Throughout my 4 day stay in Tokyo, I often resorted to broken English, a few “desu kas,” “arigato gosaimases” and a lot of “turo” or pointing. Sometimes, that can lead to some awesome discoveries.
A few of those discoveries were in the Ameyoko Flea Market. After spending a couple of hours walking along Kappabashi Dori (which is heaven for chefs – a 2-3 km. stretch of nothing but culinary stores), I developed quite an appetite. I took a train to Ueno and began to look for the famous Japanese flea market. Before I left the train station, though, I needed an ice cream break! Baskin Robbins was smiling at me and what greeted me was this treat of a flavor: Ichigo Milk Ice Cream! Named after a Japanese cartoon, it had a wonderfully creamy milk ice cream, richer than your normal vanilla and it also had some strawberry ice cream with nice sweet strawberry chunks. Quite a flavor!
Traversing the flea market, I was more interested in the food being offered than the discount clothes, and my first stop was an izakaya, or a drinking joint. Since it was early afternoon, it was not busy. Usually izakayas serve yaki toris with sweet sauces, but the one I ate in served theirs with salt and a spicy bean paste. Left with no choice but to point, I pointed at four items, hoping to God I got at least one right. And I really was! First came a chicken meatloaf, like a long Tsukune or meatball. Very flavorful and tender, a great beginning. Then the good stuff came in. Chicken Gizzard, chewy with a slight crunch, no disturbing odors. I wish they were slightly more tender but it was good. A stick of grilled chicken skin was a win, with its slight crunch and rich fatty goodness. Lastly, a traditional chicken yaki tori with leeks. Juicy and perfectly cooked, even the leeks were tender and flavorful. Points for lucky pointing!
Next in this article: takoyaki and oysters!