Saturday, August 1, 2015

Eating My Way Through Japan: TOKYO

I just came back from my trip to Japan and I either have MERS or some kind of avian flu that I contracted from an owl - I'll explain later. I ate so much incredible shit in that country that I will need to split these up into different posts, so these will be pretty lengthy. You're welcome in advance.

Tokyo was probably my favorite city because it was the only city where I was somewhat healthy and could drink at my body's full capacity. I also loved how lively and distinctly weird the entire city was. As you will see, I am pretty much just retracing Anthony Bourdain and David Chang's steps in any televised episode they've ever filmed in Tokyo.

My friends and I got rented an Airbnb in Roppongi, which is known as a shady party district, but coming from America, it seemed relatively safe in comparison to most places I party. I got in around 10 pm and met up my friends who were already there, but I hit the ground running. Our first stop was a pub called Abbot's Choice, where we filled up on a traditional Japanese cognac called Hennessey and the bartenders taught us how to say, "you have a small dick" in Japanese.



According to David Chang and Anthony Bourdain, the convenience stores in Japan have superior sandwiches and snacks and they were not wrong. I always get excited when I meet a foreign 711 because just like in America, they are always the best source for local snacks for the inebriated.



I developed a serious addiction to the egg salad sandwiches. The bread is so soft and delicate and the egg salad is creamy as fuck. 


The onigiri section was vast and intoxicating. For those of you who don't know, these are rice patties filled with different stuff like salmon and wrapped in seaweed. If a piece of sushi had sex with a triangle, it would give birth to this.

After almost getting kicked out of a club for being too loud, disobedient and old, we needed a snack. Ended up stumbling into a lovely little shack called Gindaco.



 We had the BEST takoyaki (fried battered balls of octopus) of the trip here. I believe this place is a chain, but they know how to make a mean ball of octopus. 

After staying out until 6 a.m. that night and spending 20,000 yen on mystery shots at a karaoke bar, we took a power nap during most of the day and then headed out to sight see. We wound up in Yoyogi Park in search of harajuku girls, but all we saw were crossdressing cosplay kids doing choreographed dances in the park. We saw a lot of strange things in the park that day and were starting to suspect that we had been drugged. 



We ended up at "Ramen Street", which is a string of underground ramen shops located in the Tokyo Station. According to my best friend (in my head) and celebrity ramen humper, David Chang, his favorite tsukemen is here at Rokurinsha


After you wait in line for 45 minutes, they make you play this challenging video game where you select the most attractive ramen button and out pops a raffle ticket that you give to the waitress in exchange for noodles. 


After winning the noodle raffle, I was rewarded with these elegant bowls filled a broth rich enough for Naruto and noodles that were thicker than a Snicker. And let's talk about that egg...


I busted that shit open and it was like a soft, tiny pinata filled with orange volcanic yolk. I'm sorry, I just had to take off my bra while staring at this because I was breathing so hard. I'm ruined for life, the eggs in America just taste so maladjusted compared to the ones in Japan. 

We ended up falling asleep around 7 pm because we were extremely full and jet lagged. We woke up around 3 am to head to the Tsukiji Fish Market. Unfortunately, once we got there, it was curiously empty. That's when we realized it was a holiday and it was closed. 


*crickets*...otherwise known as the deafening sound of FAIL.


Fortunately, all was not lost. We found this SAINT of a street vendor around the corner working on a holiday. Now what was he selling, you ask?


HE WAS BLOW TORCHING SCALLOPS, TOPPED WITH PILES OF UNI!!!!!!!!!

And it was unfuckingbelieveable. I'm pretty sure we bought this for around $9. There's nothing like eating a torched shell of sea life at 5 am. 

We didn't know what else to do at that hour, so we hung out at various temples praying for salvation and for normal lives. We also snuck beers into a really gorgeous park and hung out on top of an ant hill and got a ton of mosquito bites. 

ALAS, noon rolled around and the bars started to open up. We ended up in Shibuya at the Kirin Ichiban Shibori Garden Brewery, where we thought we could walk in and have a cold beer. But no, things are not that simple in Japan. We waited 15 minutes in line with a bunch of middle aged ladies, were lead inside where we watched a 2 minute video and then we were finally allowed inside to order a beer. 


All the leisurely Japanese ladies were ordering these frothy beer cocktails, so we followed suit. Got these delicious cassis and grapefruit beer cocktails. It was 1,000 degrees outside, so this basically saved our lives. 

We made the trek over to Shinjuku in search of the highly regarded tsukemen mecca, Fu-unji but it was CLOSED. Word to the wise, beware of these Japanese holidays because a lot of things tend to be closed and it will result in a lot of tears. 

After throwing a fit fueled by heartbreak in the street, I noticed a lengthy line outside of this place around the corner. We asked people what they were waiting for and they said this place was a well-known udon joint. As you can see, nothing gets us more riled up for a meal than a long, torturous line, so we gladly accepted the challenge.


This glorious place is called SHIN (here is their Yelp page) and it was a miraculous find. 


This was easily the best udon of my life and definitely in the top ten noodle experiences I've ever had. I have zero doubts that these noodles were woven with 100% silk. The tempura egg and the shrimp tempura were fucking out of control too. Oh yeah, I ordered the soy sauce cold udon noodles because it was 10,000 degrees outside. My friends ordered udon with hot broth because they are masochists, but they claimed it was incredible. 

After our nightly four hour nap, we headed out to the red-light district of Kabukicho. 


We reserved tickets for the elusive Robot Restaurant and it was hands down the weirdest and most entertaining two hours of my life. Actually, scratch that. My last visit to Sam's Hofbrau was equally as bizarre and entertaining. 




The show was advertised as "robot cabaret" and I was like, "The fuck does that even mean?" But that is actually the most accurate description for it. That or the Disney Electrical Parade got hijacked by a bunch of Power Rangers and Japanese strippers. Basically, if you wish for your eyeballs to have a stroke, you should definitely check this out. I'm really hoping they open one of these in Vegas so that complete blindness will become more accessible to me.



These were all the weird sex/fetish clubs that we planned on going into, but chicken out last minute. They were a lot less seedier in my mind.

Instead, we ended up in Golden Gai. This was close by and it is a block of the tiniest, 6-8 seater bars all crammed together for your drinking pleasure. Some of them are themed and not all are English friendly, so we opted for the friendliest looking one that I believe was playing TLC while we passed it. 




We paid 800 yen for cover and 500 yen for every drink, which was like $8 for cover and $5 per drink. We spotted this shady jar with a dead snake in it and made everyone in the bar take a shot of whatever liquid that was preserving it. 


This was our lovely bartender, Siya, who just so happens to be the raddest bartender and biggest party animal in the entire world. We eventually made the bar our bitch and blasted a ton of Fetty Wap and Drake all night. We also convinced everyone at the bar to go with us back to the Tsukiji Market for sushi. We kidnapped these Korean chicks, but lost them somewhere along the way when one of them barfed outside of the fish market.  


Have no idea what that bar was called, but whatever that sign says must be the name. BEST BAR IN JAPAN, guys...

I believe we left Golden Gai at 3 am and headed straight for Tsukiji because it was NO LONGER A HOLIDAY. Unlike the morning before, it was on and poppin inside the market. I didn't get to the tuna auction, but I was running around the market in my romper like a crackhead photographing tuna.




Meanwhile, my friends were waiting in line at Sushi Dai, which is the most popular of the sushi restaurants surrounding the market. 


It looked like everyone else in line slept and showered before waking up at the ass crack of dawn to wait in line. We were still in our party clothes, gasping for air and water by the time the restaurant opened its doors at 6 am. We waited in line for 3 GODDAMN HOURS, BUT IT WAS WORTH IT!!...said no non-Asian person ever, not fucking never. Me and my friends aren't even the same kind of Asian, but if there's one thing we have in common - it's the endurance to wait in lines for food. These lines usually just result in self-loathing and a mutual hatred for one another. 

Anyhow, the photographs that follow are from THE GREATEST SUSHI AND MOST BEAUTIFUL BREAKFAST OF MY RIFE. 


TORO. I can't, it's beauty is blinding. 


FLOUNDER.


SNAPPER.


UNI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We all agreed that this was the greatest uni of our putrid little lives. 


I want to say this was Makarel? We kept yelling "KANPAI!", which is "cheers" in Japanese every time we took a bite. I think the sushi chefs probably thought we were stale hookers that were celebrating a profitable night. 


SOFT CLAM!!!!!!


SOME KIND OF TUNA!!


Alas, the TOMAGO. All sushi documentaries I've ever seen have placed a lot of emphasis on the preparation of the tomago, so I felt like I was eating someones accomplishment. 


I think this was the Cuttlefish. 

I don't know if the sushi chefs at Sushi Dai always let you pick a bonus sushi, but they let us have a free round of uni in addition to our omakase. We had an 11 piece omakase for like 4,800 yen, which is a little less than $40. Not bad at all for the best sushi of my life...

Sorry that was so long, but Japan is just too delicious for it's own good. We would constantly stand on the subway and ask each other how everyone in that country was so thin...that was until we went to Nagoya for the Grand Sumo Tournament. I'll get into that on my next post...



Sunday, July 12, 2015

SEXY SANDWICH ALERT: The Little Jewel of New Orleans

On a recent visit to a local Italian restaurant, I encountered a very chatty and knowledgeable waiter that wouldn't stop raving about other restaurants that he insisted I visit. I think he could sense my desperation for fried seafood sandwiches. From what I gathered, he was a former bayou dweller and somewhat of an authority on all things Cajun/Creole. The one place that he was very insistent on me trying was The Little Jewel of New Orleans, located in L.A.'s Chinatown. He claimed this place had the most legit po'boys this side of the Mississippi. Or was it the L.A. river? I don't remember, but when a bayou sandwich oracle tells you to eat a po'boy, you fucking do it. 

When you walk in, you will find yourself in a grocery store. DO NOT PANIC, you are in the right place. The deli is in the back of the store, but you order up front at the cashier. I've never been to New Orleans or anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line that isn't called Miami, but I certainly felt like I was in Louisiana. Mind you, this feeling is based solely on the impressions I got from watching every episode of Diners, Drive In's and Dives, American Horror Story: Coven and from reading A Confederacy of Dunces a thousand times. 


This place had a massive selection of bottled sodas that I had never heard of, but what shocked me the most was that Abita makes ROOT BEER. I'd really only sampled their beers containing alcohol and am a fan of their Purple Haze, but their root beer was real pleasant considering it was non-alcoholic. 


Someone really went H.A.M. on the sidewalk chalk to create this gorgeous menu. I just interpreted this as a colorful invitation to let loose and unbutton my jorts in preparation for what was about to go down. 


10 INCHES OF UNADULTERATED CRUSTACEAN PLEASURE...is what this sandwich ought to be called. I would also settle for THE ALL-STARS OF CRUSTACEA DOUSED IN REMOULADE. But for what I assume are practical reasons, this is called the Half and Half, which is half fried shrimp and half fried oysters. My affection for this sandwich can only be expressed by these lyrics from Fetty Wap's, "My Way".


Basically, what I'm trying to say here is that I RESPECT YOU, SANDWICH.


Nothing compliments a po'boy like a heaping pile of CRAWFISH MAC AND CHEESE. This was just downright gorgeous with just enough cheese and crawfish on those ringlets to make you wanna NOLIA CLAP


Here's the Instragram photo I put up because I like to torture my followers with jealousy and filtered images of cheese.

I cannot wait to go back to try the fried catfish po'boy, the jambalaya and if it's still available, their softshell crab po'boy. As long as they continue to deep fry shit and stick it between bread, I will be there to make sure that no po'boy goes undigested. 

After this sexyass lunch, my boyfriend and I wanted to do something positive and uplifting, so we bought tickets to see the new Amy Winehouse documentary. In preparation for this, we went to the bar at the Original Farmers Market and on our way, we stumbled into a stall that sold nothing but HOT SAUCES. This is where I found these charming sauces that I think you'd enjoy...








I think I've finally found my calling in life...naming and illustrating hot sauce bottle art. How I've never gotten into this before is beyond me, but I am dead set on releasing a line of vulgar and gut crippling sauces. Had I known there was such a high demand for rectal calamity, I would have patented my idea for capsaicin filled anal beads ages ago. On that note, how do I get on Shark Tank?