After getting into my hotel room and having a nap, I woke up at 8pm still a little groggy but definitely hungry. The great thing about being the last person to visit somewhere is everyone has recommendations on where you should go. Given it was a cold night and I still wasn’t sure what time it was, a big bowl of udon noodles seemed right up my alley.
My first day in Tokyo.
I came across Shibuya Hikarie after heading to Shibuya to look at the crossing (and it’s every bit as crazy as they say it is). It’s an eight story department store full of amazing things from local Japanese leather work to a full department of everything Le Creuset but what Shibuya Hikarie has on the top floor is an exhibition dedicated to food.
I couldn’t understand a lot in the exhibition – it was entirely in Japanese. It was showing off local Japanese ingredients like Sake and miso paste (I recognised the bottles). But there is an amazing restaurant that serves local dishes from the 47 different counties or prefixtures across Japan.
Eating alone in Japan isn’t a problem. There is always a bar area were single diners are set up and you either get an amazing view or a view of kitchen. Both are perfectly alright for me.
A lot of my ordering was done through finger pointing and charades. While the menu was in English, the waiters (while being very lovely) didn’t have much English. They were very patient though as I tired to pronounce my order.
I chose the Okinawa meal with was slow braised pork served with tempura mashed potato, seaweed salad and miso soup. I also chose a local ginger soda which was amazing and refreshing.
My drink arrives with a little bowl of Japanese pickles. Over my trip, I’d learn this is pretty standard. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what this assortiment of pickles was and it looked a little different but it was delicious. It was crunchy and refreshing and a great way to clean your taste buds before the meal.
When the meal arrived, it was amazing. I wasn’t entirely sure if there was an order to how you’re meant to eat this type of meal so I pretty much just tasted it all and then dove right in to what I wanted to taste more of.
The braised pork basically fell apart in my mouth and was braised in a sweet, spicy and sticky sauce. It was unreal. After I’d finished the pork, I still wanted to eat the sauce and ended up pouring it all over the white rice that the meal was served with. I don’t know if this was what you were meant to do but the Japanese lady next to me did it so really, I was just following what the locals were doing 😉
The sides were pretty amazing too. The mash potato was crispy and creamy which contrasted against the salty seaweed salad. It was really refreshing against the braised pork. Overall, it was an unreal introduction to Japanese food and if you’re in town, I would definitely recommend a visit.
I then took a wander around the rest of the floor. Since it was Valentine’s Day, all the stores on the floor were specialised in chocolate.
The Japanese go all out on Valentine’s Day and all the stores were doing a roaring trade. After all the food though, jet lag was beginning to set in and I headed back to the hotel for a little bit of a nap.
8th Floor, Shibuya Hikarie
2-21-1 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku
There are plenty more food adventures to come out of the USA (you don’t think I’d stop at one restaurant do you?) but I want to detour quickly by popular demand to the newly arrived Kensington St. Social.