TokYokohama Resto Roundup

Just a few words on some of the restaurants we dined at in Tokyo and Yokohama, Japan.

Yasuke, Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise

Hakkeijima Sea Paradise is a theme park in the southern part of Kanagawa Prefecture, around an hour’s drive from central Tokyo, and just as easily accessible by train. They have day passes with unlimited rides and visits to the main aquariums and sea creature shows, or you can also pay per attraction. Alternatively, if you’re on a cheap date, you can walk around the area for free, enjoy the sea breeze and watch the birds fly around.

Our first restaurant meal in Japan was at Yasuke, on the second floor of a gaming arcade. They  specialized in chirashidon or bowls of scattered seafood on sushi rice, at least based on what was most prominent on their menu. Of particular focus was their whitebait, or shirasu, aside from their tuna. I made sure to order a bowl that included some of those. It was a mix similar to the typical chirashidon you would get in a Japanese restaurant in Manila, aside from the addition of not only the shirasu, but also some anago eel as well.

The restaurant was self-service. You order and come back for your food at the counter. You can then help yourself to some house tea and water.

My wife and daughter shared a hearty serving of tenzaru soba. They just really wanted the buckwheat noodles, as my wife has a shrimp allergy which our daughter may have inherited. I gladly and graciously suggested that I take the large, juicy prawns in fried in a crispy batter in order to spare them from harm.

It was definitely a great first taste of washoku in a real, albeit touristy Japanese restaurant.

Musashi, Asakusa View Hotel

One of the best value buffets in Tokyo is at Musashi restaurant in Asakusa View Hotel.

You get a fantastic view of the Sumida area, and of course, of the Tokyo Skytree.

The buffet area is a little cramped, laid out like a square. In the center island, there was one side each devoted to the grilled items, Italian, tempura, and starches. 

The outer square had appetizers and salads, Chinese, desserts, and interestingly, an assortment of bottled waters (all in Japanese, so I couldn’t tell the difference). The selection is varied enough and the quality is commendable for a buffet. I recommend sticking to the grilled items, though the line can get long.

Butagumi Dining

This is a premium tonkatsu restaurant found in a Roppongi Hills basement. I understand that this was a more fast-casual branch of a well-known tonkatsu restaurant. We had one set of their premium “house pig” from Chiba, and one of another regional, which changes everyday. Both were of rosu, or fatty loin cuts, of course. Only heathens order the lean tenderloin or hire cuts. 

I think our regional special was from Matsusaka, a region known more for their beef than their pork. It just goes to show that they do know how to grow their livestock there.

This was also one of the few “dates” I had with my wife. Our daughter fell asleep in her carrier after our visit to the Snoopy Museum in Roppongi. We had a quiet, stress-free lunch of the best pork we ever had. The sets come with rice, miso soup, pickles amd unlimited cabbage.

Yokohama Bummei Kaikan, Landmark Plaza

We stayed a couple of nights in Yokohama, and to be honest, I didn’t enjoy the food as much as I did in Tokyo. I think a big reason was that we visited more touristy areas. The food was still pretty good, just not the usual sublime that I had come to expect. 

Case in point, Yokohama Bunmei Kaikan was a restaurant we just walked into while at the Landmark Plaza mall. My wife had a perfectly cooked tonkatsu curry, and I had an Oyakodon set, with my daughter getting the accompanying soba for herself. Good, but not great. The oyakodon was definitely on the bland and boring side.

We just washed the food down with a large liter mug of Kirin beer and a grapefruit sour. These fruit highballs were a favorite of mine in Japan. It’s probably the only sweet cocktail I enjoy.

Anrakutei Yakiniku, Akabane

Another yakiniku restaurant we got to try was the Anrakutei branch near Akabane station. It’s your typical yakiniku izakaya, which only means that you’re in a great meal of grilled meat and lots of booze. Our group of six adults, one child and one baby polished off two of these huge platters.

This was a different experience from our Yakiniku Motoyama dinner because since this wasn’t high grade Wagyu, we could go crazy with the sauce (tare)! I enjoyed the spicy and garlic sauces the most.

One revelation was this kalbi (beef rib) soup. You can have it spicy, and with rice or noodles included. I also gladly had a few more rounds of that fantastic plum wine, or umeshu, after only having tasted the same the previous night.

Maguro Donya Judaime Yazaemon, Akihabara

One app introduced to me by a friend was Picrumb, which ranks recommended restaurants for major Tokyo districts as well as visual walking guides in the form of photos with crude arrows. Maguro Donya Judaime Yazaemon was listed as the best sushi restaurant in Akihabara. Their tuna is brought fresh daily from Misaki port.

My wife had a lovely bowl of zuke maguro topped with a lightly poached egg. She does not usually eat runny yolks, but I’m glad she made an exception this time. It was exquisite, with the freshest, most tender marinated sashimi and the sticky egg yolk. For some textural contrast, the set also came with some mixed tempura, and I gladly came to her aid and saved her from potential histamine harm by selflessly taking the ebi for myself.

I could not resist ordering the grilled tuna collar set. For those keeping count, this was the third time I had it in Tokyo, amd you can’t blame me, because it was fantastic. One of my few restaurant “craft” beers was this pint of Yona Yona pale ale. Some say it’s still more of a macro brewery, hence the quotation marks. Still, it was a welcome change from the usual draft lagers.  

Pablo Mini, Akihabara

To wrap things up, we also tried Pablo mini cheese tarts, which are now a thing in the Philippines. The cheese explosion was worth the fifteen minute or so wait, and we were able to try an assortment of flavors that they don’t carry here in Manila.

Our trip to Japan definitely had some of the best meals we’ve had, and almost every restaurant we tried was an amazing experience. We definitely need to go back soon.

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