CODE’s editor Lisa Markwell recently spent a weekend in Japan’s capital Tokyo with Hisato Hamada, the co-founder of the famous Wagyumafia restaurants. Here’s what she found…
Ginza is a great district to make your base and if, like me, you love the Muji aesthetic and quality, check in to the Muji Hotel, which marries ancient paving stones and cutting-edge technology. Narrow but elegant rooms make for a great night’s sleep and breakfast at the Diner has all the classics to start your day right. First stop, into the agship Muji store in the same building.
6F, 3-3-5, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Yes it’s a tourist attraction, but the Kappabashi (Kitchen Town) area has plenty of brilliant chef supplies and food-related ephemera if you know where to look. Hamada took us to a superb store, Kamaasa, which has a plethora of knives, tools, kitchenware and more, including dozens of different whetstones, limited-edition hand-hammered pans and perfect knots of brush with which to clean them. Across the road, the more kitsch but equally high quality plastic food Ganso Sample is where to get *those* replica dishes, or just an oozy egg fridge magnet…
Ganso Sample, 3-7-6 Nishi Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo Kamaasa, 2-24-1 Matsugaya, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 111-0036
Still at Kappabashi, the best place for a really good coffee (hey, sometime you want something better than the vending machine variety) is Sensing Touch of Earth, a café with an décor that ranges from brutalist exposed concrete to stylish mid-century wooden furniture.
3-1-12, Matsugaya, Taito-ku, Tokyo
It’s worth paying for a mediocre Starbucks coffee at the branch in Shibuya – its first-floor counters are
the perect vantage point for the world- famous crossing, where thousands of people whizz across in every direction at once. But after you’ve ‘grammed it, head down the road to the standing sushi bar Uogashi Nihon-ichi where everything is fresh, delicious and prepared with care, as per.
25-6 Udagawacho, Shibuya 150- 0042, Tokyo Prefecture
The whole area around Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku is a great shopping scene – from the madness of two-foot- long crisps on a stick to vintage Commes des Garcons stores to the brilliant bits and bobs at the Asoko store, but it’s worth entering the plaza itself for its stunning entrance. Shoppers glide up escalators into a cavernous ‘kaleidoscope’ space, all covered with mirrors at di erent angles. Watch where the youngsters pose for your inevitable picture; they’ve worked out the best angles.
Asoko harajuku, 6 Chome-27-8 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001
Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku,
4-30-3, Jinguumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
The Wagyumafia brand is world-famous for its raucous vibe and the stunning quality (and price) of its beef-focused menus. Most restaurants are member-only (David Beckham, Ed Sheeran, Jack Whitehall and Marcus Mumford are recent guests), but its newest incarnation, Yakinikumafia, is about to change all that. It’s a steely beauty – an all- standing space in the building where Godzilla was filmed. Guests order by touch-screen on arrival, then get their own grills red up and fresh, less expensive cuts of wagyu beef delivered to cook (along with spectacular side dishes). Best slaked with in-house beer brand Do Not Disturb.
Yakinikuma a; wagyuma a.com
Everyone from chefs to schoolchildren appreciate the pure joy of the 7-Eleven stores everywhere. But it’s if you’re after late-night munchies and drinks that it really comes into its own. The cans of Suntory Highballs (in two strengths) are whisky sodas done right, perfect with the classic 7-Eleven egg sandos – which from this egg-sandwich connoisseur, are pretty brilliant. Then there’s the Michelin-recommended pot noodles (yes, they’re that good) and Haagen-Dazs ice-cream sandwiches too.
7-Eleven everywhere in Tokyo
Since it moved to its sparkling new HQ, it’s no longer permitted for visitors to enter the fabled Toyosu fish market but it’s still worth heading down to the industrial location, because breakfast at Daiwa Sushi at the fish market is unmissable. There’s something really special about the very freshest uni, tuna, squid and much more being placed in front of you by the family of sushi masters who run this place, and miso soup takes care of any early-morning chills.
Daiwa Sushi, 6 Chome-3-2 Toyosu, Koto City, Tokyo 135-0061
Tokyo has quite a few shrines but there is something breathtaking about the entrance to the Meiji Jingu complex with its towering wooden gate and 100,000+ trees
– and everything inside is similarly entrancing, from the children dressed up in traditional costume for weekend outings with their parents to the wooden prayers hung on boards. The avenue of painted sake barrels respectfully donated is repaid with the respect visitors show by washing their hands in a traditional font. Don’t miss the snacks too – rice sponges painted with a soy caramel, or the classic okonomiyaki (cabbage omelette).
Meji Jingu, 1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 151-8557
This article was first published in Issue 22 of the CODE Quarterly magazine. To read the digital version, please click here