Tokyo Attractions

Akihabara - The otaku freak capital of Japan!
Harajuku - Tokyo Extreme Street Style
Hon Komagome - Old Tokyo Temple Town
Morishita in Tokyo, home of metropolitan museums, and plenty of temples and old homes
Charming old Edo Period district of Nezu, in Tokyo
Roppongi and Roppongi Hills
Shibuya Streets
Ueno -- Homeless Heart of Tokyo

Rest of Japan

Jomon Japan
Jomon Japan
Kyoto, the most beautiful city in Japan
Matsumoto Castle, one of the highlights of central Japan
Yokohama City -- The City By The Bay

Best of the World

Australia Guide

Egypt in the 1990s
Iceland, North Atlantic

Mumbai City Guide

Malaysia Travel Guide

Girl Hunting

Russian Girls in Japan -- Even Better than the Japanese Girls!
Russian Girls in Japan

This means "Black Ships" in English, and the restaurant chain takes its name from the famous (or infamous) Black Ships which Commodore Perry sailed into Yokohama in the 19th Century, demanding that Japan open itself to world trade. What connection can be drawn between Commodore Perry and Chinese style ramen noodles remains to be seen -- but this seems to a popular place to dine and relax. The Kiyosumi-Shirakawa resturaunt is located right opposite the south end of Kiyosumi Garden, on Kiyosumi-Dori. Look for all the bright primary colored flag/signs fluttering on the street outside.
TVチャンピオンちゃぶ屋プロデュースの店。フランチャイズが増えている 醤油麺600/味噌麺650/つけ麺750 等.

九州筑豊らーめん 山小屋: 江東区白河1-6-1. TEL: 03-5646-5377.

TO THE BIRD PARK: Go past Hanaya Yohei restaurant and cross road. Pass ramen shop and go straight past park to red road. Ikebukuro, Ogikubo and Ebisu are three areas in Tokyo known for their ramen, according to Wikipedia. I never actually dined in Ogikubo in the year or so I spent working there, but I remembered the many ramen shops set up all alongside Blue Plum Road. Tomato ramen seemed to be a speciality here, which might please some North Americans hungering for this legendary concoction (read Ramenlicious's post on whatever happened to tomato ramen in the States). Of course, when Americans talk about ramen what they usually mean is "instant ramen", and the tomato sauce that Ramenlicious is mourning the demise of is actually a powder. Or it was, since it is gone now. In Ogikubo in the stylish western suburbs of Tokyo, however, tomato ramen is a big hit. If they only dunked a huge quantity of cheese into the mix, I would be a convert. My Ogikubo days are over, unfortunately, and I am heading to Vietnam by way of Australia. Ramen Tei: Asakusa.
Only 290 yen for good ramen. I went there myself with Kenichi Anazawa.

This restaurant is full of cheerful atomosphere (sic) and is popular among the native young people (they mean young Japanese, not American Indians!) One week is spent for making the deminglace sauce of this restaurant!"

On her website Eve wrote: "We arrived at Asakusa station and so our first stop was the Kaminari Mon, or `Thunder Gate` which leads to the Nakamise market and Sensoji temple. Our guide suggested we take a boat along the Sumida River to Hamarikyu gardens, and so our course was set. On the way, however, I noticed, down an alley, a little cafe called Arizona Kitchen, which I happened to know was one of the haunts of Nagai Kafu. I mentioned this and our guide suggested we have lunch there. On the menu was a strange dish of chicken liver, which, it said, Nagai Kafu used to eat when he came here. SiI only felt a minor sense of regret in ordering this. I suppose it`s silly, but it made me feel a little closer to one of my personal literary deities. On the wall of the cafe were extracts from Kafu`s diary. "January the 24th. Clear skies. Cloudy later. Dinner at Arizona Kitchen." That sort of thing."

Mochi Mochi Noki Ramen Shop: Shin-Okubo.

Mochimochimoki Ramen Shop

Ichinoe, in Tokyo's Edogawa Ward, was where I was introduced to ramen, and ate some of my finest bowls, courtesy of my boss and later sponsor, Hiroshi Kobayashi. Kobayashi's school (Kidea English Academy) was in the early 00s set on the fourth floor or thereabouts of an apartment block on Kan Nana Dori (Number Seven Ring Road); auspiciously there was a ramen restaurant on the ground floor. Drinking Asahi Super Dry out of little glass pitchers, and munching on kim'chi. If you wanted to spice the soup up a little (or a lot!), drop some of that kim'chi into the bowl. It's your party.

As I wrote to myself back in 2006: There is a Mac and a ramen shop near Minowa station. If you are game, you can always dine with the homeless folk who can be found all over the place. After my short spell in jail in 2007, I began to feel an affinity with those homeless folk. He "was a Japanese novelist, playwright, essayist, and diarist. His works are noted for their depictions of life in early 20th-century Tokyo, especially among geisha, prostitutes, cabaret dancers, and other denizens of the city's lively entertainment districts."

Ramen I ate at some intersection Chinese restaurant in Ichinoe, Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, the very same intersection I was standing upon, when the Great Earthquake of 2011 struck!

"Ironically, the old Yoshiwara district burned down (along with much of the city) in the Meireki fire of 1657; it was rebuilt in the new location, when it was renamed Shin Yoshiwara (New Yoshiwara), the old location being called Moto Yoshiwara (Original Yoshiwara); eventually the "Shin" was dropped, and the new district became known simply as the Yoshiwara.

"The Yoshiwara was home to some 1,750 women in the 1700s, with records of some 3,000 women from all over Japan at one time. The area had over 9,000 women, many of whom suffered from syphilis, in 1893. These women were often sold to the brothels by their parents at the age of about seven to twelve. If the young girl was lucky, she would become an apprentice to a high ranking courtesan. When the girl was old enough and had completed her training, she would become a courtesan herself and work her way up the ranks. The girls often had a contract to the brothel for only about five to ten years, but massive debt often kept them in the brothels their entire life. There were very few ways for a young lady to get out of the brothel due to all of her debt.

"Social classes were not strictly divided in Yoshiwara. A commoner with enough money would be served as an equal to a samurai. Though it was discouraged for a samurai to enter the Yoshiwara area, they often did so anyway. The only requirement on them was that all their weapons had to be left at the town's entrance gate. Also by law, the patrons of the brothels were only allowed to stay for a night and a day at a time.

"Yoshiwara also became a strong commercial area. The fashions in the town changed frequently, creating a great demand for merchants and artisans. Traditionally the prostitutes were supposed to wear only simple blue robes, but this was rarely enforced. The high-ranking ladies often dressed in the highest fashion of the time, with bright colorful silk kimonos and expensive and elaborate hair decorations. Fashion was so important in Yoshiwara that it frequently dictated the fashion trends for the rest of Japan."

You would never guess from the dreary and drab state of Yoshiwara today, that it was once the fashion heart of Japan. It only goes to illustrate, how things change over time...

Arizona Kitchen: 1-34-2 Asakusa, Taito Ward. Phone: 03/3843 4932.



ef gallery | gaboh | heijouen grilled meat

  • Between 2000 and 2011 I blogged the food on the streets and alleys and high end towers and 5 star restaurants of Tokyo, Japan. Search the archives below...


Japanese Food and Cooking Blogs

Blue Lotus
Blue Lotus
Copyright Delicious Coma
Delicious Coma Wierd Japan
Pig Out Diary
Pig Out Diary
Shibuya Underpass
Shibuya Underpass Society
Tokyo Macrobiotic Vegetarian Restaurant
Hanada Rosso -- Macrobiotic Vegetarian
Hawaiian Restaurant in Tokyo
Ono Loa Hawaiian


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Shuns Rolls (Roppongi)

Here is a story I had published in the Tokyo Notice Board magazine last year, a review of a fusion sushi restaurant called Shuns Rolls, in Roppongi.

Put up your hands everyone who had wrong ideas about Japan before you came here? Japan is one of those countries which invites endless misconceptions and fanciful stereotypes. It's only natural, given that most people learn all they know about Japan from watching anime and movies like "Lost in Translation". In the food department, if your introduction to Japanese cuisine took place in a strobe-lit New York City cellar packed with models and movie stars, you might be surprised when you finally come to Japan. For starters, you won't find California roll on the menu at many old-school style Japanese sushi restaurants. You probably won't find other foreign inventions like the spider rolls or rainbows either. That is, unless you go to one of the new Japanese/Fusion restaurants, such as Shuns Rolls at Roppongi.

If you can imagine what would happen if you gave a Spanish tapas taverna bar the Japanese treatment, you might end up with something like Shuns Rolls. Alternatively, Shuns Rolls is a recreation of a New York style Japanese restaurant, which in turn is a recreation of the restaurants here. This is a standing bar, with bite-sized dishes to accompany the copious selection of beers, sho-chu's, cocktails, and other beverages. Sushi features prominently on the menu, but it is not the kind of sushi you find in the typical suburban kaiten. According to manager Shuntaro Sato, this is Japanese food reflected through a contemporary European/American prism. Spanish and French ingredients, like Iberico and pate respectively, feature prominently. For those whose throats gag instinctively at the sight of raw fish, you will be pleasantly surprized by the menu at Shun Rolls. There is indeed a lot of raw fish, but the rolls also come wrapped in blow-torched Iberico ham, or infused with spicy Korean kochijan sauce. On the counter, there are other alcohol-friendly nibblies like beef jerky.

Shuntaro the manager has the Japanese knack for punning and ramming multiple meanings into the one name: "Shun" alternatively means "the hot spot", "fresh" and is also the guy's first name. He said the biggest drawcard of his standing bar is the friendly staff, who at the moment are all dressed in Japanese national soccer team uniforms, in preparation for the coming World Cup.

"The staff who work here are so good looking, a lot of Japanese girls come here just to check them out," he said.

"We also get a lot of foreign people coming here, European people, Spanish people, they are looking for food which is both Japanese and international at the same time."