[Travelogue] Tokyo- More Than Just The Tsukiji Fish Market

There’s just too many restaurant recommendations in Tokyo. From hidden hole-in-the-walls to in-your-face chain stores to the fancy Michelin big boys! Fact is, you could eat pretty much anywhere and chances are you wouldn’t be disappointed. Why? Cuz the Japanese are a special breed that are proud of what they do. Of course, there’s also the reality of being ousted before you could even say “Sayonara” because you suck! Hmm… reality bites! So, in a short span of 2 days, I’ve cramped into a seafood grill izakaya, an underground joint that serves just one type of food, a Shabu Shabu specialist in Ginza and countless Sushi Restaurants. img_6971Chain store, Isomaru Suisan 磯丸水産 is perfect if you love seafood and enjoy cooking your own dinner. Every table is equipped with a small grill, cooking tools, sauces and condiments. Knock yourself out with all kinds of fresh scallops, clams, mussels, prawns and squid, just to name some! Or fill up with sushi, rice bowls and grilled fish if that’s your fancy. The menu is huge and the crowd, huger! This could be fun, if you enjoy a noisy, boisterous ambience. The restaurant operates 24 hours and branches can be found all over Tokyo. Kick off your shoes, grab a tatami seat and grill away!

Full house the evening we were there!

The gigantic grilled tuna cheek was grilled perfectly. Slightly charred on the outside with soft, flaky meat’s that fresh and juicy!

The delightful mushy crab miso (top) was sweet and smokey after sitting on the hot grill for a mere 10 minutes!

Squid wrapped in foil. Takes just minutes to cook so keep an eye on this!

There’s something for everyone on this menu!
Isomaru @ 1 Chome-14-3 Kabukicho, 新宿区 Tokyo 160-0021, Japan.  Phone: 81 3 5155 6381

img_6260Rangetsu in Ginza specializes in a pretty decent Wagyu Shabu Shabu and Sukiyaki. Perfect for the rainy afternoon we picked to lunch here. The restaurant is simple and sophisticated with impeccable service. Food quality, as promised, is high and lunch prices are reasonable as well. The set meal comes with 100g (about 6 large slices) of beautifully marbled beef, vegetables, mushrooms, tofu and your choice of rice or udon. The meal is accompanied by 2 sauces, a sweet tangy ponzu and creamy goma, both delicious! If you’re not into beef, Rangetsu also serves a Crab meat Suki-Nabe. The Shabu Shabu comes in a traditional Chinese copper hot pot revamped to sit over a small stove instead of hot charcoal.

Rangetsu uses a stunningly shiny traditional Chinese copper hot pot.

Beautifully marble beef that takes just seconds to cook.

The accompaniments were substantial and the sauces, free flow 🙂 

Finish off with a little dessert of the day. Matcha Mochi in sweet black honey wrapped up the meal nicely!
Be prepared to fork out a fair bit more yen when you dine here in the evening. Prices get a lot steeper when night falls!

Rangetsu @ 3-5-8 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061. Phone +813-3567-1021

Speculating a more forgiving wait at 5pm, we headed towards Motomura, THE place to get your Gyukatsu fix. This lightly breaded beef cutlet has been creating quite a buzz among locals and tourists alike. And at all Motomura branches, you’re expected to wait at least an hour for a seat. And don’t think you could hang out and chill after your meal! Its not that kinda restaurant. Queue, eat and shoo!

The Shinjuku branch is tucked away in the basement of a building with a facade the size of a door. The queue starts out there by the busy street and snakes down the narrow stairs into a tiny 22-seater joint. 20 minutes- That’s how long before we were finally seated.img_6275The menu is straight forward. Gyukatsu (beef cutlet) small, medium or large, with or without Tororo (grated Japanese mountain yam).

Crispy,  tender & juicy!
The beef cutlet is lightly breaded and fried at very high heat for a very short time. Producing a crisp exterior with a very pink flesh. If ‘pink’ isn’t your cup of tea, you could sear the meat further on the hot stone provided for every diner. I loved my pink beef, and all 3 dipping sauces (ponzu, horseradish, wasabi with shoyu) went great with it! Bite into a crispy “skin” then further into buttery meat, and you’ll understand why some people wait up to 2 hours for this. The sticky yam goop (mixed into the rice) turned out to be really yummy as well. At JPY1400, the set meal including soup, pickles and shredded cabbage is quite a steal given the quality beef. Motomura is good, but being me, I’m not sure I’d wait any more than 20 minutes for it (or most things)! I’ve seen a few other Gyukatsu restaurants around town and would definitely give those a try when I return. But meanwhile, for those of you lucky enough to snag a seat, this is where it all began!

Pink is the new black!

Diggin’ that creamy Tororo goop!

Your little own hot stone plate.

Rub shoulders with’em beefers! 
Gyukatsu Motomura Shinjuku 牛かつ もと村 新宿店 @3-32-2 Shinjuku | B1F, Shinjuku 160-0022, Tokyo. Phone +81 3-3797-3735

Many choose to visit the famous Tsukiji Fish Market for their catch of the day… Sure, there’s the added early morning action of buying, selling and auctioning; getting a glimpse of the fresh seafood that’s being trawled in is always exciting; plus its hard to beat the from-the-sea-to-your-table feeling that makes you feel like a Superhero! But frankly, you do know there are really good sushi restaurants right here in the city as well, don’t you?  And almost every one we’ve strolled into have delivered as expected if not higher… without costing an arm and leg too!img_6296At Sushi Mamire, 2 chefs worked earnestly behind the sushi counter of the half-full restaurant. It was ten in the evening and and hungry patrons continued popping in periodically. We plonked our asses on 2 counter seats and ate some of the most gorgeous sushi the night before our flight home. Personally, this beats waiting 3 hours in line, at an absurd hour of the morning, at some uber popular Tsukiji market restaurants! Yep… Google it! Anyway, Shinjuku alone, is sprawling with a whole slew of sushi restaurants. Given the high integrity and professionalism of Japanese chefs, chances of picking a crappy one is almost zero. So be brave and walk in to whichever catches your eye.

Sushi Mamire’s wide variety of sushis.

Everything from the prized Otoro to the basic Tamago were generously portioned, fresh and delish! The giant Ebi was gorgeously sweet, and the Uni was delectable! Totally stuffed by the time we were done… but totally happy too!

Sushi Mamire 築地海鮮寿司 すしまみれ@〒160-0021 東京都新宿区歌舞伎町1-15-5 ビッグレモンビル1階 Phone: 03-3203-3030

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

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