It was a cold and dreary morning when we returned to Tokyo from Nagoya. Stan’s camera battery simply ran out on our last day at Nagoya, hence there is no post for day 13. We spent that whole day just wondering around the shopping area. We started the day early to catch the bullet train back to Tokyo. After checking into our hotel, we grabbed a quick lunch at a small, standing restaurant nearby. We’ve been to that restaurant a couple of times during our stay, whenever Stan and I could not decide on where to eat. The restaurant, as we observed, are mostly frequented by blue collared workers and the foods served there are relatively cheap, around 500 yen to 1200 yen, with an extra 100 yen for any sort of fried topping available, such as potato croquette and tempura prawns.
The cook looked at me with disbelief at first when I ordered the udon and katsudon combo as he did not notice Stan and the order was meant for him. Our meal just hit the spot and we spent the first half of the day exploring Asakusa, a district famous for its giant temple gates, Kaminarimon, which lead to the centuries old Sensoji Buddhist temple.
The street leading to the temple is lined with shops mainly selling souvenirs, local specialities, traditional snacks and delicacies. Safe to say we were more interested in the local snacks there as it was very cold and the walking made us rather peckish. Ironically, the first snack we ate on a gloomy winter’s day was soft serve. There was one snack store that really stood out for us as it had this cabinet that displayed a colourful array of different flavours of soft serve.
After taking quite some time to decide, Stan settled for a melon flavoured soft serve, while I settled for black sesame. Sigh… if only we have bigger stomachs, perhaps we could have sample all the flavours available. The melon flavour was very refreshing while the black sesame had a nice nutty aroma to it.
As the day was winding down, we left Asakusa and made our way to the Tokyo SkyTree. There is a direct train line that specifically runs from Asakusa to the tower. Entrusting the navigation responsibility to Stan’s GPS, it led us to this slightly run down area, line with old shops. Both of us agreed that the area gave off a bit of the Yakuza game vibe, when the characters explored the more run down area of their fictional town’s shopping district.
Since the entrance fee for the Tokyo Skytree was rather steep, around 4000 yen, we decided to just explore the base of the tower, which consisted of various shops, snack shops, and restaurants. And yes, we shared another smooth and creamy matcha and vanilla comb soft serve, just right before dinner, which was not the smartest the decision.
Our stomachs might have said no but our eyes said yes when we saw a long line of customers waiting outside of a tsukemen restaurant called, Rokurinsha. The aromatic smell from the tsukemen broth wafted from the restaurant and the sight of the customers enjoying a bowl these noodles caught our attention. Throughout our trip in Japan, we have yet to try an authentic bowl of tsukemen, so we decided to give it a try though our stomachs were protesting.
When we were seated, we were given paper aprons to be worn around the neck to avoid spillage on our clothes. The broth is simmered with many different ingredients, such as pork bones, smoked mackerel flakes, chicken bones, and various other ingredients that gave it a robust flavour as well as a thick, creamy texture. The noodles served along side the broth is of a slightly thicker variety, almost resembling udon noodles. It has a very chewy texture and the broth adhered very well to the noodles.
Tsukemen may normally be enjoyed during the summer months but the broth remained warm till the very last dip so the dish is just as suitable for the cold winter months as well. After dinner, we were so full, we could barely move. Before returning to the hotel, we decided to take a short rest at one of the seating areas, gazing out the glass windows.