Kipposhi Ramen in Sumida, Tokyo
Japan is an awesome country, not only is the fishing a lot of fun but there are hundreds of thousands of places to see, experiences to absorb, and a culinary cornucopia of taste on every street corner. While Fallfish Tenkara has focused mostly on the first two I have not really touched on Japanese food besides a photo piece several years back. Since I moved here in November of 2014 I can honestly say that I have not had a bad meal in Japan - the service is always top notch, the food prepared with care and attention to detail; and the flavors, textures, and smells are always out of this world.
Since we adopted a Japanese infant boy my mountain adventures have tapered off a bit. However, it has just been an opportunity to experience the culture, people, and food in and around the greatest metropolis in the world - that my mountain pursuits precluded me from enjoying before.
My son Tadashi makes friends where ever he goes. Here he is with two young ladies that we just met a few moments before the photo was taken.
I thought it might be fun to highlight a few of the places I have eaten at over the past few months, which has increased since I became a full time stay at home dad (in Japan it is called ikumen イクメン aka "a man who enjoys child rearing"). Somedays Tadashi and I will head into Tokyo for the day for the express purpose of dining at a particular establishment. Like the day we went to Kikuyakari (Kikuya Curry); check out their Table log page here. There was a nice lady who sat next to Tadashi and I, and since the restaurant did not have any high chairs she quickly finished her food, so that she could hold Tadashi while ate my lunch. I did not even get her name, but I was touched deeply by her compassion.
Even chain restaurants are really good in Japan. The first time I had takoyaki (octopus balls) I thought
"Wow, I had no idea octopus had scrotums."
Later I discovered that takoyaki was actually diced up octopus fried in dough balls. I am blond what can I say... Anyways Gindaco Highball makes a mean takoyaki with all sorts of fun toppings and you can wash it down with my favorite alcoholic beverage in Japan - the highball. They have restaurants all over Japan, if you see one stop in you will not regret it.
Speaking of chain restaurants Kagetsu Arashi Ramen is top notch and definitely worth trying. If you are looking for a smaller mom and pop ramen joint you should check out Men'ya Shōta next to Tsukuihama Station. It is a five minute walk to the ocean and ten minutes from Tsukuihamakankono Orchards where you can pick your own strawberries! If you are a ramen nut like me then a visit to Japan would not be complete without visiting the Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum. I have tried every ramen they offer. What is my favorite? All of them. Go hungry - seriously hungry. If possible avoid going on Sundays unless you do not mind standing in line for two hours...
Awhile back I did a piece on a ski/tenkara adventure I had in Norikura Kogen. After the ski trip we stopped in at this Chinese restaurant called Chuugokuryourifukushingen (中国料理 福鑫源) I will be seriously impressed if you can pronounce that btw. If you are around Matsumoto and really really hungry this place is a great option.
Last, but certainly not least is Kipposhi Ramen which is quite famous for their blue ramen. The coloring is achieved using algae (not food dye) and is delicious. The restaurant seats ten and there is always a line, but it is definitely worth the wait. It is in Sumida under the shadow of the Tokyo Skytree.
If I had a hundred lifetimes I would not be able to experience 10% of the dinning in Tokyo. If you are planning a trip to Japan spend some time exploring the side streets and less traveled areas and when you see a restaurant - why not give it a try? You never know what you will find (but I am willing to bet it will be the best meal you have ever had).
Written by Isaac Tait who now lives in San Diego but dreams of returning, one day, to Japan. You should follow him on Twitter.