Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The Japanese Food Adventure Chapter 2 - Day 15. Back to Tokyo, destination Koenji



It was our last day in Kyoto and almost time to head back to where the adventure had begun back in Tokyo. With our cases packed we went to get some breakfast, this morning I decided to start with some miso soup which was exceptionally good. 



We'd grown quite fond of this chocolate swirled bread, delicious toasted with butter.



For a final time I served up a Japanese breakfast. Those sticky sweet beans will be missed, they were so tasty. I was also really enjoying the potato salad and onigiri each morning.



 
Before boarding the train I grabbed a bottle of Calpis Soda. On my previous trip my favourite soft drink was Mitsuya Cider, this time round though Calpis Soda had won me over, love it! 




The time we'd spent travelling on Shinkansen ended up being a forced rest where we could relax for a few hours without the temptation of exploring somewhere. We'd grown really fond of these super fast and incredibly comfortable trains, time to sit back and relax again!



As always we'd brought a snack along for the journey, this time a long chocolate and nut coated cake.




From the hostess trolley we bought some Asahi and a box of Toppo, really nice chocolate filled wafers.



A few hours later we arrived in Koenji, we love this place! It's a few stops away from Shinjuku on the Chuo line and has heaps of character with lots of shops, bars and restaurants. We spent nearly a week here on our previous trip and couldn't resist returning again.




We were once again staying at the Koenji Guesthouse in the heart of Koenji.  I didn't take an exterior shot of the front as it's just a front door that leads upstairs. This is the roof terrace where you can relax with a beer or do some washing for just ¥200 (about £1.50!)




A double room here (I forgot to take a pic of the room) cost us just £20.83 per night! The room had a double bed, storage space and air conditioning. There are 2 shared toilets, 2 shower rooms and a shared kitchen filled with local maps and guides on Tokyo. The chaps running it (Toshi, Kimi and Henry) are really friendly and welcoming, they meet you outside the station and show you around the guesthouse when you arrive.




The train station is really close to the guesthouse as you can see from this photo. It can be noisy during the daytime but during the night the trains stop running so you can sleep quite easily.



We left the guesthouse and went into this Yakitori bar, last time I was here the chef was convinced I was in a band and wanted to jam with me! I think he must have left since then though as there was no such fuss this time.




With a cold pint of Sapporo we checked out the menu, nearly everything on it cost just ¥100 (about 74p)



 First we ordered some cabbage with a spicy dipping sauce and mayo.




Next I feasted on chicken with leek and ground chicken yakatori, my wife enjoyed some mushroom and asparagus. Remember these were just ¥100 each, bargain!



My wife ordered some plum wine but I decided to try a whisky with soda water and ice, very common in Japan and known as a highball.




Next we made our way to another favourite Koenji eatery of ours, the Okinawan restaurant.



We'd always sat at the bar in the past but this time we were offered a table at the rear, it's clearly a popular place and always really busy. The floor has cushions to sit on and there's a sunken area below the table to put your feet in, shoes must be removed when coming into this area though.



A small pot of pasta arrived with the beers, this is common in many restaurants and although free the small snack is sometimes an indication that there may well be a cover charge as there was here.




My wife ordered some fried tofu with bean sprouts. I've tried tofu a few times now but here it tasted particularly good, they'd clearly seasoned it well.



 I ordered a traditional Okinawan ramen containing soba noodles, pork and pickled ginger in a broth. There was also a slice of spam on top, it's been a favourite in Okinawan cuisine since the end of World War II apparently. I'd chosen well with this dish, it tasted superb!




Plum wine is best served on the rocks but works well mixed with soda too, we were feeling a bit drunk so this seemed like a good plan!



Here we have Japan's most popular energy drink, Lipovitan D. My wife was feeling tired so we figured this might help, the night was still young though!



I'd spotted this display in Koenji back in 2014 but every time I went to order it the restaurant had been closed. I was determined to catch them open on this trip though, I really wanted to try these prawns on a bed of shredded cabbage! I wasn't hungry now though so I added this restaurant to my list of places to go before the end of the trip.



This was our next stop, Rock Bar Heaven. It was another favourite from our previous trip to Koenji and an experience we felt we had to revisit once again.



It's really dark inside here, the owner had the solution though and passed us a torch so we could study the menu.



The owner invited us to chose a music DVD to watch, you can't go wrong with some Motorhead!



RIP Lemmy you absolute legend!



Rock Bar Heaven is really small and only seats at most six people around the bar, there are also a couple of small tables further back. We got chatting to everyone at the bar, a really friendly bunch!



I was quite amazed to see a darts board in such a tiny room.



In such a dark place it was never going to be easy to take a decent photo of a drink. I remember this drink well though as it tasted so damn good, cherry blossom liqueur. 




On the way back to the guesthouse we popped into 7 Eleven for some supplies. I chose Plum wine and my wife prepared for a possible hangover in the morning with a bottle of salt and fruit drink which works wonders the morning after the night before.




These Crunky biscuits were soon demolished!



As my wife drifted off to sleep I headed to the local Takoyaki shop. I'd tried Takoyaki in Osaka back in 2014 but really didn't enjoy the phlegmy texture inside. Having heard so many people say how delicious they are though I decided to give them another chance.



These were so delicious and had a much better texture inside than the ones I'd tried in Osaka. They're made using a wheat flour based batter and contain octopus. These were covered in fish flakes and topped with a delicious takoyaki sauce. I'm so glad that I tried takoyaki again, they are now one of my favourite Japanese snacks.


Coming soon - Day 16
Harajuku Kawaii Monster Cafe