In my last article, I introduced the “Minato Ward Embassy Roundabout Stamp Rally” which is being held as part of the event “Minato Ward World Festival 2018” in Tokyo. Today, I would like to talk about another event that you can join during the time period until March 25: the “Minato City Shopping Street World Card Rally”.
“Minato Ward Shopping Street World Card Rally” is a game. You have to collect “World Cards” which you get when shopping or eating at shops listed in the “passport” that I introduced in my last article (or just look at the official HP). When you collect 5 cards, you can participate in the lottery on March 25 at the “World Carnival”. But in my opinion, what makes this event so fun is the fact that you get the chance to visit shops and restaurants you have never been before. It’s a great opportunity to discover shops loved by the locals that won’t appear in guidebooks for tourists!
Authentic Italian and exquisite gelato
The first shop my friends and I chose was the Italian restaurant “Bar del Sole” in Akasaka-Mitsuke. It’s a small restaurant attached to a hotel with a surprising variety of lunch services.
At lunch, male customers get a free drink on Mondays while everyone gets all-you-can-eat Italian gelato on rainy days. Two of the three lunch pasta were seafood, one was meat based. But you can also choose a combination of a meat dish and a pasta dish of your choice. The portions were just right and the pasta tasted fantastic. However, the biggest surprise was the gelato. The gelato at Bar del Sole is the best gelato I’ve had in a long time!! In addition to Japanese flavors such as “yuzu” (a Japanese citrus fruit) and “Kinako black honey”, they had “Italian” options, such as chocolate and pistachio. If there is another chance of an all-you-can-eat gelato at “Bar del Sole”, I’ll definitely be there!!
Have you ever been in a “junkissa” – a classic café?
For coffee, we visited the café “Café la Mille” on the first floor of an old building in front of JR Shimbashi station. There are several stores of “Café la Mille” all over Tokyo, but if you visit, the Shimbashi store in the city of office workers is best!
“Café la Mille” is a type of café which could be explained like this: a café that Japanese people 50 years ago in the Showa area would imagine as “European-style”. These cafés are called “junkissa” (pure café) in Japanese. Usually, they come with a dark wooden interior and some Art Deco style decor.
They have many types of coffee – even Irish coffee, which is rather rare in Japan. The coffee comes in retro high-quality porcelain. Aristocratic vibes! Also, the cake is great, which is always a big plus!
(By the way, the world cards we got were “Eritrea”.)
There is a small Japanese confectionary shop named “Shinshodoh” 10 minutes on foot from JR Shimbashi station. The shop here is famous for its “seppuku monaka” (= harakiri monaka) sweets. Why are these sweets called “harakiri” sweets? Take a look here, and you will find the answer!
Dinner at a historic eel restaurant
For dinner, we chose the eel restaurant “Torikadoya” located in the immediate vicinity of “Shinshodoh”. It’s, a high-class “una-ju” restaurant. “una-ju” is a popular eel meal with baked eel fillets on rice that are glazed with a sweetened soy-based sauce. We also had “oyako-ju” (the “chicken equivalent of ‘una-ju‘).
Depending on the country, eel cuisine comes in different styles. (In my home country Germany, we eat eel soup.) Anyways, when you come to Japan, you should definitely try Japanese “una-ju“. The tender, slightly sweet eel and rice are in perfect harmony and taste delicious!
For those who don’t get excited about fish, chicken “oyako-ju” is the answer. This restaurant was originally specializing in chicken dishes, so chicken dishes here are as good as the delicious eel ones! ^ ^
How did you like the shops (OK, there were all restaurants and cafes)? I discovered a lot of restaurants which became new favorites and that I’ll definitely visit again. How about you? Why don’t you step outside tourist guidebooks paths and find a local “favorite”?
World Festival Official HP (Japanese):
Bar del Sole – Akasaka
APA Villa Hotel Akasaka-Mitsuke 1F, 3-19-10 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Café la Mille – Shinbashi
2-16-1 Shinbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Shinshodoh – Shinbashi
4-27-2 Shinbashi Minato-ku, Tokyo
Torikadoya – Shinbashi
Shinbashi Suzuki Building 1F, 4-27-9 Shinbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo