Asia, Japan

Asia Day 54: Tokyo (Gyukatsu – Nippon TV – Fukagawa)

Photo of the day: Gyukatsu @ Gyukatsu Motomura. Photo credit: Aaron.

Today was a bit of a rest day for us. We took it easy in the morning, then decided to get some Gyukatsu (Wagyu beef Katsu) for lunch. Aaron brought me to his favourite Gyukatsu place (Gyukatsu Motomura),  and there was bit of a line when we got there. We decided to wait, since the line did not seem too long. Unfortunately, the line moved very slowly and the server came out to let us know that they had branches nearby that we could walk to, which may have a shorter wait time. By now, we already waited for more than 30 minutes, so we decided to stay put and gave her our orders. We finally made it to the bottom of the stairs and it made sense why the wait was so long even though there weren’t too many people in front of us. This was an intimate 8-seat restaurant. The service is actually very efficient, since we got our food right after we sat down. I got the smaller 130g meal with yam (Tororo) and Aaron had the 260g meal with yam. It also came with a bowl of rice (with one free refill), a pile of cabbage, miso soup, dipping sauces and minced vegetables. There was even an instruction board in front of us showing us how to eat the meal. We were supposed to pour the puréed yam over the rice to eat. The consistency was very gooey and it tasted not like yam at all. Aaron wasn’t a fan. As for the beef, it was probably the most fatty piece of beef I’ve ever had. The breading was very good and did not take away from the beef. There was a hot stone in front of you, where you can sear your beef some more if you wanted to. You had three seasoning options. 1. You can add wasabi and dip it in soy sauce 2. You can dip it in horseradish sauce 3. You can just add rock salt on top. I preferred the wasabi and sauce option as it brought out the taste of the beef the most. To balance all this meat, you can munch on the fresh cabbage, which had that special sauce for. Overall a very delicious meal in a very special setting. I was definitely worth the 1.5 hour wait.

Hot stone to sear your beef to your liking @ Gyukatsu Motomura. Photo credit: Aaron.
Gyukatsu meal @ Gyukatsu Motomura.

While walking to the bus station, we were stopped by 2 people from Nippon TV asking to do an interview with us. Aaron and I are both quite shy, low-profile people but there’s something about travelling that makes one want to experience new things, so we said yes. It was a segment about the different national flags. For those of you living in Japan, maybe you’ll see two silly Canadians with mediocre drawing skills on TV next month!

Next, we went to the quiet neighbourhood of Fukagawa. It was quite a contrast to the busy Shibuya. Aaron really wanted to try the coffee at Blue Bottle Coffee. We did some work there then cafe-hopped over to Arise Coffee Roasters, for Aaron to pick up some beans. It was a really cool place run by a man with dreadlocks. When he heard Aaron was really into coffee, he gave him a coffee route map. Apparently this area was the up and coming coffee area.

Arise Coffee Roasters – a pretty cool coffee shop.

We headed back to Shibuya to get some soba for dinner. Aaron found a place on Foursquare called Sagatani. It was a small soba place where you order from a vending machine. Luckily there was an English menu for the main items with letters corresponding to the buttons on the machine. Aaron wanted some tempura as well but it did not have an English translation. I just looked for the most expensive item with the kanji hoping that was the Ebi tempura. We got our little tickets from the machine and then gave it to the kitchen. He called out our number and we got our meals. I got the regular soba with soy sauce and Aaron had it with the sesame sauce. I liked mine better. The sesame sauce had a weird consistency. The tempura turned out to be a green onions and fish tempura, which was so delicious Aaron had to order a second one. The best part of this meal was that it cost us 1010 yen or ~ $12 CAD – not bad for a Northeast Asian meal.

The vending machine to order food @ Sagatani.
Surprisingly delicious green onion and fish tempura @ Sagatani. Photo credit: Aaron.
Soba with sesame sauce @ Sagatani. Photo credit: Aaron.

After dinner we did some window shopping around the area. Then we decided to call it a night in preparation for our adventures tomorrow.

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