神座拉面 - Best Ramen in Kamakura?

Thursday, December 17, 2009 Posted by YY on 6:09 AM comments (0)

Located near the Ikebukuro West exit is a ramen shop called 神座拉面. We passed by this shop a few times while we were walking to the train station or getting back to the hotel.

Being ramen lovers, we decided to try te ramen here one day. Outside the shop is this recorded broadcast that is played over and over again saying that this ramen is the best in Kamakura (I think). Well, if they are so bold to play this broadcast, they HAVE TO be good...

The customers are free to add toppings to their noodles at extra charges shown below. We ordered 2 ramens, Oiishi Ramen with a soft boiled egg topping and a Tsukemen (dipping noodles).

Lots of condiments to eat with your noodles: chilli, garlic and spring onions marinated in some kimchi sauce.

K's noodle: Oiishi Ramen with a soft boiled egg. Well, the truth is, on first look, the ramen doesn't look special to K. The soup looks rather thin although it smells special.

My noodle: Tsukemen. The noodles are separated from the soup so that the taste of the noodles can be enjoyed on its own. I got a shock when I saw the amount of noodles and quickly double checked with the menu, gosh thats 200g of noodles for my dinner.

The noodles weighs a freaking 200g and I thought that I will not be able to finish it. I was so wrong. And so was K's first impression.

This was the best ramen that me and K had for the entire Tokyo trip. So good that even till now, we can still remember the taste of the soup. Sweetness from the Chinese cabbage in the soup, saltiness from the soy sauce and fragrance from the bonito. OH SO GOOD. *SLURP*

Adding the spring onions marinated in the chilli sauce will make the bowl of ramen taste different, like a new bowl of ramen. We can eat this over and over again!

2nd trip to 神座拉面:
After a disheartening dinner at Piss Alley at Shinjuku, we had to come back here for ramen to satisfy our taste buds. We decided to share a bowl of ramen and some side orders as we were not very hungry. We ordered a plate of gyoza and a special menu item, a bowl of ramen that is only available during summer.

Gyoza. Nothing to rave about, we'll have preferred the gyozas to be pan fried instead of deep fried.

Now here is the available-in-summer-only ramen. The soup is CLEAR, totally oiless, and is COLD. Yes, COLD to beat the heat of summer. The fresh slices of tomatoes, cucumbers, and grated white radish makes this bowl of ramen more refreshing! To top this all up, right in the centre of the bowl of ramen, is some mashed up preserved plum that will enable this bowl of ramen to be able to cool anyone from the heat of summer.


*Tip - Do not mix in the plum into the soup as the soup will taste too sour and will ruin all the bonito flavour. Instead, put all the plum and some noodles as your first bite so that the soup won't get too sour.

Hakone 大涌谷 - Owakudani Sky Restaurant

Monday, December 14, 2009 Posted by YY on 8:14 AM comments (1)

This was one of the main highlights in the Hakone day trip, Japanese Curry for lunch at Owakudani. K's friend, Mike told us that this is the best curry he has ever tasted and we MUST visit it when we get to Hakone.

As the cable car landed in Owakudani, we scrambled out of the cabin and started our search for lunch. It was really cooling at 1044m above sea level =)

Inside this stopover station @ Owakudani, there is a secluded lift that takes you to the Sky Restaurant.

One important tip when visiting touristy places: Always beat the main lunch crowd.
We arrived at 11:30am or so and were seated almost immediately, this was quite unexpected because we had queued for at least 10mins for the railway/cable car rides. Hakone is experiencing large crowds even on a Monday o.O

As part of Odakyu Anniversary, we were given a booklet with some discount coupons. There's K trying to be uncle by tearing out this discount 10% for overall bill coupon.

Hakone Beer? Interesting~let's order.

K's set, Owakudani Katsu curry, with a slab of pork katsu and comes with a black sulphur egg.

My beef curry rice set, Owakudani Curry.
The curry served here is actually abit sweet and addictive with every bite. By sweet, I mean the kind of sweetness you experience when you eat raisins.

O.o The inside of the black sulphur egg is actually white *haha*

Half boiled egg with semi runny egg yolk combined with curry? I am beyond words when I tasted the smooth and creamy texture of this mixture.

We finished every single grain of rice and curry sauce.

Total bill came up to 3250yen which was expensive when comparing the cost with an average lunch like ramen, but hey this is your tourist spot restaurant serving quality Japanese curry so its still worth every penny *slurp*

天下寿司 - 美味しいですよ!

Posted by YY on 7:42 AM comments (0)

We were shopping at Shibuya 109 when it is time for lunch! Looking at the tour book, we walked around the region trying to find a place that the tour book recommended BUT the blur K was unable to find the place. -_-
Let's just say that the lesson learnt is to NOT follow the guidebook when:
1. Your topo skill is not good
2. You are damn hungry

Anyway, while still scratching our head on where is the place, we chanced upon a small rotating sushi bar located at the basement of a building: 天下寿司.

Seems like every plate costs only 130yen (~S$2) so we decided to give it a try.

While waiting for our turn, a Japanese couple who were having their lunch turned to chat with us in English. They told us that this place is their favorite sushi place as the food tastes really good. Hearing this, we were relieved~ =D

Some thoughts after trying the sushi, starting from top left, downwards:

Slightly broiled salmon - Melts in your mouth. VERY fresh and delicious.

Anago (congor eel) - ONE whole eel is served. Very very nice.

Unagi - Wery soft and fresh. Sauce is just nice, not too salty.

Tuna - Sweet and fresh. Do not have a slight trace of blood taste in it, unlike those we find here.

Hokkigai (surf clam) - Crunchy and sweet. This is K's first time to try it.

Slightly seared tuna - Sprinkled with yuzu salt (I think) to give it a refreshing taste.

Egg - Look at the thickness of the egg. And compare it with the ones you get here. Notice any difference? The taste and texture is absolutely fantastic.

Uni - Very fresh tasting, very creamy, sweet, and less the fishiness.

Chu toro - Absolutely fresh, and melts in your mouth and full of flavour.

We ended our lunch with a bowl of shijimi miso soup.

Look at the amount of shijimi in the soup. SLURP~~

Damage? All the above cost 130 yen per serving/bowl. Very worth it considering this can feed 2 people and the taste and freshness is well worth the price.

I can't really comment as I don't really take raw stuffs but to K, this has to be one of the BEST sushi he had ever tasted!

Lastly, some tips from K:

When eating sushi, DO NOT EVER dunk the sushi into a dish of wasabi-laden soy sauce, like how almost every SG ppl eat their sushi and sashimi! TOTAL waste! (I think the sushi chef will foam at their mouth if they see how SG ppl eat sushi/sashimi here...)

The sushi rice already has flavour and some wasabi! Only lightly dip the sushi (with the rice facing up so that the rice will not soak up the soy sauce) into the soy sauce (with NO wasabi) if you want your sushi to be slightly salty.

If you want more wasabi, just use your chopsticks to take a teeny weeny bit and NO MORE.

The soy sauce and wasabi is to enhance the flavour of the sushi and sashimi, and NOT to cover their awesome flavour!

Harajuku/Omotesando - Mai Sen (Pork Katsu Specialist)

Saturday, November 14, 2009 Posted by YY on 4:46 AM comments (0)

I got mesmerised by a Pork Katsu Sandwich picture I saw on a blog and I knew its my destiny..I MUST TRY IT!

Maisen has a number of restaurants and outlets in major shopping centres selling their pork katsu products but what can be more fresh and piping hot than eating at the main restaurant itself? It was a humid and sunny day which was pretty rare although its mid summer season.

We were supposed to shop at Harajuku, have lunch at Maisen and attend Tokyo Bay fireworks in the evening. Holding the google map in our hands, K and I trudged through the huge crowd at Takeshita Dori(from Harajuku Station) then walked upslope for at least 15mins and FINALLY we arrived at Maisen.

It was pretty strange to us that a restaurant of this scale was located in such a "ulu place".

A waitress led us in to the main hall, by then we were wet with perspiration. We took a look around the restaurant and thought the crowd was so~so, about 60% filled.

We placed our orders, my Pork Katsu Sandwich and K ordered a Katsudon set. A photo must be taken because we finally made it here after some 20mins of upslope walking *omg*

Some of the seasonings to go with the pork katsu.

Then we were served this small bowl of radish and bonito flakes. We took it as an appetiser and it was really cooling and refreshing for this weather. *Later I read that this radish was supposed to accompany your pork katsu sauce but oops we didn't know*

After 15mins later, my Pork Katsu Sandwich came together with an apple salad. 895yen for the sandwich is pretty pricey, considering this is just a sandwich.

Close up~ The pork katsu was juicy and soft with no fats. A thin layer of plum sauce was spread onto both sides of the bread which was just enough to give it a nice tangy flavour, without soaking the bread.

And K's katsudon Set(1420 yen) came as well with a salad, miso soup.

Close up~

Pardon for the bad picture, this scoop was Yuzi ice cream was served at the end of the meal *presumably this came from K's set. After the meal, we sat there for the next 10mins chit chatting.

Little did we know, that a long queue was forming at the reception area >_<" Phew~ we managed to beat the lunch crowd by arriving slightly before 12noon.


Click here for other Maisen restaurant locations

The one we went to:

住所 渋谷区神宮前4-8-5
電話 0120-428-485 (10:30~22:00)
アクセス 地下鉄「表参道」駅 A2出口より徒歩3分
営業時間 11:00~22:45(LO/22:00)

View Larger Map

[How to get there]

We went by a long way cos we went to Harajuku first and walked upslope via Takeshita Dori.
If you are going to Maisen via Harajuku JR Station, you can try taking a long walk like us for 15mins.

First, walk through Takeshita Dori. Walk all the way straight, up the slope until you hit this stone wall.

Then turn to your left(facing the wall) and continue to walk upslope for about 10mins *not into the residential area*.

Turn right only when you see this 7-11, else you are lost *seriously*
When K and I walked for about 10mins under the hot sun, he told me that if there is no 7-11 when we turn right at the next junction..GG~

Walk along the street and you will see Maisen's signboard on the lamp post.

Tsukiji - Appetizer before lunch

Posted by YY on 2:42 AM comments (0)

On the way to the Tsukiji fish market, there are a shops selling vegetable, food and even pizza. You'll get to see the below lane on your right after you enter the fish market and the lane leads to the main eatery shops and knife shops in the fish market.

Just before we went outside of the fish market for our lunch, we chanced upon this small shop selling mainly tempura. In the shop, the main customers are the workers who will go there for a quick bite before resuming their busy schedule. (Well, there aren't any customers in the pictures as it is already pass their meal time...-_-)

We decided to try some of the stuffs here as something caught K's eyes. Something that he had been searching for ever since he landed in Japan: deep fried eel (bottom right picture). Although the eel is anago (congor eel) and not unagi, it is good enough.

We placed an order for the anago fry and hotate (scallop) fry. The anago came about 10min later, with the oil still bubbling on the surface of the fish!

Inside of the anago. Soft, juicy, and sweet. VERY fresh and delicious. NOM NOM~~
The texture was slightly chewy yet tender and the batter was evenly coated.

Next came the hotate fry. One big scallop divided into 2 slices and deep fried to perfection.

The inside of the scallop. Cooked perfectly and thus the sweetness, tenderness and the juiciness of the scallop is retained. *Drools all over again*

Although the price is a bit steep, we were willing to pay for them due to the quality and taste of the items. Very good appetizers to open up our appetite before our main lunch. =D

Hotate fry : 1050 yen
Anago : 1250 yen

Tsukiji Fish Market - Lunch at Tsukiji Ya

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 Posted by YY on 8:42 AM comments (0)

This post is written by K mainly =D

Time to visit the Tsukiji Fish Market! K made a very stupid mistake to change the train at Tokyo station as we have to walk a VERY long distance before reaching the next train station entrance as a change in rail line is required. This way was more expensive too! RAWR~~We could have actually changed the train at Ueno station, which was only a few stops away from Ikebukuro. -_- Well, this is a lesson learnt.

We arrived at the station and saw a lot of food stalls outside the market but was too early for food so we decided to visit the market first. Bonito smell lingered in the air as we were walking towards the market. Finally we arrived in the market after some stops along the way to look at the food stalls. But since we reached not that early, the place is already closing for the day but it was still busy with activities. So busy and dangerous with vehicles moving all around that we decided to go for lunch instead.

All the shops in the market were having a long queue (maybe from all the recommendations from the tourist books) that we decided to just find a shop outside the market for a bite.

All shops were quite expensive until one shop gave us a pamphlet that showed a sushi set for an affordable price. Shop name is Tsukiji Ya, which means "A shop of Tsukiji"....well.....not a very innovative name...
When we went inside, the place is almost empty except for a couple. "Are we about to be scammed???" was in K's mind.

K ordered the sushi set which was on a special price to thank all customers for their support. K then spotted that this shop is also selling the braised kin me tai, so I decided to have that as I was not very hungry.

K's set, which came after about 10 min. Look at the quantity of sushi for only 2,100 yen!
K said that the seafood were very fresh and the set consists of expensive stuffs like scallop, sea urchin and tuna belly. Definitely worth the 2,100 yen.

Next came the braised kin me tai at 1000yen. Looks normal, like a plate of steamed fish. But wait....

Look at its eyeball...how big is it?

Below is a comparison picture between the eyeball and K's thumb. NOW you know how big the eyeball and the fish head is. O.O

See the size of the eye socket. GIGANTIC.

The braised fish is cooked slightly sweet and the meat was a bit tougher than we thought it will be, maybe due to the size of the fish and slightly overcooked but we find it quite nice. K loved the eye especially.

Aftermath of the fish. NOTHING is wasted.

We were each given a bowl of miso soup which was cooked with prawn heads, giving the soup some prawn taste, which made it more delicious.

The restaurant is managed by 2 chefs and by the time we left, the whole place was full house. Did K think that we were scammed after all? Not at all~ =D

Quite far from the bidding area.

2100yen for the sushi set
1000 yen for Kinme Tai