Photo of the day: Tonkotsu Ramen @ Ippudo. Photo credit: Aaron.
We had a lazy start to our day today, sleeping in until lunch time. It was nice after an eventful weekend to Kyoto. We decided to spend the day in Ginza today. It felt to me like the Gangnam of Tokyo. Streets were filled with tall buildings, business people, and many jumbo-sized stores.
For lunch, Aaron brought me to Din Tai Fung, which is a Taiwanese restaurant specializing in the Chinese Xiao Long Bao, but since we were going to Taiwan this trip, Aaron thought Japan would be a good place for me to try this. We, of course, ordered the original Xiao Long Bao, as well as a special set with a variety steamer of crab meat, uni and scallop filling dumplings. At the front of the restaurant, you can see the dumplings being meticulously prepared, which each dumpling weighed in a scale to ensure consistency. We also had the spicy pickled cucumber as a starter. The cucumber was ok. Not the best I’ve had. The variety set was creative but definitely not as good as the original. Out of the three, I preferred the crab as it took away less from the pork filling. There was an instruction sheet advising us to place some strands of ginger and vinegar in our spoons, then placing the dumplings into the spoon. You are then to puncture the dumpling slightly so the soup would leak out before you enjoy this delicacy. The original dumpling was nice and soupy but not the best I’ve had. Overall, I was somewhat disappointed. I will stick to eating Xiao Long Baos in Vancouver.
After lunch, we wanted to find a nice coffee shop to catch up on some work. We went into Hoshino but quickly realized it’s more for socializing rather than working. Still on a journey to find the best Japanese soufflé cheesecake, I had to try a piece here. It was not exactly what I was thinking of, as it was less airy the one from Uncle Tetsu, but it was still amazingly smooth and light. It got pretty busy, so we decided to head somewhere else so we were not taking up their table for too long.
We’ve been trying to avoid Starbucks and to try more local coffee shops but it was raining and we were desperate to get some work done. We decided to go to the first Starbucks in Japan. I had the Sakura cream latte there, as it is something I probably won’t get in Canada. The taste was ok. It was very sweet, just like most other specialty lattes at Starbucks. I also realized I’m not a fan of Sakura flavoured things. It was pretty busy and the internet was not very good but I still managed to upload one post, so I’m happy.
We were getting hungry, so we started looking on Foursquare for food choices. Apparently there was a ramen restaurant, Kagari, specializing in ramen in chicken broth, which had a incredible 9.3 rating. We read it was a small 8-seater restaurant and wanted to try our luck but it wasn’t our lucky day. There were at least 12 people in front of us and we weren’t too keen on waiting, so we went to Ippudo, with still pretty good ratings, instead. Aaron ordered the original Tonkotsu ramen (see photo of the day) and I had the spicy minced meat one. I got to choose my spice level and I choose 8 spices. We also got a small order of Gyoza. Aaron’s ramen can first and we both had a sip of the soup immediately. It was very rich and full of pork flavour. It felt very authentic and pure. The noodles were also very tasty and different than any other ramen I’ve ever had. It was very flavourful. My ramen came shortly after with a vibrant orange oil over it. It looked amazing and it also tasted very vibrant and full of different spices. If you prefer more complexed taste and more spice, then this would be your choice. If you like simplicity and authenticity, then have the original one. The Gyoza here is also very good. It was served with a Shichimi paste, which really added another dimension to it. We ended up ordering another plate because it was so unique.
After dinner, we made a obligatory stop at Nissan Crossing to check out cool cars. Then, Aaron went on a shopping spree at the largest Uniqlo in the world, while I just walked around to check out the area. It’s not just Uniqlo. There were multi-storey versions of Zara, H&M and other well known brands here as well. Most were still open while we were there around 8pm. Some stores also offer tax-free shopping in Japan, but you’ll need to spend 5000 Yen and up. It is fully tax -free, unlike Korea, which charges a small fee. Just remember to bring your passport. We called it a night and went home after Aaron was done purchasing his wardrobe for the next year, or until the next time he comes to Japan.