The day before Ash Wednesday (when the Christian season of Lent begins) is known as Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday. It is celebrated as Mardi Gras in places influenced by French culture, like the bawdy celebrations down in New Orleans. But in Hawaii, it has another name: Malasada Day.
After passing on the tonkotsu ramen at the Yokohama Ramen Museum on our first day in Japan, we never got around to having ramen again until the last day in Japan. Could you blame us? We were caught up with delicious plates at Za-Watami Izakaya in Shonandai, a classy meal at Maimon in Yokohama, and an exquisite kaiseki dinner at Maru in Aoyama. We almost ran out of time!
Tonkotsu Ramen at Hakatakko Ramen Shop, Machida
Our last full day in Japan was the one I most looked forward to because I got to spend the whole day with my friend Yuko, someone who I knew from my school days in Hawaii. I had told Yuko I was coming and even though she was working in Korea, she happened to be back in Japan at just the right time. So we arranged to meet up on Friday.
We eat fugu (pufferfish / blowfish) sushi in Japan and live to tell about it.
Ever since we first started talking about this Japan trip, we wanted to go see the Tsukiji Fish Market, the largest fish market in the world. We love good sushi, and it can’t get any better than eating it right at Tsukiji. Annie actually did go and have sushi at Tsukiji one day, but I was at work and couldn’t join her. So we made plans to go to Tsukiji at night after work.
Unfortunately, the plans fell through and we ended up having an awesome kaiseki dinner in Aoyama that night instead. In the meantime, our friend Akiko, who had guided us to a great meal at Za-Watani Izakaya, suggested that we not go to Tsukiji at night. She recommended going to a restaurant closer to us and put our money into sushi rather than train tickets. Brilliant!
She even found us a sushi restaurant that advertised their fish as being from Tsukiji Market: Asahisushi, located on the 9th floor of the Odakyu Department Store, right above Machida Station. Annie was spending the day in Tokyo with her good friend Yuko, so we decided to meet at Machida Station after work and then go up for dinner.
We find an oasis of delicious calm in the middle of the madness of Shibuya, the heart of Tokyo.
Shibuya Scramble Crossing
Annie had gone to spend the day in Tokyo, and the plan was for me to meet her there after work for dinner. Our plan changed, but we were fortunate that my colleague also had dinner plans with his wife in Tokyo that night, and extended the invitation to us to join him. We took the train up to Shibuya Station, where we met up with our respective wives.
My colleague had a friend, now living in Tokyo with his Japanese wife, who brought us via short taxi ride to Rakushokushu Maru Restaurant in nearby Aoyama. The restaurant’s small storefront is about a block down a narrow street from the main Aoyama Dori thoroughfare. The restaurant itself is actually midway down a steep flight of stairs (watch your step!). But once you find the landing and enter the dining area, you completely forget about the harsh concrete jungle above.