Shibuya Crossing + Hiyashi Ramen

We meander into the main area of Shibuya. This definitely feels like more of a happening downtown part of Tokyo. The population on the street skyrockets as do the buildings. Lots and lots of unique looking boutique clothing and accessory shops. Department stores and malls. Crosswalks with giant screens and full on adds blaring out into the intersection as you wait to cross. Mega distractions everywhere, you basically spin your way down the street in slow 360s trying to even take it all in. I’d heard Shibuya was the beating heart of Tokyo, on first impression I’m believing it.

We dip into Condomania and stock up on boutique baby blockers.

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Down the little side street behind it that runs parallel to the main street (seems to be a bike lane?) there are a bunch more random interesting shops. One is done up like Alice in Wonderland called Alice on Wednesday. You have to go through a tiny door to enter and there is a dapper security guard outside. Seems like a store of Alice in Wonderland type knick kncks. We didn’t go in, I’m kind of wishing we did. Looking through the keyhole reveals a light up Cheshire Cat.

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We get a little deeper into the area and as we wait for a crossing light under a massive 7-8 story Tower Records, 5 go-carts whiz by with everyone dressed in puffy outfits from Super Mario Brothers. I guess you can rent costumes and carts and bomb around Tokyo as a live version of Mario Kart? Looks fun AF.

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We get to an area with a bazillion intersecting streets and crosswalks. It looks familiar to me. Oh shit I think this is Shibuya Scramble Crossing! Has to be. It’s the Times Square of Tokyo and everyone crosses at once. Yep. And it’s on! There’s a shit ton of people, my pics don’t do any justice. It starts like a fight scene from Braveheart with everyone racing towards each other. Then there’s the awkward dance you do when you meet someone coming straight at you and you both go the same direction to correct it. This dominoes into a chain of this same interaction happening en masse. It’s kind of chaotic but we get across. Pretty fun actually. Just a ton of people.

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Ok time for some eats. I googly up some ramen places and it looks like there’s a bombshell nearby called Hiyashi ramen.

Hiyashi ramen

This place came up as the top ramen in Tokyo and we were right around the corner so we thought we’d scoot over. It ended up being just a short walk up a little hill and down some nondescript side street. The sign is only in Japanese and we figured we were in the right spot when we saw a line out the door in the rain. As we walk up another tourist couple gets shown that the line actually comes out the door to a post and then the post on the other side of the adjacent building is where the line should start again. That way it doesn’t block the neighboring business. We get behind them. A couple people come out and they get to go back to the first line out front.

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While we stand there a good sized line starts filing in behind us. Place must be good. We wait until 2 more people come out and now we’re in the line out front too. The tall dude in front of us is wearing a band shirt with what looked like Skeletor and a bunch of…. oh shit, “Hey man, sweet King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard shirt”, “Oh thanks, yeah I’m really digging these guys lately” <sounds Australian>, “Me too man, crazy band”, “You seen em?”, “Yeah, at Coachella this year, they were great. Altered Beast and Rattlesnake rocked haha” (Queenie loved Rattlesnake), “They’re coming to Australia and we’re gonna go see them”, “Right on. Yeah totally go. They’ve put out something like 3 albums this year already”, “Yeah right? What the fuck?”…

This was the shirt:
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So they’re an Australian couple from Brisbane. They got in yesterday and are doing basically the same thing that we are. Tokyo for 4-5 days, Kyoto, Osaka, etc…. Nice folks.

We talk with them up until we get to the entrance and take a looksy. It’s just a narrow hallway of a place. There are only 10 stools pulled up to a bar like table directly in front of the kitchen. Looks like only 2 people working the whole thing. You place your order at a vending machine. There are only 3 choices:
Ramen
Ramen with egg
Ramen with egg and ham
I’m assuming all the ramen is the same.

You give the ticket from the vending machine to the girl that comes around. The guy in the kitchen makes the ramen and she plates it. One of them serves it to you and then you gobble.

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The vending machine only takes 1000 yen bills and my smallest is 5000. The Aussies hook me up with some change, “Feels like a drug trade”. And they’re in. A few minutes later we are too.

We take a seat and there’s heavy slurping on both sides. This reminds me of some ridiculous slurp canceling spoon I saw just before coming here:

Yeah it does look like there are just the two people working. It’s great to see them put it together right in front of you. They have it down to an art form. Keeping the menu so simple lets them make it quickly and keep it consistent I’m sure.

They drop the bowl in front of me and it’s gorgeous. Not a ton of broth but very rich, you don’t need more (Queenie noticed a lot of people didn’t finish the broth). The noodles are excellent consistency and taste. The meat is melty amazing. Every ingredient is perfect actually. Yeah, it’s really really great.

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The Aussies sneak behind us and give a polite goodbye, good trip. Queenie is done soon after. I’m not even halfway, wtf? “Oh, I can feel the pressure on my shoulder”. Yeah there are a bunch of people standing in the rain waiting to get in. I turn up the slurp. Done! That’s some top narmz right there.

We wipe down our section, thank the proprietors and jump back into the rain on the street. It’s Saturday of Halloween. Time to find some costumes!

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