Day 15 – Kanazawa to Tokyo – 3 July 2019 – Ginza Pokemon Cafe, Akihabara, and the best ramen in Ikebukuro, Mutekiya

Today we traveled by Shinkansen from Kanazawa to Tokyo. The trip took around 3 hours. Luckily, there is a train that goes straight from Kanazawa Station to Tokyo Station. Fortunately, the hotel to hotel journey wouldn’t take us long to get to our hotel, since we were staying in the Tokyu Stays Hotel in Nihonbashi. Both our hotel in Kanazawa and Tokyo were close to stations. Nihonbashi in particular is really close to Tokyo Station, a major train station, and Ginza.

We wanted to try the famous chicken and egg around the block at Tamahide, but we arrived in Tokyo past 1:00 pm. I had seen the YouTube videos about Tamahide and how famous it was. We knew the lines would be long as well, so we decided to revisit a favorite in our previous trip, Taimeiken. Taimeiken is located in Nihonbashi and is close to the border with Ginza. Taimeiken is famous for is omurice and curries. Taimeiken is a popular institution among the local, so much so that even its building stands out when you past it in the streets with its burgundy sails.

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Usually there is a line to go into Taimeiken, but luckily we were able to get in without having to wait. I think we came towards the end of the lunch session. The restaurant was almost full and consisted mainly of older locals.

Like last time, we definitely tried their omurice. I feel our second visit lacked the luster of the first. We simply weren’t wowed by the food, neither the omurice nor the other dish I ordered. My wife had the omurice and gravy, while I had the lunch special minced cutlet with rice. The omurice was nice to cut open and eat, but I feel there are now even better restaurants/joints that do more incredible omurice.

The minced cutlet on the other hand was a deep fried pork mince meatloaf served with just rice. Unfortunately, I was not a fan of this dish. For the first time, I didn’t finish it because I didn’t like the bitter taste and it lacked salt and sugar. (I am saying it’s bland. And yes, restaurants add to sugar to everything, because our family owns a restaurant.) Taimeiken ended up not being a fond memory in the end. In all honesty, you should still go as it is iconic and you should order their specialties and not their ‘specials menu’ dishes.

Not far from Tokyo Station and Taimeiken is the new Pokemon Center Tokyo DX and Pokemon Cafe in Ginza. It can be hard to spot as the main entrance is reached by a small elevator. Hopefully you can spot the Pokemon signage.

At the entrance, you are greeted to a giant Snorlax with Pikachu and Mew by its side. To the right is the Pokemon Center. The Pokemon Center is decked out with screens and memorabilia from the Pokemon series. We weren’t allowed to take photographs or videos in the Pokemon Center, but it was your standard fare Pokemon Center with a few nice props to look at.

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To the left of the statue is the Pokemon Cafe. At the time, it was the only Pokemon Cafe in all of Japan. Osaka has a Pokemon Cafe now.

To get into the Pokemon Cafe, you need to book an appointment using an app. Unfortunately, we didn’t even know we needed to book.

Lucky for us, the attendant saw us and probably out of pity, let us enter the cafe at a designated time. We obliged and when the time came, we headed in.

The Pokemon Cafe was so cool. It is decorated with heaps of Pokemon merchandise, plushes and statues. There is even a store to buy unique things that you can’t buy elsewhere, even at the normal Pokemon Centers.

We were assigned a table and each given a placemat. I got Snorlax, while my wife scored a Gengar placemat. We did well. I noticed other people getting Catepie or Magikarp.

The menu is all available on a tablet. There is quite a selection of savory, sweets and drinks. Each food and drink was all Pokemon themed and decorated.

With your order, you could even purchase the glass or plate your food comes in. Don’t worry, you get a brand new set after you finish and pay at the counter.

We bought a few dishes and this drink here. It’s a grape smoothie inside a Gengar glass. Inside is an ice block with red lighting inside. The ice block is one of those blocks that don’t melt.

It was pretty fancy how each of the tables had Pokemon statues on them.

There are plenty of photo opportunities for you, friends and family. For instance, why not take a photo between these two adorable Pikachus?

If you want to see a video of the Pokemon Cafe, click the YouTube link below.

After the Pokemon Center, we decided to take the train to Akihabara. We meandered around from one figurine store to the next. There are heaps of figurine stores in Akihabara. There was lots to see for any anime or pop culture fan, but many stores forbade photos with their large display signs, so we couldn’t take many photos.

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Akihabara is a great place to find those must have collectibles, particularly figurines and statues of your favorite anime, Dragon Ball, One Piece, My Hero Academia, Attack on Titan, Fullmetal Alchemist and One Punch Man.

Akihabara is also home to the Square Enix Cafe. It’s not far from Akihabara Station. There is usually a wait to get into the Square Enix Cafe. Outside the Square Enix Cafe was this cute Pikachu theme vending machine.

For dinner, we headed to Ikebukero to our favorite ramen restaurant. You don’t need to take our word for it. The locals love this joint too and for us, it serves the best ramen in town. Mutekiya.

The menu is ramen. Boy o’ boy, you must try the Mutekiya Ramen. The pork is nice, crispy and well seasoned. It’s so delicious. The ramen soup, noodles and condiments come together amazing well. This store beats the socks off places like Ichiran Ramen and Ippudo. This store is also very cramped and small.

When we arrived, there was already a huge line. We knew it was worth it. Unlike Taimeiken, this was definitely how I remembered it. Delicious ramen with delicious chashu.

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Next time Day 16 – Tokyo – 4 July 2019 – we head to Nikko for the Kegon Waterfall, Toshogu Shrine and Kanmangafuchi Abyss.

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