Last week Ryan and I went to Tokyo for a little vacation with some big plans. Although we couldn't get away to the States, we were happy with some vacation time in Tokyo. I mean really, who doesn't want a vacation in Tokyo! Plus, it is easy to get to via high speed train, and only takes 4 hours before you are in the bustling mega city that is Tokyo.
So we boarded the Shinkansen, AKA bullet train, and made our way to Tokyo.
Many people that are military living here in Japan like to stay at the New Sanno hotel, which is a military run hotel and you can only stay there if you are military or a government employee (US that is!). The benefit is that it is a familiar (American) feel and it is cheap compared to many other places. However, both Ryan and I agree, this is not the right place for us because we are looking for more of a local feel to our vacation and we are trying to get away from being around all Americans. I can't say for sure if that is how it will feel to stay at the New Sanno because we have never stayed there, but that is how we think it will seem and it just isn't our thing. I am sure at one point in time we will give it a try and see what all the fuss is about, but in the mean time, we have gone to Tokyo twice and stayed in decent hotels ranging from $100-$125 a night, which does not seem overly expensive to me.
This time around we stayed at Hotel Monterey La Soeur, which happened to be very reasonable priced given it is in the most expensive neighborhood (Ginza) in Tokyo. The rooms were very small, but we expected that, and this is why I have no picture of the room. I seriously could not take one from inside the room and show what it really looked like. But, we were comfortable and had enough space. We were out of the room most of the time so it was no big deal.
Like I said, it was only about 4 hours to get to Tokyo, so we were there by noon, and ready to head to lunch after put our stuff down in the room. We headed out on foot and just walked around the block. Within minutes we stumbled upon Kypher. Ryan and I are huge Indian food fans, so we thought we would give this a try. The menu looked good, and when we walked inside we saw that the place was packed for lunch, which is always a good sign.
To start we had their papad, which is pappadam basically. At our base they use the words interchangeably, but here it seems this was pappadam topped with a salsa of sorts. Pappadam is a lentil cracker that you can find in most Indian restaurants.
We tried out some cheesy naan.
Then we split to vegetarian entrees, which ended up being plenty of food. In fact, it was probably too much, but it was so good and we always like to get a chance to try a few different things, even if we end up not finishing everything.
The second dish was vegetables and paneer (Indian cheese).
Of course we also ordered rice to go with this. I was happy to see that it was basmati. At the Indian restaurants by us it is always the regular Japanese white rice.
After lunch we walked around the area to familiarize ourselves with our new surroundings. Only in Japan can you find a crowd gathered for something like this.
Yes, that is a mother cat with some kittens, and I have no idea why they were on display, but they were. People gathered around and were taking pictures and videos. This is seriously in the middle of the street, which happened to be closed to traffic for the day because of a holiday.
I couldn't resist taking a picture of this. Check out how they have labeled the sweet-n-low type product:
After a short nap we were ready to explore more. Boy am I glad we went out exploring. We stumbled into a narrow street lined with restaurants and bars called Ginza Corridor. The neighborhood we are staying in is called Ginza, so this happens to be right near there and is basically like what we would call "restaurant row".
I do want to mention that Tokyo has an insane number of places to eat. In fact, Tokyo has the most restaurants, or at least I have seen a number of articles where Tokyo is listed first, and in an article (from Food and Wine Magazine) I found from 2006, at that time it was ranked #1 for most exciting city for restaurants. The reason why Tokyo can have so many is that the restaurants go up. What do I mean? I mean you can have a building with 8 floors, and all 8 are restaurants. They actually build them up, so one major city building can be topped with apartments and offices, but contain 20-30 restaurants on the first few floors and even underground. It can actually make deciding on a place to eat a very, very difficult task. The best advice if you are ever in Tokyo is to not be shy. Pick a picture from a building wall, get in an elevator and just walk right in. If it looks good in the pictures (there are always pictures!) there is a good chance it will taste good because it already appealed to you visually. Of course, if you are indecisive, you may be in for a long night! If you like food, Tokyo should be on your list of places you want to visit. They variety is unreal!
So on this night, after spending a lot of time, probably too much time, looking at every place on the street, we decided to try out Bangkok Kitchen. We are also big fans of Thai food, that is of course when the Thai is done right. We have found some US establishments to be questionable in quality, but time and time again Japan proves it can do Thai food right. Bangkok Kitchen proved this to be true once again.
I kicked my vacation off right with a fruity blue drink complete with a flower. Yum!
To start we had some veggie egg rolls with avocado.
Ryan had Thai basil chicken with an egg and rice.
I had shrimp pad Thai (I know, I know, I always order the pad Thai, I can't help it!).
Stuffed and ready to get some sleep, we headed back to the room, crawled into bed, and made sure we were well rested because the next day we were headed to Tokyo Disneyland!
QUESTIONS: What is your favorite nearby (5 hour or less) vacation spot? What is your favorite city for food?