Oishii desu!

I have never been so off from writing. Thanks to Tokyo for keeping me busy and amused for the past months. I have officially finished my exchange semester and now am as jobless as I could be. So expect a ton of posts as I'll be reminiscing about my experience in (by far) my favorite city in the world!

After roughly five months of living in Tokyo, I could say my general knowledge about Japanese dishes have increased, big time. From my experience, I mostly just walk around the streets and go into places that interest me. I love how restaurants here always have fake food dummy/replica (Japanese: shokuhin sampuru (食品サンプル), so I know exactly how my dish would look like before ordering it. How convenient! Speaking of, sushi is probably the most famous Japanese dish that could easily be found in every part of the world, so let's take that one off the plate. Today I will talk about several dishes that I have tried (and love!), including the price and where to get them in Tokyo-if I still remember hahaha!

Tsukemen (Japanese: つけ麺)
Where: AFURI Shinjuku
How much: JPY1100-ish or USD10-ish

The first time I tried tsukemen, I fell in love. It is basically a type of ramen dish where the noodles and the soup are served separately. The noodles are served in room temperature, whilst the soup is served hot. You have to dip the noodles inside the soup in order to eat it, unless it will be tasteless since the soup holds all the flavors. What I love about tsukemen is that the soup is usually thicker, if not, have more flavors than the usual ramen dish-and we all know just how tasty the normal Japanese ramen soup is. I could recommend this tsukemen place in Shinjuku called "AFURI" which later I found out as a pretty famous place. Here, you can choose between chicken or pork for the topping. Also, they put sesame seeds on the soup so it will give you the crunchy sound when eating.

Okonomiyaki (Japanese: お好み焼き)
Where: Sakura Tei Harajuku
How Much: JPY1500 or USD14-ish for lunch time

If Indonesia has "martabak" as pancakes, Japan has okonomiyaki. The dish actually comes from Osaka, which was also the city where I first tried it. Best topping for okonomiyaki is of course squid-believe me when I say the BEST. This place in Harajuku called Sakura Tei lets you pick your own toppings and, wait for it... cook your own okonomiyaki! They will give you a bowl of the mixture with the toppings you have chosen. Next step is, you mix all the ingredients in your bowl then grill it in the teppan (Japanese hot plate) on your table. Careful, because it's hot, and if your eyes are sensitive to smoke like mine, it's better to put on your glasses. Wait, there's more... here you can try Tokyo version of okonomiyaki called monjayaki. The mixture is a little bit more liquidy, which allows you to have an even thinner pancake. They have all the instructions on how to cook both dishes on the table. Also, I noticed some of the staffs were foreigners who spoke perfect English, so no need to worry about anything!

Where: some random place in Shinjuku
How Much: JPY700ish or USD6.50ish

I thought the Japanese only have one type of soup for ramen, in fact, they have four. Shio (literal meaning: salt), which is the oldest flavor of ramen soup, is based on salt. The soup tends to be clear and light-coloured. Shoyu ramen on the other hand, which is based on soy sauce, also has a clear soup but a little darker in color. And there's Miso ramen and Tonkotsu ramen, which are opaque in color. Miso is based on soybean paste, whereas Tonkotsu is based on pork bones which is boiled for hours until they dissolve into a cloudy white broth. I can tell it has a thicker and even creamier texture than the other types of ramen, super rich in flavor! I don't need to recommend a specific restaurant to try this since I've tried random tonkotsu places in the streets and they always taste amazing.

Yakitori (Japanese: 焼き鳥)
Where: Omoide Yokocho or "Piss Alley"
How much: JPY500 or USD4.70-ish for table charge, plus you have to order a minimum of 1 drink and 1 plate of yakitori. Drinks starting from JPY300 or USD2.80-ish and a plate of yakitori starting from JPY200 or USD 1.90-ish.

Yakitori comes from the word 'yaki' which means grilled, and 'tori' which means chicken. The meat is cut into small pieces then skewed into sticks before being grilled. This is so similar to Indonesian 'satai' only without the peanut sauce. But obviously you can get more than just grilled chicken; I ordered pork tongues and chicken wings as well. You can eat this dish for cheaper price but if you want to splurge just to eat on the streets, you can go to Omoide Yokocho as they have dozens of yakitori place. This place is both filled with the Japanese as well as international tourists, which makes it a little hard to find a seat sometimes. They'd require you a table charge, a minimum order, and time limit, so much for a street food experience, huh? But who would miss watching the skewers you have ordered being grilled over a charcoal fire and eat them while they're still hot!

Roast Beef Bowl
Where: Red Rock Harajuku
How Much: JPY880 or USD 8.20ish

This definitely doesn't look like normal beef bowls you get in Matsuya or Yoshinoya. The beef is thinly sliced and red in color, served on top of rice with yellow egg yolk and (what I think is) mayonnaise. I'm not sure what type of beef is this, but it has a very juicy texture, tastes super good, and very reasonably priced! Although, the place is quite small and chairs and tables are so close to each other. I don't think I spent more than an hour there since the place was a little crowded. But don't question the beef bowl as it is totemo oishii!

Cold Soba
Where: Gonpachi Nishi-Azabu
How Much: totally forgot... probably around JPY1000?

I've heard of cold-served soba before but the first time I tried it was at Gonpachi, a Kill Bill-themed restaurant. Yes, Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, and I happen to have watched the movie so I thought i gotta come visit. It's a pretty famous place for tourists. In fact, a lot of international celebrities, also Tarantino himself, have visited the place. So I wasn't mainly there to try some specific dish hahah! The soba was served on a thin plate made from bamboo called zaru. Like tsukemen, you have to dip the soba noodles inside the soup before eating it. It was served with several types of tempura, was super good! I also ordered sake to complete my Japanese dinner experience.



Osaka Photo Diary

Janjan Yokocho

Billiken "God of Things as They Ought to be"

Tsūtenkaku tower

Finishing my matcha ice cream


Okonomiyaki-by far my favorite japanese dish!

Osaka Station



Autumn Days

It has been 3 months already since I (temporarily, of course) moved here. I arrived when the season was still transitioning, it could be really sunny for one day, then the next day it could be cold, or even raining. By the time these pictures were taken, some streets were already fully covered by yellow autumn leaves. The trees looks so cachectic now, almost like they understand my melancholy. This is my first autumn experience, and everyday is just a perfect day to sit on a cloak of dry leaves, reading a book, or just soaking up the sun on my face. Tokyo has a lot of parks where people can spend their free time for an hour or five. I have seen people practice dancing, or just sit alone doing nothing, embracing the nature. But on top of that, visitors are always respectful to the park, they don't litter, or harm the facilities, something I don't see in Jakarta.

Days are definitely a lot colder right now. But it's always fascinating to go outside in the morning and see the sunlight, even though the cold still jabs into my skin after all the layers I have put on. I see everyone wearing padded/puff jacket, so I guess it does the job,warm you upbut my conscience told me not to get one because it doesn't suit me... Should I sacrifice my style authenticity or should I not LOL. I love how the jacket I'm wearing right now have a faux fur detail on its collar, so I don't need to throw on a giant scarf to save my neck from the cold. 

What type of jacket/coat do you usually wear for winter?

Photos are taken by B.


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