The next day, still waking up too early, we started off to the Tsukiji Fish Market. We’d read about the 3am visit where you can watch the Tuna auction, but it sounded logistically far too difficult (and many agreed it was hardly worth the effort). Instead, we opted for breakfast (of sashimi, of course!) followed by a more reasonable tour of the market as the vendors were winding down. It was impressive. But we also got the sense that tourists were more or less in the way. The food portion of the market though is incredible and you could spend hours wandering and eating.
And perhaps we would have had we not made plans for sushi omakase in Ginza (aka the Upper East Side of Manhattan, to keep on theme). One downside to Airbnb is that in order to make a reservation at most sushi places (the high end ones) you have to book months in advance in Japanese. We planned this trip maybe 6 weeks out, and didn’t have a concierge anyway. But, luckily there are a few places that offer up seats on a waiting basis for lunch. So we decided to do that. Perfect for those of us who can’t be bothered to plan that far in advance. Or you know, if you don’t even know your going to a destination until pretty close to. And it was so good! Some of the best sushi we’ve had. Although, we’ve also had top notch sushi in LA, where the fish comes from the same source. My favorite was the uni, I have never tasted uni like this. And perhaps, may not again. It was milder, sweeter and smoother than anything I’ve had stateside. I wanted to order more. But it was a good thing I didn’t, we both left throughly full.
A walk was in order. We headed to nearby Cafe de l’Ambre for some post sushi coffee. This is an old school joint, serving up well crafted espresso based drinks unlike anything we’ve had elsewhere. The shop itself is unassuming, and stepping in it was a surprising vibe. Past the glass room filled with roasting machines was a small lounge, more fitting for a 1920’s speakeasy than coffee shop, complete with allowing patrons to smoke as they sipped their espressos. They did have a few espresso based alcoholic drinks, but we opted for a more classic approach. Alex got the tiniest pure espresso. It was absurdly expensive given it’s size. It was also incredibly delicious. I on the other hand went for a cold espresso, served in a coupe glass with a cream float. I cannot begin to explain how delicious this was. The cream sits on top of the cold espresso, and as you sip, they both mix in your mouth for this creamy, cold hit of pure deliciousness. I wanted several more, but settled for just the one.
We were beginning to fade, in need of afternoon siesta, but first we walked to the Imperial Palace. We couldn’t see the gardens unfortunately, because they were closing for some sort of event. To be honest though, we were so tired it was a bit of a relief. After a nap, we went out for a low-key dinner of curry and promptly retired.
Our last half day in Tokyo we went to Brooklyn (or, Daikanyama). This was easily my favorite neighborhood in Japan. And not surprisingly, it turns out, this is where a lot of expats live. It’s condensed, easily walkable has great shops, food, and just a more relaxed feel than most of Tokyo. We started out with a breakfast of apple pie and pancakes, at Matsunosuke, a French inspired cafe. I do not understand the popularity of pancakes in Tokyo, but they are everywhere and held in high esteem. French cafes and pastry shops were also extremely common. So, while not distinctly Japanese, both are a very prominent current culinary cultural interest. After breakfast we walked the streets, wandering past the many adorable shops. We considered buying indigo at Okura, but didn’t (we’re both terrible at shopping on trips). We also considered some beautiful linens, but couldn’t justify the prices. We’ve gotten so used to not buying souvenirs, it’s a hard habit to break, now that we don’t travel very much and could actually bring home a couple of things. We also stopped at Spring Valley Brewery to sample beers, and may have also indulged in the aforementioned Portland based doughnut shop (it was, after all next door). We also found it sightly amusing that the guest tap takeover the next week was Brooklyn Brewery.
To end the morning we went for a Soba lunch at Kaoriya nearby. It was one of our favorite food experiences. We’ve never eaten at a soba restaurant, but luckily this one had an english menu and we were able to figure out how to eat everything by observation. We opted for soba and tempura. It was all incredible, and a perfect last meal in Tokyo.
Next, we hopped on the subway and headed south.