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The Nifty Noodle Goes to Tokyo- What to Do

July 19, 2016

Our honeymoon seemed to creep up on us and we did very last minute planning for Japan, but it all came together. We were able to find some pretty cool things to do.

Tsukiji Fish Market

This was one of the only places that I knew I wanted to visit prior to arriving in Japan. My original plan was to show up at the fish market at 1am to line up to watch the tuna auction, but sleep won over FOMO. Even though we missed the tuna acution, we were able to enjoy the fresh sushi breakfast. We got to the fish market around 5am and there were already long lines. Lucky for us we only had to wait about 30 minutes for breakfast. Read my prior post to see where we ended up eating.IMG_6629IMG_6631

The real treat was getting to watch a butcher dismantle a huge tuna. As we were walking through the market we got to witness a butcher slice up a tuna to be sold to other vendors. Even though we didn’t see the aution, we both agreed this was probably more exciting. We stood watching in amazement for about 20 minutes.DSCF0887

Meiji Jingu Shrine

Located near Harajuku, Meiji Jingu is a nice park to walk around. Though, it’s not really a picnicing type of park. It’s crazy how there’s this large peaceful park in the middle of an always on the go city.

IMG_6653 DSCF0915Giants Baseball Game

Wes’ coworker recommended we check out a baseball game in Tokyo and we were lucky to snag some last minute tickets. This was quite the experience. During the game everyone is chanting and singing, similar to watching soccer in Europe. It’s an indoor stadium and much smaller than American stadiums.

We didn’t know thie prior, but you can bring your own alcohol into the stadium. Security even provide cups and cup holders for your beer when you enter the stadium. But, if you were like us and didn’t bring our own beer, you can buy beer from these beer girls! These girls carried kegs on their backs throughout the entire game. By the middle of the game they were dripping sweat.
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Even the food was good! Never had I been to a stadium that sold curry and bento boxes. IMG_6714Watch a Sumo Practice

Sumo wrestling competitions only have 4 times a year and we had just missed it, but we were able to watch a sumo practice. It was an intimate setting, with less than 10 tourist watching. We had to sit cross legged for almost 3 hours because it’s disreceptful to show the bottoms of your feet to the sumo wrestlers. Viewers cannot talk, eat, drink or even step out to use the bathroom. Watching them train was pretty intense. It was clear who were the best and who weren’t the best. After the practice, we got to briefly interact with them. We even got to the meet the #9 sumo wrestler in the world! And he offered us sponge cake! We had no clue who he was, but were still starstruck. IMG_6683

Go to an arcadeArcades seem to be a popular hang out spot, even for adults.  We ended up at Taito, a popular chain arcade in Tokyo. I was drawn to claw machines. They had aisles of claw machines, all filled with cute, giant stuff animals. I was tempted to try one, but I knew there was no way I’d be able lug it back home. Instead, we took sticker photos. It kept us entertained for a good 20 minutes. After you take the photos, you get to “beautify” your face and add fun stamps or text. I won’t post the photo here to spare Wesley anymore embarassment, but it can be found on my personal Instagram 😉

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Life Travel Wedding

The Nifty Noodle Goes to Tokyo- What to Eat

July 11, 2016

My biggest reason for wanting to go to Japan was to eat. I think my expectations for the food in Tokyo were too high and I underestimate the fact that I live in New York City and have access to good food. I have to admit that I was little underwhelmed with the food. Don’t get me wrong though, the food was really good, I just felt that I could get similar food back home. There definitely were some showstoppers though.

IchiranIMG_6540

Ichiran is a chain in Japan, but it was the best ramen that we’ve ever had. And the best part is that it’s open 24 hours. Lucky for us we were jetlag and were able to walk about 10 minutes from our hotel to the nearest Ichiran. There was no wait at 6am, but we weren’t the only ones there. I was surprised at how many other people were eating ramen that early in the morning. The cool thing about ramen joints in Japan is that they place your order at a vending machine, take your ticket to the seat and they quickly bring you your order.

Ichiran on only has one type of ramen, so it made it easy for us to choose. We added extra meat, extra noodles and other extra sides. Clearly, we were too excited to try out the vending machines. We we received our food ticket and sat in indivual booths. I could see why this style of dining would appeal to single diners.

The ramen was amazing! It had a rich broth, the meat melted in your month and the noodles were the perfect consistancy. It was the best 1st meal that would could ask for. Regretfully, we didn’t go back again. But, I hear that Ichiran is coming to Williamsburg this summer. I am so excited for this. Hopefully, it’ll taste just as good as it did in Tokyo because I’ll be there often.

AfuriIMG_6601

Tsukemen is a style of ramen where the noodles are served dry and you dip the noodles into the broth. I never tried it at home, but I definitely wanted to try it in Japan. We reached for some of the best tsukemen in Tokyo and stumbled upon Afuri. We read that Afuri was known for their tsukemen as well as their yuzu ramen broth so we decided to try both. Unfortunitely, the yuzu ramen didn’t hit the spot for us. We weren’t a fan of the citrusy flavor broth. Their tsukemen was the real winner here! Everything about this ramen was amazing. I would do anything to have some more of the pork belly that came with it. I can’t describe the flavor of the broth, but it was perfect. My mouth is watering for this ramen as I write this. We tried another highly regarded tsukemen restaurant for comparision called, Fuunji, but it was such a letdown. The broth was a little too fishy for my liking.

Maisen TonkatsuIMG_6618

We were also on the hunt for the best tonkatsu and among bloggers and food apps, it seemed to be a unamious vote for Maisen Tonkatsu. We ordered the Kurobuta Loin Pork Cutlet, which is apparently a higher fat piece of meat. It was perfectly crispy, yet non-greasy and the meat was juicy.

They had additional condiments on the side and one really won us over. I don’t know how to describe it, but it was like an Asian seasoning salt that they made in house. We fell in love with it an put it on everything. Before leaving, we asked if they sold it and lucky for us, we were able to snag 2 to bring home.

Daiwa-SushiIMG_6642

We left bright and early for Tsukiji fish market to get our hands on a sushi breakfast. We got there around 5am, but the line for Sushi Dai (apparently the best) already had a really long line. We stood on the line for about 10 minutes before deciding to move on. Just around the corner was the “2nd best” sushi spot, Daiwa-Sushi. The line was much shorter and appeared to actually be moving. We waited about 45 minutes before landing a seat at their sushi bar.

The only option was to do omakase. The sushi chef seemed to serve everyone a different assortment of fish. Some of the standouts for me was the fatty tuna, shrimp and eel. I have to admit that this trip helped me come to the realization that I just don’t appreciate omakase. The fish tasted fresh and definitely was better quality that what I can get at most local Japanese restaurants, but it didn’t blow my mind. I’m a cheap date and prefer to eat salmon sashimi and special rolls.

Teppanayki GrowIMG_6646

You can’t go to Japan and not try their Waygu beef. We oringinally wanted to try Matsuroku House for their $15 Waygu beef lunch special, but they sold out even before opening. They only serve 30 servings for lunch and by the time we arrived, they had already cut off the line. Disappointed, we decided go Teppanayki Grow which was nearby and also had good reviews. When we walked in, we were the only people there. I expected for there to be a line and doubted that this place could be any good. We were presented with their lunch menu which only had 3 items and it was only in Japanese. We were able to barely communicate with our waiter, but decided to try two different grades of Waygu beef.

We were presented with 2 steaks that were already sliced and came with the same three condiments- soy butter mouse, salt and mini garlic chips. The meat itself was delicious but the soy butter mouse sent it over the top. The more expensive slab of meat was fattier and of course melted in your mouth more, but overall, both were satifying.

Matsuroku HouseIMG_6739

Now, I won’t say that I would highly recommend going to Matsuroku House, but I will mention it just because of the story behind it. The first time we tried to come here, we showed up 15 minutes before opening and were turned away because they were already sold out of their lunch special. So we decided to come an hour before opening the next day. And guess what, we were turned away yet again. Due to my FOMO, I was determined to get my hands on that lunch special. The only opportunity we had left was on our last day in Tokyo. The restaurant opened at 11:30; we arrived at 9:00! We were first in line, which turned out to work in our favor. It was a hot day and we were able to grab the only seats in the front of the restaurant that provided us with some shade. Good thing we had a personal hotspot to keep us occupied while we waited.

After the long wait we were greet inside. Everyone had their own personal room and we sat on the floor; it felt like a true Japanese experience. We each got a set which included the Waygu beef and a bunch of seasonings. They also gave us a set of instructions on how to eat the beef. The first way was to eat the beef alone with some rice. The second way was to experiment with the various types of seasonsings. Lastly, they provide a broth to pour over the meat. The meat was only slighly cooked so it didn’t melt in our mouths like the previous Waygu beef that we had. Our favorite method seemed to be the last because the heat of the broth helped cook the meat a little more. FOMO got the best of me and I left feeling a little disappointed, but for around $19, you couldn’t go wrong. According to reviews, this place is one of the best, but maybe we just weren’t fans of the partially cooking our beef.

Life Travel Wedding

The Nifty Noodle- Honeymoon Edition

July 6, 2016

Wedding, check. Honeymoon, check. Things have settled down and it’s back to reality. And finaly back to blogging.

Figurinig out where we wanted to go for our honeymoon was fairly a breeze as we both enjoy traveling to Asia. We decided on Japan and Bali. Japan was new to the both of us and even though Wes has been to Bali, it just seemed to be the go to place in Asia to relax. We took advantage of our layovers and got to spend some time in Singapore and Kaula Lumpur.

In the 2 weeks that we were gone, we both felt that we maximized our time overseas, yet found time to lay around and do nothing.

A major plus for me is that I have a ton of ideas to blog about so stay tuned! Here a few teaser photos.

 

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Brunch Life Wedding

The Nifty Noodle’s Bridal Shower

May 31, 2016

This is a very late bridal shower post, but I had to feature the hard work of my bridesmaids. These girls blew my mind with their thoughtfulness and creativity. It was a brunch/floral theme…how fitting for me. IMG_0618

IMG_0637Brunch would not be complete without a mimosa bar. IMG_0622IMG_0779Check out this awesome DIY “shower” photobooth.IMG_0644Who doesn’t want their face as a huge prop?
IMG_0751The infamous toilet paper wedding dress competition. IMG_0824I ended up with a whole pack of Bubblious gum as my punishment. IMG_0818With my momma. IMG_0829IMG_0868A big thank you to everyone who attended and to these bridesmaids for their hardwork!

Life Travel Wedding

The Nifty Noodle Goes to Houston- Bachelorette Party Edition

April 18, 2016

My only request for my Bachelorette Party was that we go somewhere warm. And where did I end up? HOUSTON! Natives of Houston were even surprised that a bunch of New Yorkers ended up in Houston for such an occasion. It probably wouldn’t have been my first choice, but it ended up being a fun getaway with the girls. We made the mistake of going Easter weekend and alot of places were closed, but we still made the best of it. 
FullSizeRender (2)We drove around Houston checking out all the different art murals that the city had to offer. And if we weren’t doing that, we were probably eating. Sadly, BBQ was a huge letdown. We first went to Rudy’s, a local chain BBQ restaurant. The food was good, but no different than what we can get back at home. Disappointed, we ventured to Brisket House because it was listed on Thrillist as one of the top places for BBQ in Houston. It definitely was better than Rudy’s, but still not mind blowing.FullSizeRender (3)It’s no secret that I love brunch. And if you’re in Houston, you need to try the Breakfast Klub. Don’t be intimidated by the long lines that wrap around the restaurant. The line moves fast and it’s worth the wait! We pretty much tried everything off the menu, but we all agreed that the fried chicken was the best! You must add honey and hot sauce for a winner combo. FullSizeRender (1)

Another winner restaurant was the Crawfish Cafe. This hidden gem was in a run down mini-mall in Chinatown. The Thai Basil seasoning was the best! We ordered 6 pounds of seafood for 4 girls and nothing was left behind. FullSizeRender (5)I’ve seen trolley pubs in other cities, but never actually went on one. Lucky me got to try it out and it was the best thing ever. The Trolley Pub was basically a bar crawl on wheels. Everyone on the “trolley” petals while there’s a guy steering. The vehicle moves so painfully slow that you can probably walk faster. We only petaled about 2-3 blocks before ending up at a bar. Everyone on the trolley got along really well and it was definitely a memorable night.IMG_5992Another bar to check out is Howl The Moon. I’ve never been a dueling piano bar, but it was tons of fun. These were some of the most talented musicians I’ve ever seen.FullSizeRender (4)Houston didn’t have a ton to offer, but I was amongst some of my favorite people and that made this weekend a special one!  Thank you to these girls for embarrassing me with that sash and crown. I will remember this when you all get married :)