Japan, Travel

Barhopping in Roppongi

On the fourth day of our trip, we decided to go to Tsukiji for our first meal of the day. Despite having been to Japan twice before already, I had never been to Tsukiji even once (ridic, I know). We caught the train to Tsukiji and got a little lost before finding the fish market.

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It goes without saying that Tsukiji’s fish market is heaven for seafood and sushi lovers. I was amazed by the amount of fresh and cheap seafood on offer, and lamented that I couldn’t take any of it home to Australia (where cheap, fresh seafood is a myth). Not wanting to have food regrets, we took our time picking a place to eat, until Michael put his foot down and made me choose (as usual).

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We picked a nondescript sushi restaurant with seats. I really would have preferred a standing sushi bar as I feel it’s a more authentic experience, but Michael didn’t really like the idea of these. When we arrived at the restaurant, it was about 11 or 12, and there were some other Japanese people inside who were finishing up. We ordered quickly and probably over ordered due to the fact that we were starving.

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As always, the quality of sushi was extremely fresh considering the cheap prices. For all the food we had here, we only paid around 3000 yen.

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After we finished up, I felt like eating something sweet, so we decided to head to Ginza for dessert. While wandering the streets, we came across Manneken, a chain that specialises in sweet waffles. I had heard about Manneken from my Lonely Planet Tokyo guidebook (a must, if you’re ever in Tokyo alone) so we went in to try some waffles.

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Manneken has two different kinds of waffles on offer including: normal style Western waffles that have a slight crunch, and cream waffles that have a texture akin to sponge cake. We tried both for good measure- my favourite was the cream waffle in peach flavour, which came individually wrapped, like a twinkie. After this, we ventured into Tokyo Foodshow inside Matsuya Ginza, cause I just couldn’t help myself. And after all that sushi and waffles, I still had room for some fro yo #fatlife

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The fro yo I had from this place was actually something I had eaten back in February, during my solo winter Japan trip (yes, it was that good I came back to eat it). The company that makes it is a dairy company that sources their milk from Hokkaido, and it is probably the freshest tasting yoghurt I’ve ever eaten. Dairy products from Hokkaido have this unmistakable tang that Australian dairy products lack. Not to mention, the fro yo is dusted with your choice of kinako (roasted soy flour) or matchaΒ  (green tea) powder. Perfection!

After stuffing ourselves on Tokyo’s culinary delights, we caught the subway to Shinjuku to get a view from Shinjuku Metropolitan Government Office. Being a free activity, it’s one of the main tourist attractions in Tokyo, and is especially convenient as it’s open until 10 or 11pm.

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After we took in the views here, we headed to Shibuya to do a little bit of shopping and then went home. Michael and I split up for the evening as he was ill, and I had plans with other friends. For dinner that night, I met S, a venture capitalist, in Roppongi Hills. Roppongi is famous for being one of the main nightlife areas in Tokyo, and also a hub for expats.

#tonkatsu #roppongi

A post shared by Su Lwin (ルウィン・スー) (@meatballhead_) on

(Apologies, I don’t have pictures from this part of the evening as I usually don’t take my DSLR for nights out in Tokyo).

S and I had dinner at a tonkatsu restaurant in Roppongi station called Butagumi Dining. I had the ‘rosu katsu’ (fatty pork fillet) and my favourite alcoholic beverage, oolong hai. It was fairly easy for the two of us to converse, as S had grown up in the US and had also gone to grad school there. During dinner, we talked about his work investing in entrepreneurs and his trips to Silicon Valley, and the likelihood of my moving to Japan in the future. After dinner, we decided to grab a drink at a Mexican bar nearby, before heading to my favourite neighbourhood bar Geronimos.

I was surprised when S suggested going to Geronimos as I had supposed it was the kind of bar that only expats went to. It was not my first time at Geronimos. I had been introduced to the dive bar back in 2014 by a group of expats, and during that time, there had been no Japanese frequenting the bar. Geronimos is a super fun, chill bar, that blasts loud music. The clientele here mostly consists of professional expats. That night, the bar was frequented by mostly Western, male expats, with a handful of rowdy Japanese for good measure. To sum up the kind of bar it is in one sentence: it is the kind of place where aging American men will hit on you while your date goes to the bathroom.

For anyone who wants to get drunk on a budget, Geronimos is not the first place that would come to mind. For one thing the drinks are about the prices that they would be in western countries- upwards of 1000 yen for a shot (AUD $12). Also, Geronimos has a drum at the counter- if you don’t want to splash your cash on shots for everyone in the bar, for the love of god, DO NOT BANG THE DRUM.

The last time I came here back in 2014, I didn’t have the misfortune of having anyone bang the god-awful drum. For whatever reason though, someone decided it would be fun to bang the drum not once, not twice, not three times, but FIVE times that night. Each time, I saw them lean over and begin counting everyone in the bar. S and I had been 3 drinks deep when we entered Geronimos, but left 10 drinks deep, and didn’t stop there. After Geronimos, we went to R2 Supper Club, a more upmarket bar which consists of aging Western men in suits and where the staff dress in tuxedos. When we got to R2, we grabbed another drink and met my friend Maki and S’s friend.

We proceeded to Feria, by far my favourite nightclub in Tokyo, and from that point the night is a blur. When clubbing in Tokyo, you normally get drink vouchers for 2 free drinks with the price of entry. At Feria, the entry fee for women is 2,200 yen with two free drinks, so as we got in, Maki and I headed to the bar. Feria that night was like riding the manindensha (crowded train). It was extremely hot and sweaty on level 3, which was were we were for the majority of the night. I don’t remember how it happened, but in my intoxicated state I managed to lose Maki, S and his friend. After stumbling around for some time and not managing to find anyone, I decided to call it a night and head home. While I was walking out of the club, I walked the wrong way and got followed down the street by a Japanese man who spoke to me in Japanese. All I recall saying was that I wanted to go home, and he left me alone saying what I think was ‘ok, see you another time’ in Japanese. After walking the wrong way for about 5 minutes, I realised that I was lost and turned back, then fell on the pavement, bruising my hand and causing me to be stared at by some onlookers. After managing to get back to the main street, I hailed a cab and threw up out of the window as it was driving (ashamed to say this is not the first time I have done this in Tokyo). When we got back to my AirBNB, I tried to clean up the mess I made on the taxi, but the cab driver refused and I managed to make it upstairs and passed out in my bed. Tokyo always manages to chew me up and spit me out.

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