[TOKYO] Asakusa: temple, ramen, snacks and souvenirs

Asakusa - Kaminarimon Temple Gate

Dear Food Diary:
Asakusa is one of the “must” for anyone visiting Tokyo. With tons of shops, side streets and alleys. The Kuminarimon temple gate, Nakamise traditional shopping street, Gojunoto five story pagoda and anything from sweets to savory. Plus, souvenirs for everyone on your list.

The first time I visited (5 years ago) was a complete visual overload and blur. This time around, I brought StalkerBoy (the pixelated version in the photo is the only one he allows to show) and as people visited us, like any good host, I went along. After a few visits, I compiled some of my favorites, from ramen to snacks.


Here’s a video of it all… there’s so many treats for the eye and tummy.

Asakusa - Kaminarimon Temple Gate from above
TIP: If you go up the visitor center, you get a nice view of the whole area. Look at all those little stalls.
Asakusa - exploring around the area
Not to mention the endless side streets. You can easily spend a whole afternoon here.

Asakusa area
Love how the streets have kept the traditional feel. I know it’s touristy, but hey! that’s what I am.

 

YOROIYA – Tsukemen Lunch

asakusa Yoroiya ramen - Tsukemen
asakusa Yoroiya ramen - Tsukemen 2
Cold tsukemen hits the spot during the summer months. The noodles were extra bouncy. The dip is a broth with soy and scallions. Puffs and spicy dried shrimp is also added. A little sweet and spicy. With braised pork and bamboo pieces on the bottom. A lot of umami but subtle enough you could drink the dip at the end by adding some of the noodle water.


Loud slurping is the proper way to eat ramen in Japan, sound and all. I obviously failed. I suggest watching the folks around the counter – monkey see, monkey do.

asakusa Yoroiya ramen - chicken gyoza
Their chicken gyoza potstickers are really meaty and juicy. Crunchy vegetables and soft clear vermicelli.

 

Dessert time

Asakusa - pudding
There’s a really good pudding at Testa Rossa cafe. Really creamy, rich and silky. They come in a variety of flavors too. I like the original.

Asakusa - Nakamise Traditional Shopping Street - mango icy
Mango shaved ice is a must. Unlike a snow cone or traditional shaved ice, this has real fruit in the ice, smooth vs corse. Shaved paper thin. You get a mouthful of mango explosion.

 

Karin Coron – snacks to take home

Asakusa - Karin Coron - snacks shop
This is located across the street from the Yoroiya, a great stop after having tsukemen.
Asakusa - Karin Coron - snacks shop 2
Asakusa - Karin Coron - snacks shop 3
The Asakusa inspired paper used for their packaging is really pretty. I’ve used them as gift wrap. The quality is really good and it has a matte, textured finish. The snacks range for $3-$5 a pack, I think just the unique paper itself makes it worth while, it just so happens that the snacks are really good too. Win-win.
Asakusa - Karin Coron - snacks shop - wasabi fava beans
Wasabi fava bean is my favorite. Has a sweet finish, a little savory with a punch of wake-me-up burst from the wasabi.
Asakusa - Karin Coron - snacks shop - soybean black sesame peanut
Roasted Peanut is wrapped inside this melt in your mouth tofu and black sesame ball. Very fragrant and unique.
Asakusa - Karin Coron - snacks shop - miso peanut
A little savory, a little sweet and a ton of umami from a little peanut.
Asakusa - Karin Coron - snacks shop - assorted fava bean
Assorted fava bean pack has a good variety of curry, seaweed and cod roe flavors.

 

Japanese Macarons

asakusa - japanese macarons
asakusa - japanese macarons 2
At this cute little shop, the Japanese twist on macarons come in flavors like milky sea salt, green tea, black sesame, brown sugar, strawberry.
asakusa - japanese macarons - sea salt macaron

asakusa - japanese macarons - sea salt macaron 2
I loved how my salted one came with what resembled a heart. Right? The perfect balance of milky, sweet and a touch of salt.
asakusa - japanese macarons - sesame macaron
Black sesame desserts are always winners in my book, this was no exception. Their macarons have another layer of meringue like on top flavored accordingly. Inside the crumbly yet moist cookies are filled with a creamy base that’s loaded with flavor. Not overly sweet, just the way I like them. I ate the whole box in one sitting, to my defense, these babies need to be eaten asap after purchasing (the lady at the shop told me so).

 

More snacks

Asakusa - Nakamise Traditional Shopping Street

Asakusa - Nakamise Traditional Shopping Street - fresh soy rice cakes
Whether it’s mochi on sticks or fresh made rice crackers, you an spend a whole afternoon roaming around, sampling treats.

Asakusa - Nakamise Traditional Shopping Street 4

Asakusa - Nakamise Traditional Shopping Street 2
Red bean filled cakes and mochi like treats are everywhere in all shapes and sizes. Freshly made.

 

Souvenir shopping

Asakusa - Nakamise Traditional Shopping Street 3

Asakusa - Nakamise Traditional Shopping Street - souvenirs
After sight seeing and non stop eating, time to shop! Souvenirs are everywhere, obviously prices might be higher, but the selection is great, specially if you’re short on time.

 

Asakusa - yebisu beer building

At night

Asakusa - at night

Asakusa - Gojunoto - 5 story Pagoda at night

Don’t miss visiting one last time during night time. When all the stalls are closed, there’s a calmness. And it’s lit beautifully. Great way to take a walk at night.

Asakusa - Gojunoto - 5 story Pagoda at night - Skytree
Even Skytree is lit up in the background. A perfect contrast of the new and old in Tokyo.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this “short” post. Just too many things to share.