If you’ve read through the entire series so far, you may have noticed that as each day passes my cheeks seem to be slightly fuller, and that my clothes seem to look a bit tighter. Story of my travelling life, really, but more so for this trip to Tokyo.
Truth be told, I’ve never been that huge of a Japanese food fan – you know, I just like it, not love it – but I became a convert thanks to the spectacular eats Kite and I shared on this vacation. From my first sushi experience, to those excellent okonomiyaki and yakisoba, to that bowl of good-to-the-last-drop tonkotsu ramen and finally that unforgettable whale encounter, everything (and I mean everything) was lovely, memorable and worth every Yen spent.
What follows are our other finds that didn’t quite make an appearance in the earlier posts. All of them did not involve much walking and looking for since they have either been inside or around the vicinity of our home base, Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu. (Which reminds me, I wasn’t able to take photos of the hotel. Uuunnnnggghh. >.<) Oh! I decided not to include all food shots lest I want this post to look like a gallery, so just head on over here for some more. Cheers!
1. Japanese set breakfast, Shunsai
Shunsai is one of the two breakfast options for the hotel and Kite and I dined here once during our stay. That decision turned out to be a good one, at least for me. Can’t say the same for my dining companion because between the two of us, Kite is the less adventurous when it comes to culinary experiences.
Why do I say that? Well, just look at the tray below.
I assume what was served to us was far from traditional because of its opulence, but nonetheless, it felt 100% Japanese. However, while most were recognizable, I wasn’t able to successfully pinpoint which was what (i.e. there was a kiamoy looking thing under that spiral dish, and one of the pickled veggies looked like blue eggplant. >.<). I think of all the components there, Kite only finished the soup, the rice, and the salmon. More for me! Haha! It was a no-brainer that I would love the fish but I was pleasantly surprised at how I liked the roe and the raw squid. The silken tofu, miso soup, mushroom sides and eggs were good too. Everything else was, well, interesting to say the least.
At the table were these laminated guides that tell diners what buildings they are looking at. Brilliant idea, as we busied ourselves with playing a matching game while waiting for the food.
Japanese breakfast set (clockwise from center): roe, smoked tofu, salmon, seaweed, mushrooms with eggs and veggies, small fry, palate cleanser (sweet wine, perhaps), tamago, pickled plum, miso soup, pickled veggies, nori sheets, rice, raw squid strips, and silken tofu. Some of the items in this tray I barely recognized. :-P
Save for those seaweed thingies, the centerpiece of this set was fabulous. Perfect play of contrasting textures and complementing flavors.
2. Intercontinental buffet breakfast, A Bientot
On the other side of the floor where the hotel’s two breakfast restos are is A Bientot. Obvious from its name, it’s a French restaurant, but come morning time, it serves an intercontinental smörgåsbord. That being said, we ate here twice, and was understandably more of Kite’s cup of tea than Shunsai.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: buffet breakfasts will be the end of me. My bottomless pit gets into overdrive every time there is one, and A Bientot wasn’t an exception. While the offerings are a bit limited compared to other hotels, like say Marriott, there were some standouts that carried the buffet through. I fell deeply in love with the buttery croissants and the very well-made scrambled eggs. The same can be said for the beautifully greasy chicken karaaage, brocolli and cauliflower. The spectacular sight of the Shibuya skyline and the impeccable service from the wait staff doesn’t hurt too.
How’s that for a breakfast view?
My kind of “I’m not on a diet” breakfast plate: milky scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, and gorgeous pastries.
Loved their karaage and fried broccoli and cauliflower, too.
Wala lang. I just found these sugar rocks cute. :-P
Before I forget, it is worth mentioning that there is a terrific view of the world-famous Shibuya Crossing at the waiting area of A Bientot. Actually, the entire floor gets a ton of natural light and offers a look at multiple points of interests because of the many windows that line the walls.
Intersection of all intersections, as seen from the floor where the restos are. Nice eh?
Rooftop football field. Your argument is invalid. :-P
3. Grilled innards, an unnamed yakitori place
This was one of the trip’s unexpected successes. A bit scary and shady at first, but definitely a success.
See Kite had been raving about a certain isawan place just a block behind the hotel but on the night we planned on eating there, the resto was closed. Almost defeated, we turned around and suddenly spotted this other place that seemed to offer the same menu because of the aroma and smoke emanating from it. Lo and behold, it indeed served the skewered delights we were looking for, and good ones at that. Not UP Diliman Mang Larry’s level, but delish enough.
From how we understood the lady who served us, diners (or beer drinkers, as we found everyone else drinking there and not really having proper dinner :-P) have the choice of having their chicken parts cooked with a soy sauce base, or simply with salt. The salted ones highlighted the natural flavors of the individual pieces more, but we ultimately preferred the savory and tastier marinated ones, so much so that we ordered two plates. The chicken skin and gizzards were to die for! Oh, by the way, since we were at a first world country, both Kite and I weren’t worried about the cleanliness and safety of the food. No tummy problems after the meal, too.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to note down the name of this restaurant (or pub or beer house or whatever appropriate name this food spot should have). I guess just look for a yellow circle with three characters that look like an inverted “T“, four triangles within a triangle and a complicated Japanese one. Blogger fail. Sorry naaaaa…
Ack. Too bad the photo wasn’t framed well. Now I can’t recall what the other set’s name was…
Scaaaared, just because this was the only place we had food that Kite hadn’t tried yet. Interestingly, the different floors of the resto are categorized by which level has crew members that can speak and understand English. Cool. :-D
From L-R: heart, intestines, meat, liver and tongue.
The salted version. Not sure why, but I found it odd that they pair this with mustard. I guess much like how we use vinegar, it’s what they prefer to cut the oiliness of the food?
We loved the soy sauce-d version so much, we got another plate. This time with wings, breast, gizzard, skin and liver.
4. Beef and salmon set, Yoshinoya
This was where I had my last breakfast before leaving for Manila. I included this in the list because of how different the Philippine franchise is from that of Tokyo. This one at Shibuya felt less fast food-ish and almost more like an air-conditioned carinderia. I also appreciated that it was open for 24 hours and that it was more generous with its servings. Oh yeah. They had salmon as part of their regular menu too. Salmon!
Taken at four in the morning. I think it’s where people grab something to eat after a night out or for people like me who have really early morning flights.
Not bad for breakfast, yes? Beef, some unknown pink beans, miso soup and a very bony salmon.
Kite’s generous beef bowl. See how overflowing those toppings are?
5. Bacon Potato Pie, McDonald’s
Finally, another quirky find, but not so quirky Kite won’t eat it, Bacon Potato Pie. We hunted this down because it was a requested pasalubong by a good friend. It being a McDonald’s product, it proved to have held well even after 48 hours. Haha! To be fair, I bought some and had them frozen during my last night at Japan and it went straight to the freezer to when I got home. While it wasn’t a letdown (I, and the group of people I brought it back for, actually liked it), Kite and I argued this could possibly not fare well with the Manila masses, hence it’s non-appearance in our own McDonald’s. Rachel couldn’t be any sadder.
You think this would sell well in Manila?
The mashed potato was extra creamy. In fairness, the smokiness of the cured meat was lent well.
The bacon was there alright, just don’t expect crisp bits.