Japan Diary: Day 5- Shibuya again, Ninja Restaurant and Shinjuku nightlife

After Saturday night’s eventful escapade, I woke up with a raging hangover and slept for 16 hours straight.

I woke up on Monday morning feeling a little dazed, but a lot better than I felt on Sunday. A, J and I woke up and got ready early in the morning and prepared to go out to Shibuya to look for Julie’s lost JR pass. On Sunday we had moved from ANA Intercontinental to an AirBNB apartment that was situated in Otsuka, which was north of Shibuya and Shinjuku. Although still in the city, Otsuka station had a more rural atmosphere, like a quaint town.

We decided to have breakfast at MOS burger, which was near our place and also near Otsuka station.

Menu at MOS burger
Menu at MOS burger

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I decided upon the Fish Burger for Y320. For an additional small fee of about Y120, I got an orange juice. The fish was crumbed and deep fried, and served with cheese and mayonnaise on a soft bun. It was very heavy but delicious and filling.

Fish Burger and Orange Juice at MOS burger
Fish Burger and Orange Juice at MOS burger

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After we finished eating breakfast, we caught a train from Otsuka to Shibuya on the JR line. A and J had planned to retrace their steps from Sunday and go around to the places they went to see if J’s JR pass had been turned into lost and found at any of the places. We first went to H&M, then to two cafes that they had eaten at, but nothing had been turned in. We gave up after this and decided to go to the police station in Shibuya to file a police report. Ordinarily we wouldn’t have done this, but the police report was necessary for J to claim it on her travel insurance.

A used Google Maps to locate the police station and found that it was close to Shibuya station, so we walked back to Shibuya station. We managed to walk in circles for about an hour or hour and a half, and still didn’t find the police station. It was a hot and humid day and we were perspiring profusely by this point, so we decided to stop and refresh ourselves with a drink in a nearby cafe. After this, we walked around for a long time again and still couldn’t find it, so A looked up the Japanese word for what she thought was police station, “koban” and we then proceeded to ask people where the koban was.

We got many conflicting responses from different people, which contributed to us getting more lost. In the end we finally reached the police station, after first finding the “koban” which is in fact different to a police station. A koban is a very small police station, with only one room, and usually with only a few officers attending, otherwise known as a ‘police box’. They directed us to the larger police station where we filed a police report. By this time it was late in the afternoon.

J wanted to go to the Ninja Restaurant in Akasaka for dinner, so we caught a taxi there from Shibuya. It was about Y1000 each for the short taxi trip. When we arrived in Akasaka, it wasn’t 6pm yet, so we waited in the shopping plaza next to the Ninja Restaurant until it opened. We didn’t have a reservation but were admitted into the restaurant and were seated. We were lucky to get a seat, as this place is usually booked out.
The Ninja Restaurant is a themed restaurant, so all the staff were dressed up like ninjas. In the passageways of the restaurant, everything was very dark, and when we entered the staff told us we would have to go through a secret exit, with hidden doors. A member of staff led us through. It was pitch dark and exciting.

Outside of the Ninja restaurant
Outside of the Ninja restaurant

Once seated, we were brought copies of the menu. There was an option between three set menus. We decided on the Yamatodamashii set menu at Y6,9999, which contained 11 courses. The first course on the menu was listed as Shuriken Star Blades Grissini.

Menu at the Ninja Restaurant
Menu at the Ninja Restaurant

 

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First course- Shuriken Star Blades Grissini
First course- Shuriken Star Blades Grissini

I have to admit I had no idea what was going to be served to us going off the description on the Ninja Restaurant’s menu. I was more than mildly surprised when this assortment was presented at our table. It consisted of pate arranged in star shapes, which was then to be eaten with the black breadsticks that were also in the shape of stars.

The pate had a smooth, creamy consistency with a flavour that was not too strong or overpowering. However, I found the bread a little bit too hard to go with pate, and also thought the black colour was unappealing. I kept wondering what they had used to make it that colour.

A vegetarian pastry that was substituted for A and J in place of a raw dish
A vegetarian pastry that was substituted for A and J in place of a raw dish

I can’t recall exactly what the above pastry was, except that it contained vegetables. A and J had informed the restaurant staff that they couldn’t eat raw fish, so this was a substitute in place. Neither A or J was satisfied with the quality of it however.

Second course: Sliced sashimi (not sure what kind) on top of sliced tomatoes
Second course: Sliced sashimi (not sure what kind) on top of sliced tomatoes

The sashimi dish wasn’t of the best quality and wasn’t very aesthetically appealing either.

Third course: Turban shell bombs with garlic butter
Third course: Turban shell bombs with garlic butter

‘Turban shell bombs’ as they were described on the menu, turned out to be escargots, or snails, served in their shells. They had been cooked in the traditional French way, with garlic and parsley butter. A, J and I were amused with the theatrical lighting of the ‘bombs’.

Close up of 'turban bomb'
Close up of ‘turban bomb’
Fourth course: the mystery dish
Fourth course: the mystery dish
Interior of the mystery dish
Interior of the mystery dish

The mystery dish was similar to an Italian arancini ball- a deep fried ball with risotto inside. The interior was creamy, with pieces of peas and corn throughout. The rice was cooked just the right amount, and the crisp exterior contrasted with the creamy sauce it came with. Overall, this was the best dish of the evening.

Fifth course: Summer vegetable cocktail topped with whipped Japanese stock
Fifth course: Summer vegetable cocktail topped with whipped Japanese stock

The fifth course consisted of foam made up of Japanese stock on top of small pieces of vegetables, such as beans and carrots. The foam had a mild dashi flavour. The vegetables at the bottom were cold and seemed like they hadn’t been fully cooked. This course was overwhelmingly mediocre.

Restaurant staff serving us the sixth course
Restaurant staff serving us the sixth course
Sixth course: Special stone-boiled soup (Japanese bouillabaisse)
Sixth course: Special stone-boiled soup (Japanese bouillabaisse)

Described on the menu as ‘Japanese bouillabaisse’, the sixth course was a soup dish that heavily featured coriander. It had a mild coconut flavour and reminded me of South East Asian laksa.

Seventh course: Ninja style cream puff
Seventh course: Ninja style cream puff

The seventh course consisted of a cream puff in a hard pastry. It was the worst dish of the night and didn’t really fit in with their ninja theme.

Eighth course: Sherbet candy in summer flavours
Eighth course: Sherbet candy in summer flavours

For the eighth course, we had small pieces of candy in between our appetisers and mains. We had iced sherbet candy in wrappers. Mine was earl grey flavour. This was actually quite pleasant, mildly sweet and refreshing.

Ninth course: the meat specialty
Ninth course: the meat specialty

A, J and I had the misfortune to all order the same dish for our main. It wasn’t written on the menu so I don’t exactly remember what it was, but the menu had described it as some sort of veal dish with vegetables. We were sorely disappointed when the actual dish was presented to us, closely resembling a meal that we would eat on a plane. A remarked that it even tasted like plane food, which I also agreed with. The vegetables and meat were both of a mushy texture that closely resembled things I’ve eaten on planes. I found it unusual that they even served it in a dish that looked like the tin foil dishes on planes.

Tenth course: Special sushi and sushi roll
Tenth course: Special sushi and sushi roll

The tenth course consisted of three pieces of nigiri zushi and prawn tempura maki zushi. At all the places I ate sushi in Japan, I found the sushi to be a superior quality, but at Ninja, the sushi was average. The presentation was nice, but the quality wasn’t as good as the other places I ate sushi. That being said, it was still better than the majority of sushi I’ve eaten in Sydney.

The substitute for raw sushi that A and J ate
The substitute for raw sushi that A and J ate

 

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Eleventh course: Cheesecake frog
Eleventh course: Cheesecake frog

After ten courses and a magic show, we finally got what we’d been waiting for: dessert. Admittedly, the only reason we’d ordered the 11 course Yamatodamashii course was because J had seen a picture of a cheesecake frog on Instagram and told the staff we’d have the set menu that had the cheesecake frog. It was kind of cute, but probably a dessert more suited to children in terms of presentation and palate. Instead of making a cake with cheese as an ingredient, they had grated cheese over the top of a cake. Needless to say, it wasn’t good.

It was about Y70,000 for our dinner. I think it was the most I spent on a meal during my whole Japan trip, and I didn’t think the money was worth the atrocious food we ate, although the service was good. I was disappointed by the Ninja experience and wouldn’t return, although A and J said they would return to bring someone who hadn’t been before. The service was very good though.

After finishing dinner, A, J and I caught a cab home and freshened up before we went out for the evening. We caught a train to Shinjuku from Otsuka station and walked around looking for a dessert place. As we hadn’t researched any places, we walked around for quite awhile before we found anything. When we did find something, they said that they were closing in five minutes.

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Shinjuku by night
Shinjuku on a Monday night
Bright lights of Shinjuku
Bright lights of Shinjuku

Even on a Monday evening, the streets were busy and loud. There were lots of laneways filled with hosts trying to entice us into their bars and lots of drunk businessmen. I really enjoyed the bustling atmosphere of it all. After walking around for some time and not being able to find a dessert place, we settled for Starbucks-style drinks at Japanese coffee chain and talked about how badly we didn’t want to go back home to Sydney.

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