Friday, 10 October 2014

The Japanese Food Adventure - Day 5

Day 5 - A cat cafe, Harajuku and dinner at an Alice in Wonderland restaurant.

Another morning in Koenji and another different iced coffee to try, this one was really refreshing but not quite sweet enough for my liking, a bargain at 70p though!

We had read about an amazing Okonomiyaki restaurant close to the hotel, we spent over an hour searching for it but eventually gave up, perhaps it had closed down? With this in mind we needed a plan B, we were feeling a tad peckish.

We discovered plan B inside the railway station shops, costing around £3.50 this looked interesting. A bed of rice topped with fish, ginger, egg, prawns, peas and lotus root. A sprinkling of soy sauce resulted in an amazing mid morning meal eaten on a wall whilst people watching in the centre of Koenji.

Something we had started to realise in Japan is how well equipped everywhere is for recycling. I don't think we ever came across a general rubbish bin, separate sections for everything, excellent!

Another thing was also becoming very apparent, the various utility covers on the pavements were just amazing!

It was becoming much clearer where you couldn't smoke on the streets too. There were certain areas where it was banned, stickers on the pavement made it very clear though.

 There were lots of different sticker designs found everywhere.

A few stops away from Koenji in Kichijojo we had heard about a cat cafe so we went to take a look.

Through the paw shaped windows was a cat lovers dream.

The large and magical main room was quirky and well designed, home to around 15 cats it was a great place to relax and enjoy tea and cake whilst spotting all the cats that lived there.

I decided this was my favourite cat and then spotted the menu, time to order something.

The presentation here was excellent and the prices quite reasonable too.

A paw print on top of the coffee was a really nice touch.

My wife chose the cheese cake, I was slightly envious of her ice cream though. It was really creamy and although I forget the exact flavour I remember it being so delicious!

I was chuffed to bits to find the same ice cream in the centre of my amazing sundae. I preferred my dessert but my wife insisted hers was better.

After leaving the cat cafe we looked briefly around an art exhibition. There were Hello Kitty sweets for children to take but I figured they were not meant for me so I reluctantly took a fairly bland looking Trappist cookie, the highlight of my food adventure is wasn't..

Spotting this plastic food display reminded me I had yet to try ramen, I made a mental note of this whilst heading back into central Tokyo.

My wife made an incredible discovery when she spotted this peach juice in a vending machine, so refreshing and tasty and remembered as "peach bum"

We arrived in Shinjuku and headed inside the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.

The views from the observatory on the 45th floor (202 meters above ground level) were amazing. It's a great place to look out over the city and on a clear day you can see Mt Fuji, there is no admission charge for visiting the observatory which is really good. Yoyogi Park (seen above) was somewhere we really wanted to visit but this was not possible due to an outbreak of dengue fever.

A smoking area inside the government building with amazing views.

This style soap dispenser had been baffling me since I had arrived. I had tried squeezing it, pushing it and even hovered my hand underneath thinking there may be a sensor hidden somewhere. My wife solved the puzzle though, push the metal nozzle up and the liquid poured out.

We had spent a long time looking out from the Government Building, it was starting to get dark and time to make a move.

Our next destination was Harajuku, it reminded me of a Japanese version of Camden.

This impressive plastic crepe filled with no end of sweet things was too good to miss, we decided to try one.

Not the easiest thing to eat but it tasted amazing, good job I wasn't on a diet.

This all you can eat buffet fascinated me, different prices for men and women!

I picked up 2 bags of these chestnuts from a ¥100 shop, a bit like Poundland but so much bigger covering four floors.

The chestnuts were pretty nice and the bag was soon empty.

It seemed that dengue fever had also affected other parks in Tokyo, this sign was spotted at the entrance to central Shinjuku park.

We had heard about an Alice in Wonderland restaurant, after looking in completely the wrong area we were finally back on track.

This sign was a welcome sight, we had finally found it! We headed rapidly downstairs to floor B2.

No way, it can't be closed.. 

We discovered you could only access it by the lift and was delighted they had an availabl table for two. All the waitresses were dressed up as a different character from the book. These bread hearts and a cheese dip arrived at the table first to nibble on whilst deciding what to order from the menu.

"A trick of the cheshire cat" sounded like an interesting cocktail, visually it was quite impressive as it glowed away before me on the table.

Herb and shrimp spring roll decorated with precious stones seemed like a good choice for a starter. In reality though it contained a number of textures I would happily never have to experience again. I am not a fan of fish eggs, the slimy crunch between my teeth when eating them was quite grim and left me gazing over at my wife's far superior looking starter.

Shrimp and pineapple with mayonnaise sounded a bit boring on the menu but my wife had chosen very well.

This dish looked amazing and tasted sensational, the fresh fruit was a nice touch but it was the balls coated in sauce that I will always remember.

A juicy shrimp coated in batter, the mayo based sauce that coated them was spot on, these were incredibly nice. One of my favourite foods is sweet and sour prawn balls from a Chinese takeaway and these were even nicer.

My Cheshire cat inspired main course looked like good fun but essentially was just spaghetti in a beef sauce with a couple of nachos for ears and a salad based face. I was a bit disappointed and couldn't help thinking I could have done this at home with with a can of Heinz spaghetti bolognese and a couple of Doritos.

My wife's main course didn't look as fun but did contain seafood which she gave to me, she ate the prawn though which I had my eye on.

To get over the main course disappointment we ordered a dessert to share. Now this looked and tasted great, a creme brulee and macaroon tarted up as a clock. The food here was a mix of disappointing and amazing, it was more about the whole Alice in wonderland experience though.

At the end of the meal the waitress started telling us we were big and needed to be smaller. We knew we had eaten quite a bit since arriving in Japan but there was no need to insult us we thought. Then her comment made more sense as she handed us the drink me strawberry tea to take home with us.

Back in Koenji we found a very popular Japanese restaurant that is open till 4am. The staff all wore traditional clothing and seemed to all cheer as customers arrived.

Whenever you arrive at a restaurant in Japan the wet flannel always arrives first to wash your hands with. Edamame beans arrived with the flannel, I loved them and could have kept popping those beans into my mouth for far longer than I did.

Knowing we loved plum wine we decided to try it with a dash of soda, when it arrived with a pint of soda we couldn't help thinking the ratio was a bit off balance. Lurking in the bottom was a plum, it was a tricky bugger to catch but I got it in the end and decided to eat it.

It may not look like much but it tasted great.

Next we tried a sake cocktail, it initially tasted quite grim but it did improve the more you sipped it. Not something I would be ordering again but very strong at least, I didn't fancy eating the lime though.

These fried potato slices sat on the plate in front of us for over half an hour, they were very tempting but I resisted the urge to take one.

A quick trip to 7-11 on the way back to the guest house, tonight's late night snack were these delightful cocoa Moomin biscuits.

And just for good measure these delicious rice crackers. It had been a really busy day and we were loving Tokyo, we needed a good nights sleep though as tomorrow we were moving on to Kyoto!

Click here for Day 6
A bullet train to Kyoto and okonomiyaki


  1. Imagine trying to get something like that prawn rice snack at a railway station here...looks great. And that cake and coffee presentation at the cat cafe is superb. Any signs of an Udon curry on a menu yet?, always fancied trying one.

    1. I didn't come across the Udon curry, I suspect it was out there somewhere though. I will find it on a return trip :-)