Monday, December 8, 2014

Our Shibuya experience

Shibuya is a special ward in Tokyo, Japan.  It was one of the subway stops closest to our hotel, and we dropped by several times during our stay in Tokyo.  Today I’m going to talk about our Shibuya highlights. 

Shibuya pedestrian scramble
The Shibuya subway station here is one of Tokyo’s most active.  Here is where you will find the Shibuya pedestrian scramble, the busiest intersection in the world.  Every few minutes, all surrounding traffic lights turn red and hundreds of people scramble into the street to cross at the same time from all directions.  It was a lot of fun just walking through the crowded street.  All the pedestrians were very polite, no one was pushing or shoving and we didn’t really bump into anyone.   

If you’re into fashion, Shibuya is known as one of the fashion centers of Japan, and a shopping paradise.  We did some brief window-shopping as we walked towards restaurants.  There are tons of delicious places to eat all over Tokyo, but we found our favorites in Shibuya.  We went to Shibuya for several of our meals.

Little Shop Curry
Located in the backstreets of Shibuya, this curry restaurant really is a “little shop.”  Run by a husband and wife, the shop only seats 14 people at a time. This restaurant only makes one big pot of curry each day, and once it runs out, they close the shop. 

We arrived just before the restaurant opened at 11:00am, and found ourselves waiting about 1 hour before being seated.  While we were still in line, the shop put up a sign saying they were closed for the day.  People who came later could no longer eat at the Little Shop the same day.   

There are only 5 different things to order on the menu:  
We ordered the combo curry, which included freshly fried juicy pieces of kara-age chicken, tonkatsu pork, fried tofu, fried cabbage, grilled pepper, eggplant, over easy egg, cheese and a grape tomato all over a huge bed of white rice covered in fresh curry.  The husband and wife duo prepared our meal right in front of us.  Both of us struggled to finish our shared plate. 
The best part was that our entire meal cost 800 yen, or less than $7! 

Umegaoka Sushi No Midori Sohoten
When we asked around, we were told that Midori sushi was the absolute best sushi restaurant in Shibuya.  Be sure to come here early because there is always a wait.  The nice thing about the que system is that you can just take a number and walk around while you wait.  We arrived early around 10:50am and were already 23rd in line. 

Luckily we didn’t have to wait more than 30 minutes to be seated, unlike others who came later:  
The staff and sushi chefs were extremely friendly.  My wife ordered various cut rolls of sushi.  
I ordered the tuna set, which included 2 pieces of extremely high grade fatty tuna, 2 pieces of semi fatty tuna, 4 pieces of lean tuna, and 6 pieces of spicy tuna roll. 
The fatty tuna was ridiculously fatty

The quality of fish was incredible, some of the best that I’ve ever had.  The total for our meal was 4,104 yen, or less than $34. 

35 Steps Bistro
The 35Steps izakaya restaurant gets its name from the flight of 35 steps you need to walk down to reach the restaurant entrance.  The street entrance is very unassuming and almost sketchy in appearance.  
Once we got inside, the mood was completely different. 

The atmosphere was very fun and lively.  We ordered lots of tasty dishes.

Niku-jaga, or Japanese style stew with beef and potatoes served with garlic toast:

Deep fried curly fries served with spicy code roe on top:

Deep fried prawns with sweet chili sauce and semi boiled egg: 

My wife felt like this was her favorite restaurant from all the places we ate at in Tokyo.  Dinner cost us 4,440 yen, or less than $37.

Meiji Jingu
The Meiji Jingu Shrine contains the ashes of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.  
You enter the shine grounds through these massive torii gates:
When this shrine was built in 1920, 100,000 trees were donated.  Today those trees have formed a forest of 175 acres that is very peaceful to walk around. 

Walking along the path you can see huge barrels of sake donated by the Meiji Jingu Nationwide Sake Brewers Association and barrels of wine donated from France. 

We made a donation of 1,000 yen ($8.25) to see the beautiful inner garden.  The grounds were so big you could spend several relaxing hours here.    

That’s it for Shibuya. 

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