A Travellerspoint blog

Sushi Yoshitake

Chef Yoshitake is a boss.

Sushi Yoshitake is located on the 3rd floor of an obscure building in Shinjuku. It is a 3 Michelin Star rated Omakase restaurant that took us using Visa Signature Concierge service to get reservations after having failed to get Sukiyabashi Jiro ressies. After having eating here at Sushi Yoshitake, I am glad to say we chose this place. Typically Jiro's takes 30 min, but our meal lasted almost 2 hours and we felt welcome and not rushed the entire time and the omakase was amazing. Each dish and piece of sushi was soft and gracefully well made and seasoned. People say that the sushi rice is a tad on the vinergary side and that is probably the only thing I can take away from this once in a lifetime meal. We kept being served first and tried to follow the (very clearly) regular client on how to eat dishes, but were scolded for taking too long to eat pieces, so we went FULL IN with finger eating. My favorite dish hands down was the the steamed abalone and liver abalone sauce. I really liked all the dishes to be honest with you and I am VERY PARTIAL to toro so of course the chu-toro and otoro always win my heart. Even the tamago, which I typically hate was delicious. Michelle's favorites were the steamed ebi and the anago roll. After the numerous courses, I was struggling to keep all the food down but managed in the end with a full stomach and a happy belly. The staff was super friendly and gracious, offering us dishes in English, places for our backpacks and coats, and the willingness of Chef Yoshitake to not only take ONE photo with us but THREE. The only downside was I was limited to a camera phone for taking photos instead of being able to use my DSLR, but for letting me enjoy the best omakase meal I have had so far, I think I will let it slide. And here are the much awaited photos of each dish that was served:

Japanese clam covered in yuzu broth, some sort of mint, and orange zest (the toppings made this a perfect balance)
Seared Rockfish wish fish bone sauce (the sear was so delicious)
Tako (so tender)
The Master hard at work
Steamed abalone with liver sauce (he gave us rice to mix with the liver sauce so we could eat the sauce in a somewhat more dignified manner than I had been eating it prior to the rice...)
Seared Spanish Mackerel with Hokkaido horseradish, ginger, and scallions
Snow Crab legs and brains with Jelly sauce (of some sort haha) - this cup was really deeper than it looks
Look at that OTORO! I wanted to beg for the scraps.
Ika nigiri (squid)
Chutoro (I was loving this super tender piece of medium fatty tuna)
Otoro (and then I was in heaven)
Baby snapper
Ark Shell
Uni (2 ways - one was creamy and one was sweet; we have no idea what he said)
Ebi (I enjoyed this much more than I enjoyed Nakazawa's)
Anago roll with pickles and tamago (at this point my struggle was real)
Toro hand roll
Miso soup that was meh for me (had some orange zest and I think shiso) but I loved the green tea they gave us
Arigato Gozaimasu, Chef Yoshitake!

Posted by E.M.N 07:19 Archived in Japan Tagged tokyo ginza sushi yoshitake omakase Comments (0)

Spirited Away to Mikata and Shinjuku

Turning possible failure into success!

Right now, I am confused by the fact that Japanese people seem to be afraid of germs because so many wear masks on a daily basis but in all the bathrooms you visit, soap is wildly unpopular. Someone please explain to me this. Also, we have been taking the metro lines at all different times of the day and it is busy at the randomest of times. What time and what days do people work?!

Today we headed to Mikata on the JR Chuo to visit Studio Ghibli with what we thought was our reservation. When we were waiting in line, our security guard looked at our receipt and proceeded to pull us farther and farther away from the entrance only to tell us that our reservation was just a receipt to claim the physical tickets a couple of weeks ago.......Our faces dropped and our hearts sank. Michelle was ready to cry I'm pretty sure. We begged and pleaded and our Japanese guard as nice as Japanese people are made some calls and told us to return at 10:40. We were SO GRATEFUL that I am pretty sure we bowed to him 20 times today along with an "Arigato gozaimasu!". I'm still unsure what we would have done if he didn't have pity on us being from USA and having come all this way.

We walked around and ate some snacks and was able to get a ticket to claim a real Studio Ghibli ticket at a Lawson store across the street. Such a weird policy. Studio Ghibli is easily doable in less than 2 hours, I think we spent about 1.5 hours. It is amazing to see all the artwork and hardwork that animators put into these films. Pics were not allowed inside which is unfortunate but they did let us watch a cute short animation about sumo mice. After being engulfed in all things Miyazaki, we headed back to Shinjuku. But of course we decided to take the super express train and we were pretty sure we were supposed to pay extra for this fancier and faster train but the conductor stared at us and skipped us over. We were really worried about trying to exit after having gone on that train, but another failure turned into a success.

We decided to eat at Tempura Tsunahachi in Shinjuku for lunch. What light, fluffy, and delicious tempura!! The miso soup was also delicious. Our favorite tempuras were the anago and ebi. The chef was worried that we weren't eating enough or eating quickly that he told us to eat up. I think we just don't eat things in the correct order ie. the people next to us all seem to finish their miso soup and rice prior to eating tempura. We finished all of it though and decided to explore Shinjuku. We tried to feel out a Pachinko but got intimated, so we spent the rest of the time at a 6 floor basically arcade building. The first floor was ALL CLAW games which seem extremely difficult. There was also a photo floor with mirror and dressing rooms included for glamorous photo booth shots. The other floors had various games including a music/dancing games floor, card games (where you use your ACTUAL trading cards), and shooting games. It was loud and CRAZY. SO CRAZY. But it was fun playing a couple of games and watching others play. I think the key is that Japanese people MASH ALL THE BUTTONS.....how funny cause that's exactly how I play Street Fighter and win! haha

For dinner, we went to Sushi Yoshitake, but I'm gonna post that to the next post so you can drool at the delicious photos.

After dinner, we walked around Ginza looking for the Sanrio store and eating a green tea Krispy Kreme donut that truly underwhelmed us. We also grew a pair and tried playing Pachinko, which by the way is not as fun as it looks. I'm not sure if it was because we were playing incorrectly or not but don't let those winners around the parlor fool you!!!! (I may have lost my 1000Y haha) Ring-a-ding-ding.

Jet lag is still hitting me pretty hard and Michelle thinks she's starting to catch a cold.....we have a long week ahead of us.

Studio Ghibli!
Only pics of the outside allowed!
Our confusing train ride
Tempura at Tsunahachi
Anago Tempura
Green Tea Krispy Kreme

Posted by E.M.N 06:58 Archived in Japan Tagged tokyo ghibli studio shinjuku tsunahachi Comments (0)


Getting lost is just fact of life here.

Finally in Tokyo and it is AWESOME. The Narita airport internet kept kicking me off and I had the airport limo bus (3100Y) to catch so I got really lucky that Michelle somehow knew how to estimate when to meet me at Shinjuku West Station today. It was a huge relief to see her there because I really have no idea how I would've have found her or contacted her without wifi.

We left for the Airbnb in ShinOkubo that we are staying at and it is basically in Korea. I think it was probably hilarious watching us try to find the subway stop because we did a series of turns trying to read the signs. It really is pretty confusing getting around here and I am extremely glad that we decided to buy 3 day subway passes because it is WELL WORTH IT. Unlimited rides for 1500Y. After getting and eating some crazy snacks and drinks, we decided to head to Ginza today to check out the LARGEST UNIQLO in Japan. Tokyo is lit up like Vegas on every street. My pictures at night turn out great because of all the building lights! It is pretty impressive on the outside but we were underwhelmed by the prices and selections because we could basically just get it back in the States.

We then decided to wing it for dinner and walked around Ginza. I bought a green tea paste bun from Kimuraya and it'll be breakfast in the morning. It was really busy in that place! Then we continued to be nomads and tried to get a Laduree macaroon without much success. We stumbled upon a random shop that seemed really popular with the locals and so I pushed Michelle in first since she can speak some Japanese. Takechan ended up being delicious yakitori and we lucked out with the English dinner menu. We each got a 5 skewer 1500Y half course. We liked everything but the chicken liver and we were shocked at how flavorful and soft the meat was just by grilling over charcoal. The advantage of tradition passed down generations I suppose.

I had asked the owner if it was going to be safe walking with my luggage late at night because that was my original eta and now I'm starting to realize just how safe it is here in Japan. Walking home tonight, I noticed not a single bicycle was locked up. People in Japan are really trustworthy I guess and my constant behind-the-back checks was getting some pretty crazy looks. Haha I've grown accustomed to Albany.

Ginza - it's so bright here.
So glad I found my little....Us going into the Uniqlo
Chicken Meatballs and quail egg
Ancient Tradition Chef
Chicken thigh and wings - soooo tender
Late night snacks in our impoverish apartment...getting claustrophobic.

Posted by E.M.N 06:46 Archived in Japan Tagged tokyo ginza Comments (0)

Onwards to the land of sushi, sashimi, and ramen!

My lovely airline made me lose half a day in Tokyo. I'm still bitter about that. But finally waiting for my plane to Narita. Getting anxious to find Michelle and not get hopelessly lost. Plus side is Tokyo is super connected so I can use wifi at the airport and at train stations.

What I always find entertaining is that people seem to line up to board way in advance for no real particular reason. Traveling requires Xanax.

I'll update once I am in Tokyo and hopefully Michelle and I can recover some lost ground!! Time to continue learning Japanese on my phone...

Posted by E.M.N 11:21 Tagged tokyo Comments (0)

Classic Beijing

Last day in Beijing! The tour today only had 2 of us. Luckily for me, it was a nice Filipino man on a stopover from the Philippines. We headed to Tianenmen Square and the Forbidden City. There was some monthly government official conference going on so we encountered A TON of military men and bodyguards. There was absolutely no access to the square, so we took pics from afar and headed to the Forbidden City. We learned about this history and how when Chairman Mao came into power the palace was no longer a Forbidden City and everyone was allowed to visit it. There are about 8700 rooms in the palace and the emperor sleeps in a different room each night so that by the time he is 27 he should have slept in every room. The vast number of rooms seems a bit excessive to me. Haha. Anyways, it's pretty impressive how grand and huge the palace is. I walked through the middle gates as the emperor would and the second I walk into the living quarters section I notice a white guy in a plaid shirt who looked awfully familiar....It was Chris and Nicolette! What the. What are the chances. I knew they were going to the Great Wall today but somehow we managed to cross paths. So hilarious. We took a picture to commemorate the moment but it's on Chris' camera. Future Facebook friends it is. We finished up in the forbidden city looking at all the gold that only the emperor could wear and have as well as the huge spacious rooms for his wedding night and working quarters. It all really reminded me of those last scenes in Mulan where she gets her recognition from the emperor and fights Genghis Khan on the roofs of the Forbidden City. Haha

We headed onto a silk factory which this time around I actually got to see how they get the silk and make it into a quilt. It is really sad because they boil the pupa within the cocoon until it's dead. Morbid. But man is silk super soft. Anyways, I was looking at the clothing when I hear someone yell my name....and what do you know I see Nicolette and Chris yet again! Geez. Small world. We parted ways one last time because they were headed to the Great Wall and I had gone yesterday. Glad I got to see them one last time for good times sake.

We headed to the Temple of Heaven after this and it was awesome. It's kind of like a Beijing version of Central Park. There were a ton of Chinese people dancing, singing, tai chiing, playing cards, crocheting, whatever you could imagine. It was a very fun place to walk through. The Temple of Heaven itself is quite amazing. It's 3 circular layers and in this square they made sacrifices to the gods for wealth and prosperity and grain, etc. They typically burned calves but one emperor used human sacrifices. Different times. I can see why superstition is so ingrained into my grandparents and parents now. There is a lot of Chinese history and a lot of stories behind those superstitions. We ate lunch after this and it was really delicious despite only having 2 dishes since there were only 2 of us on the tour. Haha it was some eggplant dish with potatoes and Kung pao chicken.

We left for the Summer Palace and you could see how cool and breezy it would have been there. It was burned down many times and the last to rebuild it was the only empress known as the Dragon Lady. It also has the longest painted corridor in the world. I wish we were visiting in the summer because the huge dragon boats go out onto Longevity Lake. It's pretty crazy how big the palaces are and how much influence Dragon Lady had despite not being very loved by her people. This was the last stop of the day and we headed to another pearl place where this time we were pressured a lot to the point that we just walked straight out to the car after being lectured at for an hour. The one good thing was that this shop was located in the Olympic stadium so I got to see very nice views of it.

Moos chose this delicious restuarant in a shopping mall. We had things I've never had before and it did not disappoint. Because she's training for a triathlon, moos was still hungry. We decided to look for a jenbing but couldn't find any so we decided to get a drink at the Local Bar. I got a Sanlitun sunrise that tasted deliciously of lychee, moos got a mule punch, and we shared a very thick sangria. The combo of being very tired and buzzed made me ptfo when we got back. Luckily I was living pretty well outta my luggage. Tomorrow is my travel day back to the states!


Posted by E.M.N 00:36 Archived in China Comments (0)

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