“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.”
-Robert Louis Stevenson
*Life update: I GRADUATED COLLEGE!!! I am an official alumna of Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in Hospitality Management and minor in Public Relations! And no, that has nothing to do with managing hospitals; it’s management for hotels, restaurants, and tourism. It’s still hard for me to believe that I’m done with college, and that my life isn’t spelled out for me anymore. Nonetheless, I’m excited and empowered for this thrilling stage of my life!
The next series of posts are going to chronicle my month-long adventure throughout Asia. I’ll be traveling to Japan (Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto), South Korea (Seoul), Taiwan (Taipei), Hong Kong (Hong Kong), Singapore (Changi), and Thailand (Chiang Mai, Bangkok). Send me your recommendations via comments and/or Facebook!
Now onto the fun stuff- Tokyo! Tokyo is Japan’s capital city, and is divided into multiple regions called prefectures, similar to counties or districts in the United States. The first area we went to in Tokyo was north in Nishiarai. As you can see, it was gloomy the day we arrived but that didn't dampen my excitement!
We stayed at Emblem Hostel, which is right next to the Nishiarai Train Station. If you’re looking to stay in a safe, affordable, and friendly accommodation, I highly recommend it! The amenities include a 24-hour concierge service, a bed, locker, bathroom and shower access (with complementary shampoo, conditioner, and body wash), towel, unlimited wifi, common areas, laundry room, and breakfast for 300 yen (about 3 U.S. dollars).
Gendered rooms are offered, but we chose a co-ed room in the hopes we would meet more people. Also, it’s slightly cheaper. They hold events like socials with locals, barbecues in the common area, and band showcases. The staff is extremely helpful and are more than happy to offer their recommendations, which is where we got most of our meal options.
Our first meal in Japan had to be ramen (noodle soup). Tsuka, the front desk agent, recommended Do Miso. Do Miso is located next to the Nishiarai Train Station, and specializes in miso (fermented bean paste) ramen. Upon entering the restaurant I was so hungry and excited that I couldn’t wait to stuff my face with delicious broth and chewy noodles. But before I could slurp away, I had to tackle ordering first.
We walk into the tiny restaurant and are greeted by two friendly chefs. To place your order, press a button on what looks like a vending machine. Once you press your option, you insert your money into the machine and a ticket pops out. You hand your ticket to the chefs, grab a seat at the counter, and watch as they prepare your ramen in minutes.
I have to say, I had very high expectations of the ramen and can I tell you that it matched- if not exceeded-my expectations. The broth is incredibly rich and flavorful as a result from being simmered for hours. I watched the chef cook the noodles right in front of me, and continued watching intently (but admittedly very sleepily) as he added the chashu (pork), corn, bamboo shoots, soft-poached egg, bean sprouts, nori (dried seaweed), and green onions for garnish.
If you're looking to grab a drink after dinner, I highly recommend Groovers. It's an American-themed bar tucked away on the second floor behind Do Miso. The owner is eccentric and shows his love for rock n' roll by showcasing classic rock tunes. The bar is decked out in American license plates and knick knacks that he accumulated while traveling to the U.S. It's the perfect corner to hang out with friends. I tried Zima not knowing what it was, but it tasted similar to a Smirnoff Ice. It was definitely different and not what I expected, but refreshing nonetheless!
Stay tuned for more posts from Japan! I'll be blogging my way through each city, so check back soon for the next post.
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(For more posts on Tokyo and the "Miracle" at Shibuya Crossing, click here!)
Until next time,