Part IV: Japanese Food

In our experience, there wasn't much diverse range of food on offer especially cheaper ones. We always ended up having ramen (most of the time), curry rice particularly in Tokyo, Ekiben (bento box meals) on trains or at stations, Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki pancakes on malls and busy Dotonburi streets in Osaka. Usually, individual meals ranges from 800 to 1,000 Yen per person. Takoyaki is around 600 Yen.

chashu ramen :tup
Curry rice from MyCurry Shokudo restaurant in Shibuya. If you love food with a spicy kick, you might like this.

assorted Ekiben (railway bento box meal) :tup
Takoyaki: Japanese snack made of wheat  flour based batter with a small piece of octopus inside
Okonomiyaki: Japanese style pancake, ingredients and toppings varies
We also tried fast-food hamburger restaurant like Mo's Burger. I think 520 Yen should be more than enough to get you a hamburger set.

Mo's Burger in JR Universal City station near Universal Studios Japan
Mo's Burger Teriyaki Chicken Burger set with fries and drink 690 Yen
We went to many little ramen shops. These are really tiny restaurants with few seats or counter style seating. Usually "meal tickets" on vending machine can be found near the restaurant's entrance. Purchase your meal ticket here and hand it over to the staff who will then serve the food.

ramen with gyoza

meal ticket vending machines
We love the classic tontokotsu ramen particularly at Ichiran Ramen. Here, you can customize your ramen preferences. I like it light, while HB prefers spicy and heavy flavor. It was a wonderful new dining experience where the old-style Japanese ambiance joined force with the authentic tonkotsu ramen from the 60's.

Ichiran Ramen restaurant in Harajuku
Ichiran Ramen's ticket vending machine
Aside from cubicle style seating, there are also booths for 2-4 people. 

cubicle style seating

classic tonkotsu ramen with Ichiran's original red sauce
light flavor of tonkotsu ramen
For most of us, slurping is considered bad manner. But in Japan, it's typical to make noise when you eat noodles. It means that you're enjoying your food. So if ever you're in Japan and having a noodle soup, don't hesitate to make a loud and hearty slurping sound. SLUUURP!!! ;)

Fine dining was out on our list. We also didn't visit the conveyor belt sushi joints as I'm not really fond of sushi. Or probably time did not allow us to explore extensively. If you have any suggestions, please feel fee to share regarding food and restaurants in Japan. :)

Ichiran Ramen Harajuku
Sanpo Sogo Building 2F
6-5-6 Jingumae Shibuya-ku Tokyo
- 1 minute walk from Tokyo Metro Fukutoshi Line and Chiyoda Line Mejiijingumae Station
- 3 minutes walk from JR Harajuku Station (Omotesando Exit)

Related Posts:
Part I: Konnichiwa Japan
Part II: Konnichiwa Japan (Getting There)
Part III: Dormy Inn Premium Shibuya Jingumae

Till next time... toodles,

Part III: Dormy Inn Premium Shibuya Jingumae

Where we stayed in Tokyo:
From Tokyo station, we hailed a taxi to Dormy Inn Premium Shibuya Jingumae. We got lost quite a bit but our Japanese driver managed to find it somehow. Fare cost around 1,260 Yen but he only asked 1,000. And he said, "it would only cost that much if we didn't get lost". Honest man! Domo arigatou gozaimasu! :b

Hotel Dormy Inn is located in a hidden street. We chose this 3-star value hotel because of the location, which is situated between Shibuya and Harajuku. It looks like a cozy boutique hotel.

facade of hotel dormy inn
dormy inn hotel front desk and lobby / beside is the cafe-style restaurant
WI-FI area for guests
Our standard room (P6,000/night with buffet breakfast) was a bit small around 20 sqm, but very clean with comfortable bed and superb water pressure in the shower and lavatory. It is quite compact but completely equipped with all the necessities. Bedding and towels were changed everyday. :tup

And you don't even need to bring your sleepwear as they also provide "pajama set".

the lavatory is outside the bathroom / pajama set and slippers
The hotel offers a laundry corner with washing machine and clothes dryer for just 100 Yen/20 minutes. Also, you can enjoy a free bowl of Yonaki noodles, a traditional Japanese late-evening snack from 9:30 to 11:00 PM. My only regret is that we didn't try it because we were always dead tired after a long day of exploring. :(

There's a shop nearby named Asoko. It is filled with fun and colorful and novelty items such as kitchen utensils, few apparel, tote bags, gifts, office and school supplies and outdoor goods.

Asoko Harajuku store

 store in Osaka but the interior also looks like this in Harajuku
If you're interested, check this place out if you're ever in Harajuku and Omotesando area.

Hotel Dormy Inn
6-24-4 Jingumae, Shibuya, 
Tokyo Prefecture
150-0001, Japan

- From JR Shibuya Station: About 10 minutes on foot from the East Exit
- From JR Harajuku Station: About 9 minutes on foot from the Omotesando Exit
- From Subway Meiji-jingumae Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda and Fukutoshin Lines): About 6 minutes on foot from Exit 7
- From Subway Shibuya Station (Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line): About 7 minutes on foot from Exit 13

Asoko Harajuku Store
6-27-8 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Store hours: 11 AM - 8 PM 

Related Posts:
Part I: Konnichiwa Japan
Part II: Konnichiwa Japan (Getting There)

Till next time... toodles,

Part II: Konnichiwa Japan (Getting There)

We chose Philippine Airlines for the Manila-Tokyo flight, which took 4 hours and 20 minutes only. The Narita airport arrival hall looked ordinary unlike I have ever imagined. It's Tokyo, so I was imagining of oversize gleaming hallways and hi-tech trimmings. Ah, I shouldn't have set my expectations too high. Anyway from Narita International Airport, we decided to take the Narita Express (N'EX) Train to central Tokyo. It takes about an hour to reach the capital city. We purchased our rail tickets (1,500 Yen per person) in the international arrival hall. 

Narita Japan rail ticket station counter
 The Narita Express (N'EX) train is fast and offers comfortable seating. Oh please, avoid taxi it will cost you an arm and a leg! Unless of course, you have hefty bags full of cash.

interior of the standard class carriage
photo source: zimbio
But I was in for even bigger surprise when we arrived at Tokyo station. I know July and August are summer months in Japan, but I didn't expect a scorching hot summer! No wonder, I spotted several people carrying hand fans to keep themselves cool. On top of that, most of Tokyo Metro stations are not air-conditioned. However, Tokyo has one of the most extensive mass transit systems in the world.

Related Posts:
Part I: Konnichiwa Japan
Part III: Dormy Inn Premium Shibuya Jingumae

Till next time... toodles,

Part I: Konnichiwa Japan

HB had been planning traveling to Japan for years, but I was the one who kept on postponing the idea. Don't get me wrong, Japan is one of my travel wish lists, and I just wanted to be mentally and physically prepared to enjoy it fully. :) Anyway, to make the story short, plan was pushed through. HB prepared the necessary documents including bank certificate and applied for Japan Tourist Visa and got it in 3 days.

We decided to do this trip on our own rather than joining an organized tour group. We stayed 6days/5nights in Tokyo and 7days/6nights in Osaka. Day trips to Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Miyajima and Kobe. 

Tokyo, Japan
Osaka, Japan
Kyoto, Japan
Nara, Japan
Hiroshima, Japan
Miyajima, Japan
Kobe, Japan
As a traveler, the best way to get around places is to do as the locals do, right? And that's we did! :) We tried getting around Japan from walking, and getting subway train, bus and taxi. Tokyo Metro is the easiest way to roam around the city, and it is extremely punctual. While bus is the cheapest mode of transportation you can get but time consuming. On the other hand, Japan taxicab is the most convenient but very expensive.

Tokyo Metro station ticket vending machines
Japan bus interior
Japan taxicabs are mostly black
But mind you, our trip was outrageously physically exhausting! Because of the seemingly endless long walks and a shit ton of climbing up and down the subway stairs. I rarely had a minute to breathe. Japan is pretty big unlike Singapore that is compact.

Related Posts:
Part II: Konnichiwa Japan (Getting There)
Part III: Dormy Inn Premium Shibuya Jingumae

Till next time... toodles,

Marco Polo Ortigas Manila

We were delighted to stay for 2 nights at the newly opened 5-star Marco Polo Hotel. Its interior is very contemporary decked with noticeable art pieces. Our decently priced Premier Room (P6,300/night), which is a corner room was gorgeous, clean and spacious with a stunning bathroom.

Marco Polo Premier Room

Video of the Premier Room.

One of the amenities we like most is the Nespresso Coffee Machine. There's also a welcome fruit platter in our room on arrival. Furthermore, it offers a fabulous view of the Ortigas Center. One minor niggle though, the peephole is positioned way too high for an Asian standard height. I'm 5'5 and even standing on tip toes I still struggle to reach the hole.

Nespresso Coffee Machine

Hallways are dotted with air-purifier machines. Also, a 24/7 security officer is designated on each floor.

The huge lobby is striking as well.

Marco Polo has a fairly awesome and decent buffet and a la carte selection. If you're craving something healthy, the Pan-friend black eye cod fillet with capers, lemon segments, brown butter and mashed potato cannot be beat.

We had our breakfast and dinner at Cucina situated at the 24th level of the hotel tower, which is right beside the hotel front desk. Sampled some dishes such as Nasi Goreng, Fish 'n Chips and Pancake Stack etc.

Cucina breakfast buffet spread
Nasi Goreng

sandwich from hotel room service
complimentary breakfast
Oh, and before I forget I've managed to bring home a box of Cafe Pronto chocolate in exchange for the unused P800 Gift voucher. :)

Marco Polo Hotel is conveniently located in Ortigas Commercial Business District. It features 316 well-appointed rooms and upscale suites. If you're looking for a relaxing staycation, this is a great place to go with family.

Meralco Avenue and Sapphire Street (across Metrowalk)
Ortigas Center, Pasig City

Till next time... toodles,