Japan – April 2013 – Day 9 (Kyoto and Tokyo)

Sunday April 21, 2013
Our final vacation day started with an early train back to Tokyo and a little more rain.
(Shinkansen train headed back to Tokyo from Kyoto, Japan)

Another two and half hour train ride gave us more time to reflect on the trip.

Cleanliness

Japan is a very advanced country.  You can see it in the technology.  You can in their manners.  But the cleanliness, no matter how much you expect it, you can’t help but be impressed at how little trash there is.  The streets are free of litter, the trains are clean, there’s no trash in the subway station or even on the subway tracks. Disney has done research on long guests are willing to walk before littering and they have placed trash cans all over their theme parks within those distances.  Yet in Japan, there aren’t many public trash cans.  People just don’t litter.  In Kamakura we saw a lady smoking and she had a “cigarette bag”, not only to put her butts in, but she also ashed in it.
01 Clean

Clean subway station – Tokyo, Japan

01 Tokyo

Keeping it clean in the subway station – Tokyo, Japan



02 Clean

Clean subway tracks – Tokyo, Japan

Tattoos
Not a lot of Japanese people have tattoos.  We saw maybe 10 people on the entire trip and I bet some of those were tourists. The yakuza gang members have lots of tattoos and are forbidden from visiting public baths and even capsule hotels. When out in the general public, they cover their tattoos with long-sleeved shirts. I heard they even have their pubic areas tattooed. For this matter, we did not engage in conversation with any yakuza gang members.
02 Tokyo

Look at this Japanese skank – Tokyo, Japan

Train station luggage lockers
We stored our luggage while we eating breakfast on our way to Kyoto. We also needed to store luggage while we were sightseeing on our last day as we didn’t have a hotel. We read that spots are limited, especially for larger luggage and we weren’t sure if it had the capacity for our largest pieces.  The good news is there is luggage storage at every corner in the larger train stations. After looking at five spaces, we found an area that had three large lockers and our luggage fit. You can only store stuff there for three days, so the turnover is fairly fast. It cost $6 for each locker per day and we picked it up at night before heading to the airport.  The bad news is there is luggage storage at every corner, so take pictures where you store your luggage and nearby stores.
Hidemi Sugino
Kyobashi 3-6-17 Kyobashi Daiei Building 1F
Hidemi Sugino is a Tokyo based pastry chef, famous for his variety of mousse cakes. Lines start 30 minutes to an hour before opening and can sellout within the hour.  We got an umbrella nearby since we still had to wait 30 minutes outside until it’s doors opened.  The good news is we were second in line and gaurenteed to get any mousse cake we wanted.  As it approached 11am, the cake tray began to fillup we could see five, then ten different kinds on display.  With five minutes to spare, there were over twenty varieties and the display case was full.  A hostess opened the door allowing a few of us in and reminding us not to photograph inside.  I believe we were limited to six cakes each, we ate four of the more delicate cakes in the back cafe and finished the remaining eight cakes with coffee at a local Staryens.  The cakes we enjoyed the most were the ones we ate in-house.  We were told the cakes don’t travel, to be eaten within an hour and the boxes even noted same day expiration.  Aside from the mousse cakes, the bakery offers individual size pastries and jams.  We got a few things to go, but they were fairly disappointing and may cater more towards a Japanese palate.  Overall I can see why this bakery has a strong reputation.  Prior to our visit our perception of Japanese desserts would have been they focus more on presentation than taste.  Hidemi really surprised us and I would recommend people go there just eat your cakes onsite.
02 Hidemi Sugino

Line outside five minutes to opening – Hidemi Sugino, Tokyo, Japan

01 Hidemi Sugino

Hidemi Sugino, Tokyo, Japan

03 Hidemi Sugino - Ambroisie (Chocolate Pistachio) and La Harmonie (Cherry Almond)

Chocolate Pistachio – 8/10, Raspberry – 9/10 – Hidemi Sugino, Tokyo, Japan

04 Hidemi Sugino

Caramel – 9/10, Lime – 7/10 – Hidemi Sugino, Tokyo, Japan

05 Hidemi Sugino - Light Coffee Flavor

To-go box – Hidemi Sugino, Tokyo, Japan

06 Hidemi Sugino

Ice packs inside to-go box – Hidemi Sugino, Tokyo, Japan

07 Hidemi Sugino - Rasberry

Strawberry Pistachio – 7/10 – Hidemi Sugino, Tokyo, Japan

08 Hidemi Sugino

Hazelnut – 6/10 – Hidemi Sugino, Tokyo, Japan

10 Hidemi Sugino

Expiration date noted in box – Hidemi Sugino, Tokyo, Japan

11 Hidemi Sugino - Mango

Mango – 8/10 – Hidemi Sugino, Tokyo, Japan

12 Hidemi Sugino - Mango

Inside of mango – Hidemi Sugino, Tokyo, Japan

09 Hidemi Sugino - Caramel Tart

Caramel tart – 8/10 – Hidemi Sugino, Tokyo, Japan

13 Hidemi Sugino - Sous Bois (Blackcurrent)

Raspberry – 5/10 – Hidemi Sugino, Tokyo, Japan

14 Hidemi Sugino - Citrus

Lime – 5/10 – Hidemi Sugino, Tokyo, Japan

16 Hidemi Sugino - Orange

Orange tart – 5/10 – Hidemi Sugino, Tokyo, Japan

17 Hidemi Sugino - Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate mousse – 5/10 – Hidemi Sugino, Tokyo, Japan

18 Hidemi Sugino - Chocolate Mousse

Inside of chocolate mousse – Hidemi Sugino, Tokyo, Japan

19 Hidemi Sugino - Jellies

Jellies purchased to-go – 7/10 – Hidemi Sugino, Tokyo, Japan

20 Hidemi Sugino - Assorted pastries

Pastries and madeleines purchased to-go – 3/10 – Hidemi Sugino, Tokyo, Japan

21 Hidemi Sugino Cranberry and Blueberry Nut

Breads purchased to-go – 3/10 – Hidemi Sugino, Tokyo, Japan

Butagumi
2-24-9 Nishiazabu
Minato, Tokyo, Japan
On my first trip to Japan I went to another well regarded tonkatsu restaurant called Maisen.  Jen isn’t a fan of pork so I didn’t push for tonkatsu on this trip.  In fact I never had to push for it.  When she came across photos of Butagumi’s deep fried loin she told me we had to go.  Butagumi is a descent size, with seats split between two floors, yet it still maintains a quaint cottage feel.  The background music is peer American, split between 70’s love songs and later Kool & the Gang transitioned the play list to R&B the early 80’s.
We started off with eringi mushrooms with orange sauce and the minced pork.  The server also suggested the fried pork cake so we added that on as well.  The mushroom was one of the best dishes we had on the trip we really liked it because it was a fun guy, the citrus sauce on the mushroom was heaven.  Jen really enjoyed the minced pork, the flavor was very similar to carnitas.  The fried pork cake was average.  The tonkatsu menu is divided into two sections, sirloin and fillet, with roughly ten total offered on our visit.  We decided to try one of each, as this was our only tonkatsu meal we leaned towards the more expensive cuts.  We ordered the Fuji-Kinka-Ton sirloin from Sizuoka Prefecture and the Tsunan Pork fillet from Niigata Prefecture.  They were accompanied by sides of miso, cabbage, rice and pickled vegetables.  As for the entrees we were a little underwhelmed, especially for the price.  Don’t get me wrong the breading and the frying technique were spot on, very crisp only retaining a minimal amount of oil.  We were expecting the meat to much more tender, dare I say unctuous.  On the sirloin the server warned us that it was very fatty so we were expecting a marbled cut similar to the beef we had tried.  What we got was a cut that had all of the fat on the left and dry meat on the right, it was as though the two sides didn’t talk to each other during the cooking process.  The fillet was a little dryer then we were expecting and lacked a raw seasoned flavor.   At the end of the meal we looked over to another table and their tonkatsu looked really good.  If we had to do it over again we would have gone with a more popular, perhaps less expensive, cut.  If for some reason you can quickly digest this food the electronic toilet in the bathroom on the second floor is pretty cool.
01 Butagumi - Exterior

Butagumi, Tokyo, Japan

02 Butagumi - Table

Place setting – Butagumi, Tokyo, Japan

03 Butagumi - Sauces

Condiments – Butagumi , Tokyo, Japan

04 Butagumi - Marinated Tomatos

Marinated Tomatoes – 9/10 – Butagumi , Tokyo, Japan

05 Butagumi - Eringi Mushroom with Orange Sauce

Eringi mushrooms with orange sauce and garlic – 10/10 – Butagumi , Tokyo, Japan

06 Butagumi - Roasted minced pork meat with garlic, pepper and soy sauce

Roasted minced pork meat with garlic, pepper and soy sauce – 8/10 – Butagumi , Tokyo, Japan

07 Butagumi - Fried cake of minced pork

Fried cake of minced pork – 6/10 – Butagumi , Tokyo, Japan

08 Butagumi - Inside fried cake of minced pork

Inside of fried cake of minced pork – Butagumi , Tokyo, Japan

09 Butagumi - Miso

Miso soup – Butagumi , Tokyo, Japan

10 Butagumi - Rice

Rice – Butagumi , Tokyo, Japan

11 Butagumi - Fuji-Kinka-Ton from Sizuoka Prefecture

Fuji-Kinka-Ton from Sizuoka Prefecture – 5/10 – Butagumi , Tokyo, Japan

12 Butagumi - Cabbage

Cabbage – Butagumi , Tokyo, Japan

13 Butagumi - Pickled Vegetables

Pickled vegetables – Butagumi , Tokyo, Japan

14 Butagumi - Tsunan Pork from Niigata Prefecture

Tsunan Pork from Niigata Prefecture – 6/10 – Butagumi , Tokyo, Japan

(Electronic Bathroom at Butagumi in Tokyo, Japan)
Sundays on Jingu bridge are typically busy with the Harajuku girls, which has long been a tourist attraction in itself.   Today brought rain and left many of the creative attires at home.  When one was spotted tourist would flock, asking them to pose like art pieces and the cameras would flash.  Across the street from the bridge is Meiju Shrine.  We didn’t go inside, but we did take a picture in front of the rather large torii.
Aside from photographing the cute, little freaks desperate for attention, there’s alot of shopping to be done. There are two main strips in Harajuku.  You can stroll down Omotesandō’s trendy high-end showrooms or shop the more reasonably priced novelty stores on Takeashit street, Tokyo’s version of Melrose Avenue.  It was probably one of our favorite areas of Tokyo.  
01 Meiji Shrine

Meiju Shrine, Tokyo, Japan

05 Harajuku

Harajuku girls, Tokyo, Japan

01 Harajuku

Harajuku girls, Tokyo, Japan

03 Harajuku

Harajuku girls, Tokyo, Japan

02 Harajuku

Takeshita Street – Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

04 Harajuku

Novelty stores on Takeshita Street – Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

06 Harajuku

Pet store on Takeshita Street – Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

07 Harajuku

Wutang foreva mutherfucka – Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

08 Harajuku

Omotesandō Avenue on a busy Sunday – Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

09 Harajuku

One of the many Louis Vuitton stores in Tokyo – Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

10 Harajuku

Tod’s on Omotesandō Avenue – Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

11 Harajuku

Burberry on Omotesandō Avenue – Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

12 Harajuku

Chanel on Omotesandō Avenue – Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

13 Harajuku

Hello Kitty shop in Kitty Land on Omotesandō Avenue – Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

14 Harajuku

Condomania on Omotesandō Avenue – Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

15 Harajuku

McDonald’s on Omotesandō Avenue – Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

16 Harajuku

Line for Garrett Popcorn, the busiest store in Harajuku – Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

17 Harajuku

Aspiring pedophiles – Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo is known for its food hall and on the basement floor of each  department store is a smorgasbord of groceries, prepared foods, desserts, breads, snacks and sake.  The nicer ones have an array of high-end French pastries as the Japanese are obsessed with French. We managed to fit one in on the last day. Isetan, a rather large and well regarded food hall in Shinjuku. I ignored the signs at the entrance prohibiting photos, but was kindly asked to refrain from such behavior 30 minutes into my visit.  It’s a very cool experience and I would recommend spending lunch time here, the only issue I have is the quality.  Yes, they have everything here.  But, if I want beef, I’ll go to Shima. If I want sushi, I’l go to Tsukiji.  If I want yakitori, I’ll go to Toriki. I don’t want it all in one stop at the sacrifice of quality. I would say it is good for food souvenirs such as sake, soy sauce or rice. Just my opinion, keep in mind they offer about 10,000 different products.  I tasted nine of them.
06 Isetan

Isetan Food Hall, Shinjuku Flagship Store, Tokyo, Japan

01 Isetan

Groceries – Isetan Food Hall, Shinjuku Flagship Store, Tokyo, Japan

02 Isetan

Shrimp snacks – Isetan Food Hall, Shinjuku Flagship Store, Tokyo, Japan

08 Isetan

Isetan Food Hall, Shinjuku Flagship Store, Tokyo, Japan

03 Isetan

More snacks – Isetan Food Hall, Shinjuku Flagship Store, Tokyo, Japan

04 Isetan

Spanish ham – Isetan Food Hall, Shinjuku Flagship Store, Tokyo, Japan

05 Isetan

Groceries – Isetan Food Hall, Shinjuku Flagship Store, Tokyo, Japan

07 Isetan

Sake selection – Isetan Food Hall, Shinjuku Flagship Store, Tokyo, Japan

09 Isetan

Fruit and nut bread 4/10 – Isetan Food Hall, Shinjuku Flagship Store, Tokyo, Japan

10 Isetan

Bagel 3/10 – Isetan Food Hall, Shinjuku Flagship Store, Tokyo, Japan

12 Isetan

Red bean strawberry mochi 8/10 – Isetan Food Hall, Shinjuku Flagship Store, Tokyo, Japan

11 Isetan

Soy milk 3/10 – Isetan Food Hall, Shinjuku Flagship Store, Tokyo, Japan

13 Isetan

Hannover friedrich bartels cake wrapped – Isetan Food Hall, Shinjuku Flagship Store, Tokyo, Japan

14 Isetan

Hannover friedrich bartels cake unwrapped 8/10 – Isetan Food Hall, Shinjuku Flagship Store, Tokyo, Japan

Yoroniku
Minami-Aoyama 6-6-22 Luna Rossa B1F
Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1306/A130602/13042979/

You say Yoroniku, I say Yakiniku. One’s the restaurant and the other is the cuisine. Yakiniku translate to grilled meat. Some believe it created in post-war Japan, while others trace its history to Korean BBQ.  And Yoriniku is the reputable restaurant near Roppongi that we choose for the evening. After eating Yakiniku at Yoroniku, it definitely has a striking resemblance to the Korean BBQ we have in Los Angeles.

Yakiniku isn’t the most obvious choice for Japanese cuisine.  But, Sunday nights can be a little challenging in Tokyo.  A few of the restaurants on our primarily list were closed, so we decided to go outside the tourist circle of typical Japanese cuisines. Before the trip, we felt we were a little heavy on beef restaurants between sukiyaki, shabu-shabu, a steakhouse and a beef specialist. But after these experiences, we didn’t mind our final meal of the trip being centered around beef.

Note: All four beef restaurants landed in the top 13 of our restaurant rank.

The set-up is similar to Korean BBQ with a grill fitted on each table.  We also get some pickled vegetables and kim-chi.  The Japanese influence begins with an appetizer of raw beef and one of our favorites of the night. A little Benihana salad and let the onslaught of beef begin.  We ordered the lengthier of the set menus offered.  In addition, we wanted to ensure we tried the Calvi, Misuji, Kainomi and Chateaubriand.  All were recommended and no fancy meal is complete without Chateaubriand, so we added to the menu. Of and don’t forget an order of beef sushi.  You really can’t go wrong, the meats were great and there wasn’t much that we didn’t like.  Our favorite cuts were calvi, the chateaubriand and the misuji. And don’t forget the sushi.

It was a lot of food and a soon to be timely end to all the calories we had gorged in the past week. In the middle of the meal, the maître d’ stopped by noticing Jen was slumped over and having difficulty breathing.  He suggested that we wrap up the ordering.  So we did and moved on the shaved ice.  Not as good as the milky heaven at Class 302 in Rowland Heights. By the end, the room is filled with grizzle, we don’t even notice the table next to us has lit a couple cigarettes. But that was it, another great meal with excellent meat. This was the end of the journey and time to head to the airport.  It will be a long time before we have food this good. Oh wait, we’re going to France next year. Let the rivalry begin.

01 Yoroniku

Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

02 Yoroniku

Dining table – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

03 Yoroniku - Tofu with seaweed jelly

Tofu with seaweed jelly – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

04 Yoroniku- Pickled cabbage and pickles

Pickled cabbage – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

05 Yoroniku - PIckled Vegetables

Pickled vegetables – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

06 Yoroniku - Raw Beef

Raw beef – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

07 Yoroniku - Salad

Salad – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

08 Yoroniku - Tongue

Tongue cooking – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

09 Yoroniku

Raw beef before cooking – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

10 Yoroniku - Cooked beef with raw egg

Cooked beef with raw egg – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

11 Yoroniku - Cooked Tongue

Tongue – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

12 Yoroniku

Additional cuts of beef – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

13 Yoroniku

Additional cuts of beef – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

14 Yoroniku

Additional cuts of beef – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

15 Yoroniku

Additional cuts of beef – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

16 Yoroniku - Raw Sushi

Raw beef sushi – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

17 Yoroniku - Arm

Arm – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

18 Yoroniku - Saddle

Saddle – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

19 Yoroniku - Raw Egg

Raw egg – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

20 Yoroniku - Soy Sauce wDiakon

Soy sauce with diakon – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

21 Yoroniku

Salad – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

22 Yoroniku

Our translator for the evening – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

23 Yoroniku

Additional cuts of beef – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

24 Yoroniku

Additional cuts of beef – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

25 Yoroniku

Additional cuts of beef – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

26 Yoroniku

Additional cuts of beef – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

27 Yoroniku- Calbi

Calvi – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

28 Yoroniku - Cold soba noodles with seaweed and wasabi

Cold Soba Noodles with seaweed and wasabi – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

29 Yoroniku - Shaved Ice with fruit

Shaved ice with fruit – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

30 Yoroniku - Mint Gum

Complimentary gum at the end of the meal – Yoroniku, Tokyo, Japan

After that, we headed to the airport and back to Los Angeles. That was the end of our trip, a highly recommended one at that.

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