If you want to visit temples in Japan, most people will direct you to Kyoto where you’ll find plenty. However, if you’re only staying in Tokyo, you’d be missing out if you didn’t make the trip to Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. Although a very popular tourist spot, I loved walking around the Sensoji Temple and the surrounding Asakusa area. You’ll see plenty of locals partaking in various Buddhist practices, try a range of snacks at one of the numerous shops, and grab a souvenir or two before you leave.
I was told to get to the Tsukiji Fish Market early (like, 5:00 am early), so that we could queue up for one of the sushi bars for breakfast. The two restaurants that were recommended to me were Sushi Dai and Daiwa Sushi. After doing a bit more research and reading nightmare reviews of people queuing for up to four hours for an overly priced, mediocre omakase sushi breakfast, there was no way I was going to get caught in that tourist trap. Instead, I stumbled upon a fantastic alternative, Sushi Katsura (すしかつら), just a few blocks away from the Tsukiji Fish Market. You can expect an incredibly good-valued omakase lunch at Sushi Katsura with zero queues and no 4:00 am wake-up call.
If you ask for suggestions on where to go for a fun night out in Tokyo, it’s likely that many people will tell you to head to Golden Gai in Shinjuku. This well-known area of Tokyo is famous for its nightlife. You’ll find 6 parallel alleyways with tiny bars crammed everywhere (there’s said to be over 200 bars). Many tourists come here for a bit of bar hopping (if you manage to find a seat), though there are a handful of bars that cater to a “Japanese-speaking only” crowd. While I can’t say I loved Golden Gai, I thought it was a unique experience that is worth checking out.
The Shinjuku district of Tokyo is a bustling, hectic, and very modern part of the city, however, there are a few spots only steps away from the busy main streets that offer visitors a glimpse into the old Tokyo. One such place is Memory Lane (translated from Omoide Yokocho, but also known as “Piss Alley”). Here you’ll find an assortment of tiny shops that serve up yakitori, soba noodles, and (of course) plenty of drinks. Aside from just being really cool to walk through thanks to its narrow alleyways, cramped bars with people laughing, eating, and drinking, and Japanese decor strung throughout, this is where I found the best bowl of soba noodles.
Fuunji Tokyo was said to serve up some of the best tsukemen in the city, and since I had never tried that type of ramen before (I know, I know) I was looking forward to trying it. The shop is a popular spot for both locals and tourists, so be sure to arrive early or go late, otherwise you should expect a queue (we went just after it opened and we still didn’t get a seat right away). There are only two things on the menu: ramen or dipping noodles (tsukemen), but the vast majority come for the latter. And trust me, it doesn’t disappoint.
There are so many fantastic restaurants in Tokyo that planning where to eat during your stay can be a bit overwhelming. Many well-established restaurants begin taking reservations upwards of a month in advance, so if you’re not in the know, you’ll likely miss out on an opportunity to have a fantastic meal. While many of these restaurants tend to be quite fancy, I discovered a hidden gem that I want to share with you: Narukiyo Tokyo. This restaurant only serves an omakase menu (meaning there is no menu), has insanely fun vibes (sit around the kitchen counter for added entertainment while enjoying the chef’s playlist and the awkward yet hilarious phallic objects scattered about the restaurant), and is basically guaranteed to be one of the best nights you’ll have in Tokyo.
When I was planning my trip to Tokyo, there was no thought in my mind that I would be eating anything other than all the delicious Japanese food my greedy stomach could handle. That was until the friend I was travelling with told me she had read about a shop called Kuumba du Falafel in Shibuya and how their sandwiches were insanely good. I’ve never been a big fan of falafels, so I was slightly hesitant at first. However, after doing a quick Google search and reading only positive reviews, I was quickly persuaded. Conclusion: the falafel sandwich I had at Kuumba du Falafel Tokyo was hands-down the best falafel sandwich I’ve ever had.
One of the things Japan is known for is their food: from the time and effort spent preparing a dish, to the quality ingredients used. Finding a “good” restaurant in Japan isn’t difficult. You could walk into any little place and know that whether you’re spending ¥1000 or ¥5000, you’ll have a great meal. Despite the ease of dining out, I wanted to try my hand at the Kaiseki Cooking Class Tokyo at Cooking Sun studio. Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese meal involving many small courses. Since I was only in Tokyo for five days, Flight Centre Hong Kong arranged the cooking class in Shibuya before I landed (nothing beats a little less stress while traveling!).
When I came back from Cambodia, a lot of people asked me how I liked it and, likely surprising to most, I had a hard time articulating my feelings. I know lots of people absolutely love Siem Reap and for good reason – there was certainly many things I really enjoyed while I was there; the temples are beautiful, the history is rich, the food is great, and the people are lovely. But, as with any area (especially here in Southeast Asia), once it becomes popular with tourists, it tends to lose a lot of its authenticity. Essentially, the reasons why people originally fell in love with that place have been stripped away and replaced (ie westernized). This is how I feel about Siem Reap.
When I travel, I love to immerse myself in as much of the local culture as possible. One way I do that is through my stomach. I love local food and always look forward to trying regional dishes throughout the countries I visit. Everyone knows a handful of Thai and Vietnamese dishes, but I was less familiar with what Cambodian food was all about before my flight to Phnom Penh. I certainly ate my way through the country at various night markets, little hole-in-the-wall shops, and street stalls, and really came to appreciate the local food scene here. Though not necessarily my top choice for Southeast Asian food, I really loved all the local food I ate in Cambodia while I was there. If you’re wondering what to eat in Cambodia, here is a list of my 10 favorite dishes. Continue reading What to eat in Cambodia: My top 10 picks