Having taken the red eye from Heathrow, we landed at 7:30 local time, which meant that we had quite a trial ahead of us. We took the monorail and subway, the former terrifying Tutti as it tilted around the bends. One line on the subway from Hamamatsuchō to Tochomae and we were there. As we pulled our cases longingly past the Hyatt Park Regency in 3º sleet, the long journey was telling on us.
We hit the hay for a few hours (less than our bodies were telling us they needed) and took an evening constitutional of the outskirts of Shinjuku taking in some Ramen and the local 7/11.
The ramen were stunning. Ippudu is a basement cafe with canteen tables and only three types of bowls on the menu – Shiromaru Classic which Tutti and me went for and Akamaru Modern which N had. The Shiromaru was a Tonkotsu dish, which translates as “pork bone”. The stock was pale, comforting and creamy but things got spicier as you reached the bottom of the bowl. The added kick from the kimchee style beansprouts and ginger really ticking the taste buds. Chuck five pork gyoza and drinks and it was less than £25. Who says Tokyo is expensive?
Well it is if you stick to the hotels. We had a round of teas and water when we arrived and ended up dropping the same money as the noodle soup. Having passed on joining Tokyo’s ladies that lunch for a buffet, we hit the basement convenience store for a couple of tubs of salad. A fraction of the price and we didn’t eat them in a smoky anteroom of the hotel lobby.
What else did we learn?
- Everyone we have encountered has been unstintingly helpful and has a decent crack at speaking English
- The toilets are a thing – a good thing. More on that to come
- The bird like greetings of “Konichiwa” as you enter a restaurant are just beautiful and lifts the spirits
- Teenagers find the vending machine, drink and sweetie options fascinating, especially raspberry flavoured kitkats