I am kicking off 2017 with a bang by traveling someplace I have never been before, Japan. I am in Tokyo as part of a global immersion experience with my MBA program at UBC.
I left Vancouver on Friday afternoon on a direct flight to Haneda and arrived at 6 pm Saturday evening. Before leaving the airport I bought a data only SIM card from Freetel so I’d be able to use my phone without relying on wi-fi (where to buy SIM cards at Haneda). My roommate and I then figured out how to buy train tickets and we lugged our suitcases on three different trains to make it to our apartment. That was an adventure, but we successfully made it without getting lost.
By the time we made it to our Air BnB it was almost 9 pm. Since it was late, and a national holiday, we decided not to venture too far for food and tried the restaurant next to our building for dinner. We got to place our order via a vending machine! We weren’t too sure what we were getting, but it wound up being pretty tasty and was fairly inexpensive at less than $7 CDN.
I believe it was tempura fried oysters, lotus root and onions on rice, plus a salty broth with buckwheat noodles. It hit the spot!
I managed to sleep until 5 am on Sunday, which felt like a pretty good accomplishment. To kick our day off one of my roommates and I grabbed an onigiri from Family Mart, the convenience store near us.
Convenience stores here have all kinds of prepared foods and snacks available, from noodle bowls and spaghetti carbonara to these delicious little onigiri. My onigiri was filled with a salty grilled salmon. It was a nice little snack to start my day.
After we figured out how to get to our school tomorrow we hopped the train to Tokyo station in search of what is supposed to be the best tsukemen ramen at Rokurinsha. I heard about Rokurinsha on David Chang’s Mind of a Chef. If you’ve never tried tsukemen ramen, you are given a bowl of hot, strong and salty broth with a bowl full of noodles on the side. You dunk the noodles in the broth and slurp away.
We waited in the lineup for the restaurant to open at 11, then attempted to navigate the vending machine ordering system. Despite pictures on the menu I’m not sure that we were able to order exactly what we wanted and I missed out on getting a delicious seasoned egg on my bowl of soup.
I’ve never had ramen like this before! The noodles were perfectly cooked and the broth was salty, complex and delicious. We turned down the offer for bibs, but in the future I’d probably grab one since slurping soup gets messy!
Once we were done slurping down our noodles we wandered over to Character Street in Tokyo Station. There were shops dedicated to Snoopy, Hello Kitty, and all kinds of anime characters. Just as we approached the Pokemon store, Station Master Pikachu came out! You can only find him at Tokyo station and all the kids went nuts when they saw him. It was pretty great!
Up next: exploring Shibuya!
Follow along on my adventures via Instagram.