Technically, the last time I was in Tokyo was last year, when I flew to Haneda airport on the way to Hokkaido. I prefer to think that the last time I really was in Tokyo, was a decade ago. How the hell it took me that long to come back I’ll never know. The last time I was really in Tokyo, it was the world cup. I had an Inamoto jersey from when he was still with Le Arse. I had some fab tempura. I found Nowhere, The Bathing Ape store from back in the day when underground shit was literally underground and there weren’t any signs and shit. It was a long time ago and now, I’m older but still hunting down good food and steez.

We parked ourselves at the Sunroute Hotel Shinjuku, which has recently undergone a renovation. The lobby looks pretty modern, almost stunning. The rooms are small but adequate. Given the location and cost, I don’t think I’d hesitate too much to stay there again. Another bonus: The Oedo line to Tsukijicho runs through Shinjuku station, so on my last day, I can easily get to the fish market.

Day one went like this: Take airport limo to Shinjuku (around an hour and a half, 1200Y), walk to hotel (about 5 minutes) and drop the luggage. They only let you check in at 2pm so it’s off to lunch. We go around the corner, to a little place called Fuunji. This is basically a ramen joint that only serves 2 types of ramen, tsukemen (cold dipped noodles) and regular ramen with a tonkatsu/seafood based soup. When we arrived, there was already a queue, which we joined promptly. This was at 11:30 or so. I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder and turn around to see a guy gesturing to queue behind him. Oh. The queue splits when it hits the road and so we rejoin the proper end of the queue. It’s a vending machine system, so you gotta put your money in and buy tickets. Fuunji has ranked and still ranks pretty highly in Tokyo for ramen, that they’re next to the hotel is a bonus.

Unable to read much hiragana/katakana, my gf asks the guy ahead of her in passable Japanese. The guy explains that you pick tsukemen/ramen and also regular/deluxe version. Then you pick extra toppings at the bottom. I go for the deluxe tsukemen, girl gets regular ramen plus chashu and egg. Once you’re inside, you’re still in the queue. It goes along the back of the wall and when it’s your turn, the staff ask how many people and what size you want. We both got regular sized. I personally think its enough but if you’re a big eater, go big by all means. I just knew I had a date with a lot more food than just ramen.

Anyway, when it’s our turn, the seats are all the way in the front, so we shuffle, backpack and all back to the front, where we get a good view all the way down the kitchen and wait as one guy pours us some water. It doesn’t take too long and my noodles get popped in front of me. They look awesome, so glossy. Then the ramen arrives and soon after, the dipping bowl for the tsukemen with all the toppings inside. My girl’s ramen is pretty spot on. Actually, she likes soft noodles so these perfect ones are too good for her. The soup is beaute. I read up about ramen in Tokyo and learned that this pork/seafood combo broth has been popular for a while. I had it once in Sydney but I know realize what a weakass version that was. The version Fuunji proffers has deep, rich flavour and feels like a uniform whole. My tsukemen dip takes that even further. It comes with a heap of powdered stuff that I’m not too sure about and the consistency is thick as sludge. The noodles are also different from the ramen. These thicker noodles go really well with the dip and instead of thin, sliced chashu, I get like thicker chunks of pork. The egg is perfection. I’ve been screwing around with low temp eggs for ages but honestly, I think ramen eggs are just the best. The yolks feel like freshly melted gold on the tongue. The toppings are all good but its the totality of the dish that is outstanding. Every element just feels right. This is one of those 9/10 meals for me. Near perfect. There’s actually no fault at all but as good as it was, mind wasn’t blown. Real close though. 10/10 is for mindsplosions. I power through everything and add hot water with the jugs provided to thin down the dipping sauce and I’m done in about 5 minutes. The gf is 1/4 through. Lol.

Post ramen, I decided a long walk was gonna be good so we went towards Isetan, which is on the other side of Shinjuku. I had to polish off whatever (mostly noodles) my girl (small eater) left behind so it was tough. At Isetan was round 2. Dessert. Isetan Shinjuku’s basement is basically the best collection of pastry shops ever. Pierre Herme and Sadaharu Aoki amongst many other fancy schmancy places but we were gunning for the best. I picked out a half dz macarons at PH and added a mille feuille. At Aoki’s we got another 6ixer. The PH experience was nice. They pull gloves on and put your selection on a small chopping board before packaging it really well. The packaging for the mf is really made for 2 pastries so because we only got one, they put a cardboard spacer so the thing won’t knock around inside. At Aoki, they don’t normally give out the nice long box (it’s just a plastic bag) unless you buy the fixed flavor set. The girl behind the counter was nice though and put ours in a box. They also put a cold pack with it and asked when we would consume it. We said today (I was thinking once this ramen subsides) but she said 3 hrs is best. I think if I said tomorrow, we wouldn’t be able to buy it even.

We trek back to the hotel but polish off the Aokis. They superb. I have an acquaintance in Sydney who makes kickass macarons so I’ve got a reasonably educated macaron mouth. The Aokis are better. But not by that much. To be completely honest, I don’t know if it’s appreciably better or just subjectively. I just feel they’re better, perhaps more cohesive in terms of texture and flavor. The 6 we kopped were Genmaicha, Matcha, Earl Gray, Yuzu, Pistachio and Black Sesame. The black sesame was the big winner for me. The tea flavors were all good too. Just to compare, we also ate a pistachio Pierre Herme macaron. I’d say it’s more pistachioey, and hence better. Immediately, I would also say that PH’s macarons are stunningly good but around the same as Sadaharu Aoki. The styles are totally different. PH is very classic and complete. SA is just modern, Japanese… I don’t know how much better the macarons would be at the main store for either brand but I can say these 7 macarons I’ve had thus far, are the best I’ve ever had. Are they worth the dosh? Honestly, I’d stick with Makmak here in Sydney.

Post binge, we take the train to Harajuku for a spot of shopping. I spend a lot of time waiting. A word of warning to the males with females in tow: Tokyo is a cosmetic wonderland, be prepared to wait. So yeah, I end up going into the ‘Preme store and kopping a tee shirt. Prices here are like 1.5x America but seeing as I’m not in America, it’s good enough for me. It’s a black one, with a b&w print of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman from Casablanca, with a neon green Supreme over it. The girl gets a palletload of facial cleansers, eyeliners, lipsticks, eyeshadow, mascara etc etc etc plus some clothes. I also get a backache from my now falling apart backpack.

So we kinda keep walking and end up in Shibuya, where we look at a lot of stores and pretty much buy nothing. Dinner is MOS burger. Lol cos I didn’t plan for dinner in Shibuya, I thought we’d eat back in Shinjuku. Anyway, we got my regular original burger, an ebi burger, some chips, a milk tea and a fried chicken drumstick. They actually ask if we want the breast or the leg. Anyway, it’s just decent grub if you don’t mind fast food and relatively cheap. I almost always hit it up but after tomorrow, things would change.

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