Honmura An – Best Soba in Tokyo

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Honmura An has long been one of my favorite restaurants in Tokyo.  It’s one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants here and specializes in handmade soba.  The soba here is sublime.  It’s the perfect smooth and chewy texture, and you can really taste a deep buckwheat flavor.  The dipping sauce is even more elegant here.  They serve a wide variety of soba on their menu – from plain soba served in a bamboo box or soba topped with uni. Continue reading

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Marbled Pork at Tonkatsu Butagumi

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I can honestly say that I have never had good pork until I came to Japan.  Although Japan is famous for its beef, the pork is also high quality, marbled, juicy, full of flavor, and oh so tender.  There are many ways to eat pork in Japan, but one of the popular dishes is tonkatsu – a lightly breaded, fried pork cutlet.  I’ve been wanting to try Butagumi in Nishi Azabu for a long time.  It’s rated as one of the best places in Tokyo for tonkatsu, and I have to agree that it’s my favorite so far!

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Izakaya in the Streets of Summer

Asakusa Summer Restaurants

On nights and weekends during the summer, many small izakaya shops open up their “patios” and turn the street into a small street festival!  This is the one that we ran into in Asakusa, but there are many others around the city.  It’s great for people watching and enjoying cool summer nights!  Some require that you drink (or at least order) an alcoholic beverage.  Most people go for many, many glasses of beer!

 

Kohmen Ramen Shop

I’m so lucky to live in a place where I can step out of my house and have a new, tasty ramen every day!  Sorry.  Am I rubbing it in?  If I did do that, I would get incredibly fat. Does that make you feel better? :)

Kohmen Roppongi Tonkatsu Ramen by oh my omiyage

In my ‘hood, my favorite ramen shops are the popular ippudo and ichiran, but sometimes for a change, we go to Kohmen.  The Roppongi location especially caters towards foreign customers with an English menu and pictures galore.  My favorite is the plain jane tonkatsu ramen (pictured above).  Last time, my husband tried the tonkatsu ramen topped with bean sprouts and pork. Continue reading

Tokyo Desserts and Cafes Part 2

There just wasn’t enough room for all of the cafes yesterday so let’s continue the Tokyo dessert bonanza!  Here’s some more of our favorite places:

My favorite dessert shops and cafes in Tokyo

From the top left to bottom right:
Gazebo (Ebisu-Nishi)
Paper Moon (Hiroo)
King’s Cross, Paper Moon, Two Rooms (Omotesando)
Microcosmos Cafe (Shibuya)

Rules of Ramen at Abura Soba

My first meal ever in Japan was a bowl of Abura Soba.  I woke up mid-afternoon from a jet lagged nap and wandered down to Akasaka Mitsuke to a busy little shop I spotted the previous night.  I walked into the restaurant, flashed a number one with my index finger, and started heading to my seat when I was stopped by the store employee who was pointing to a ticket machine.

I had no idea how these things worked at the time and even less idea of how to read Japanese!  So, I put my money in the slot and just did an ‘eeny meeny miney mo” deal, and out popped a ticket.  The store employee read my order to the noodle chefs behind the counter, and I felt a bunch of eyes turn to look at me.  I supposed they could see the scarlet letter “F” on my head.. “foreigner,” but it wasn’t.

I sat down and waited for my hot bowl of noodles.  After a few minutes, the chef put a HUGE bowl of dry noodles in front of me.  I stared at it wide-eyed getting full just looking at it.  (Apparently I ordered the Double XL bowl!)  So I picked up my chopsticks with a “can do” attitude and was about to dig in when the chef cried out “ehhhhhhh!!!!” and threw his hands in front of my bowl.  He started explaining something in Japanese when I looked at him cluelessly and finally muttered, “I’m sorry – I don’t understand.”  Then without missing a beat, he switched to English and miraculously pulled out instructions explaining how to eat Abura Soba.  Apparently I was about to commit the huge taboo of not adding the appropriate sauces and mixing it all together before eating it.

Abura Soba Akasaka Mitsuke Small Bowl Mixed with Onions, Seaweed, and Char sui pork

I only made a teeny dent in the huge bowl of noodles even with my most ardent effort. When I stood up, the chef seemed so disappointed and said, “it’s too much?”  And being as full as I’ve ever been and with many eyes looking at me, I sheepishly replied, “…yes…”  I felt so bad to throw away so much food, which I could tell was looked down upon.

I left, relieved to have experienced my first meal in Japan.  What did I learn?

  1. Don’t order the most expensive thing from the ticket vending machine unless you’re prepared to eat a Double XL size.
  2. Ramen, noodle, and gyudon shops are very male-dominated places.  When you walk in as a woman by herself, be prepared for the male patrons to stare at you.  Women don’t typically eat at these kinds of restaurants because they’re not “feminine”, and because women aren’t common in these joints, the ones who do visit alone are considered “lonely.”  But it’s a 2-way street.  There’s many restaurants that will only be filled with women (some cafes, dessert shops, Italian and French restaurants), and a man in these places will also elicit staring.
  3. Some places around Tokyo will have English menus and staff.  Although you shouldn’t expect it, it’s ok to let them know you have no idea what they’re saying in the happen chance they have something that could help you immensely!
  4. Japanese are very serious about eating their food ‘correctly’.
  5. I love Abura Soba.
Akasaka Mitsuke 3-10-20
Tokyo, Minato-ku
Open: M-Sa 11am – 2am; Su 11am – 9pm