Saturday, September 17, 2016

2nd Full Day in Japan

Our next full day in Tokyo started with a subway trip to Tsukiji.  I always get mixed up getting there on the subway.  Just have to remember that you need to end up on the side of the street that Nishi Hongwanji is on! And it (Tsukiji) is on the same corner (at the huge intersection) as the Lawson, which we always stop at.  Always! And since someone, whose name will be omitted, but her initials are Connie, always wants to go to the bathroom, and this Lawson doesn't have one, there is a big new bathroom just beyond the outer market, headed to the inner market area on the main outer street.  Of course, this means nothing to 99% of those reading this, but means a lot to me, since we will be doing this in a year, and we'll go through the same F$%@*%! thing again.

The inner market is an amazing place, even if you don't like fish, or are vegan.  Just to walk around and look. And there is vegan friendly food. Like onigiri made with veggie fillings that are very flavourful.

Kujira bacon.  I won't comment on this, other than to say, I wasn't happy to see this. We did not purchase any, and I doubt that Em and Sam would be happy if they got requests to bring some back (not sure if it's legal to the USA).

It rained a fair bit while at Tsukiji.  Crowded aisles with umbrellas and little awnings pouring water onto you; not really pleasant, but Emily was happy with her mochi filled with, not An, but kurogoma!

Went back to the hotel to drop off the eighteen bags of loot purchased at Tsukiji, then to Ginza to eat at Iwa! Yes, we are gluttons.

Met a couple from Cleveland, but they were very nice, unlike certain others who play ball there in Ohio. They were in training (Radiology and Neurology).  The four of us were the only ones at the counter with Tsunoda Shigeyuki.  I think Iwa-san was in another room. I actually think that Tsunoda-san (the one who spent a couple of years in middle school in San Mateo) is a superb sushi-ya, and he could easily start his own high end place.  His English is good enough to service the numerous foreigners who surf the net to find the best places to eat, only to find that the experience isn't what they expected, because the conversation is sometimes as important as the quality of the food.  This meal on this day was a little over a third the cost of the previous night's meal, but overall, it was more enjoyable.

I think I was the most "ambidextrous."  I was able to translate the Japanese-ness of high end sushi to the other two Gaijin, and Tsunoda just stepped back and laughed, when I would recommend to our dining partners how to get train tickets with a JR pass, and which places to get Kakigori in Tokyo Station. Tsunoda-san apparently doesn't "get out much." We even told him to go to Mihashi on First Avenue in Tokyo Station for the best Kakigori, only to find somewhere better on B1F of the Shin Maru Biru a night or two later.

Anyway, I would recommend going to Iwa and going to Tsunoda's counter for anyone from the USA.  Lunch is best, as there is a 10 piece set for ¥5000 and a 13 piece for ¥8000.  If you do the math, it sounds like the 10 piece set is better, but the quality of the fish is better with the 13 (on our first trip there, the kids had the 10 piecer and Connie and I had the 13, and we could tell). So you know what we always choose.

Anyway, maybe TMI. These are our "pieces."

Wakame with Ponzu sauce.  Kabosu was used here as the citrus. Not a "piece."  Just an amuse-bouche.

Tsunoda-san prepares several dishes here for later "pieces."  Clockwise from top left, Shiro-Ebi, coarsely chopped, Flounder aged on a sheet of Kombu, Hotategai (seasoned and aged, though still raw), gari (very subtly vinegared, unlike the usual over-the-top stuff we are used to), and Ikura.

Kinmedai, Golden Sea Bream.  A staple here at Iwa.  We have had this every time, given the time of year we usually travel.

Shiro-ebi, again, coarsely sliced-chopped.  Seasoned in a shoyu based sauce.

Akami ("mild" tuna), more lean rather than the more "famous" chutoro or otoro.

Otoro (a slight bit stringy compared to others I've had, though the flavor was great, with melt in your mouth fat).

Hotategai, pressed.

Uni (of course, this is very fresh, and not presented in the usual gunkan style).  I much prefer this, though it is a bit more messy.  I prefer to taste just the Uni, and no nori. Just a small bit of wasabi on top of the shari.

Ishigakigai (not from Ishigaki island, but from Miyagi-ken).  I didn't get why it was called that.  I didn't understand Shigeyuki's explanation.

Hiramasa (Baby Yellowtail).  I liked this a lot.

Horse mackerel with Yuzu.

Anago, also a staple at Iwa.  They don't usually serve the more common Unagi. Mildly blanched in ? (dashi, maybe?), and then lightly sauced, rather than densely sauced as most unagi is served.

Maguro-kama temaki (cylindrical, not conical, which is the trend nowadays for hand rolls).  Sorry, no picture, but they use a little piece of nori at the bottom so that stuff doesn't come out the bottom like a messy broken ice cream cone!

Tamago, seasoned with Shiba Ebi. This was quite sweet, as a dessert.

Mizu nashi and miso shiru (no pics, sorry).

This day, I asked for a sweet-ish Sake to go with our meal.  I thought it was a bit too sweet, but still fine and not overpowering.  I know little about Sake, so just went with what Shigeyuki-san recommended.

We left Iwa to meet the kids at Itoya.  They have a new store now which is remodeled.  They have a pen annex across an alley in the back.  Itoya is arguably the most famous stationery store in Japan.  I bought some refills for a pen that ran out of ink the day before!

We walked over to Loft and Muji in Yurakucho. Our feet were tired, but it was worth it.  I got some more Frixion pens.  You gotta read about these pens!

Our dinner was at T's Tantan in Tokyo Station, all vegan.  Here is Karl, with a bottle of Heartland Biru.  Made by Kirin, it has no label on the bottle, just a molded emblem on the green glass.  I liked it!  All the details are crammed on the neck.

Bibimbop (Emily)

Kurogoma ramen (Connie)

Spicy Kare Rice (Dale)

Kare Rice (Mild) and Karaage

Remember, all vegan!  Use your imagination.  My Kare raisu was good.  The others liked their meals better.

OK, now this is ridiculous.  Guess what these people are doing?

Hibiya Park, about 7PM, already dark, but hot as hell; we're all dripping wet from sweat, and yet, there are a bunch of people trying to get Pokemon's.  I don't get it, but Em/Connie do.

Mihashi, in First Avenue, Tokyo Station!  Unfortunately, they ran out of Dango when we got there, after looking for Pokemon's. A big demerit.

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