Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Japanese Food Adventure - Day 15

Day 15 - Fruit for breakfast, an amazing lunch and back to the airport..

My wife headed off on a mission a few miles away by train to buy some Japanese sweets as a gift. I decided to stay in Koenji to explore the streets on my own. I started off by heading to a big supermarket for some breakfast and was feeling like some fruit. The strawberry milkshake was well nice and the fruit sandwich amazing, kiwi fruit and peach sandwiched between the bread with lots of cream. Ok, so not the healthiest fruit breakfast but certainly delicious!

Walking around on my own felt so different to when I had been walking around with my wife. I really felt that I stood out and people were discreetly looking at my tattoos, perhaps they had been all the time and I just hadn't noticed until now. Despite this it was quite an experience walking these streets on my own. I couldn't have been much further from home and despite feeling quite alien I knew I had fallen in love with this place and I was so glad I had got to visit Japan during my time on this earth.

On the back streets of Koenji I spotted some incredible and quirky looking restaurants and shops.

I wasn't particularly hungry and had only just eaten my fruit based breakfast. This chicken, cheese and egg sandwich was calling me though so I run to the rescue and stored it safely inside my stomach. It was designed to be microwaved but tasted great straight from the fridge, a tasty combination and those amazing eggs with rich orange yolks are always a pleasure to eat.

Feeling guilty about eating two sandwiches in the space of an hour I decided action should be taken so I downed a can of Miracle Body V. Sadly I still looked the same afterwards though..

This was the restaurant we had eaten at last night, all the crates were neatly stacked until they would be assembled as tables and chairs again at lunchtime.

I headed back to the guest house and waited for my wife to return, when she did we headed onto the roof terrace to share stories of walking the streets on our own. She too had found it to be a much different experience, we were glad to be together again and decided to venture out for some lunch.

We had read about a restaurant called Hattifnatt, it sounded unusually cute and quirky so we waited outside until they opened for lunch. 

It was like being in a children's nursery rhyme complete with pop songs being sung by toddlers on in the background, quite surreal!

The walls were colourful and the furniture beautifully handmade.

The menu was embroidered and only in Japanese so ordering could have been a nightmare.

We were quite relieved when we were offered an English version of the menu. We were told that when we were ready to order we should place press a button on a post and speak into an intercom. The lunchtime special menu was reasonably priced with no dish costing over 950 yen (about £6) and a drink was included in the price too.

Whist waiting for the food to arrive we spotted some steps leading up towards the roof. We popped our heads up there and discovered a secret eating space.

My coffee arrived first, look at the sugar lump wrappers, my wife liked them so much she popped them in her bag!

My wife ordered the aubergine, cheese, potato and rice pie served with a salad. I tried some and it was excellent, amazing value for money too as the portion was very generous.

I ordered the avocado taco rice, beautifully presented and also fairly healthy!

Ok, so maybe not that healthy but really delicious.

A layer of octopus and rice was covered in salad and cabbage, on the top sat a mound of egg and cheese topped with avocado, this was smothered in salsa sauce and mayonnaise.

We decided to share a desert, how could we say no to this!

A delicious chocolate cheesecake served on a crocheted place mat.

Garter in Koenji (Lady Gaga has shopped here) deals primarily in used clothing, original brands and items crafted by young designers. Much of what you’ll find is ’80s and ’90s-style pieces or one-off items, such as redesigned leather jackets adorned with jewels and studs. In addition to clothes, Garter also sells shoes and a wide range of accessories.

Just beside a display of jackets coated in concrete we spotted the steps up to the next level in Garter. This place is definitely worth a look if you are visiting Koenji.

I noticed a vending machine selling some of the grape jelly drink with marshmallow lumps and fruit pieces, I just had to try it again!

This angry looking chap was outside the entrance of a temple in Koenji.

Inside was a small pagoda.

The temple was beautiful as were the gardens surrounding it.

This was surrounded by homes in a residential area of Koenji, we could have so easily missed it.

We decided to take another look inside an amusement arcade as I wanted to try and win something on a grab machine. This one covered four floors and smoking was allowed inside so it was a bit smelly.

There were no grab machines here but there was a massive horse racing arcade game that seemed to be very popular.

With very little free space in Tokyo this was something we saw a lot of, it allowed 24 cars to be parked in a fairly compact space.

The pharmacy elephants were a regular sight too. I discovered that
Standing outside drug stores all over Japan the elephants are often dressed in different costumes depending on the time of year. Sato-chan the orange elephant first appeared outside stores in 1961 sitting astride a rocket. His sister Satoko-chan joined him in 1995. The siblings are modelled after the Indian elephant, which the creators believed to have a calm and gentle nature. Elephants also appealed to Sato Pharmaceuticals because they live long lives, something the company would like to emulate.

As we walked passed a mobile phone shop we noticed a robot inside speaking to the customers, we went inside to take a closer look.

This is just the kind of thing you would expect to find in Tokyo, the robots movements were quite incredible.

We continued looking around Koenji, I still hadn't found Bar Rumholic which I had looked for on so many occasions.

It was only when I took a photo of this bar that we had visited on our first day in Japan that the Bar Rumholic mystery was solved. Look closely at the awning and you will see what I mean, sadly it must have closed down some time ago and changed hands.

I couldn't believe how rickerty these steps were, each one felt like it would collapse as you stepped on it. We made it to the top though and entered another quirky boutique.

This was the changing room inside the boutique.

This place was pretty cool inside, a motorcycle shop that also sold clothes and collectible toys.

I couldn't believe my luck when I found this in a Koenji record shop, I have been after it for nearly 4 years! I snapped it up and added it to my collection when I got home.

This was the moment I had been dreading for days now, we were leaving Koenji and heading to Narita Airport..

We stopped off to buy some food before getting on the airport bus, decisions decisions.

A went for the hot dog, sadly a bit bland.

We couldn't believe how spacious the room was at the airport hotel, even a small table to eat at.

There was a choice of 2 different green teas, we put the kettle on.

Whilst waiting for the kettle to boil we ate our bento boxes we had picked up before getting on the bus. A nice selection of rice, noodles, prawns in a tangy sauce and a spring roll. The highlight of this box though was definitely the gyoza.

The kettle had boiled and we discovered that this particular green tea from sachets was very grim indeed..

You can always rely on a box of chocolate mushrooms though!

We ate some of these fruit sweets whilst catching up on the BBC News. There were reports of a typhoon on it's way for the weekend, it seemed like we were leaving just in time.

We headed downstairs to explore the hotel and discovered this smoking area. The device sucked in all the smoke when you pressed the button.

I wasn't particularly hungry but decided to try something else from the hotel vending machine.

This looked interesting and only cost 100 yen so I got one to try later.

The selection of vending machines were supplied by Family Mart and all the prices were really reasonable, not bad considering they were in a hotel lobby.

This turned out to be a very dry roll topped with a slither of minced beef and egg. 

I thought this was going to be a creme caramel milk drink, it turned out to be a creme caramel in a tin though designed to drink, strange texture but pretty nice!

Click here for Day 16
6000 miles back to reality


  1. Just a couple of minor points: The pork, cheese and egg sandwich was actually chicken, cheese and egg and SoftBank isn't a bank, it's a mobile phone carrier (They took over from Vodaphone) Other than that I've enjoyed reading your experiences in Japan even though I live here :-)

  2. Just a thought, regarding the excellent eggs (and they are), my eggs are the same, I get them from a guy who keeps his own chickens, about a dozen, and they are amazing, I can only assume the Japanese only eat free range eggs.