During the holidays, we took a two week trip to Tokyo, Japan, where chef Chizuru was born and raised. For those who have never been to Tokyo, we wanted to share memories from our trip, giving you an idea of what the city is like as seen by a Japanese native.
In Los Angeles, Ramen is incredibly popular right now. The lines are ridiculous whenever there is a Ramen festival, where countless restaurants offer their specialized take on this classic Japanese noodle soup. However, if you think the Ramen wars in LA are heated, you need to fly to Japan and try the tsukemen (a ramen you eat by manually dipping into the broth beforehand) from places like Aoba in Okachimachi, Mita Seimenjo in Akihabara, or Rokurinsha in Tokyo Station. If getting over there isn’t in your foreseeable future , don’t worry. There are a few shops here in L.A. such as Tsujita on Sawtelle and Tatsunoya in Pasadena that bring the rich flavors of expertly crafted Tsukemen and Ramen just short of your doorstep.
Just as there are many different types of ramen (Shoyu, Shio, Miso, Tonkotsu, etc.), there are also many different types of curry. Jimbocho, a neighborhood in Tokyo, has many specialty curry shops such as Gavial, Persona, and Bondy. Oufu-style is one of our favorites, and the curry at Bondy is delicious, but it’s hidden in the back of a book store, so good luck finding it. Our top choice for curry is Petit Feu a la Champagne in Hanzomon. If you can’t make it to Japan any time soon, be sure to try our Oufu-style curry. It’s one of our specialties and the closest you’ll get to trying genuine Japanese comfort food this side of the Pacific.
During our trip, we had the honor of staying with our friend Yutaka Kosaka, in the city Kisai Machi, just north of Tokyo. Not only is Yutaka-san the former mayor of the city, he also holds events that people come to see, such as this ladder performance called Hashigo Nobori. His house was custom-built to look like a temple and in it, he makes his own food from scratch, growing vegetables in his garden and rolling and cutting his own noodles. He’s been making his own soba and udon noodles for over 35 years! Though he treats it like a hobby, he’s a very experienced professional who has his own Soba Dojo. We were lucky enough to have him give chef Chizuru personal lessons in the art of soba making.
Throughout the rest of our trip, we managed to capture unique details of our adventures. In Akihabara, we saw a giant Patlabor mech being hauled down the street, a fancy video Lupin pachinko machine, and the famous Radio Kaikan building, home to popular anime shops such as Anime Jungle. At Zauo in Shinjuku, we were able to catch a fish and have it freshly prepared (the cost of the meal is discounted if you are able to catch the fish yourself). If you have just returned from Japan or are planning a trip there soon, e-mail us or come talk to us in person. We’d love to share stories of our experiences with you! Also, follow us on Instagram “okamotokitchen” for more pictures and details from our trip!