Our last stop on this trip was Tokyo, where we spent two quick nights before flying home. This was our 2nd time in Tokyo so we didn’t do any sightseeing and just concentrated on eating and shopping! We flew from Sapporo to Tokyo Haneda (the airport much closer to Tokyo center) and took an Uber/taxi to the hotel, Hotel Indigo Tokyo Shibuya. The airport to the hotel was 30+ minute drive so the cost was much higher like $60 shared with 4 people not so bad to save time. This hotel was brand new and cost less than 50k in IHG points, a great location near Shibuya Station, and across from the Don Quijote, the biggest discount store in Japan that opens 24 hours!
We got to the hotel early in the morning so our rooms were not ready, we stored our luggage and took a taxi to Shinjuku where our friends wanted to do some shopping. The taxi to Shinjuku was around $30, it was a around 20-minute ride. Tokyo is much bigger and spread out, unlike Sapporo, so all our taxi rides were a lot more expensive. We split up so some of our friends (their first time in Tokyo) went sightseeing, some continued to shop, and 5 of us went to lunch at Itamae Sushi Ginza. This small sushi restaurant was “cozy”, 5 of us squeezed into one table. I ordered a set lunch which came with a salad. I like their sauce!
The yummy miso soup with a shrimp head.
I ordered a sushi combo (the bottom tray below) and ate the ones that looked semi-cooked; I don’t like raw fish! Jason and them ordered the rest.
As I am not a raw sushi/fish person, Jason and they said those were great! The cost was $158.48. After lunch, Jason and I took a taxi to the central post office to check out their stamps. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the Doraemon or Pokemon ones. We went back to Ginza to rejoin our group and taxi back to the hotel.
Our rooms were ready by the time we got back, we were on the 23rd and 24th floor. Our room was chic, modern, and spacious (much bigger than an average room in Tokyo).
Small minibar counter:
We got a room with two double beds, they were comfy!
The view….I am afraid of heights ahhhhh!
We all love their smart Japanese toilet, it flushes and closes the cover automatically!
The shower room has a stand-up shower and bathtub, the first time I saw a setup like this.
After we settled down, we walked across the street to Don Quijote to do some shopping, they have everything from food to household goods to cosmetics, a one-stop shop to get things to bring home! The megastore has 7 levels, we literally can spent hours in that store alone hunting for goodies! For dinner, we went to a branch of Ginza Steak, 10 minutes walk from our hotel. It was hidden inside one of those buildings on the 2nd floor of a hotel.
The room fits 16 or so, our group booked the least expensive all-you-can-eat Waygu beef course menu (still around $100 per person) as Laili and them went to that restaurant on their previous trip and they couldn’t finish all the food. The course menu:
The first few courses were like appetizers and only the teppanyaki of the Wagyu beef was all-you-can-eat (re-order as much as you want up to the 1.5-hour time slot). He did all the grilling and showed us the 3 parts/cuts that we can re-order as much as we like.
You can already tell the beef was top quality by looking at the “marble” pattern, the combo of lean versus fat.
Time to eat eat eat!
I ate the beef, it was tasty and left he salmon to Jason.
The pumpkin soup was okay, nothing special.
The grilled fish filet was good but the lotus root was too hard to eat.
He started to prepare the beef…
This special dish of beef melted in your mouth, yum! I haven’t had Wagyu beef for years and missed the rich flavor and tenderness of the beef. This dish is not re-fillable.
The sauces, which I found not necessary as the seasoning they put on the beef already sufficient.
Next, he started the all-you-can-eat by grilling each cut of the beef one by one for us to try all 3 and then we can refill (but you can’t choose which cut to re-order, that’s the catch!). Oh heavenly……Wagyu beef was so good, the bursting of flavors and oils on each bite!
I am a big meat-eater (especially beef, my favorite type of meat) and I thought I shouldn’t have a problem eating at least 3 of those steaks. Wrong! By the time I got to the 3rd cut of steak, it became too fatty and heavy as I had been eating steak along with this small bowl of garlic rice with no vegetables.
My 3rd steak….I ended up just finishing them and that was enough. The last one was way too fatty for my liking.
If they provided salad or vegetables to wrap (like eating Korean BBQ), I could’ve eaten more. I guess that was their business strategy 😉
The last dessert course, the ice cream was really refreshing after all those meat and oil!
Was it a good value for $100 per person? Absolutely! Each Wagyu beef steak alone is worth more than $50 so as long as you can finish all the 3 steaks, you are making your money’s worth 😀
After dinner, we had to burn all those fats, we took a taxi to a place known for its clawing machines, anime, and arcades (I don’t even know which part of Tokyo since I was following the youngsters).
A row of capsule toys vending machines lined up along this street, it was unbelievable on how much Japanese are into those things! I got caught in capsule toys on this trip LOL! I was looking for Doraemon and Sanrio figures!
A friend on Facebook suggested that I should try my luck to get a Pochacco (my favorite Sanrio character and sadly it’s not as popular as during my childhood so it is harder to get Pochacco goods) since I was quite lucky on getting Pikachu on the first try. I found a Sanrio machine and I got the Pochacco on my 2nd try!!! I was determined to get the full collection so I ended up spending more coins LOL….apparently, there is a Sanrio machine right outside Don Quijote! I got all but Keroppi! For some of the vending machines, you can peek inside to see what’s 2nd in line so you can risk the investment to try.
The next morning, Jason and I went to the Disney store in Shinjuku since Laili and Tim wanted to go back there to shop. Guess what, there are capsule toys vending machines inside the Disney store with Disney toys!!! OMG, Rapunzel, my daughter’s favorite. Luck has it, Jason got it the first try wohooo!!!
How about her 2nd favorite – Cinderella? We got it on the 2nd try, success!!!
That was our fun and then we joined with Laili and Tim to Tsukiji Outer Market. I guess that was our “sightseeing”. We missed the infamous fish market the last trip since we didn’t have enough time. It was packed with tourists at around 11 AM:
It was interesting to check out each stand and its offerings…not only seafood, you can get Wagyu beef here too!
You can’t go wrong with a stand that has a long line of people waiting!
This lady was making a huge shrimp chip with an actual jumbo shrimp in it. She pressed the shrimp down to make it flat with this tool:
15 minutes or so of waiting, I got my shrimp cracker! It was 600 Yen. It was shrimp-tasty! However, I didn’t really like the shrimp in this case, it was hard from the shell, I preferred the rest of the cracker without the shrimp.
We went to the next stand where we ordered grilled eels (Jason said okay, not great).
He ordered me this huge shrimp that was the size of my hand! It was okay, tasted like other shrimps. It wasn’t as good as the shrimps I had in Europe though.
The grilled scallops was great, full mouth of the scallop meat yum!
They also ordered oysters…I am not a fan of oysters so I passed on that.
Moving onto the next stand….rice on tofu filled with crab meats!
Look at the size of that and how much crab meat on top!
After the “snacks”, we went for sweets. This stand selling strawberry mochi also sells their homemade dried squid and claims “the best dried squid in Japan!”. They even have a big bowl of it for you to try as you are standing in line for the mochi. It was good but expensive so we didn’t get any.
Strawberry on different flavors of mochi…I picked strawberry and custard.
Also, a slice of the Hokkaido melon (a little bit more expensive than the slide I had in Hokkaido but much more affordable than our first time in Japan). The mochi was good but not impressive. The melon, I will never get tired of that sweet and juicy melon!
LOL look they even have a vending machine…..how fresh are those??
Of course, we weren’t full LOL, Jason in the line for tuna sushi!
He said it was good and good value!
Dried scallop :O They have so many choices in different quality and sizes!
More raw fish…
After Tsukiji Outer Market, we took the train back to Shibuya and were on the hunt for Doraemon and Pikachu stamps! Jason Googled a few places near our hotel where they sell collectible stamps. We went to a few places, one is a bookstore but no stamps there! Guess what, more shopping in Don Quijote LOL!
For dinner, we went to Gyukatsu Motomura. They have two branches in Shibuya and we went to the smaller one and luckily, the line wasn’t that long there. However, we were told that there are only 7 seats so even with a small line, it could be a long wait. The waiter recommended to check out the other bigger branch. While Laili and Tim were in line, we walked over to the other branch that is 15 minutes away and the line there was extremely long!!! We walked back and waited….over an hour…it was finally our turn.
The menu choices were 1 steak, 1.5 steaks, or 2 steaks. I ordered the 1.5 while Jason ordered the 2 steaks portion. It came with the appetizers and dessert. We grilled the semi-fried steak on that hot stone, it was fun!
The beef was crunchy outside, tender inside, and the seasoning was just right. The waiter helped us to take a group photo of us. The rest of the group was flying out that night while we were flying out the next night due to award availability; only 4 business class seats per flight. We did enjoy the extra day in Tokyo!
After dinner, I was on a mission to get the last remaining character – Keroppi! We checked out stores and stores with capsule toy vending machines near our hotel, there were tons of them!
And got the remaining character, and my collection was completed! That was my birthday present to myself 😀
The next morning, we checked out the Disney Store in Shibuya, last minute remaining souvenirs at Don Quijote, I told you, we went there every day LOL! Jason and I went back to that bookstore, we realized the stamp place was on the 3rd floor so we had to check it out the last time. We went up to the 3rd floor in this old and small elevator and felt like we were in an industrial building. When the elevator doors opened up, it was this warehouse-looking place run by this cute old man. He only work in the mornings and only a few times a week; I guess that is his after-retirement hobby? He doesn’t speak any English so we showed him pictures of Doraemon and Pikechu. He went digging in his draws and draws of binders and pulled out one that had all the cartoon characters. He flipped to the page with Hello Kitty stamps and a sheet of Doraemon. Yay! Just by chance, I took a Hello Kitty sheet out, I thought that was cute and hidden beneath the Hello Kitty sheets was the Doraemon and Pikachu sheet!!! We didn’t even look at the price tag lol, those weren’t bad, the markups were like 50% to 100% more than the face value of the stamps. I didn’t even bother to bargain to save a dollar or two, they were less than $7 each and the old man was just so cute!
Another mission accomplished! Our flight was at 6 PM so we had time to have a final lunch before heading to the airport – an hour away by train from Shibuya to Narita (once again, I don’t get why they built airports so far away!). Our last lunch? At Ichiran of course! Can’t miss a $7 bowl of delicious and filling ramen! We did the “light” broth configurations and it was perfect!!!!
After the quick lunch, we checked out by noon as the hotel was fully booked so they couldn’t extend our late checkout beyond noon time. We took the Narita Express train from Shibuya Station to Narita Airport, check-in was fast since we were in business class, made it through security, and did more souvenir shopping for treats like the LeTao chocolate and tea cookies (that was my new favorite) and Tokyo bananas. Those were the treats that Don Quijote did not have!
After spending more than a hundred dollars on treats (yes, can you believe it?), we walked over to Japan Airlines’ Sakura Business Lounge. They have a dining room upstairs, you can’t take food back down to the lounge! Those were the hot food items:
I ordered their famous JAL original beef curry (small) and it was a disappointment. First, I only got 3 tiny pieces of beef and the rest were sauce. Second, the sauce was too salty and did not have much “curry” taste. The tiramisu, on the other hand, was very good, they used mascarpone cheese!
The fried fish was not good, too much batter!
I didn’t stuff myself in the lounge since I needed to save room for the food inflight! The seats were similar to the flight from Jakarta to Tokyo. I like it more than the angled seats in Cathay Pacific’s business class.
The amenity “bag” was better, higher quality than that pull-string bag.
Time to head home!
Green tea with nuts and olives:
I chose the Japanese menu; Japan Airlines’ presentation was high standards. It was nice to try out different flavors/food that I never had but overall, I only like the crab meat dish (bottom middle one).
The main was the beef and salmon, after the Wagyu beef, the other beef was not the same 🙁
On the other hand, my favorite was their dessert, that milk tea tart-flavored Haagen-Dazs ice cream was super good. Why don’t they sell this flavor???
I slept for a good 6 hours or so and we were not even half way home. I ordered more food to try it out….the chicken curry was similar to their beef curry in the lounge (I should’ve know better) sigh.
Jason ordered the noodle soup, I thought it tasted a little bit salty for me.
I got more sleep and watched a few movies. Before landing, the flight attendant gave me this birthday card, so thoughtful of them! Spending my birthday in flight in business flight was a special treat 😀
Overall, Japan Airlines’ seats were more comfortable and their food in better presentation than Cathay Pacific’s business class. Food-wise, Cathay Pacific’s was better. Their Hong Kong-style milk tea was so addicting and their laksa and chocolate mousse were so good.