We woke up to the rattling and shaking of our traditional Japanese home to realize that we experienced a minor earthquake this morning. There was a 5.0 earthquake in the Ibaraki-ken Nambu region and what we felt was around 3.0. Even though I grew up in the ring of fire, this was the first time I’ve actually felt an earthquake. Luckily, it was just a minor one. After we made sure everyone was ok, we decided to enjoy the second half of the melon to this morning as a breakfast/snack before heading out for the day.
But First, Dog Cafe
Not making the same mistake, we prioritized going to Harajuku Mameshiba Cafe first and were able to get tickets for the time slot in half an hour’s time. Because there wasn’t too much time for breakfast, we decided to just do some more shopping/browsing in Harajuku before heading back to the cafe 15 minutes in advance as suggested. We lined up once again and our hands were sprayed with hand sanitizer before entering the dog cafe. We were then greeted with many cute mameshibas. For the price of 780 yen per person, we were given 30 minutes to spend time with the dogs as well as a free drink. I tried their iced strawberry milk which tasted like milk with sweet strawberry flavouring. Not a fan but we’re here for the doggos and not the drinks. We found that quite a few of the mameshibas look exhausted and just pretty much lay there and did not want to engage. I felt bad for them because I can only imagine how tiring their days must be with a new group of overly-excited humans coming to pet them in 15 minute increments (since they overlapped 2 groups).
Our time was soon up, and we were off to find food! We only had the expensive melon for breakfast (albeit a very extravagant breakfast). We saw that Maisen, the famous tonkatsu (pork cutlet) restaurant (see past experience here), was close by so we decided to try our luck even though it’s peak lunch time. There was a line up, but we were pleasantly surprised that we were able to get a table pretty quickly. I really wanted to try their tonkatsu sandwich this time, so we ordered that as a starter to share. It was really as amazing as I expected. The fluffy white bread encasing the nicely flavoured crispy pork cutlet is really a match made in heaven. I really wanted more but I needed to save stomach space for my main meal. We each tried different options from their lunch menu – the regular tonkatsu, the katsu don (rice and egg bowl), and the tonkatsu curry. I ordered the tonkatsu and appreciated the simplicity of it – just a good piece of pork cutlet with a side of soup and unlimited cabbage. It was as good as I remembered it to be. The katsu don was quite nice if you like a comforting rice bowl with a more sauce and eggs. The curry was also pretty good Japanese curry. Aaron, being Aaron, decided to order the 3200 yen special pork version of the tonkatsu – with his one meal costing more than the 3 of ours combined. To be fair, was actually worth the extra cost if you want to splurge a little and get extra tender, fatty and flavourful meat.
Coffee Break and Tired Legs
After lunch, we dropped by Ratio & C, another hipster coffee/bicycle/lifestyle shop for a coffee break and then made our way towards Shibuya for some last minute shopping before we leave tomorrow.
We had also picked up cooling pads for tired legs to see if this really worked, as it was recommended by one of Bear Woman’s friends. First impressions: it had a strong herbal scent with the lavender, lemon and various oils. It definitely was very cooling and caused a burning sensation when you first apply it. It did help to distract us from the soreness of our legs but the effects weren’t long lasting.
After shopping, we went to look at the night view of Tokyo on Tokyo Tower. The admission fee for the main deck was quite reasonable at 900 yen and it wasn’t too busy when we went around 5:00pm.
Tokyo Station Window Shopping
Next, we headed over to Tokyo Station to do some walking around while awaiting our dinner reservation. We had lots of fun snacking on some Bake Cheese Tarts and exploring the Ghibli store at the station. The selection here appears to be even better than at the museum. Plus the prices are better! Pro-tip: shop at Tokyo Station instead of the Ghilbi Musuem for souvenirs!
Shima Steak: As Seen on YouTube
The time for our reservation has arrived and we walked over to Shima for some much anticipated wagyu steak. This restaurant has been featured by various foodie YouTubers and we were all very excited to try this. The chef was a very friendly man and the service at this restaurant was impeccable. Even the customers are very friendly. A professional photographer sitting at another table offered to help us take a photo when we were taking selfies.
First things first, we ordered a bottle of wine for the table, we decided against paying 14,000 yen (~$160 CAD) for a safe bottle of Californian Cabernet Sauvignon, which we can definitely get in North America for less and ordered a 14,000 yen bottle of Bourdeaux instead. I was actually pleasantly surprised that it was the type of red wine that I like – dry and full-bodied. Just as a reference point, this is already the bottom price range of the available wine options. Expect to spend money while you’re at this restaurant.
For appetizers, we selected the crab croquette, which was highly recommended online. It definitely was very creamy on the inside and light and crispy on the outside. I would highly recommend it as a starter.
Next, there were two options for cuts of beef – tenderloin or sirloin. I had the tenderloin and the rest of my group had the sirloin. The famous chef himself came over to show us the actual pieces of beef we selected and weighed it in front of us. They definitely gave us more meat than promised as I had ordered 150g of meat but it weighed closer to 200g. Interestingly, he weighed only 1 piece of the sirloin for the 3 at our table at a hefty grand total weight of 500g. I wonder if he cooked it as one piece and then later cut it. The moment of truth arrived and our lovely pieces of steak appeared in front of us, with a side of carrots, mini potatoes, onions and beans. I appreciated the fried garlic slices on top of the steak to add extra flavour. The steak itself was very tender. The sirloin was more fatty and less tender. Although we asked for them both to be medium rare. The sirloin was definitely cooked to be more rare.
I was already full by this point but the kind chef offered us complimentary dessert and coffee/tea. The sorbet/sherbet was really good and a nice way to end the meal. With our coffee/tea, we were also given some little sweets and crackers which I was unable to consume since I was too full by this point. Despite this, we contemplated for a while but eventually decided to order a take-out steak sandwich which was something that was highly-rated. We decided it will be our reward post-packing tonight and perhaps we’ll have the left-overs for breakfast tomorrow. The kind chef showed amazing hospitality by taking us down by elevator and walking us all the way out of his restaurant. He even asked where we were staying and instructed us on how to get to the subway station! What a lovely gesture!
It was time we packed up for the conclusion of the Japan leg of our trip. After some packing and giving ourselves some time to digest the food from dinner, we had stomach space to try the majestic steak sandwich. The sandwich was nicely packaged in a box in 3 equal portions. The beef was so tender, a butter knife was all it took to cut through it. The white bread was initially extremely thick but they somehow compressed it to be more reasonable thickness for consumption. Between the bread and beef was a sweet sauce and some tomatoes as well. The star of the sandwich was the layers and layers of beef in the centre. We took our first bites and fell in love. Everything was so perfect about this sandwich. The fluffy and sweet white bread, the flavourful sauce, the acidic tomatoes which helped to balance out the flavours and of course, the tender beef in the middle. I would have to say I was much more impressed with this sandwich compared to the steak we had for dinner.
Overall, Shima was a lovely experience. Would I be able to convince myself to spend over 86,000 yen or $1000 CAD (for 4 people) on a meal like this again? Probably not. But it was a great experience nonetheless. Aaron felt that the steak itself was comparable to other wagyu steaks he has had; however, the sandwich was definitely very unique and really shone. If you think about the steak as a gateway to the steak sandwiches, that might make it more worth it.
And with that, we ended our last night in Tokyo with a bang and had sweet dreams of steak and steak sandwiches.