SNAPSHOTS | JAPAN + KOREA 2017 | TOKYO | DAY 4


Out of all the touristy things you could do in Tokyo, Tsukiji Market should be at the top of everyone's list. The famous fish market is made up of an "inner market" and an "outer market." Since the fish market is first and foremost a place of business, the inner market is mainly restricted to wholesalers and licensed buyers, where the freshest seafood is auctioned off, processed, and distributed to chefs and restaurants. 

The outer market is for the public, where food stands and restaurants have set up shop to showcase some of the freshest product coming out of this place.


While many tourists line up before 5AM (and even earlier!!) to see the famous tuna auction or to grab a seat at some of the more famous sushi restaurants in the area, we're really not about that life. It's still important to go rather early though, as most stores will close around noon or early afternoon. I think we got there at around 8 or 9 in the morning.


Some sushi restaurants will have insane lines that go on for hours, but I've heard that anywhere you eat in Tsukiji will be an amazing experience regardless. We didn't want to be restricted to a single restaurant, so we wandered around the market and grabbed various street foods to make up our breakfast.



The first thing we bought were scallops topped with torched uni. I believe one skewer with two scallops was ¥500. Prior to this, I've always been a bit hesitant about sea urchin but I came on this trip with the vow to try everything. After a bite of this, I couldn't get enough of it. Salty, briny, ocean-y goodness. Also, I need to buy myself a torch because everything tastes more amazing with a little bit of flame action.


Ice cream for breakfast? So much yes. It was super hot that morning so it was more a necessity than anything (¬‿¬). Each ice cream came in a pre-portioned cup which they extrude through a machine to achieve that soft serve consistency. Almost like Yogen Fruz I guess. Both my mom and I went for black sesame while LT got ... *drumroll please* ... chocolate. Surprise surprise.



Some more seafood goodness. Scallops, crab, uni, clams, and some type of white fish, all grilled and torched within a scallop shell. I still dream about this. Only ¥1000 for the ultimate seafood platter.


Seafood for breakfast might be a new experience for some but eggs shouldn't be! A worker whipping up some fresh tamago, or Japanese rolled omelette. 


Only ¥100 a stick, this thing weighed a ton. Although it was dense and heavy, the fluffiness was very apparent with all the layers of egg they formed within the pan. Tamago is traditionally sweet, and although they added some grated radish on top, I wished they also had some soy sauce to dip it into. 


My mom wandered off on her own to grab these skewers -- scallop, fish, and unagi. Pretty good and pretty cheap.


I was already a bit full at this point but I couldn't go to Tsukiji Fish Market without eating some sushi! Three types of tuna nigiri.  So good. ಥ‿ಥ



And lastly, we capped off our seafood breakfast with some strawberry mochi. Stuffed with different types of filling (red bean, custard, chocolate), I went for the mango whipped cream. Fresh, chewy, and tart.


Tsukiji Market was everything I dreamed of and more. It's definitely a place I would keep going back to if I were to travel to Japan again. Although we focused mostly on the street food stands, I'd love to have the experience of queuing up at one of the sushi restaurants next time. If you're heading over, I would go quickly since there are plans to relocate the market sometime next year!


After the market, we headed over to the Ginza area which was a bit of a walk but not terribly far. Ginza is perhaps Tokyo's most famous upscale area with numerous department stores, boutiques, and restaurants.


There was one place I wanted to visit in particular, which was located in the basement food floor of Mitsukoshi department store. Can I just say that my jaw literally dropped when we arrived?

In each of Tokyo's major department stores, it's usually the basement floor that houses these food halls known as depachika. Everything is so pristine and so mouthwatering. Vendors sell everything from prepared foods and bento boxes, to packaged food gifts and fruits. We would have bought tons of food to try if only they had a seating area. (╥_╥)


Dominque Ansel! Award winning pastry chef, you may know him better as the inventor of the cronut. We came all the way to Japan when we could've easily went to New York... but hey, we're here.



The cronut is a croissant-doughnut hybrid. The pastry is a crosissant dough, but shaped and fried like a doughnut. It was so revolutionary when it came out in 2013 that cronuts were even selling on the black market. For the month of May (when we visited), the flavour was pistachio apricot. Pistachio white chocolate ganache with apricot jam and vanilla sugar. I ate the cronut later at night so it wasn't super fresh. I also didn't detect much pistachio flavour but the apricot jam was nice and tart.

What I love most about Dominque Ansel's creations is the touch of childhood whimsy that he injects into refined pastries. The items that were Japan exclusive were so fun. There was a Daruma cake, a square watermelon cake, bread shaped like onigiri, and so much more. I would definitely come back, perhaps to their larger Omotesando store where they serve up more treats, including frozen s'mores and watermelon ice cream served in an actual watermelon.    


We spent the rest of the time in Ginza in Uniqlo -- the largest of all its flagship stores actually, spanning twelve floors. We spent a good hour or two in here. I'm praying that Uniqlo eventually opens up in Edmonton since Toronto already has two stores! 


Later on in the day, we headed over to Akihabara, Tokyo's "Electric Town." This area is famous as being a mecca for electronic stores and maid cafes.


Plenty of arcades with claw machines around.


Gachapon!


Anime and manga galore! If you're a die-hard fan searching for figures or cosplay, you'll find it in Akihabara.


Me? I came to Akihabara for cheese tarts.

Pablo is a cafe chain in Japan, famous for their cheesecakes and their cheese tarts. In a small yellow facade in Akihabara, you'll find Pablo Mini, an express stand that sells mini versions of their tarts to go. 


In the actual Pablo cafe, you get to choose the doneness of your cheese tart or cake, almost like you would a steak. For rare cheesecakes, that means a runny and gooey centre.

Unfortunately you're not able to here, but the cheese tart is still an amazing treat. There's various flavours to choose from, which actually changes with the seasons. I think I've seen matcha, chocolate, and cinnamon apple during my visit. I stuck with the original to see what made them famous in the first place. The filling is creamy and rich with a slight cheesy tang while the tart shell is like a buttery shortbread. I can't imagine what they'd be like fresh out of the oven!


From there, we spent a good amount of time shopping in Don Quijote. If you go to Japan, you have to go to a Don Qujiote. No ifs, ands, or buts. I don't even know where to begin to explain what it is but it's a magical place not for the faint of heart. You can find anything and everything under one roof. Unless you're easily overwhelmed or claustrophobic, make sure to dedicate a couple of hours in your itinerary for Don Quijote!


Right outside the Don Quijote was Gindaco, a chain takoyaki stall where you can watch workers making them right in the open. I love takoyaki so we had to make a pit stop here.


I'm actually devastated that I never ended up trying takoyaki while we were in Osaka (the birthplace of takoyaki), but this made up for it somewhat. The traditional takoyaki was dressed in the classic toppings: takoyaki sauce, nori, and bonito. The takoyaki from Gindaco was amazing, super crispy on the outside and steaming hot inside. 


For a late dinner, we stuck closeby to the Airbnb again, this time setting foot in a small gyukatsu restaurant. Amazingly the waitress spoke Vietnamese so we were able to communicate more than just pointing at pictures or asking for an English menu! 


We weren't terribly hungry so we all went for the half set with Japanese black cattle marbled beef. The beef was sliced thinly, super rare on the inside with a light panko crust. There was fresh wasabi, soy sauce, and garlic oil to dip. Soup, rice, tofu, and salad also came as part of the set. I actually don't think I've ever been so happy to see green vegetables in my life before.

And here's another reason why I love Japan. Any restaurant you go to, even by chance, is probably going to be amazing.

- CT

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CT is a 24-year-old Edmontonian who started blogging as an excuse for taking pictures of her food.

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." - Virginia Woolf