The Mohi Guide To: Tokyo Food for Misguided Adventurers
*Update: I’ve added a google map (here) to this guide now. You now will be able to see all the places I’ve visited, from Ramen to Izakayas (in the future) and Matcha greatness on a big map that puts them all together in one master list. Lovely right? Check it out here, share it and eat it. Actually, everything is perfect and tasty on this list, but if you’re close to one of the places marked as a star, you should stop thinking about where to go next and become Super Mario on Nintendo 64 and hunt those sites down.
Biancissimo is a worldwide connected family and therefore it was always my plan to give a platform to other creatives from all around my beautiful digital and analogue world to join my team by providing guides, pictures and other mysterious talents they have. That being said I am more than happy to introduce Mohi to you, a long time gang member from Australia that I met trough intercontinental sneaker talks, trade deals and a long history of Instagram love. Mohi knows what's good and he loves Japan the same way I do, so welcome to his first guide for Biancissimo, telling us about his misguided Tokyo food adventures.
The Mohi Guide To: Tokyo Food for Misguided Adventurers
Wdup! My name is Mohi Kingi. I am a designer and barista from Perth in Western Australia, long time subscriber to all things Tokyo and Bianco alike. For a little background on me, I cop jawnz. I cop recordz. I cop coffeez. And so, I came on a well deserved summer trip to Japan this year after saving for a very, very long time with my girlfriend and we wanted to GO IN on the delectable and the delightful side of Tokyo food. We landed in TYO and got swept away by the thousands and thousands of street food places in just our suburb, so I hit up my old mate Biancz at Biancissimo and said “look here mister, you need to tell me what I can do to shove some great stuff in my mouth-hole”. Instead of an actual answer, he gave me one word of advice. “Omakase”. This translates literally to “selected by the chef”. So the thing is to go into literally any random restaurant in any random neighborhood you can find and let them motherfuckers know you are down to ride. So that’s what we did, and Bianco asked me to document the experience for him.
Hana Chibo Okonomiyaki & Teppanyaki Ebisu.
We begin with Hana Chibo. The Chibo restaurants were founded in the gourmet eatery district of Sennichimae in Osaka in 1973. It’s president and founder, Mr. Masatsugu Nakai, found great success with his original high end Teppanyaki format in the early days of Japanese food western popularity and has since expanded its restaurant services around Japan, even opening a location in Hawaii. This location sits atop Garden Palace Yebisu, 38 floors up in the sky! You take an open glass elevator in Fat Joe and Remy Ma fashion. All the way up. Which is an experience you will need two sets of underwear for. With grills on every table, Okonomiyaki is prepared fresh in front of you with the highest quality, tender pork you could imagine. If you are down with decadence and over-saturated savoury pancakes, this is the place to be. Hana Chibo is also very fancy. Like Mariah Carey at the end of Glitter. It’s dark, it smells beautifully floral, jazz softly playing in the background. Service is very attentive and high end, so much bowing lol. The appetizers come out on MF slate as well yo! Come at early evening and get the full Teppanyaki service, order a lime sour with every dish and do not stop.
open: 11am-11pm location: click
Let’s say you are knee deep in the shopping district of Harajuku at midday. Thousands of cute kawaii girls dressed as Sailor Moon screaming at you for your attention. You are looking at the new bright blue leather rider’s jacket in the Neighborhood store, when suddenly.. A rumble. A rumble in your belly. What do you do!!?! Find a burger joint and refuel? Or would you rather THE BEST GYOZA IN JAPAN? Next stop is Harajuku Gyoza if you are a fan of the dump (I’m going to refer to dumplings as dumps from now on). The dumps come in two forms, fried or steamed. That’s pretty much the whole menu and you don’t need anything else. The dude goes in on the dumps, whipping about 100 at a time. If you sit at the bar you can watch all the magic happen, I highly suggest getting yourself two beers each and a bowl of cucumber and bean sprouts while you wait and watch. He fills the grill with water to clean and poach the dumps first, then empties the tray of all the water and closes that bitch up. What you get is a thoroughly cooked dump with the craziest amount of caramelisation on one side, balancing out the heavy garlic and chive vibes found within. No timers, no exact measurements, it’s all done by eye. Dumpling Gangsta. There is always a line so please wait, it is worth it.
open: 11:30am-4:30am location: click
Butagumi Roppongi Tonkatsu
If you fux with the swine I would highly suggest Butagumi. They treat the pig with such respect, naming every grade of pork, every prefecture that the pork is from and even letting you know of the farm that they source the pork from just in case you want to see your food in action. I can really get down with this, I feel like the western world has lost connection with where their meat comes from, like they are almost afraid of it. Not at Butagumi, they fully embrace it. Also, for the gaijin, they are more than happy to inform you of how to properly eat your fried breaded tenderloin or loin cuts (your choice), with the wide spectrum of sauces and dressings they provide for your unlimited cabbage and rice. That’s right, unlimited cabbage, unlimited rice. I went for the most premium pork cut because I am a MF baller, and it was magnificent. Perfectly rendered fat content laced between light and fluffy sheets of pork meat, the dude whips it up right at the bar as well. From breading the meat to frying to plating, you get to witness the entire process. It’s situated in the Roppongi underground subway station. Anyone that has been to Japan will tell you some of the greatest restaurants in the world are found deep underground in train stations and at the bottom of shopping malls.
open: 10:30am-10pm location: click
Morimoto Shibuya Yakitori
The last two places I will speak on are both yakitori restaurants. Chicken on a stick, one of god’s great accomplishments. Morimoto, in the heart of Shibuya near the west exit of the station, is in teen central. The nightlife is amazing and the people are spectacularly crazy once the sun goes down, so this is a great meal to start your night that will inevitably end at Womb or Club Asia for their test tube Jagermeister shots, even though it’s a Tuesday. The yakitori grill is run by one old dude that reallllly knows whats up. He takes one look at you when you walk in and sizes you up, almost like a glaring match. Once you pass the test, it’s go time. Spectacular amounts of chicken skin, liver, thigh, drumsticks and deep-fried wings come out one plate at a time, and then you move on to the “other” part of the menu. This features an array of sashimi, including exotic meats like horse and shark, which may put you off but please live like the locals and eat up. The spectrum of tastes this guy can get off the one grill is amazing and will set your crazy night off perfectly. Drink lots of beer while you are there as well. I found the balance between super fatty chicken on a stick and 1 litre bottles of Kirin will make for a very jolly evening of childish dancing to stupid EDM at a club full of girls dressed like it’s halloween even though it’s mid-week in February.
open: 5pm-11pm location: click
Down the road from the amazing Mori Art Museum in Roppongi you can find the epic establishment known as Gonpachi. If you have ever seen Kill Bill it is very obvious this place was the inspiration for the crazy fight scene where The Bride slaughters the Crazy 88. And they embrace it. There is even a pic of Tarantino on the wall as you walk in. But to me, there is much more to this place than the iconic imagery you find when you walk in. As soon as you walk in you are greeted by a firm yet beautiful maitre d’, she tells the manager how many people you have in your group, and he screams this information across the entire restaurant. This guy is a fucking professional. He is constantly screaming his lungs out to the different sections of the restaurant to get updates so that every customer is seated promptly. When we got there it was packed and we were seated within 10 minutes, screaming coming from the bleachers to the grill, from the bar to the floor. Then comes the food. Gonpachi serves mainly Yakitori, traditional and updated. The chicken options are undoubtable as all chicken yakitori is, but I highly suggest going off the traditional versions and go to items like the ground chicken-stuffed mushrooms or the Fois Gras that came served with a decadent strawberry sauce on top, all of which is with you within 10 minutes of ordering. The staff are super chill as well, they can definitely tell that the patrons are swept up in the wonderment because they are just fucking around as they scream at each other. This is a must visit eating experience. Also the yuzu miso creme brulee frankenstein dessert they have created is literally one of the best and most balanced sweets I’ve had in my life.
open: 11:30am-3:30am location: click
Like everything in life, you have to do it all your own way. Try everything you can and find what you like. It’s not easy but sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone and eating horse meat is what you need to do to find the ultimate personal Tokyo experience. Big thanks to Adrian for the tips and linking me up with some great Japanese locals and food spots, he knows he’s the man.