12 May 2014

Tokyo A-fish-onada

I wanted to have a proper 10k run again this morning and by the time I was back, changed and caffeinated (thank you, V60!) it was almost 10.30. Before my trip, I was dead set on queuing up at the Tsukiji fish market at 5 am to try to get a place to watch the daily fish auction, but I think the early start is better suited to people with jetlag. You can, however, go down to the wholesalers' market between 9 and 11 am (or 11.15, in my case) to watch the hard-won fish being prepared. Although you would probably see more action earlier on, going late didn't work out too badly. It was less busy, for one thing, and I still enjoyed the experience.

Afterwards, I bought a wagashi (Japanese sweet) and after determining that the leaf it was served in was probably not edible, I took a big bite. Inside was a sweet red bean paste, but the outside was not what I expected — a sort of chewier, beanier version of a panna cotta, I suppose. It tasted OK, but I probably wouldn't rush to eat lots more.

By then, I was in need of some more coffee and headed for Café de l'Ambre, a small, old-fashioned coffee shop tucked away on a quiet side street a few blocks south of Ginza station. They have a huge selection of coffees, all freshly roasted and dripped by hand. I ordered a Brazilian variety, which was strong and rich — surprisingly short too, even for me. I was happy, but latte lovers may wish to obtain their caffeination elsewhere. A couple blocks west, I spotted a place called Toribio Roastery, which also looked like a good bet for drip-coffee drinkers.

For lunch, I decided that it was ramen o'clock and went into a place near the cafe where you buy a ticket for your food using a vending machine and then pick it up at the counter. I went for a bowl of soba noodles with prawn tempura, which cost a whole ¥470 (under £3) — about half the price of my coffee. I did a little bit of shopping in Ginza — mainly window shopping — including visits to the epic department store, Mitsukoshi, which has an amazing food hall in the basement, and a lovely little stationery shop opposite Toribio called Gekkoso, which has a selection of beautiful cards and paper.

 I had a few hours to spare before I had to be back at the hotel, so I took the metro over to Meguro for a stroll down the canal. The guidebook gave the impression that there were lots of shops and cafés alongside the canal, but hardly anything was there. Maybe it opens up more in the evening. The canal is also supposed to be stunning during the cherry blossom season. It probably didn't help that the sunshine finally vanished, leaving the city cloudy and very windy. There are also a few nice design and interiors shops on Meguro-dōri — if you're walking south down the canal, turn right. Acme was my favourite, leaving me wishing I had a bigger suitcase.

I'm out for dinner tonight with some family friends, but in the meantime, here's the view from my hotel by night:

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