A friend is planning a trip to Tokyo and asked me for travel tips. While I do not have the usual tourist itinerary, I thought I will share some of my most memorable experiences there.
I stayed in Japan for the whole of March 2019. Out of that, 15 days were spent in Tokyo, experiencing the city like a local. Thanks to a friend I met in Cebu, I managed to rent a nice apartment in Shibuya at a very good price. The days in Tokyo were surreal. Morning runs at Yoyogi Park, hunting down great Japanese food, afternoon deep work sessions at favorite coffee shop, grocery shopping at the neighourhood store, walking back home through the busy Shibuya streets, late-night sushi suppers, weekend day trips and more. Here are some of my favorite memories:
Zuicho: run by a mother & daughter team, they only serve one dish- Tonkatsu rice with egg, and they do it damn well. It's a small restaurant with just 8-10 seats located in a quiet part of Shibuya. A hidden gem with lots of locals. Long queue sometimes but never have to wait more than 15-20 minutes.
Sushi Dai: legendary sushi restaurant in the old Tsujiki Fish Market, that has since moved to the new Toyosu Market. Queued 2.5 hours but was well worth the wait. 4,000JPY (RM150) for a Omakase menu consisting of 10 + 1 nigiri with some side dishes. The whole meal is like an orchestra performance for the tastebuds.
Umegaoka Sushi-no-Midori: no time to queue for Sushi Dai? Midori is another great place for sushi. Price is cheaper at around 2,000JPY (RM75) for a sushi set. The ingredients are really fresh and come in a generous portion. They have a branch in Shibuya. I went to the original shop in Umegaoka.
Sama Soup Curry: very different from the usual Japanese curry rice, Sama does it in a soupy way. Really tasty and goes well with rice. The friend that I met in Cebu (a super friendly Korean working in Tokyo) raved about the quirky curry soup shops in his neighbourhood of Shimokitazawa and brought me there.
Fuglen Tokyo: my favorite cafe in Tokyo. It's a 10 minutes walk from my apartment in Shibuya. The coffee is consistently good. Nice to chill and work from. Turns into a bar at night.
Other Notable Eats: Steak @ Ikinari (restaurant chain but surprisingly good steaks), curry bun at 7-11 (good for cheap eats!), JS Curry in Shibuya, Ichiran Ramen (well, why not?) and more.
New York Bar: super cool jazz bar located in the 52nd floor of Park Hyatt Tokyo. Made famous by the movie Lost in Translation. Good drinks, views, music & vibes. Warning: can be quite expensive.
Globis: Japan's fastest growing business school. I took a trial MBA class here. It was a morning session filled with great fun. They have trial classes every month.
Shibuya: probably the best area to stay in Tokyo if you only have a few days. Lots of food & shopping places. Best place to view the famous Shibuya Crossing is from Starbucks Tsutaya. Take morning walks at Yoyogi Park that's not far away.
Akihabara: the crazy district in central Tokyo famous for its electronics and anime culture. While I'm not a fan of anime, it's an eye-opener to check out buildings filled with floors of anime stuffs and to experience a subculture of Japan.
Asakusa: experience old-time Tokyo vibes. A few temples to explore. Lots of nice street food. Must-try includes: sweet potato jelly, Menchi-katsu & more.
Yokohama: take a day trip to Yokohama, it's around 1 hour by train from Tokyo. Visit the Chinatown (the oldest in Japan), take a walk along the scenic Osanbashi Pier, check out the Cup Noodles Museum and more.
While I can go on and on about delectable experiences in Tokyo, I'll stop here. Living in Japan for a month was like a dream come true. I hope to do that again.