Japan Does Not Get Old

Feb 7th, 2018

This is my fifth time (I think, I lost count) in Japan. You should know by now, that I have a special place for Japan in my heart. This was a really short trip to Tokyo – 3 days & 4 nights. But enough for me to cure my homesickness. I’ve missed everything about Japan; the food (Japanese konbini FTW!), the sights & the cheap cosmetics (albeit my last trip was only in October 2017).

I managed to grab cheap flight on All Nippon Airways (ANA) from KUL – HND – KUL. This was my first time travelling on ANA and boy, I was well impressed! Immaculate plane, great service, beautiful stewardesses, delicious foods & I absolutely loved loved loved the toilet!

The flight took off and landed on-time. After going through immigration which was long & tiring, my first place to be was Lawson. Damn I’ve missed their premium Onigiri & Egg sammich!

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Premium Onigiri – This is DA BOMB!

Done with supper, I spent the night at the airport (like I usually do). Didn’t sleep so good as it was too damn cold & my feet were freezing. I woke up the next morning to find that it was snowing outside! Absolutely perfect! This was my first time seeing falling snow – actual snow falling from the skies. I felt like a little kid who just had their sugar rush! Couldn’t wipe the goofy grin off my face for the whole day as it snowed the whole day through.

From the airport, I took the train to Asakusa as I had booked my accommodation there. Sensoji Temple in the falling snow was breath-taking! I got there at about 8am which was lovely as there were hardly any soul in sight. My legs were freezing, my feet & hands went numb & I was shivering. But it was all worth it being outside looking over Sensoji Temple.

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Magnificent ain’t it?
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It’s snowing!

After dropping off my luggage at the hotel, I went straight to Tsukiji for breakfast. Also my first time here, I was impressed that Tsukiji did not smell like the fish market back at home. Tsukiji was clean & the only smell you get was from the foods cooking which was inviting! I dived right in to the skewered unagi (eel) & uni hotate (scallops topped with sea urchin).

 

Boy, was it good! I had to wait a while as they was a long line since it was already 9.30am. After that, I queued for the Tamagoyaki (sweet egg omelette on a stick). It was so fluffy & dense at the same time.

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Custard filled mochi topped with whole strawberry was next. This was an OH-MY-GOD moment for me! I literally had a foodgasm moment when I popped that baby in my mouth!

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There were plenty of shops around selling all kinds of foods; just pick whichever you fancy. Walking along the back lanes, I stumbled upon a decent shop selling grilled scallops, oyster, crab meat, uni & tuna – all stuffed into an oyster shell. The queue was so long that the owner of the next shop somewhat made a ‘complaint’ to the owner as his customers were blocking the other shops. It was worth the wait as the mix grilled seafood was as fresh as the ocean! Definitely 5-star food!

 

By noon I left & went to Ameyoko Street to survey snacks prices. This was strictly a food-hunting & shopping trip, so don’t judge me. The cheapest shop to buy Japanese snacks in Tokyo is located here & it’s called “Niki No Kashi”. Great assortments of Japanese snacks including KitKats; almost all are cheaper than other shops.

By 3pm, I went back to the hotel for checking-in & freshening up. Then after, I went to Mega Don Quijote to survey the prices for snacks that couldn’t be found at Niki No Kashi. Some items were more expensive than Niki No Kashi or even in Don Quijote Osaka. I absolutely loved Donki as they have so many weird & quirky things and the best part is it’s opened 24-hours! Done with that, I went to Naritaya for lunch. I didn’t particularly like the food here as it was not that good, plus it was highly expensive. Another thing that threw me off was the fact that the foods they served were not authentic Japanese food. More like a mixture of Indonesian & Japanese foods (heavy on the Indonesian influence). Before leaving Asakusa, I went to my all-time favourite Taiyaki shop – Kurikoan. The Taiyaki is so unbelievably good! If you do come here, get the red bean & premium cream – you will not regret it!

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From Asakusa, I made my way to Daiba – home of the giant Gundam. I went there in 2016 and towards the end of 2017, they erected a new Gundam, so I had to go & see. By the time I got there, it was dark as the sun set pretty early this time of the year despite it being only 5pm. The Gundam was a sight to see! A life-size model with all the lights on and just plain incredible.

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I also went in the Gundam Café selling Gundam-themed snacks & coffee. Nothing caught my eye that made me want to try so I left and went for a stroll inside the mall. Plenty of high standard restaurants and shops you can typically find in any mall back home. Nothing interesting to do or see so off I went.

Next, I moved on to Shibuya for dinner at one of my favourite restaurants – Samrat. It’s an Indian restaurant and always packed with locals. For only 950 yen, you get to have unlimited naan or rice with a choice of their yummy curry. You won’t go wrong with either butter chicken or chicken tikka masala; lip-smackingly good! Their naan is huge; as huge as your own damn face! I had one naan & a bowl of rice, kept me full until the next morning.

To get rid of the unbelievably full feeling, I went for a stroll (or rather, window shopping) around Shibuya. Went to Mega Don Quijote Shibuya to survey their prices and what I found was that the prices for items like Matcha powder were cheaper than the other Don Quijote and Niki No Kashi. I also went to Daiso – the mother of all 100 yen shops. Even though Daiso is a Japanese shops, most if not all of the items sold were made in China. Talk about irony. I bought those sandwich bags (similar to Reynolds or Glad) for 108 yen which was way way cheaper than what I can get at home.

As it was getting late, I made a move & headed to the hotel. It took more than half an hour to get from Shibuya to Asakusa & I was tired, cold & really sleepy. Upon reaching my hotel, I showered & went straight to bed. Slept like a log the whole night through.

Since I couldn’t get enough of Tsukiji Market, I went again the next day. This time I went & tried other foods. I tried the grilled Tsukiji special – prawn, scallop & unagi on a stick. Huge, succulent prawn; cannot get any better than this.

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I also tried Tamagoyaki from a different shop and I liked it better than the other shop. Went to the same mochi shop – this time I had the red bean one & it was delicious. You cannot go wrong either custard or red bean. The one food I loved and contemplating to get another was Kinako – a fried soy bean flour treat covered with sweet corn. This was another OH-MY-GOD moment for me. So good yet so cheap. It was dense & sweet & fried to perfection. Absolute must-try!

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Next on my food-on-a-stick hunt was a shop selling all these grilled seafood for 200 yen per stick. I had the salmon belly, squid & yellow-tail fish.

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It was just meh because I felt like they had over grilled the items & thus resulted in chewier, rubbier texture. I was walking along a back alley & found this little stall selling crab shells and in those shells were black/brown goo. It did not look appealing (or appetising) at all. But I went ahead & bought it anyway as I was curious to find out what it was. Believe me when I say “don’t ever judge a book by its cover” because that black goo in a shell was amazingly delicious! Another OH-MY-GOD moment for me and the second foodgasm I had in two days. I was tempted to lick the inside of the crab shell as I didn’t want to waste any goo but of course I didn’t do that. To this day, I have no idea what it was, just that it tasted like crab meat mixed in with other mysterious ingredients.

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Done with breakfast, I went to Ginza as I had a mission here – to drink coffee with my face on it. This little café is located inside the Nissan Building. You can have coffee with any Nissan car art or you can let them take a picture of you & have your face “printed” on the foam.

The whole experience was pretty cool and I found it to be reasonably priced. After my morning coffee, I went to the car gallery showcasing Nissan cars & man, the sports cars looked incredible! I mean, I know nothing whatsoever about cars but they looked pretty sick!

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There are many fancy & high-end shops in Ginza & I chose to go into a shop that sells stationery. The things there were pretty expensive but incredibly beautiful especially those colourful Japanese papers & notebooks. Stationery geeks are going to love this shop.

Today was actually Setsubun; the beginning of spring so I rushed from Ginza to Sensoji Temple just to take part in this bean-throwing ceremony. It was so crowded & you can barely move! I took part in the bean-catching event but unfortunately I didn’t manage to catch any. But it was alright as the experience itself was all I wanted. The competition was fierce. People were shoving & pushing trying to catch the beans.

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Some kids & old people
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Japanese celebrities. The crowd went wild once they showed up!
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Look who made an appearance!

In the couple of hours I was there, Sensoji held three bean-throwing ceremony. One was thrown by a bunch of kids & old people. Two was thrown by Japanese celebrities & three was thrown by Pringles mascot. The atmosphere was simply amazing and lively with people screaming, waving & laughing. It was a fun event overall and I was lucky to be a part of it.

Later that evening, I went shopping like a crazed woman hitting up all three of the shopping spots I had surveyed the day before. Then after, I went to Tokyo Station. I love spending time at Tokyo Station as they have plenty of shops around & assortments of food. I went for a walk along Character Street and went into Glico Kitchen to buy Giant Collon as that was in my have-to-buy list. Another place you have to be when you’re in Tokyo Station is the food section at Daimaru. Queues can get pretty long for certain items so be well prepared. The Japanese just love to buy and give souvenirs so expect your items to be immaculately wrapped and presented.

For dinner, I went to Luke’s Lobster Shibuya to eat their world famous lobster roll. I’ve had this a while back at their Osaka branch & it did not disappoint. Succulent lobster meat topped with melted butter on a hot dog bun – loved it! Big, fat lobster meat. Not just one, not just two but I counted six fat lobster meats on my roll.

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I went back to the hotel with my stomach absolutely full waiting to explode.

After checking out the next morning, I went to Suzukien to have their Level 7 matcha ice-cream. Can you imagine eating ice-cream in a 3 degrees Celcius weather at 10 in the morning? I thought I was the only crazy one but it turned out there were plenty of crazy people as the shop was packed to the brim. I had the Level 2 and Level 7 matcha ice-cream in a cup. Tasted divine and incredibly smooth. Not bitter at all but absolutely creamy.

As lunch time is fast approaching and the shop I wanted to go was quite far from town, I hopped on the train and made my way to Ebisu – Honolulu Ebisu. I ordered the chicken ramen & gyoza and man, it was authentic and super yummy! The ramen noodles were springy, the chicken broth thick & creamy and the gyoza was succulent. Best meal I’ve had on this trip. Worth the one-hour train ride here!

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Next on my list was Coffee Cone Tokyo located at Shin-Koenji, Instagram famous for their coffee in an ice-cream cone. I ordered the latte in a chocolate covered, rainbow sprinkled cone.

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The coffee was good but the chocolate & sprinkles were too sweet for me. Apparently, the coffee can stay in the cone for up to five hours before the cone gets all soggy and coffee starts spilling out. Well, that was what was written on the board, I didn’t experiment.

Later that day I spent my time at Harajuku, visiting Meiji Shrine and strolling along the streets of Harajuku. It was incredibly packed with people, you can barely walked without bumping and shoving into another human being. Harajuku was crazy on a Sunday! For my tea break, I went to Luke’s Lobster Harajuku to try their shrimp and lobster roll. I queued for a good 20 minutes as the crowd was crazy but boy, it was worth it! Tasted succulent and juicy as always. It was my first time trying the shrimp & lobster combo and the shrimps were plenty and spilling out of the hot dog bun. Worth every yen I paid!

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Late evening I went to Ueno to do some last-minute shopping and eating. Must-eat on my list was the doner kebab at Ueno & I chose Oskar Kebab. When I’m abroad, I love to eat kebabs because the kebabs back home are depressing and super expensive. Even though I was quite full, I managed to find a little room in my stomach for the doner kebab. And that kebab concluded by food hunting trip to Tokyo. It was a successful food mission for me.

I grabbed my luggage (which had tripled) and went straight to the airport to continue my shopping. What can I say, it was a food hunting AND shopping trip. As I always did in my previous trips, ROYCE chocolate covered potato chips is a MUST-BUY for me! Have you ever had one of these? They taste heavenly; sweet with a tad salty; overall they go great together.

As the lady in the PA system announced my flight, I went into the plane with yet another successful trip. I bade “Sayonara” to Tokyo, Japan & 100% sure that I will be coming back soon. Looking forward to my sixth Japan trip!

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What the end of my shopping trip looked like

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