Ramen in Tokyo

After spending some time solo in Taipei and Seoul, Paul and I met up on our first year anniversary in Tokyo for a two week adventure in Japan. We celebrated our anniversary with traditional Japanese food and we prepared for (then recovered from) our rigorous Mount Fuji Climb (more on our Mt. Fuji experience in the next post).  

Reunited for our Japan adventure!

Walking around the Ueno Park in downtown Tokyo

A drum performance near Benten-Do Hall in Tokyo

Japan has old-fashioned taxi cabs that are cute as a button! Most of the drivers are dressed to the nines and the seats are covered in a white lace to protect the leather seats. One of our observations has been that, in general, the Japanese seem to take very good care of their things in order to ensure a long life. 

Paul sitting on one of the "benches" downtown

After a long morning of walking around we stumbled upon an authentic ramen place named Nagi that comes highly recommended. It's in the neighborhood of Shinjuku, one of the main downtown areas. Nagi is down a narrow alleyway and can be found by the long line outside its doors. 

They require you to wait down this little alleyway with air conditioning exhaust blowing on you in the sweltering heat. When they are ready for more customers, they yell down the flight of stairs in Japanese what we imagine was "Next party!" 

You then walk up this steep flight of stairs to get to the second floor where the restaurant is located. 

When you arrive at the top of the stairs there is a little vending machine where you place your order. They only do one thing at this restaurant - egg noodles (ramen) in broth flavored with dried sardines. You can decide what else you would like to add from a selection of pork, egg, onions and dried seaweed (among a few other options we didn't understand).

There are a total of about 12 seats in the entire restaurant. You are packed so tightly that when someone leaves, everyone has to get up in order to let them out. When you eat soups or noodles in Japan, a sign of a job well done is to slurp as loudly as possible. The entire restaurant was slurping away, shoveling their noodles in their mouths as quickly as possible no matter how hot the noodles. Paul and I tried to slurp dutifully - the food was amazing but it's hard to get used to the vocalizations.

It's said that Tokyo is the best place to eat sushi in the world. Unfortunately we did not get a picture of our anniversary dinner but we had very traditional Japanese sushi to celebrate. It was an assortment of 14 types of fish, all fresh and (un)cooked to perfection. There was only one moment where the gag reflux attempted to kick in, after Paul grabbed what we'd know later as sea urchin and popped it carelessly into his mouth. After an extended, queasy deliberation between mind and body, he finally coaxed it down the hatch.

We ate dessert overlooking the water; fortunately the ice cream Sunday didn't require as much courage as the main course!