doing. Just check in here and leave any comments you can think of under any of the topics.