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Jan 11, 2011 02:50 AM

Tokyo Trip Recap (1/9-1/10)

So I was in Japan for the past 11 days (8 of them snowboarding up in Hakuba). Just got back home to Hong Kong. Since I had a vegetarian friend in tow I mainly stuck to eating noodles with my friend. She's just making ends meet in Tokyo so I didn't also want to break the bank and go someplace super pricey. Here's the places I went to:

1/9 - Sunday

Lunch (Butagumi) - Place was actually pretty empty when I got there with my college friend (not my vegetarian friend) at 12PM. I immediately ordered the Iberian Katsu and a Pellegrino. Made sure not to order the sampler since some people here said it's hard to cook 5 different cuts of meat better than just one. The Iberian katsu...delicious. The deep fried exterior was the lightest/crispiest I've ever eaten (definitely nothing like this in Hong Kong). The interior was super juicy with fantastic marbling. Considering I've yet to go to Maisen or anything similar I've got nothing to compare this to but it was a pretty damn fine piece of katsu. Service was wonderful

Tabelog link -

Dinner (Bassnova) - I went here mainly because I've read Keizo's goramen blog before and my vegetarian friend is a fan of Thai food. Was a little hesitant about fusion-style ramen but I loved their Thai green curry ramen. Great balance and flavor in the soup. Noodles were thicker than normal but it works for me. I particularly liked how they used more Chinese style BBQ pork (char siu) instead of the thinly sliced pork most other ramen places use. Since we got there early I got to chat with Keizo for quite some time. Super nice dude. Bassanova is a tiny bit out of the way in Shindaita (unless you want to check out the shops in Shimo-kitazawa) but I still think it is worth the trip.

Tabelog link -

1/10 - Monday

Lunch (Kururi) - Went here pretty late (about 2PM) so there were zero lines outside. Ordered their special miso ramen and was pretty surprised at the portion size (the amount of food was ridiculous). Overall a very good bowl of ramen. Soup was very flavorful and the noodles also had great texture. The BBQ pork was also very moist and tasty (I liked how they cut it thicker). The egg was nice and gooey inside (love it!). My only minor complaint is maybe the soup is a little too heavily seasoned since my mouth felt a little dry/thirst afterwards.

Tabelog link -

Dinner (Ita Soba) - My first choice was actually to go to Narutomi but due to the public holiday it was closed. I've randomly came across Ita Soba in Ebisu when I was in Tokyo last Feb so it made sense to go back since it is open daily until 4:30AM (crazy I know). Not as highly rated as Narutomi but still a very well regarded soba-ya. My main draw for coming here is to eat their "first trial" soba. It comes with 2 dipping sauces. I generally like dipping my soba in the tsuyu (black soy sauce based sauce) but I was quite digging the creamy sesame dipping sauce this time around. Delicious. I also quite like their tempura but the soba is the star. I also love the soba-yu (hot soba water) you mix with the sauce afterwards and drink. Wonderful on a chilly night.

Tabelog link -

Overall a great 2 days of eating. I'll be back in Tokyo in 6 weeks time (for about 3 days) for the Tokyo Marathon (running the 10K this year but will run the full marathon next year). Really want to try Sushi Muzutani and Narutomi. I'll also definitely will be going to Fu-unji ramen (ranked #8 in ramendb) in Shinjuku since my hotel (Century Southern Tower) is like 2 minutes away. Went there on Monday but it was closed due to the holiday. If you guys got some must-go places please let me know. I'm quite an avid food photographer so I've attached a few photos. Enjoy and thanks again for all the wonderful posts here on CH that helped my decision making on this trip.


Captions for the photos:

1) Butagumi's Iberian Katsu
2) Look at the marbling on that Iberian Katsu...
3) Bassanova's Thai Green Curry Ramen
4) Kururi's Special Miso Ramen
5) Tempura at Ita Soba
6) My favorite first-trial soba at Ita Soba

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Thanks for taking the time to post your recap Ken.

    IIRC "Ita soba" = soba served in a box (ita means "board"), and it is a prefix used by several other soba shops in Tokyo and elsewhere - the name of the shop in Ebisu is actually "(Itasoba) Kaori-ya". I go there about once every 1-2 months and I agree with your opinion completely. We've also seen minor TV personalities there from time to time, at least ones that my co-workers recognize.

    Also for those seeking soba, note this thread too:

    1 Reply
    1. re: kamiosaki

      Thanks for the clarification Kamiosaki. The place is quite different at night then when I went there for lunch about a year ago. During lunch you mainly see Japanese salarymen. At dinner it becomes more like an izakaya and everyone is smoking/drinking there.

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. Hi, thanks for the report. I will be in Hakuba this week. Any suggestions for food there or is it all standard stuff?

        1 Reply
        1. re: panaroma

          I don't really have any major suggestions since we cooked mainly in our lodge. We stayed right at the bottom of Hakuba Goryu and there are definitely less restaurants around here than say at Happo One. The ones people seem to suggest around us were Jankenpon (izakaya) or Pizzakaya (Italian pizza). Here's a good link:

          Wish I could give you more suggestions but we really didn't get a chance to eat out in Hakuba.