Welcome to Japan (well, Tokyo to be precise. Later on Kyoto). And please note that while the locals are extremely courteous and welcoming..not a word of English was exchanged. So first things first, lots of patience and luck. Here’s the full scoop:
1. If you can avoid Narita Airport, that would definitely work in your favor, as it is at least 75 minutes away from the city. The last thing I wanted to do after 15 hours of traveling and 12 hours of jetlag was get cozy in a two and a half hour bus ride to the hotel (you can take a train as well but we were schlepping too much). So check out Haneda Airport.
Stop #1: Tsukiji Fish Market.
I wanted to hoard everything.
Okay, I know uni is the kale of life for the adventurous gourmet eater, but there was no way I could get myself to try it…Just look at that spiky creature…I couldn’t.
More mysterious eats…
The Japanese don’t mess around with their shrooms. I thought I had my shit together knowing about my morels and chanterelles but really…they school you.
Next stop after a lot of strolling around (and getting lost in supermarkets) was lunch @ Dim Joy, inside the Mitsokushi department store. Again, zero English so we played it safe with a round of veggie dumplings.
I thought that yellow ball was a lemon…but it was a pumpkin dumpling. The rest are a variation of mushrooms, tofu, rice and other mysterious things.
That’s a deep fried hijiki seaweed and soybean spring roll, and a pan-fried daikon rice cake with mustard greens. There were some other dumplings and rice and mushroom dishes…
PS. These are the deceiving menus around town, where every header is in English and than…you’re screwed.
Cool mirrored mall entrance at Plaza Tokyu. I’ve never seen so many malls in my entire life.
We found an awesome little beer garden on top of the mall in Harajuku; Omohara Beer Forest.
Somehow for dinner we got lost on a Google Maps adventure, lost our patience and ended up at a hole-in-the-wall called Mushroom Tokyo. Ummm, it was an experience. The only thing on the menu is mushrooms pretty much…So you kind of leave there and might need to inhale a cheeseburger.
And by mushroom salad…he meant: shredding ONE mushroom on a plate (but the olive oil and…mushroom salt were very tasty) We kinda needed a few.
And if there’s an egg on top, I’ll always take it. There’s a shroom underneath. The restaurant was in a cool hood near Harajuku. There’s a place across the street called Kaffir Lime that was a great little Thai restaurant/another hole-in-the-wall, I’ll get back to that one.
So…that was Day #1. There are seven more.
Also, essential info: when going to Japan, there is nowhere to exchange money so come equipped with an ATM card because there are a million Seven 11’s and that’s where you go for the cash.
Next, not a single place in the city has wifi. Supposedly there’s a little portable wifi gadget you can bring along and pay for monthly, that’s definitely a good idea if you want to communicate with the outside world.