Japan’s an awesome place for pottering around.
In particular I like Ueno, filled with small streets and alleys selling knick knacks, food, and random stuff. Unlike China, the shopkeepers don’t yell out or hassle you as you walk past, so it’s all rather peaceful and chill, despite being a bustling marketplace. It’s easy to get lost, in the seemingly random zigzag of paths, but that all adds to the fun of poking around.
I was especially fascinated with their street food, which is EVERYWHERE. From metal trolleys cooking up a storm, to little shop fronts dedicated to serving just 1 dish (eg. takoyaki), it’s not possible to leave Ueno with a full belly ;)
The streets of Ueno
Lots of goodies for sale
At the Takoyaki stall
Freezing my ass off :P
Poking around the streets
Dinner was, again, randomly decided on. It was a little hole in the wall Yakitori restaurant right in the middle of the lane! People were bustling past but little (and I do mean little!) chairs and tables were placed along the lane where customers could sit and eat. Yakitori is basically skewered meat or vegetables, cooked over a hot grill. Very simple, but oh so satisfying.
We huddled on these little wooden chairs around a squat little wooden table, all set out on the uneven cobblestone footpath. The menu was, thankfully, in English.. but the waitress was totally strange! A sweet lil old Japanese lady, she seemed to NOT want to let us order a lot. So we’d point to perhaps 2 dishes, then she’d nod and smile and hurridely scurry off before we could order any more. We were starving and wanting to order 10 dishes for the table, but she kept dashing off after we’d ordered 1 or 2. Tres weird :P We figured that perhaps Yakitori is meant to be eaten whilst chilling out with a drink.. and so people just order a little bit at a time so they can stay there for ages. It was nice that she wasn’t hassling us to eat quickly and leave (considering the place was packed out), but the first time we experienced the strange ordering system of “just order a little bit each time”.
The food was all very impressive. Freshly cooked on the grill, and it’s not hard to see why they are THE most popular yakitori place in the Ueno area. The sticks had an impressive amount of meat jammed on it, and we especially loved the chicken yakitori, which boasted fleshy tender chunks of chicken and basted in delicious sauces before grilling.
Only downside? It’s expensive! The little sticks really add up. And let’s face it, you need a LOT to fill you. So it turns out to be a lot more expensive than expected, especially considering it’s not a fancy restaurant. Still, it’s a great experience huddling out on the street and chowing down on yakitori and Japanese sake, so it was worth it for us :)
A squashy, cramped Yakitori stall.. right in the lane
Dad and Mum perusing the menu
Huddled at our table in the middle of the lane
Sake, and green tea
Homemade tofu in… liquid fat broth. Whoa!
Edamame and potato salad (so good)
Miso garlic chicken – that sauce was divine!
Grilled mushrooms – a bit too salty/flavourful
Soy chicken – delicious. Loved how meaty each stick was
Warming ourselves up
Dinner part 2!
Cooking it up in front of us
Aiiieeee I was freezing!
Egg omelette rolls – plain, and stuffed with ingredients
Digging in :)~