As of late, I spend most of my time in Bangkok but I’m back in Tokyo for a quick trip and… it SNOWED.
The snow in Tokyo is exactly like this country: Soft, unobtrusive, calm, peaceful, beautiful. The tidying process is pretty efficient so there are barely inconveniences caused. At least in the areas I navigate (Ebisu, Aoyama, Shibuya, Roppongi) so it’s not a massive pain to get around and panic doesn’t break out like it did when I lived in NYC.
I'm asked all the time why things in Japan just seem 'better' (and I use this the term better lightly), this basically sums up Japan.
Adversity to change, is the reason a lot of our traditions are still intact. And lots of inefficiency and careful double, triple, even quadruple checks for the most mundane things makes for perfection. Good, bad, or indifferent, to live here everyday is pretty annoying (or mendoukusai as we say in Japanese) but the trade-off is this unmatched attention to detail that makes a lot of things in this country incredible.
Well, it’s not technically ‘fast food’ but more diner food, there is a genre of chain restaurants called ‘fami-resu’, short for family restaurants. Like a Denny’s.
Anyway, there is a chain Royal Host and I’ve heard from locals Royal Host is super yummy but they aren’t really located in areas I spend time. The other day I went to my very first Royal Host and suffice to say, it exceeded expectations and blew my mind.
Look at my lunch!!!!!
This was chicken with a soy (sauce) butter sauce topped with a creamy, melty, egg, served with french fries and rice and soup or salad, all for around $7USD.
Not only was it delicious, the cost performance was 100000000%. Aside from lunch deals, there are tons of other dishes ranging from Japanese (rice bowls, udon, Japanese curry) to Western (clubhouse sandwiches and all day breakfasts). Everything looks so tasty I want to eat through the menu. I wish there was a Royal Host near my house, I would seriously eat here everyday.
No one really talks about fami-resus because it’s not fancy but they are underrated imo. Definitely recommended for second or third time visitors to Japan.
Troll the menu here → click this
Denny’s and Jonathan’s are also highly recommended!
“Salt. Fat. Acid. Gyoza is my favorite flavor profile and probably the reason I eat shameful amounts A whooooole mess of latergrams of all the glorious gyoza in my Camera Roll. Some may or may not be taken at inappropriate hours 餃子どんだけ好きやねん。この半年食べた量と種類、、、かなりヤバイw”
I really do eat too much gyoza. So much, I wrote 1,600ish words on gyoza in Tokyo. Do read if you’re interested. The piece is on Eater here.
Last summer, I traveled Fukuoka, Osaka, and Kyoto and during the Osaka leg, a girlfriend I’ve known for decades took us out in her hometown. We walk into this random building in the Umeda district of Osaka, head up to the 12th floor (?) or somewhere super high. Anyway, I would’ve never known about this spot unless she told me about it.
Turns out, this chicken place is a really famous.
Ikkaku, originating from the Shikoku region (wayyyyy down South of Japan) had an outpost in Osaka and because the population is higher in Osaka, Ikkaku became an Osaka staple. The style of chicken in Shikoku is a garlicky, peppery chicken with a kick but it’s not heavy at all and there is a huge cult following of this prep.
Adam (the guy I was traveling with and a super talented chef — he’s opening a spot in SF but more on that when he opens) and I were blown away and we instantly fell in love with the chicken. I thought I’d have to go alllllll the way back down to Osaka or even visit Shikoku but it turns out, there is an outpost in Yokohama!!! (About 30 minutes away from Shibuya.) The other day I of course traveled and it was every bit as delicious as I remember.
If you’re coming to Tokyo and not planning a trip to Osaka, Ikkaku is definitely worth the trip to Yokohama. Plus, the Chinatown in Yokohama is pretty legit and has super tasty foods!
Seriously. A Japan must.
Ikkaku Yokohama (the one closest to Tokyo) Drop this into Google Maps↓
〒220-0005 Kanagawa Prefecture, Yokohama, 西区南幸２丁目１５−１
Look for: TINOビル６F — and it’s on the 6th floor 045-317-1708
Go super early to avoid the long lines or make reservations (Japanese is required)
What to order: oyadori (dark meat) and hinadori (white meat) ONLY then go to other places to fill up. The chicken is the only good thing there, tbh.
“Maybe the character for oishī (delicious) is beautiful「美しい」 and taste「味」because in the Japanese culture, we express appreciation for food in two parts: we note the presentation when something is first served, the taste, once we consume.” Gen-san and I wondered. “Makes perfect sense as utsukushī「美しい」is used when describing art and aesthetically pleasing things, followed by aji「味」flavors.” We both then nodded in agreement, satisfied by our conclusions of the etymology. Turns out that is not the case but it was surely fun to discuss. Always, always learn something new with each Gen-san visit and the reason his 8 seater bar is my favorite place in Tokyo.
Bar Gen Yamamoto
Drop this into Google Maps↓
*reservations are required
firstname.lastname@example.org // 03-6434-0652
Pelican bread is a Tokyo must-eat and no other spot serves the beloved local treasure better than Cafe de Rope. Every bite has a crunch then a slightly sweet, airy softness, before a delightful vibrance from the creamy, salted butter laces your mouth. Don’t stop to ponder how a stupid piece of toasted bread can make your sensations go haywire because you will never figure it out. The rule here, is to do as Trevor Moran says: “Hurry up and fucking eat it before it gets cold.”
Cafe de Rope
Drop this in Google Maps↓
東京都中央区銀座5-3-1 ソニービル B3F