Follow us on our Tokyo Trippin’ adventure starting here. 🙂
Asakusa (浅草), Tokyo
The Sensoji Temple has been on gNOMe 2’s list for aeons, so finally! *squeals in joy!* 😀 Upon arriving at Asakusa Station (浅草駅), one will noticed a great multitude of tourists. And upon exiting the stations, you will see plenty of jinkirisha (人力車), or also known as man-powered rickshaw. A 30 minute tour on a jinkirisha for 2 pax will cost you ¥ 9,000 and that’s equivalent to roughly RM 320 [RM 35.64 = ¥ 1,000]. If you have the cash, you may splurge, alternatively, exploring Asakusa on foot can be equally rewarding too.
Bear in mind that these jinkirisha only brings you around Asakusa, they are not allowed to enter the holy grounds.
Explore around Nakamise Shopping Street as well as Dempoin Dori (Dempoin Street) for awesome Japanese snacks. We can never get enough of these!
[Clockwise from above : Red Bean Paste Skewer [¥ 320] [RM 11.40] + Iced Green Tea [¥ 110] [RM 3.90], Traditional Japanese Sweet Bun [¥ 200] [RM 7.20], Wagyu Curry Bun [¥ 290] [RM 10.40], Fried Cutlet Menchi [¥ 200] [RM 7.20]
All these snacks can be easily found here, just keep your eyes peeled for any interesting looking shops. The gNOMes were expecting to splurge, but ended up getting some pretty cheap eats as well. These snacks proved to be a great nom, especially the Wagyu Curry Bun and Fried Cutlet Menchi. The black wagyu (the name speaks for itself!) was char siew-like in texture and sweet, with the curry providing the heat, while the menchi was full of fragrant onion goodness!
Red Bean Paste Skewer would be popular with the sweet-toothed gNOMes, and is best paired with a sweetened cup of green tea (for a fee of course). The sweet bun, also known as a melon bun to some, is baked fresh and served hot, making is really comforting for a cold day
Once done filling your stomach, head towards the Hozomon [宝蔵門] (which translates roughly to “treasure house gate”). Beyond the Hozomon [gate] stands the temple’s main hall and the five stories pagoda.
The pagoda here is at a slightly newer location, as it was relocated from another spot on the opposite side of the Hozomon. It is a sight to behold in the autumn as the trees around it start to turn red and yellow, providing a decent photography spot for the serial selfie Instagrammer.
Located right opposite Asakusa Station is this humble Japanese eatery, Nadai Fujisoba (名代富士そば). Famed for their buckwheat noodles (soba), this fast food chain is now gaining popularity among the locals. This particular store in Asakusa opens 24/7.
Katsu Don [¥ 480] [RM 17.10]
Cutlets of meat wrapped in a thin fried egg layer. The rice portion in this bowl is highly generous. The average Malaysian may struggle a little with the portion on offer. Nevertheless the gNOMes were definitely in the mood for something cheap and filling after spending quite a bit on street food.
Curry Rice + Soba (set) [¥ 480] [RM 17.10]
It may be surprising to Malaysians, but it is actually common for Japanese people to consume a plate of rice alongside a bowl of noodles. Yes, this is meant for 1 person to consume! Sweet curry rice (served in slightly smaller portion as compared to the soba) and a wonderful bowl of hot soba for a cold day (it was raining heavily!).
Verdict : Although not entirely spectacular, in comparison to the bulk of Japanese restaurants we’ve visited, this is definitely the budget place if one is running low on cash but in need of a large meal. The hot soup is comforting on a cold autumn day.
How to get there : Asakusa Station [浅草駅]. This Soba shop – Nadai Fujisoba (名代富士そば) is located almost everywhere in Tokyo. 🙂
Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo
After filling our stomachs and resting our legs, we decided it’s time to move on to the next adventure. The skies were grey and cloudy despite the area being bombarded with heavy rain the whole morning. Strong winds took us 1 step back with every 2 steps forward, but we pressed on, clutching our jackets tightly and walked a good 20 minutes to our next destination.
Crossing the Sumida-gawa @ River [隅田川], and braving though the cold wind, with a walk that seemed like forever, alas, we were greeted by this sight . 🙂
Looking all gloomy and bleak, with thick fog threatening to obstruct our view, we were nevertheless glad to reach and witness this beauty. Right below Tokyo Skytree [東京スカイツリー] is a shopping mall, the Tokyo Solamachi which was where we took shelter from the bitter wind.
Housing more than 300 stores, Tokyo Solamachi combines shopping, dining and entertainment (an underwater world!) under one roof. After one’s visit to the observation deck on Tokyo Skytree for a bird’s eye view of the city (Adults : ¥ 2,060 [RM 73.40], Children : ¥ 930 [RM 33.20]), stop by Tokyo Solamachi to rest and relax.
We did not pay to go up, as we have decided that we will be going to the Tokyo Metropolitan Building for this experience. Why? Because accessing Tokyo Met Building is absolutely free!, less crowded (unknown to most tourists as of now) and equally rewarding. We will talk about this more in Day 5’s post.
How to get there :
- A good 20 minutes walk from Asakusa Station
- Take the Tokyo Metro to Tokyo Skytree Station / Oshiage Station (押上〈スカイツリー前〉駅)
More details here :
Ginza (銀座), Tokyo
After spending hours at Tokyo Skytree & Tokyo Solamachi, we decided to commute to Ginza. For the two things we had in mind : Ginza Wako (銀座和光) Building and FOOD.
We were immediately greeted by the sight of Ginza Wako after emerging from the station. Light drizzle with bitter cold wind threatening to dampen our spirits but nonetheless, what a beautiful sight worth to endure for.
A little background of Ginza Wako :
“Built in 1932, the clock tower of the Ginza Wako building is the symbol of Ginza, standing at the northwest corner of the district’s centrally located Ginza 4-Chome junction of Chuo and Harumi Dori. Inside the building, jewelry and luxury items are sold.” – Japan-guide.com
To our amazement, we were just in time to hear the deep chiming from the clock tower when the needle struck 2100 hours. It felt like being in a scene from a cheesy soap opera 😀 A few photographs later, we were on our way to dinner.
The famous Ikinari Steak (いきなり！ステーキ)! One should never ever leave Tokyo without paying this place a visit. Wait, what? Tokyo = Steak? As surprised as we were when we were advised not to leave Tokyo without trying, we decided to pay this place a visit.
Dubbed the ‘Standing Up Steak Restaurant’, Ikinari Steak restaurant does not have any chairs for patrons. One will literally have to stand to savour the steak, while being driven on your meaty quest by fast-paced Urban Jazz music. The Ikinari Steak restaurant we visited serves only 4 cuts of meat :
- Rib-Eye Steak Grain Fed Beef [¥ 6/g] [RM 0.20/g] – Recommended quantity : >300g
- Australia Naruo Court Cube Role Rib-Eye Steak [¥ 7/g] [RM 0.25/g] Recommended quantity : >300g
- Tenderloin Steak Beef with Less Fat [¥ 9/g] [RM 0.32/g] Recommended quantity : >200g
- Domestic Beef Sirloin Steak [¥ 10/g] [RM 0.36/g] Recommended quantity : >200g
For each cut there’s a recommended quantity to take, you may choose to follow or opt for lesser. Feeling slightly adventurous, we went for Cut #2 and Cut #3, with the recommended minimum quantity.
Upon placing your order, you can actually head over to the Butcher’s Counter to have a look at your cut before they prepare ’em (above bottom right picture), ensuring that you get the best cut of beef while looking and feeling like a connoisseur.
One can also order side dishes such as rice, salad, soup to pair with the main course. We waited, and less than 15 minutes, our steaks were served. Lo and behold! 😀
Tenderloin Steak Beef with Less Fat [¥ 1,800] [RM 64.20]
Absolutely divine! Served medium rare, it was oozing with juiciness and the full essence of the cow (might we add, a cow that had a very posh life indeed!). There was simple no comparison. Graded slightly below Kobe beef level, every cut of meat literally melts in your mouth. If there was steak heaven, that was surely close to it!
Australia Naruo Court Cube Role Rib-Eye Steak [¥ 2,100/g] [RM 74.80]
300-grams of grass-fed cow definitely sounded good. Medium rare was the order of the day. Certainly balanced and well-seasoned, it was bloody and tender, making for quite the treat! However one should not pair this side-by-side with the Tenderloin Steak Beef above, as it will pale in comparison. You indeed pay for what you get!
Verdict : Selling meat by the weight, definitely a very smart strategy, and the right one! This gives customers a choice on their portions and the grade of meat they are willing to pay for. The steak here is very cheap in our opinion. gNOMe tip: since you’re here, don’t bother trying to skimp and save on your steak, go for the highest or at least even the Tenderloin Steak Beef. To put it simply, YOU HAVE TO VISIT THIS PLACE.
How to get there :
Address : 4-10-14 Ginza | 1F Neopine Ginza 410, Chuo 104-0061, Tokyo Prefecture
Nearest Station : Higashi-Ginza Station (Hibiya, Asakusa lines), exit A2
With happy bellies moments later, and a few walks around the Ginza neighbourhood, we decided to head back to Ikebukuro and call it a day. 🙂