Taste Tokyo: Honey Baked Ham

image

Honey Baked Ham, Kamiyacho

I just wanted to share one of my favorite go to lunch shops, Honey Baked Ham. It’s about a 5-10 minute walk from my work, and they serve the BEST honey baked ham sandwiches! I’ve never had a ham sandwich like this back in the U.S., and finding honey glazed ham is actually quite difficult in Japan (unless you go to a specialty store), so I was in heaven when I stumbled upon this little shop this past year. They serve the honey baked ham between two fresh burger buns with lettuce, cheese, tomato slices, and a delicious honey dijon mustard sauce. I usually order their original sandwich, but they also have different toppings like avocado, coleslaw, and omelette. I would definitely recommend grabbing a bite here if you’re in the area (you can also request takeout)!

Capture Tokyo: Ginza Six

Ginza Six, Ginza

Last weekend I recently had a chance to visit the new department store that opened up in Ginza this past April, Ginza Six.The popular new complex features high-end brands (both international domestics) along with restaurants on the 6th and 13th floor, with a traditional Japanese Noh theatre on the bottom floor.

I went on Saturday and I was surprised at how packed it was! There were security guards stationed to usher people into the building, and there were even long lines of people waiting to use the escalators. I wasn’t able to do much shopping, but I was able to see a small but beautiful Japanese bonsai exhibit on the top floor stationed in Tsutaya. For those of you who are new to Japan, Tsutaya is a popular dvd/cd/book chain store. There were around 7-10 bonsai plants of various sizes and different varieties in the exhibit. I believe the more expensive and larger trees had a price range of 10,000 USD and up. I’m not sure how long the exhibit will be running, but I would definitely recommend checking it out if you are ever in the area!

Taste Tokyo: Uogashi Meicha

Uogashi Meicha, Ginza

For all you tea lovers out there, I’d like to introduce you to a cute little tea shop featured on NHK in Ginza, Uogashi Meicha. While the cafe specializes in Japanese green teas, they also hold small tea ceremony workshops once a month. The cafe is split into 3 levels. The first level is the tea shop, which features a variety of high quality teas. The second is a tea cafe for the shop’s patrons, while the top floor is where the workshops are held. We were lucky enough to visit the day the cafe was putting on a free workshop for its visitors.

The workshop had a unique concept. We were free to brew and mix the matcha or a special type of Japanese green tea ourselves, and instead of drinking what I brewed, I was to give my tea to the person who came before me to drink (whether that be a stranger or an acquaintance). They would then drink my tea accompanied with adorable little tea chocolates given by the cafe, while I waited for the person behind me to brew my tea. It wasn’t a strict traditional ceremony, but more of an informal gathering, so luckily we weren’t required to follow all the intricate mannerisms and customs of the Japanese tea ceremony. It was a nice opportunity to experience matcha mixing and tasting. It’s also perfect for those traveling alone too, because it allows you to interact with different people you would otherwise never meet!

After the workshop, we were invited to the second floor cafe to relax and taste more of the teas they had to offer. I think they must’ve served us at least 4 cups of tea (2 cold and 2 hot) along with Azuki bean Yokan (a traditional Japanese jelly dessert)! I was all tea-ed out by the end! Despite the slight overdoes on caffeine, it was overall a very lovely experience. The last time I had been to a Japanese tea ceremony was in high school, and it was a very traditional one, so this was a nice casual way to appreciate Japanese tea again. Plus, the whole experience was free (although we did end up buying a bag of tea on the way out)!

Capture Tokyo: Ultra Music Festival Japan

IMG_4939

Afrojack at Ultra Music Festival Japan 2015, Odaiba

It’s almost that time of year again! If you’re into music festivals, Japan’s Ultra Music Festival is coming around in September! Tickets usually go on sale in the Spring and may have sold out already on the official site…if they do sell out, for those who are interested, you can still probably enter the draw for raffle tickets. Although there’s no guarantee you’ll win, the chances are quite decent! My friend won us two extra tickets via the raffle two years ago, so luckily we were able to attend even though it was so last minute! 3-day general passes usually go for around 30,000~39,000 yen while 1-day passes can go for 13,000~18,000 yen. Last year Hardwell, DJ Snake, Tiesto, Martin Garrix, and deadmau5 were in attendance. I don’t think they’ve announced the line up for this year, but check it out if you get the chance~♪

Taste Tokyo: Raw Snow Crab & A5 Beef

 

Rangetsu, Ginza

It’s always nice to treat yourself! Tonight we went to my favorite Ginza restaurant, Rangetsu, famous for their premium A5 Japanese beef. The beef is so tender that it really does just melt in your mouth as soon as it touches your tongue! The sauce they use for the sukiyaki is also delicious. It’s like a sweet soy sauce mixed with sweetened Japanese cooking rice wine that really brings out the flavor of the meat and veggies. I know I’ve already posted about this restaurant before (so you can read more about it here ♥︎Taste Tokyo: Rangetsu♥︎), but I just wanted to note that they also had a special Snow Crab Sashimi dish tonight. I personally prefer to eat my crab cooked and with butter, but this was the first time I’ve seen raw crab on the menu!

Capture Tokyo: Kawaii Monster Cafe

Kawaii Monster Cafe, Harajuku

The colorful and crazy Kawaii Monster Cafe really embodies that special “kawaii” street fashion uniqueness only found in Harajuku. Based on the Harajuku cute boom that exploded in the 2000s, the cafe is filled with bright colors and wacky designs. The Monster Cafe is split into four main areas from which diners can choose to be seated at: Mel-Tea Room, Mushroom Disco, Milk Stand, and Bar Expert. We chose the Mushroom Disco, which features huge rainbow mushroom shaped umbrellas. One of the cafe’s unique features is that their “Monster Girls” that walk around the room as customers eat. These “Monster Girls” are decked out in colorful over the top clothes and wigs! They wave at customers and are generally very friendly and polite, posing for pictures with the guests. There are 5 monster girls in total. The one you see pictured above is called “Candy”. I believe the other four are Baby, Nasty, Dolly, and Crazy. They even have a dance performance you can watch.

The cafe’s food and drinks are all also rainbow themed. Their most notable dish is the signature rainbow pasta and rainbow cake (I personally didn’t have the guts to order any, and went with a rather plain order of chicken and waffles instead, haha)! I did have a glass of their “Nondrug Cocktail” though, which came with a vile of blue and red liquid to pour into drink. The fruity drink was quite tasty and fun to mix! I would recommend checking this cafe out, if you are looking for a taste of the wonderfully weird and wacky side of Harajuku. It’s certainly a once in a lifetime experience!

Capture Tokyo: Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge, Odaiba Beach

Odaiba is by far my favorite place to relax in Tokyo. The man-made island is known as somewhat of a date spot among locals, so you can often find young families or couples strolling around the area. The island is filled with many tourist attractions, including Joypolis (an indoor amusement park), the Fuji Television Building, Palette Town, Venus Fort, Aqua City, and Diver City (mostly shopping malls).

There’s so much to do in Odaiba, but my main reason for frequenting the area is because of its gorgeous night views! It also has the closest “beach” to where I live, Odaiba beach. I say “beach” lightly because we can’t actually swim in the water due to all the pollution. In my opinion, this beach offers one of the best scenic views of the Rainbow Bridge over Tokyo Bay (it’s also a beautiful place to watch the sunset… quite romantic)! The suspension bridge connects the Shibaura Pier to Odaiba, and you can actually bike or walk over the bridge (about 1.7 km). The Yurikamome train line also passes over the bridge, starting from Shimbashi Station and ending Toyosu Station. It’s illuminated from dusk till midnight, so I would definitely recommend viewing the Rainbow Bridge from Odaiba beach as it looks absolutely stunning at night!