Sunday, November 09, 2008

Tokyo Day 5: Lunch at Asakusa

Off to Asakusa after Tokyo Tower. The Japanese mums at school recommended that we visit Sensōji (浅草寺), also known as Asakusa Kannon, Tokyo's largest Buddhist temple. A main attraction was food; tempura in Asakusa, near the main Kaminarimon (雷門) gate is said to be really good; I'm not a tempura fan, but Eddie is.

It was about 11am when we arrived at Kaminarimon Dori (Street) and although still quite full from breakfast, we went searching for Irokawa, a grilled unagi restaurant. Unagi first, tempura later.

From here, "Established in 1861, Irokawa has been serving the best eel in town for six generations. Everyday, the owner goes to the market as early as 5:00 in the morning to purchase the freshest eels to serve for the day. Irokawa’s festive decorations attract many regular customers. Once you taste this delicious fare, you will want to come back for more!"

Irokawa (2-6-11 Kaminarimon Tel:03-3844-1187 11:00AM-1:30PM, 5pm till sold out; closed Sundays) looks really inconspicuous from outside. It's on a street off the main street, about 5 minutes walk from the main gate.


We had to ask a few people where Irokawa was even when we got near to the restaurant and could smell the lovely aroma of grilled unagi cos the shop was so small and didn't look like it was opened for business. When we opened the door, the restaurant was already almost filled with patrons.


The unagi is grilled at front of the restaurant.


Only Eddie and I ate up while Brian and Sean just looked on. Silly boys. This was ooooh, amazingly good! Grilled to perfection. I would highly recommend going to Irokawa if you're ever in Asakusa, worth every calorie. And I said Yes! to Brian when he asked, "Is this authentic?" :)


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We had a 2nd round lunch after visiting Sensoji Temple. Eddie needs his tempura fix you see. I had narrowed down two tempura restaurants but when we passed one that looked really popular, Eddie decided to just eat there. He thought with so many Japanese patrons there, we couldn't go far wrong. Only when I got back did I realise this was one of the 2 restaurants I had on my list.

From the same website, "For half a century, Aoi-Marushin has been serving tempura on Asakusa Kaminarimon Street, right near the Kaminari gate of Sensoji temple, in an eight-story building. The secrets of Aoi-Marushin’s delicious tempura are high-quality sesame oil, an original sauce and the freshest seafood which the founder, a fish seller himself, assured was always of the finest quality."

Aoi-Marushin (1-4-4 Asakusa Tel:03-3841-0110 Mon-Fri: 11:30-8:45 Closed: 2nd and 4th Mondays).


The tempura shrimps were huge.


Seafood tempura.


It was good, not great, not sure if we felt that way cos we were so full. I don't think so, the batter just wasn't light the way we like it. I kept telling Eddie he fell into a tourist trap, until as I said, I went back and realised this was one of the 2 restaurants I had on my list. Lucky for him, I did my research well and we managed to eat at a better tempura restaurant on our last day in Tokyo, which I'd recommend if one's craving tempura.

20 comments:

monlim said...

Hey, I'd read about the unagi restaurant too! Too bad we never bad it there. Is it true that the unagi tends to be not so sweet like the teriyaki sauce in SG? The portions look HUGE! costly?

Lilian said...

Nvm, we can go there on our IAA mummies-only Tokyo trip.

The unagi is still sweet, just not drowned in gooey teriyaki sauce the way they sometimes are in other restaurants.

The picture I took was for the 2nd largest option; I think there are 4 size options, prices starting from Y1600 maybe. The one I had was Y2400 I think, pretty pricey. But so shiok.

monlim said...

Well, the portions look enormous and I guess you pay a premium for Japanese eel vs the awful Chinese type that we tend to get in SG.

At this rate we're going, we'll need more than a few days for IAA!! Too many places we have to try out!!

Lilian said...

Eddie doesn't really like unagi cos he gets icky about the tiny bones. The unagi here has a lot less of those bones than the ones in Singapore. I didn't know that Sg unagi were chinese eels :) Got other races?

My must-eats in the Tokyo IAA trip are:
1. Sushi Kaiten
2. Irokawa Unagi
3. Piss Alley Yakitori
4. Any good place for soba, sashimi.

The others such as tempura, shabu-shabu, ramen are optional.

monlim said...

Yup, even at the Jap restaurants, I'm pretty sure the unagi you get is from China. Definitely the ones at food courts. You can buy the pre-packed unagi from China at NTUC. They're so much cheaper. But Eddie is right - so many bones!

Just out of curiosity, if the boys didn't eat unagi, what did they eat?

Lilian said...

Well, they had their McD breakfast just before we left Tokyo Tower for Asakusa. When we ate the unagi, it was 11plus, so they weren't hungry yet. I think near the temple, Eddie bought ice-cream cones for them. And by 2plus, we had tempura lunch; where Sean ate some rice with fish and soup. Tough huh? Sian lah these fellas.

monlim said...

He's still very young lah, give him a couple more years... I must say you really had a gastronomic day! I can't imagine going to eat tempura after having unagi and a big breakfast, haha! Where do you store it, woman?? How come you still look so slim???

Lilian said...

I didn't eat much breakfast, when I say share with Eddie, it means he eats 2/3 of the ramen. And while I walloped the unagi meal, I didn't eat much at the tempura restaurant, you're right, too full. It was Eddie and Brian who ate up, I just munched on a shrimp tempura and a couple of vege ones. However, I'm sure if it were a sushi/sashimi restaurant, I would have no problem having Round2 lunch.

And this trip, I really eat until very tua pui po; photos are very deceiving, the ones where I look like Miss Piggy I just delete lor, beauty of digital photography :)

monlim said...

hahaha! learn photoshop, then can "slim" yourself down some more... I just measured the kids' waists yesterday to buy clothes - Andre's is 26"!!! He's so thin but got that pouch, aiyoh...

Lilian said...

Photoshop too much effort, delete easier :) Wahhh, so young got pot belly ah Andre? Have you been drinking?

I didn't dare get on the weighing scale after the hols; but the boys' weight were unchanged. Thankfully, Sean's is still above 20kg, barely. And Brian was happy he was still slightly below 40kg, even after all that eating, where does it all go?

monlim said...

Enviable tween metabolic rate! Lesley-Anne has it too. Eats an impossible amount of rice, always hungry and never put on weight. Wish I've got it man!

Andre likes all the greasy hawker fare - oyster omelette, grilled chicken wings, mee goreng, fried carrot cake, roti john, satay, etc etc. It all goes instantly to the tummy, no where else. sigh...

Lilian said...

You shouldn't complain, you're so slim...thin even. I only need to look at carbs, and the weight piles on :(

So many brilliant scientists in the world, why can't they invent a pill that allows us to eat all the carbs we want and still be at our ideal weight, and remain healthy of course. Reminds me of this Seinfeld episode, where Jerry imagined you can just go to a restaurant, order off the menu, say cheesecake and ice-cream, and a machine will automatically remove the calories/fats from your body. Heaven!

Andre likes the same type of food I do! Sedap! Now you're making me crave Sg hawker food...AI!!!

Alcovelet said...

All this food... every time I leave your blog, I feel delirious, feverish ... I'm definitely going!!

Lilian said...

Hehe, hope I haven't build up your expectations too high...later I kena clobbered if you guys don't find the food good!

Alcovelet said...

The photos can't lie lah, Lilian, even though you weren't using your new prime lens (my eyes did it for me - everything else in the background is a blur, haha!).

A lot of the sashimi, even those eaten in Japan is processed in Hainan. They hire these 18/19yo girls to look for tiny worms to tweeze out. By age 25, a lot of the girls can't hack it anymore. Some companies even pride themselves in hiring the entire batch of kids in x highschool! True lah! And the fish exported out? Sorry man, sashimi fish is a global trade. Some are farmed in Vietnam, Korea ... So when you eat cheap sushi, you're really getting what you pay for.

Tell you what - we diet ahead, and then we have snacks + supper. Together with the usual 3 meals a day, that makes 5 opps a day!! x2 days!!

Lilian said...

Thanks Adeline, you just spoilt our good impression of Japanese sushi/sashimi! hehe, so what are your must-eats in Tokyo, I'm sure you know lots of good places to eat with your frequent business visits there, but just remember we won't be eating on company account.

Alcovelet said...

Mind over matter! Still just as yummy!! And at least, they're getting rid of the worms!!

There was this kaiseki restaurant at Ginza - very famous. But too exp. Another good one - Ginza Hotel - the underground restaurant. But Kaiseki and $$$. There are also a couple of Japanese fusion restaurants that everybody loves but I only like the pseudo Western food. Heard of Fujimama's? It's Mexican-Japanese. It's popular, but it tastes xactly what it sounds like, yeck.

Actually, nothing beats soul food. "Casual" dining unagi food or great sushi, tempura, ramen, is just the best!! I really should dig out that tofu restaurant I was telling you about. Shiok! The only thing against it is, um, it's healthy!

Lilian said...

Fusion we can probably find in London/Singapore, gotta go for the lau-kok-kok century-old placeslah...tofu-ah...errrr....

bACk in GERMANY said...

okay... when har?
when is this weekend gonna be?

BUT... i also wanna see a bit of Tokyo, take photos... no need disneyland though...

Lilian said...

Why don't you just replicate your neat photo trick of the bus and beautiful germany background? All you need is a cut-out photo of you and picture of Tokyo behind :) Does this remind you of the garden gnome in the movie Amelie?

Which weekend ah? When Monica feels burnt out from PSLE prep and needs to re-energize I guess.