Last week, one of my oldest friends came to Tokyo. I love when friends and family come to visit. Besides the fact that I love to organize any type of event, I get to experience the things I take for granted now through fresh eyes and taste buds. And if I help them navigate through the tourist traps and language barriers along the way, that’s an added bonus. We hit all of my favorite spots, and my heart warms when they leave loving Tokyo.
One of my favorite udon restaurants is Tsurotontang. Udon itself is very simple, but if it’s made properly (as is the case at Tsurotontang), it’s a great example of how the Japanese do everything to perfection and take such pride in everything they do. The udon here is thick, chewy, and served in the most delectable broth. I usually order a simple udon with tempura, chicken, or kitsune so that I can really taste and enjoy the udon itself. This restaurant doesn’t specialize in tempura, but if you don’t have time to make it to tempura restaurant, it’s quite good here! It’s served with salt or can be dipped in the udon broth.
If you go, don’t be shocked by the large bowls and spoons. The serving size is about 1/3rd of that huge bowl. Also don’t be scared of the line if you go during peak hours. It moves quickly and is well worth the wait!
3-14-12 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
– Chocolate from Jean Paul Hevin –
It’s White Day in Japan! White Day is women payback for Valentine’s Day in Japan. Since women slaved over the stove making homemade chocolates for the important men (partners, friends, coworkers) in their lives for Valentine’s Day, the favor is returned today. On White Day, men give (store-bought.. of course) desserts or gifts to all of the women who gave them something on V-Day. Yesterday and today, men lined up outside dessert shops to buy sweets for their sweeties!
– A VERY Chocolate-y Hot Chocolate from Jean Paul Hevin –
White Day still isn’t as commercialized or as celebrated as Valentine’s Day in the States – restaurants, movie theaters, and romantic spots won’t be filled with loving couples today. But like all smart women, we’ve found our way to capitalize on this holiday with a little rule called sanbai gaeshi, which translates to ‘triple return’! Although it’s not set in stone, this tradition urges men to give a gift on White Day that’s triple the cost of the gift received on Valentine’s Day. Let’s see if my husband brings anything home! If not, I have my bases covered – I picked up 2 cakes today! :)
I woke up to a winter wonderland this morning. It started snowing early this morning and still shows no signs of stopping. Luckily, my fridge is packed and ready for a blizzard! I miss those snowy days growing up in Atlanta – even the chance of snow was reason for school to be called off. In Tokyo, there’s already 2 inches on the ground and it’s work as usual. Nothing stops these Tokyoites! … Except a big earthquake. (Speaking of which, it’s almost the 1-year anniversary of the 3/11 Tohoku earthquake.) I never imagined I would live in a city with so much snow. It’s so beautiful and serene as long as I can stay in cozied up under a blanket looking out the window with my fridge full of snacks!
Valentine’s Cookies from Sweetopia
I am loving the projects and video tutorials over at Sweetopia. She attacks projects that I never even imagined I could do at home. Look how perfect her cookies are flooded and stenciled! Even learn how to use edible ink!
If you have a business logo or an event logo that you really like, then put it on your cookie (I didn’t know this was possible..):
Doesn’t it look so professional and fabulous? Find the logo tutorial here. For those like me who are beginners to cookie decorating, then she has tutorials for the basics too like how to fill a piping bag, how to get the right icing consistency, and how to store your icing. Happy Valentine’s Day, all!
“Do you eat sushi every day??”
Whenever I visit home, I field this question at least once. I don’t blame them though. It wasn’t until I moved to Japan that I discovered all the different Japanese food options. Somehow, sushi is the one option that has really become popular and common in the States (although I’m still surprised how many of my coworkers and friends wouldn’t eat raw fish or only stick with the basics: salmon, cooked shrimp, and California rolls).
So here’s the 411. Most Japanese don’t eat sushi everyday. In fact, most don’t eat sushi that often. Think of it like a steak in the States. Some people eat it all the time while for most, it’s a “sometime food”. You can eat it at home, but the really good and sophisticated ones are usually eaten at restaurants. More commonly at home, sashimi is added to salad, rice bowls, or as an appetizer or side (kind of like adding flank steak to your salad or pasta).
“Sushi is so expensive.”
There are definitely many expensive sushi restaurants in Tokyo, but there are also many reasonably-priced ones! When we’re feeling casual, we head to kaiten sushi (rotating sushi). I like the one in Tokyo Midtown called Hakodate Marukatsu Suisan. Their selection is always fresh and they remove sushi that stays on the conveyor belt for too long. For two people, our bill is usually about 4,000 yen including beer. Also, Midori Sushi in Shibuya’s Mark City has high quality sushi for very reasonable prices. There is always a long line, but it’s worth the wait! A little bit more expensive, but still on the reasonable end is the Tsukiji-Sushiko chain, which features fish that are in season but also includes all of the tried and true staples.