Friday, 4 April 2008

Shotgun Noodles Tokyo Style

We arrived into Tokyo after a long 12 hour flight from London, bleary eyed and very hungry. Airline food does not do it for me anymore. I try and eat it less and less.
Somehow we managed to get to Ikebukuro quite easily using Japanese Railways. Checked into our Ryokan and headed out to grab some nosh. Priorities.
We were kinda partial for some noodle soup as it was bucketing it down in Tokyo town that very morning. So we wandered around for a bit and decided to pop into a Ramen shop that was full of people. Always a good sign. As we stepped in we were greeted by our waitress/server from behind the counter who pointed to our seats and a machine by the door. It turns out you have to choose your dish from this machine, buy a ticket and give it to the waitress.
As our Japanese extends to about half a dozen words and zero characters, this was going to be a challenge. So we decided to play Shotgun Noodles. Quite randomly we picked one that had 300g of Soba noodles and one that had 200g. Paid our money handed over our tickets and duly waited. Bet Russian Roulette was never this fun.

What came was a very pleasant surprise, thankfully no Deer Hunter ending for us here. Two bowls of soba noodles and two bowls of hot broth to dunk them in. Mine had a slight hot and spicy chilli creamy taste to them, with some pork on top. Lina’s had pork on top also with a real meaty taste to it.
It is considered impolite not to slurp your noodles, this going against everything my mum always taught me, but as in Rome we decided to slurp away. After a few flying noodles and a bit of sauce on my glasses, I kinda got the hang of it and all went well. I can’t say if a local heard me slurp they would think, ahh he’s Japanese. Both bowls of noodles were delicious, and a great introduction to Japan, after that flight from hell.
Later that day we found a pretty good Izakaya, which are the Japanese equivalent of pubs. Apart from these places stay open till 5am. So wish all pubs in UK were the same.
They serve beers, sake’s and other forms of potent alcoholic beverages. Plus most sell some fantastic bar snacks. This one sold a lot of Yakitori (grilled meats, fish & veg on sticks). We had a few pork belly sticks, all washed down with some fine Japanese lager.
That nite we went to a Yakitori place that also had some fried titbits too. We were kinda coherent but jet lag had started to set in big time. We sat at the counter and began to decode another Japanese menu. (Looks like this was gonna be another shotgun session) but thankfully they had an English version.

So we began ordering. First was pork tongue, which came with a hot mustard dipping sauce. Then Chitterlings (again) in soya sauce, these had a real nice smoky charred taste to them, nothing like the delicate version in St John’s 2 nites before. Then came the beef tripe which had a miso pate wiped on then grilled. Delish. Then some normality with breaded tender chicken with a special sauce.
But we saved the best to last, a split salted pigs foot with the same hot mustard sauce. This was greatttttt.
Wow all this on day one. If it carries on like this, this is going to be one great trip….

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