Monday, 6 November 2017

The Japanese Food Adventure Chapter 3 - Day 19. Ghibli Museum and a night out in Nakano

This morning we went to Dennys for breakfast, for just ¥600 (£4) you could chose from a range of Japanese and Western breakfast sets. I chose scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon and toast, it also comes with salad, yogurt and a drink.

After breakfast we jumped on the Chuo line westbound a few stops to Mitaka, home of the Ghibli Museum.

We'd visited the Ghibli Museum back in 2014, but since then had read about an adult Cat Bus that had been added to the museum. Booking tickets to get in here is quite a nightmare as they sell out really quickly! If you're reading this and wondering where to book the tickets from if you live in the UK then here's the link. Many other online agents sell tickets overpriced or insist you buy coach travel to the museum at the same time so don't get ripped off. It cost us £12 per ticket but remember to book well ahead of time.

There's a strict no photo policy inside which I almost abided to. The museum has different levels to explore which can be accessed using a lift or spiral staircase if you're feeling energetic.

To be honest our second visit here was quite disappointing. There was no adult Cat Bus to ride in and the museum was far busier than the first time we'd visited. This made it difficult to get around and quite claustrophobic in certain areas. We did enjoy the short exclusive Ghibli film shown in the theatre at the end though.

Today I was still feeling quite light headed which in hindsight I put it down to exhaustion. In a bid to combat this I bought a bottle of Salty Litchi, it's great for a hangover so it was worth a shot. The drink contains less than 10% of fruit juice, which includes lychee, grapes, and grapefruit, so it's mostly water. On top of that, the drink contains salt from Okinawa, sugar, and herbs. I think it did seem to help, or perhaps it was the chicken katsu sandwich I'd bought at the same time.

Our next destination was Takashimaya department store in the Nihombashi district of Tokyo. Usually we make a beeline for the basement to check out the food hall when visiting a department store.

This time though we jumped in a lift and got out on the top floor, we wanted to take a look at Manuba Ikeda's exhibition, The Pen.

Spectacularly detailed work from Manabu Ikeda, this is just the poster from the show pictured but the piece in the flesh was 13 x 10 feet wide so seeing it up close and examining every finite detail was quite something. Based on the rebirth of Japan after the Tsunami it took 3.5 years and you can see why! From the tumbling waves, train crashes and spinning surreal chopped up planes to flowers made of bivouac tents and propellers. Do go and have a look at the history here. We were really privileged to see this in the flesh alongside a vast retrospective of work throughout Manabu Ikeda's life.

My wife bought a magnificent poster from The Pen exhibition, she didn't want to damage it whilst travelling though. Tokyu Hands was the place to go for a cardboard tube to protect it. The stick on handles they applied to the bag really impressed us, such a simple but effective idea!

Charlie Waygood had recommended on my facebook page that I try a Mos Burger if I had the opportunity. With more than 1700 restaurants across Asia it was only a matter of time before I tried a Mos Burger and that moment happened here in Koenji.

I decided to try the limited edition Hokkaido pork cutlet burger which cost ¥430 (£2.88)

The first thing to note was how the burger looked as good (if not better) than it did on the menu. The burgers here are cooked to order so there's a short waiting time and they're served open in a paper lined basket. Thanks Charlie for the recommendation, it was indeed a great burger! A juicy pork cutlet with crispy coating served with plenty of lettuce, a huge slice of tomato and a tangy kitami soy sauce in a soft bun.

My wife ordered a vegetable rice burger, the rice is used as a bun.

A quick pit stop back at the guesthouse and an opportunity to try one of these from 7 Eleven. A large flat waffle biscuit coated in chocolate costing just ¥50 (33p).

This evening we were going out to Nakano, just one stop away from Koenji on the Chuo line. Stoopot Harris had recommended on my facebook page that I visited a bar there called Hallogallo, this sounded like an excellent plan to us!

First though we wanted to have a look around Nakano Broadway. We'd discovered it on our last trip to Japan and couldn't resist further exploring it.

Nakano Broadway is famous for its many stores selling anime items and idol goods, including more than a dozen small Mandarake stores, which specialise in manga and anime related collectibles.

Although not a collector myself I found it a fascinating place to explore. If I'm honest though my mind was firmly on a shop in the basement that I'd seen last time I was here.

Tucked away on the first basement floor is Daily Choco, a soft serve ice cream joint.
Daily Choco is home of the comically over sized Tokudai ice cream, an eight-flavoured beast that rises 20 centimetres off the rim of the fragile cone beneath it and costs just Y490 (£3.30)

I was going to have to be quick before it melted so I took it down as quickly as I could using a plastic spoon to scoop the melting sides first.

The flavours were green tea, banana, bubblegum, grape (my favourite), coffee, vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. I managed to eat every last bit of it, pure ice cream heaven!

Feeling full of ice cream and having narrowly avoided brain freeze, we went to explore the alleyways of bars and restaurants surrounding Nakano Broadway. Somewhere around here was the bar we wanted to visit, Hallogallo.

We found it!

Before we'd even walked through the door we were liking Hallogallo. There was no table charge and drinks were reasonably priced, there was even a card on top of the sign offering a first drink for ¥100 (67p)

The bar was on the second floor, it looked really cool inside. There was a bar area to sit at and a couple of tables further back beside the window. Although fairly small inside, the way the space had been used was really impressive. There was even an area for DJ's to set up in the corner of the bar for the frequent events held at Hallogallo.

We were greeted by Yuki, she owns the bar with her husband Richard. Yuki informed us that Richard was on his way there to join us for a drink. In the meantime we enjoyed some delicious sweet chilli style chicken (vegan), the menu offers a selection of vegan bar snacks.

Richard arrived and we spent a couple of hours chatting over beers and some sake. It was a real pleasure to visit Hallogallo and meet Richard and Suki, if you're ever in Tokyo be sure to look them up. 

Back in Koenji I really fancied some Takoyaki tonight but the small shop that sold it opposite the guesthouse was closed. Instead I made do with a doner kebab costing ¥500 (£3.35) from the shop downstairs, it was quite small but spot on after a few beers.

Like many other nights over the past few weeks, I finished off the night with a Strong Zero in my favourite flavour, grape.

Click here for Day 20
Kawasaki Amusement Game Park and Shinjuku

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