Although I had done a little research on where to go for lunch in Tokyo, my favourite spot was unplanned, understated and laissez-faire. Once in a blue moon, the stars align and the perfect thing just falls in your lap. In this case, it came in the form of Japanese soup kitchen, Soup Stock Tokyo.
Having been struck down with the sniffles for roughly 100% of my time in Kyoto, I arrived in Tokyo and went straight to bed.
That’s a total lie. I arrived in Tokyo, quickly changed and headed straight out to Takeshita Street for a failed evening of people watching (read: Harajuku Girl watching). Where were all the weebs that Friday night? Well, I was to find out a little later; but in the duration of a stroll down the relatively deserted Harajuku area, I managed to do a first. I ate octopus. Ok, it was swaddled in flour, egg, cheese and some kind of sauce that was clearly bequeathed by the gods, but my first experience of octopus was a good’un. Thanks to Koi Taco of Takeshita Street for that little enlightenment.
It was at this point that my travel pal and I remembered the Moshi Moshi Nippon music festival was on that weekend – free for gaijins (foreigners)! – so off we trotted. First this way, then that; I gotta say, Japan’s got a pretty miserable excuse for public wifi. Gomennasai, it’s true. After watching ladies of all ages – and a smattering of young chaps – headbang to the tones of J Pop sensation SID, we escaped the ultra-kawaii (that’s the ‘cute’ culture in Japan) weeb madness and switched it up for a pocket-sized bar in Shibuya. We were serenaded by the surprising baritone of a small, ageing Japanese hippy woman and her guitar playing partner so naturally, I sank a couple of Ballantines whiskies.
Well, as you can imagine, all that running around after dark in just an over-sized t shirt and tights, not to mention the Ballantines, hardly did wonders for my stinking cold; but I’ll be damned if I’m staying in bed on my first day back in Tokyo after five years.
More and more, I’m realising that while I love a spot of sightseeing, I’m a bit of a moocher. I like to not really do anything, just walk around aimlessly and spend about 50% of my day in various cafes, reading, writing, chatting to people and watching the world go by.
So that’s just what I did. One half-arsed, Wifi-less and subsequently failed attempt to find Michelin-starred Erasi in Aoyama down, I holed up in a cafe and did a little bit of writing. Off out again, I went for a walk near Ochanomizu station. When in doubt, find the university areas. You’re always bound to find something interesting there, as I will expand upon in a later post (the book shops are so cute and the guitar shops are out of this world).
The blue skies of Kyoto were a thing of my past. Tokyo conforms much more appropriately to November weather reports and having left my coat in the bedroom (seriously, I deserve every single bit of this blasted cold) I sought refuge in an eatery where I could at least have a guess at the menu.
Thank you, Soup Stock Tokyo for appearing like a blessing on a chilly day to a sniffly girl. Rather than just Googling ‘where to go for lunch in Tokyo,’ because NO WIFI, I came across it right outside Ochanomizu station. It’s small by my own standards but a veritable behemoth by Tokyo’s standards (think rent prices are high in London? Try Tokyo; every indie establishment is tiny for a reason). It was all cream seats, light oak wood and cute little plants. Kings of Convenience, Homesick, was playing when I came in. The whole ambience just screams ‘detox’.
I opted for The Artists’ Lemon Chicken soup and a coffee for 850 yen. That’s just under £5 which, for Tokyo, isn’t eye-watering. The soup itself is amazing; thick, luxurious and restorative and with a little chunk of lime for that extra hit of vitamin C.
I checked out their soup calendar and it’s a cosmopolitan, seasonal offering of all that’s delicious in the world. I wonder how they fare in the summertime (I imagine they serve up a mean gazpacho) but in the Tokyo winter, this is exactly the kind of place I’d go back if I was here for a stretch any longer than six days.
There are sixty in Tokyo, but the one I went to was directly opposite the JR Line exit of Ochanomizu station. You can’t miss it – it’s right next to a shopping centre.