Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Japan: 2013-03-22 Ameya Yokocho アメヤ横丁


Ameya Yokocho

March 22nd, 2013

      My friend Yuka and I had been visiting Ueno park for hanami and Ameya Yokocho happens to be right around the corner so we popped over for a tour. The name means "candy shop alley", though now there seems to be more of a focus on various foods rather than the singular sweets. Octopus tentacles, among a wide and bountiful array of other options are all readily available. If you're curious and want to stretch your Japanese skills you can check out their website here to get a feeling for the vibe of their shops. It's an eclectic mix of street vendors, shopping centers and food market…which means that it's the kind of place I greatly enjoyed!

     If you step inside one of their various shopping centers you'll find an assortment of youth-focused clothing and shops. The fashions are funky and fun, focused on whatever trends are going strong at the moment. Spiny bags and shark mouth backpacks were one of the big things I saw around Tokyo that spring, be it in Harajuku, Tokyo Disney Sea or Shimokitazawa. 

Oh no!! Yuka's being eaten alive! あぶない!

Near the man-eating face we found a board advertising upcoming musical events. My eye caught these events, both musicians I'd loved long before ever setting foot in Japan! I photographed the event info and made sure to attend. I made it to both shows! Super fun. 

     After ogling many of the restaurant options in the area, we settled on a steamy take on shabu shabu. The restaurant above is not a shabu shabu joint, but it gives you an idea how tempting Japanese restaurants can be with all those photos plastered outside…mmm. おなかすいた。。。after walking past a few mouth-watering options we finally found our restaurant. We navigated our way up narrow stairs to the second story of the restaurant, where a hot pot was set to boil before us and cups of tea presented to us.

     This was what we had. Super thin slices of pork laid out over a bed of fresh vegetables such as mizuna, nappa cabbage, naganegi or thin Japanese leeks, and wide kishimen noodles steamed in a bamboo basket. In shabu shabu style everything is family style serve yourself. We were given a platter of additional vegetables and noodles as well as a platter of pork to pile onto the mix when our rations grew low. When the food is cooked to your satisfaction you grab it with your chopsticks and either set it in a bowl to the side, on your rice, or into your mouth. いただきます!

Yuka savoring the delicious scents wafting from our meal. 

     After filling our bellies we wandered back to Ueno park to take in the late afternoon view of the cherry blossoms and all the festivities. It was an all around wonderful day out and about enjoying the beautiful Tokyo springtime. 

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